Ceremonial military outfit / THU 10-4-12 / Character with tagline Booyakasha / Image on ET poster / WW II general nicknamed bombs away / Director of Witches 1990 / Mobutu Seko African despot / Feature of Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc / Kato Kaelin portrayer on SNL

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Constructor: Bill Thompson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: ECLIPSE — puzzle note: "The seven circled letters reading from top to bottom describe an event occurring at four locations in this puzzle." Four black squares are "eclipsing" the word SUN (in the Across answer) and MOON (in the Down).

Word of the Day: LEMAY (65A: W.W. II general nicknamed "Bombs Away") —

Curtis Emerson LeMay (November 15, 1906 – October 1, 1990) was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party presidential candidate George Wallace in 1968.
He is credited with designing and implementing an effective, but also controversial, systematic strategic bombing campaign in the Pacific theater of World War II. During the war, he was known for planning and executing a massive bombing campaign against cities in Japan and a crippling minelaying campaign of Japan's internal waterways. After the war, he headed the Berlin airlift, then reorganized theStrategic Air Command (SAC) into an effective instrument of nuclear war. (wikipedia)
• • •

Strange puzzle. Felt hard, though I finished in fairly normal time. I picked up the theme eventually (I didn't read the note, but noticed that the circled squares I had in place appeared to be spelling out ECLIPSE), but finished it without really seeing the full extent of what was happening. I know MOONs and SUNs were involved, but I didn't realize until after I was done that the black (eclipsed) squares were blocking, in each instance, both a SUN and a MOON. This is a very cool idea. The execution is slightly odd, mainly because the blocked MOON is always the full word "MOON" whereas the blocked SUN is always part of a two-word phrase (this confused me early on; I thought the "eclipse" square actually represented the word "SUNDER" at one point, because of the way the theme answers were sundered). Now, the different treatments of SUN and MOON are not surprising. Hard if not impossible to hide moon inside another phrase, let alone break it across a two-word phrase (PRIMO ONESIES? "I'M OONA!"?). So I don't really see a problem with the disparity. I see some not-so-great fill, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary, and considering the fairly demanding theme, I can overlook a "CERO" or "IAMA" here and there.

Theme answers:
  • DRES [sun] IFORM / [moon] SHOT
  • CHOCOLATE [sun] DAE / "PAPER [moon]"
  • GOE [sun] DERGROUND / [moon] LIGHT
  • LEAVE [sun] SAID / FULL [moon]

Didn't get bogged down anywhere in particular. I have to believe that someone somewhere is going to get crushed by the MRAZ / ROEG intersection (I want to say "R" is the only reasonable guess, but if you don't know Jason MRAZ, that name seems impossible) (53D: Singer Jason / 60A: Director of "The Witches," 1990). And if you don't know MR. MIYAGI (53A: "Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything" speaker), well you are well and truly ****ed in that corner. That's a lot of pop culture names in one little section. Never saw "Monsters, Inc." but somehow could picture the character in question, so ONE EYE was remarkably easy (47D: Feature of Mike Wazowski in "Monsters, Inc."). Got a couple of theme answers without realizing they were theme answers. "SHOT? ... I guess ... CHOCOLATE? ... does Dairy Queen just serve CHOCOLATE? ... OK." Crosswording experience got me R.U.R. (27A: Classic play whose title is an abbreviation) and ALI G (11D: Character with the tagline "Booyakasha!") pretty easily (the former should be easy for any constant solver, the latter probably a little less so). And I have an odd affection for the highly dated clue on DAVID SPADE (32D: Kato Kaelin portrayer on "S.N.L."), even though I don't remember his portrayal at all. Clue on FERN was hard / nuts (69A: Crayola color since 1998). Aside from LEMAY, of whom I'd never heard, nothing besides the general difficulty of the theme answers slowed me up much.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:09 AM  

This is one where the times may not be good indicators of difficulty.  I found this mostly easy, but sorting out the theme squares took some extra time.  I had no erasures and pretty much filled it in with out any significant pauses.  That said, as Rex noted, if you didn't know MRAZ, ROEG, and MIYAGI  SW could be a trouble spot.

Liked it!  Zippy...MRMIYAGI, ICEMACHINE (my favorite appliance and the first thing I look for in a hotel), WINO, MRAZ (gotta love the spelling) HOOSEGOW, LEMAY (one crazy dude), DAVIDSPADE..., clever, and tricky.  Just what you want from a Thurs.  except it could have been a tad tougher.

Nice one Bill Thompson!

Addle Cero Mrmiyagis 12:31 AM  

Wow, the suncovering the moon...NEAT!!!!
And spelling out ECIPSE helped, that P and S were crucial for me.

MRMIYAkI had me wondering which letter of kEEK was wrong.
Awed by the cleverness, bravo Bill Thompson!

Never parsed ALI G.

Also before I figured out the theme I put the word MOON for FULL, reversing that made everything else fall into place.
ELUL. Vs ADAR, the eternal dilemma for the Jewish crossword solver!

Evan 1:27 AM  

This goes up there among my favorite puzzles of the year. The theme gave me a "mad-that-I-didn't-think-of-it-first" feeling, which is always a thrill. Plus, despite some unthrilling words like REHEM and OSIER and the abbreviation AUTH, the fill seems very fresh -- MY BAD, VIRAL clued in a modern way, ALI G. and MR. MIYAGI (both characters whom I love), DAVID SPADE (not my favorite comedian, but I'm fond of his era on SNL). The cluing is pretty tailored to us young folk, so I wouldn't be surprised if Bill Thompson is one of my kind! In fact, I'm surprised that the clue for IMMORTAL didn't refer to Robert Pattison in "Twilight," but I guess that might have been too pop-culturey/too tweeny for one puzzle.

(And speaking of "Twilight" -- no, I've never read any of the books nor seen the movies -- I noticed that Kristen Stewart was referred to as "K-Stew" in free Philadelphia Metro paper today. I hadn't heard that nickname for her before, but I'll spearhead the campaign to make KSTEW an acceptable answer in a crossword puzzle.)

My only quibble: I wish there were no note at the beginning since it kinda destroyed the a-ha moment for me. It gives away the IDEA that you're looking for a rebus, albeit one with a very unique twist. It was still fun to solve, but I would have preferred to have seen the connection between those circles and the hidden rebus squares without any hint -- that would have really blown me away.

r.alphbunker 2:53 AM  

Finished with DR MIYAGI/DRAZ. Wish I had seen the M, Mraz looks better than Draz. Needed the ECLIPSE in the circled letters to see that {Gusto} was Z[E]ST rather than elan.

This was definitely a memorable theme.

In the southern hemisphere, the moon covers the sun during an eclipse.

jae 3:07 AM  

Welcome back @r.alph, it's been a while unless I've not been paying close enough attention. I was beginning to wonder.

lymank 6:18 AM  

Loved it!

Jim Walker 6:44 AM  

I loved the puzzle, but found it rather difficult. Spent an hour on it. Caught the theme with PAPER MOON ( still amazed at Tatum's performance) but then stalled thinking moon had to be both across and down. Guessed MRAZ and spent way too long on TVAD. Curtis LEMAY still gives me the willies. A truly scary and dangerous dude.

Milford 6:49 AM  

Found it challenging. DNF. Got the eclipse very early on, but after endlessly trying to decide what was going on, somehow never got that it was sun and moon both. Thank goodness you all could explain it to me.

Won't bore you all with my many confusions, but I look forward to reading comments on how the more seasoned solvers liked it.

I'll just say that I had DAna carvey in for DAVID SPADE for awhile!

Susan McConnell 7:01 AM  

Loved! Am so impressed by the dual usage. I got the (sun) bit from CHOCOLATE(sun)DAE, and was absolutely delighted to then see PAPER(moon). Lots of fun, and is now my favorite puzzle in recent memory. Apologies to those who don't know Jason MRAZ. He is a wonderful songwriter and put on a great show in Hartford back in August. I was squealing right along with all the teenaged girls surrounding me :-)

Glimmerglass 7:51 AM  

Unique twist indeed. The note didn't mean anything to me, and the circled letters were no help to me until I'd solved the puzzle. All I saw was that there were four hidden suns and four invisible moons. I should have written "solved" because as Rex predicted, I got four-starred in the SW.

Rob C 8:10 AM  

Awesome puzzle! Everything a Thursday should be and more. The dual usage makes the puzzle very theme-dense, yet the fill is good-MR MIYAGI, HOOSEGOW, IMMORTAL... Impressive considering how many entries cross 2 theme answers.

Had no idea Mr. Arizona could sing.

Carola 8:13 AM  

Genius. I spotted the solar eclipse in the DRES---IFORM but didn't catch onto the lunar one until I got to E.T.'s FULL (moon). Agog with admiration at this feat.

The note definitely helped me. I wrote out seven spaces and when I had EC-I---, I saw what was afoot with the theme. And - I was glad to have that final E gift in the tough (for me) SW - needed it for the ZEST and ROUE that helped me get MRAZ and ROEG.

Liked the CROCI, PINE, and FERN all growing on DER GROUND (sorry, I know, LAMEST). Also the combination of MY BAD and HOOSEGOW.

Thanks, Bill Thompson - terrific.

loren muse smith 8:24 AM  

Since I was one of those “crushed” by the MRAZ/ROEG cross, I didn’t have LIGHT, thought there were four solar eclipses, saw only PAPER Moon, and thought it was a tricky Thursday that threw in one lunar eclipse just for fun – still only four locations. (SHOT by itself could be a “targeted launch,” and I reached my conclusion with magnificent disregard to FULL. Sheesh.) I actually guessed that the PAPER was serendipity and the thought to clue it that way was after the fact and a stroke of genius. MY BAD.

I had “zero” for CERO, laughing that it was clued in Spanish.

Nocturnal has one more letter than IMMORTAL.


@Andrea – I didn’t parse ALI G, either.

@Milford – I flirted with Dana Carvey, too.

@Glimmerglass – “Got four-starred. .” good one!

FAIRY, FAIRY clever IDEA, Mr. Thompson.

I’m off to look for a jelly doughnut. . .

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

I'm glad to see so many of the experts enjoyed this but ... though I usually finish Thursday, after seeing the answers and discussion I think this was a Friday level puzzle that, for several reasons (rebus, themed), had to appear on a Thursday. Too darned tough for this solver.

Gerry W.

joho 8:43 AM  

Bravo, Bill Thompson!

I actually erased MOON when I got LEAVESUNSAID and mumbled, "That wasn't a FULLSUN on the poster." That's when I realized that both SUN & MOON occupied the square and also when my admiration for this puzzle soared into the stratosphere!

HOOSEGOW always makes me smile.

Loved the fresh misdirect for SOS. How many put in EOE right off the bat?

One fantastic Thursday!

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

I guess Will Shortz prefers puzzles with new twists rather than old-school word challengers. Frankly, I preferred the old-style puzzles. I remember once reading an interview with James Hinish, an old-school type constructor, who felt puzzles should be an opportunity to learn new words, and I really miss seeing those kinds of puzzles more often.

I lost my interest in this puzzle fairly quickly and found more useful things to do with my time.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Have to agree with person who said he missed chance to learn new words, not enjoyable for me, tho I knew a lot of answers.

jackj 9:23 AM  

When a crossword gives you E C L I P S E it seems only logical to make ECLIPSE(s).

Bill Thompson has a brilliant creation for us today that is best shown in an animated graphic at XWordInfo and for me was best viewed in the puzzle at the crossing of PAPER(MOON) and CHOCOLATE(SUN)DAE.

The theme was certainly clever and the fill was an adequate complement if not an equal, but HOOSEGOW and MRMIYAGI (“wax on, wax off”) were charming, Jason MRAZ was impossible, CROCI liked it better when it was the more expected sign of spring, ARIES, but still flourished at 5 across and Curtis LEMAY was a clear reminder of the one-armed general pulling his cord to snap a salute in “Harold and Maude”.

MRAZ was a name never before to have entered my ambit but, as these things seem to go, in the mysterious way of crosswords, one of the first things I encountered in this morning’s Boston Globe, was a mention that one Jason MRAZ would be participating in a Kennedy Center event honoring Ellen DeGeneres as winner of this year’s Mark Twain humorist award.

Maybe a paraphrase of that old sailor’s comment is in order, “Unknown at night, new friend by morn.” It happens too often to be more than just coincidence.

Thanks, Bill T. for a wonderful Hall of Fame worthy bit of work!

jackj 9:29 AM  

Rob C@8:10AM said (in part)-

"Had no idea Mr. Arizona could sing."

Clever, clever, clever!

Rob C 9:55 AM  

@jackj - was wondering if anyone picked up on that or whether it was just too odd for anyone to take notice.

baja 10:01 AM  

Loved it! Not a clue on the Mr. Az corner even with zest and light - love figuring out the "reveal" and not so worried on knowing every factoid. I learn lots and forget most.

Z 10:04 AM  

No clue before my coffee. Watched a little of the discussion of the baseball season finales, Miggy winning the triple crown, and Obama looking like a first year debater before returning. I had enough to see CHOCOLATE - DAE and the trick, then the ECLIPSE and I liked the puzzle. Caught on to the lunar ECLIPSE part of the puzzle at -LIGHT and went "WOW."

Impressive theme, very little dreck, all-in-all a great Thursday. Since I knew MR MIYAGI and MRAZ, ROEG didn't trap me. I can see how this could be a mini-Natickville, though. Crocuses is the plural I hear, so I wondered at the Spanish clue and CROzI for two heartbeats before writing C over Z. Hand up for Dana Carvey and not parsing ALIG. My excuse was mAde up at first, and my government security was a TBond. But got it all the right letters in the right squares in the end.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:22 AM  

Excellent puzzle, though it tended a bit toward easy for me. This was one of those very rare times when I actually caught on very early, filled in ECLIPSE in the circles, and looked for the other examples.

Still, getting a bit careless, had to write over 26 D, from MOROSE to SOMBER (working with no crosses at first), and 44 A, had LORRY before FAIRY (as a British lorry (truck) might carry British dust (garbage).)

I did have a pre-puzzle mis-direct. Reading the note, about a seven-letter event taking place in four locations, I was for some reason expecting the events to be DEBATES and the four locations to be geographical names!

C. Ross Word 10:22 AM  

Great puzzle! Started it last night, suspected a rebus which, at first, appeared to be several squares with 'ES' in them: had DR(es)S crossing IC(es)MACHIN(es) which crossed GO(es). Couldn't get any traction in NE either. Totally flummoxed, I put it aside til morning. In A.M. finally got PAWS (after trying to fit in LICKS to 4 spaces) and ALIT. Light finally went on when my incorrect rebus answer of DR(es)S next to the previously perplexing IFORM yielded to DRES SUN IFORM and the resulting sun SHOT instantly became MOON SHOT and the rest was history. Unfortunately, finished with one mistake (MY BAD): had MR MImAGI; should have realized GDAm would be horribly misplaced in The Wizard Of Oz. Wasn't there a cable program Oz? Could have been rolling around in my subconscious. Fun solve.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

I still don't get the WINO answer to MAJOR DOWNER?

cluelessly yours...

dk 10:37 AM  

Maybe because I just do not get the trick. I understand the elegance of the construction, but I agree with the anon-o-mice: Bring back old school.

My opinion (hardly humble) is form should not ECLIPSE function. This form of this puzzle obliterates function.

Random notes: Figured out the sun part with 17 and 18A. The moon part with 44d. The only Jason I know off wears a hockey mask and visions of the TV show Kung Fu blocked Karate Kid. My favorite greeting in OZ is winged monkeys, alas it did not fit.

Fine puzzle for some. Not my cuppa.

๐ŸŒ—๐ŸŒ— (2 Lunar Eclipses)

Lastly TEEBALLS? The game is tee ball and there are balls (wiffle) and a tee but what are TEEBALLS.

Rob C 10:45 AM  

@anon 10:34
downer as in drinker

Rob C 10:46 AM  

@anon 10:34
downer as in drinker

Two Ponies 11:05 AM  

The cleverness of this grid is off the scale. Like @ Carola, I wrote 7 spaces in the margin and that helped fill in the circles.
However, I have to confess that the SW corner had a blank at the damned R. Also I never really got the theme. How embarrassing. Saw the moons but not the suns. There were even moments when I wondered if my set of clues were actually for this puzzle grid.
@ dk is right, tee ball is a game. That plural is bogus.

Nick 11:17 AM  

Puzzles that turn out to be hard because of dated and random pop culture and trivia are just no fun at all. Clever theme didn't save it for me.

Harperdog 11:17 AM  

Aha. Downer = drinker.


John V 11:18 AM  

Liked it, got the SUN part of the eclipse but did not see the MOON part, so bit of a DNF. NE and SW both fell apart from not seeing the moon, not knowing ALIG, ROEG, MRAZ (wtf?) MRMIYAGI (wtf?)Crossing MRZA with MRMIYAGI is a first class Natick, especially in a corner. Yeah, the SW is a mess, I guess.

Big picture, though, creative, but a tad short of the mark, for me.

Sandy K 11:19 AM  

Great Thursday puzzle! Loved all the elements...saw the LIGHT at PAPER moon.

MR. MIYAGI and Jason MRAZ added some ZEST.

But who the heck is ALIG?? Thanks for parsing ALI G! @Rex and @ACME

@Bill Thompson- Cannot LEAVE UNSAID...your puzzle will not soon be ECLIPSEd!!


Disappointed 11:34 AM  

The theme is certainly original and impressive, which seems to be what is most important to most. But I really think the dreary fill prevented me from enjoying the puzzle. Too many names that I simply don't care about and lack interest for me. Add in some foreign words and slang and we have a puzzle that I really didn't feel like finishing. And after I did finish the puzzle, I still had the feel of "Nice theme. Did not enjoy." For me, a good opportunity for a great puzzle foiled by exasperating fill.

mac 11:56 AM  

Excellent but challenging puzzle for me. Figuring out Eclipse and filling in the last 3 circles helped a lot.

I started out with "nada" for cero, but the hoosegow set me straight. Great word, that!

In de end I finished with a mistake: DR. Miyagi. Just did not know him and Mraz.

I have a real dislike of the insincere sounding : my bad.

Mel Ott 12:01 PM  

I always have trouble with puzzles that feature crossing oddball names. MRAZ/ROEG/MRMIYAGI was off the charts for me, even tho I have actually known a real human being named MRAZ, A Czech name, I believe.

I do remember BOMBS AWAY LEMAY. Part of our history that we should not forget. He advocated bombing Hanoi back into the Stone Age. We pretty much tried it, altho we stopped short of his recommendation of nuclear weapons. Didn't work.

Mel Ott 12:08 PM  

Oh, and I think @dk is right about TEE BALLS. When my youngest son played TEE BALL in the Little League, it was played with regular baseballs set on a TEE. There may be various versions played with different kinds of BALLS, but if there is such a thing as a TEE BALL, I'm not aware of it.

Sparky 12:15 PM  

Took me a while. Liked it better after I finished and looked it over. Put E C L I P S E down the side as it filled in. Got it with FULLmoon; sunDAE came later; then all together now.

Hand up for EOE, and brio before ZEST. Brio was an old favorite. OSIER again, CERO also, though I may have seen that in a BEQ or LATimes.

At the very start trying to think of words for hyphen, dash, minus. The FULL moon shed light on that. Totally Naticked in SW. Had diAZ and so it stayed.

I am off to Google all the people I never heard of and don't care about.

miriam b 12:15 PM  

One of my all-time favorite puzzles, which I finished without knowing who MRMIYAGI and ALIG were. Of course I'm curious and will PSG them (Post Solve Google). MRAZ made sense because I was raised in multiethnic Bridgeport, CT, and have seen that surname at some point. On to the captcha, then the laundry.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

@all TEEBALL doubters

There is definitely such a thing as TEEBALLS. They are a spongier version of baseballs used in the youngest Little League age-groups.

Granted a tough clue for anyone without any experience in LL.

Liked the puzzle a great deal. I can picture the constructor might have tried to work the infamous 70's-80's Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon into the puzzle, but just couldn't get that to fly.


miriam b 12:21 PM  

Oh yes - Sacha Baron Cohen is ALIG. I've never seen THe Karate Kd, so MRMIYAGI will have to forgive me. Got the captcha for the previous post on the first try. Hoping for the best now. Laundry still waiting...

OldActor 12:22 PM  

Hoosegow is the bastardized English version of the Spanish word for Court.....Juzgado.

syndy 12:55 PM  

Didn't get the theme until I had E C LI * * E,filling in the remaining letters shook some of the roadblock in the south loose and relieved my fears that I was losing my mind.Suddenly the world made sense again! I would like Mr Thompson to admit about Mr MRAZ "MY BAD"!(I bet he's a ROBOT!) #

jazzmanchgo 12:56 PM  


. . . no idea how a dash can mean "IFORM"(?), "DAE"(??), or "DERGROUND"(???). . . I'm assuming the reference to "SAID" is a reference to James Joyce, who sometimes used dashes in lieu of quotation marks.

And how the FRIG does "GOE" = "Hides"????

Carola 12:59 PM  

@rex -
On the disparity you noted: "...the blocked MOON is always the full word 'MOON' whereas the blocked SUN is always part of a two-word phrase," I was thinking that this could reflect two other kinds of eclipses. "SUN" is made of parts of words, so a partial solar eclipse, versus a total eclipse of the MOON. But I love your idea of "PRIMO ONSIES"!

@RobC - It took me a couple of hours to get Mr. Arizona :)

Mel Ott 1:10 PM  

@Anon 12:21: Thanks for the TEE BALLS info. I did not know that.

Sounds something like a ball the kids used on a small ballfield in Saltaire, Fire Island some years ago. They called it a corkball. It did not travel as far as a baseball and helped save the stained glass windows of the church just behind the left field fence.

Mr A-Z 1:15 PM  

One of my favorite songs by Jason Mraz is "Wordplay," in which he plays off of his own name. He was made to be in crosswords!

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Beautiful construction. Seemed more "Friday worthy" to me.

A Not so Famous Astronomer 1:23 PM  

You know the technical term for when the sun is directly in front of the moon, and it isn't an ECLIPSE. Those in the know call it daytime.

JFC 1:50 PM  

Rex’s commentary is both mystifying and dismaying to me.

It mystifies because I do not understand how anyone could finish the puzzle without understanding the theme. DAE makes no sense without the rebus, as do the other SUN entries. The same could be said about the other half of the MOON entries even though they are complete words.

It dismays me because he does not know who Curtis LeMay was. I knew who he was, not because I grew up during WWII or because I served in the USAF and in SAC, but because anyone who understands anything about the historical transformation of the United States since WWII knows LeMay. In terms of the military he was a giant, in terms of the Air Force a legend and in terms of America as historical as MacArthur.

Unfortunately he was also George Wallace’s running mate, which only proves he was a better general than politician….


PS. I loved this puzzle. Brilliantly conceived and executed.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

brilliant! the south west was the coup de gras for me due to old age, tried to put in confucious or yoda for saying. hand up for carvey attempt. got the missing moon at paper and saw the eclipse but missed the sun so ended up with almost all filled in but little understanding.i needed to back away a bit to see the true puzzle of course rex helped. it isnt good to stare at an eclipse.

edmcan 3:05 PM  
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edmcan 3:07 PM  

This is a perfect example of a puzzle that I successfully completed and didn't understand. The clue was meaningless to me, although I got eclipse early on. I have NEVER heard of Mr. Myagi, just guessed at it.
Oh well, time for a nap!

Snarky Wittgenstein 3:07 PM  

Hated the puzzle because I was totally outclassed. Couldn't do it! Grrr! Hey, puzzlers, I've seen a number of comments over time writing coup de gras instead of coupe de grace. Fat cut? WTF? Gras means fat, as in the delicious cruelty of pรขtรฉ de foie gras. Coup de grace means ultimate cut, the final cut. Connection between gras and grace? It aim't over until the fat lady sings. I sheathe my sword and rest my etui. The world is all that is the case.

Bird 3:09 PM  

This was a slog for me. Got ECLIPSE then struggled to understand how it worked. I thought maybe E CLIPS E (2 E’s in one square?). I just could not see SUN and MOON blocked out by black squares. Even knowing that 17A and 18A were supposed to be DRESS UNIFORM didn’t help (maybe because I have no idea who 4D is and was thinking SESSE or SESSUNE or something. It’s PAPER MOON, but where’s the friggin’ MOON?! So I did what I could then came here. Oooooohhh. Duh. SMF (slap my forehead). Great theme by the way. I blame work today – just to busy to give this puzzle the attention it deserved.

I did not like the SW corner. MRAZ, ROEG, ROUE? Geez. And 55A might be impossible for non New Yorkers and is (I am assuming) impossible for non-sports folks – how many sports teams are there anyway?

I did like HOOSEGOW and ICE MACHINE (definitely a nice convenience).

For half a second I thought 60A might be LIFE and then thought about this blog and the potential “conversation”.

Whup = TAN?

sanfranman59 3:19 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 22:01, 18:51, 1.17, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 13:17, 9:23, 1.42, 93%, Challenging

jae 3:29 PM  

I posted this before when Jason MRAZ was in the puzzle, but it's worth a replay. If you listen to music on the radio at all you are problably familiar with I'm Yours.

This is a somewhat twisted version of that song.

RI Squasher 3:45 PM  


I like the jelly doughnut reference (I'm assuming it is in relation to 57D, if not well I still like jelly doughnuts.)

For 5A I originally had CROCs thinking that people start wearing them when the weather gets warmer. That made 9D start with SMM which looked fishy.

Carola 4:20 PM  

@Bird -
On "whup" - I thought of the phrase, "I'll tan your hide!"

Bird 4:41 PM  

@Carola - Thank you. We don't use that expression on Long Island so I didn't remember it.

dk 4:45 PM  
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dk 4:46 PM  

This puzzle is old school! I now know there are TEEBALLS. woo woo

For those in the know, the distribution of the posts are skewed to the positive. The puzzle solver reactions are similar (positive, neutral and negative) to other Thursday "trick" offerings. The geeky joy of text analytics.

leighroi 4:51 PM  

Gen. Curtis LeMay was the real life inspiration for the character Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick's genius comedy/satire "Dr. Stangelove."

Doc John 4:58 PM  

Started out with a bad taste due to the presence of random circles. Although the theme was interesting, I think that unless you can make the circles more uniform, they should be left out. In this case, they weren't really needed (but their presence did help me get the last S and E).
I also call a Natick at you know where. Two relatively unknown, hard to deduce names. Blecch.
Otherwise, I'll go along with what Rex and other commenters have said.

Kurt 5:14 PM  

This was maybe my favorite Thursday puzzle of the year. I didn't find it medium. I found it hard as hell. I started down the wrong path by thinking the the four dashes (not the black square next to them) represented the "four locations".

Anyway, it was a real poser. But I loved the challenge.

Thanks Will and great work Bill.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:47 PM  

@A Not so Famous Astronomer -- You said, "You know the technical term for when the sun is directly in front of the moon, and it isn't an ECLIPSE. Those in the know call it daytime."

Actually, if the sun were in front of the moon, as viewed from Earth, we would all be toast. But don't worry, it can't happen, because the diameter of the sun is more than twice the distance between Earth and the Moon.

BTW, speaking of Nicholas ROEG, I just saw the newly digitized version of Lawrence of Arabia this afternoon. Fabulous movie, gorgeous visual quality, and I noticed Nicholas Roeg listed as a second unit cameraman or something (those credits go so fast!)

loren muse smith 7:11 PM  

@Rl Squasher - Yep - tried to find me ein Berliner. No luck. Schade.

Carola 7:30 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - How super that you got to see "Lawrence" on the big screen! Some fascinating lore about the cinematographer, Freddie Young, and his work with David Lean here (scroll down for "Lawrence").

acme 7:31 PM  

@Doc John
How can you say the circles for ECLIPSE were unneeded when you needed them, and I needed them???!!!
Without the word ECLIPSE I'd never have gotten the SE corner.
Plus it's more than an extra dollop...They are in order and mimic the arc of the Moon crossing over the Sun!!!

I really think anyone who felt disappointed might take another look at the completed grid and see how the balanced missing MOONs blocked out the S-U-N and that there were four phrases with SUN and that they could be placed symmetrically!!!!!

This is one of those puzzles that is not just "new school" and some weird gimmick and brilliant construction trumping icky puzzle!
The fill had HOOSEGOW (Thanks @oldActor for that cool Spanish explanation...again why I read this blog! That and for my edification about who LEMAY was...) and CHOCOLATE and HIHAT...lots to love.

Granted, name pile up in SW that clearly did a lot of folks in, but not enough to shade the brilliance and fun of this puzzle!!!

Seriously, look at the completed puzzle ( so your negative feelings do not skew your own results!) and let it sink in slowly what Bill Thompson did and I'll bet you and those who didn't originally get it or naysayers will end up loving it even begrudgingly!

michael 7:39 PM  

The theme is terrific, but I was one of the apparently many done in by Mr, Miyagi, Roeg, and Mraz. I'm usually great on names, but not this time...

Z 8:05 PM  

Let's be clear about the issue in the SW - it is not any of the individual names, all of which are at least as well known as yesterday's IGGY Pop or Tuesday's RIMSKY KORSAKOV or Monday's ALVIN AILEY. The issue is the pile up of them all in one smallish corner. Tossing in the METS clued by their team colors seems a bit much to me. Nevertheless, this is still a great Thursday.

michael 11:38 PM  

@z All I can say is that I know Iggy Pop, Rimksy Korsakov, and Alvin Ailey and I don't know Mr. Miyagi, Roeg, and Mraz.

I have no idea of the general knowledge of solvers of these six names.

sanfranman59 12:03 AM  

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 5:57, 6:47, 0.87, 5%, Easy (9th lowest median solve time of 169 Mondays)
Tue 9:14, 8:57, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 13:28, 11:51, 1.14, 82%, Challenging
Thu 22:23, 18:51, 1.18, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:23, 3:41, 0.92, 16%, Easy
Tue 5:03, 4:40, 1.08, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:45, 5:57, 1.13, 84%, Challenging
Thu 12:33, 9:23, 1.34, 90%, Challenging

Z 8:07 AM  

@michael - right. I knew three of the six as well. But since two of the three I don't know were spread out, fair enough. I lucked out in that the SW had two that I knew. The issue is the pile-up, not the relative obscurity of any single clue. All six are well known enough.

johnranta 11:05 PM  

It is not "idiographic". That's just wrong. It's "ideo". Who cares how clever the rest of your puzzle is, if you have to misspell words? jr

johnranta 11:07 PM  

It is not "idiographic". That's just wrong. It's "ideo". Who cares how clever the rest of your puzzle is, if you have to misspell words? jr

Just catching up... 5:54 PM  

@johnranta: "Idiographic" is indeed a word (and not the same as "ideograph"). I know b/c your comment prompted me to look it up. Dictionary first; whine after.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

This is one clever & terrific puzz, but I must admit the SW corner did me in. I had Roeg, auth, zest and light and no MRM. Hats off to those who knew Mr Miyagi. Hope never to see his name again. Reminds me of that old Al Capp character Joe Sprfxxt?.

5 weeks late 12:51 PM  

Since I solve in syndication, I usually find it useless to comment. But, having not noticed anyone commenting on what struck me this time, I thought I would submit something today.

Nobody wrote a word about FERN. I'm a guy. FERN is not a color, it's a plant. And since there are many kinds of ferns with varying shades of green, exactly which shade is FERN?

Spacecraft 2:51 PM  

Like @5 weeks late, I frown on calling "FERN" a color--yet was willing to call FawN a color for a while there, thinking "STRAW" for the basket making stuff. Whatever happened to "green?"

Had parsing woes at TVAD, but not at ALIG. No matter how you divide those four letters, I have NO IDEA what you're talking about. That was forced in on crosses and left there with a shrug.

Moving up from the S/SW gimmes of IAMA (ugh!) and GEEK to get the marvelous entry MRMIYAGI, I saw "Actress Davis." I remember Bette, but happen to be a huge fan of GEENA. Loved her work in "Quick Change," a fun flick if you've never seen it--featuring a socko bit role by Tony Shaloub as a cab driver who only speaks ???-ian. "Bluftoni. BLUFTONI!!" I can hear the director telling him, "Just make up a word. Say anything. Just bluff, Tony!"

Anyway, back to DERGROUND, so I was assuming the missing UN-. When I got to the north, there was IFORM, so that was reinforced. I had yet to figure out that I hadn't gone far enough. Then in the west, I couldn't grok 45a. The crosses wanted GOE--then I pulled back a few inches and the (sun)LIGHT came on! Now I understood why there was no room for MOON in the O'Neal film title ("Got two tens for a five?")

Brilliantly executed IDEA there, (T)BILL! I agree with the m-c rating, but managed a correct solve sans help. What's not to like? OHOH, IDIO, ADIN. For the result,I gotta cut ya some slack.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  


DUCK AND UHOH before ohoh.

Oh - and then there Anna Paquin's Oscar- winning performance in (The) Piano at the age of 11 (it seemed to fit better than Paper moon at the time).

I don't really understand all of the grumbling with MrMiyagi and Mraz crossing. We saw both of those late last year...

DMGrandma 4:29 PM  

I'm with @dk, this was not "my cuppa". Maybe if the note had appeared in my puzzle, I'd have figured out the circled spaces made a word. Kept expecting a reference to them would appear. It didn't, so no help there. Wondered why PAPER din't include the moon part, but never tumbled to the answers crossing the black squares. Then there were all those strange names. Got about three-fourths done and decided I really didn't care anymore. I'm with those who prefer the less gimmicky, figure out the real word puzzles. Didn't mean to be so grumpy, but there it is.

Red Valerian 5:15 PM  

I liked it! Had managed to forget about Mraz from last year, though when I saw the clip that @jae posted above, I realized I'd seen it before--almost certainly at the blog! Anyhow, I either guessed right, since I didn't know Roeg, or the information was somehow in my brain anyhow. Sort of like blindsight.

Anyhow, fun, fun solve for me. And you don't seem "grumpy," @DMGrandma. If you didn't like it, well, you didn't like it!

Dirigonzo 5:15 PM  

I knew MRMIYAGI but I did not know the singer so I finished with one blank square and I'm happy to settle for that. The eclipse(s) appeared early in my margin but it took a while to figure out where and how they appeared; the LIGHT finally came on with the nonsensical DRES IFORM in place.

69a accurately refers to the fact that FERN has been a Crayola color since 1998, so the clue seems fair enough to me.

Speaking of astronomical events, the Leonid meteor shower occurs this month; there should be about 20 meteors per hour when the Earth passes right through the debris trail spread along the orbit of the Comet Tempel in the early morning yours of the 17th. A penumbral lunar eclipse happens on the night of the full moon, also called the Frosty of Beaver moon, on the 28th.

rain forest 5:43 PM  

@spacecraft Fawn IS a colour. Just read any PD James book, and it's there. I guess Crayola can call their colours anything they want to, so Fern is OK. There is a colour called Sage, and Moss. I hear that soon there will be a shade of blue called Obama. Enough colouring.
Puzzle was excellent, for so many reasons described above by better describers than I. Only because I had heard of Jason Mraz did I get MrMiyaga who started off as a doctor. It is a great feeling when you actually sense that elusive "aha" moment in a rebus puzzle, as I did with "dress uniform" and "moon shot". Lotsa fun.

Ginger 8:24 PM  

WOW I loved this puzzle. Took me all day, but the AHA (S) was worth it. @Spacecraft, my evolution in persuit of the various suns was almost identical to yours. I did google ROEG, in the SW, but I did remembered MRMIYAGI of the Karate Kid.

Color is in the eye of the beholder, and it is definitely not finite. I spent much of my working life helping folks choose colors in decorating their homes. 'JADE' from yesterday, FERN or even CHOCOLATE can be colors, and yet the sense of them is subjective.

Great concept, tough and mind twisting. Thanks Bill Thompson, I really enjoyed solving this gem.

Thursday/Sunday Fanatic 12:23 AM  

Too tough for a Thursday. All the movies I've seen about vampires show they can be killed with a wooden stake through the heart. Not IMMORTAL in my book.

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