Town on Cape Cod / THU 10-25-12 / Big Whig / Opera character sings Largo al factotum / only way to run away without leaving home / Part of Mideast orchard

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Constructor: Caleb Rasmussen

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: TETRIS — circled letters contain the word "TETRIS"; theme answers are a [basic instruction for TETRIS]: "DO NO LET THE / FALLING BLOCKS / REACH THE TOP"

Word of the Day: STAPES (43D: Smallest human bone) —
n., pl., stapes, or sta·pe·des (stā'pĭ-dēz').
The innermost of the three small bones of the middle ear, shaped somewhat like a stirrup. Also called stirrup.


[New Latin stapēs, stapēd-, from Medieval Latin, stirrup.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/stapes#ixzz2AH34ISVa
• • •

I never played TETRIS. It was huge when I was in college, but the idea of pushing FALLING BLOCKS around faster and faster and faster never held any appeal for me. Perhaps this is why I feel like I'm missing something here. I keep wanting there to be something more. Like, if I shake the paper or push a certain letter pattern the blocks will actually start falling. But I think the mere "basic instruction" (as well as the shapes formed by the black squares) is all there is to the theme. Fill is good and bad. The long Downs are pretty darned good—I especially like OIL RESERVE (28D: The Gulf of Mexico has a big one)—and who doesn't love Millard FILLMORE (34D: Big Whig), am I right? But this grid has one of my least favorite crossword towns in it (TRURO, ugh) (38A: Town on Cape Cod), and I don't think ERE and E'EN should ever be that close to each other (unbearable crosswordese proximity). Clue on GONE DARK is weird (10D: Closed, as a theater). Really should have some kind of spy clue—something about going off the grid. Something Jason Bourne-esque. Overall, though, the fill is fine—not particularly objectionable, occasionally interesting.


I looked at the clues for the NW at first, but didn't get anywhere and so went to where I saw my first gimme: 61A: "Evil Woman" grp. (ELO). With the exception of the "P" in STAPES, the whole bottom / SE section went down pretty easily. I think I moved in a vaguely anticLOCKwise fashion from there; I know I finished in the SW. Wasn't sure about LAY READER (25A: Congregation member authorized by a bishop to conduct part of a service), but the clue sure helped me get the LAY part and the rest just fell into place via crosses. I know squat about opera, but got FIGARO from -RO (37A: Opera character who sings "Largo al factotum"). Wasn't sure it was right, since I know FIGARO only as a repeatedly sung name, not a particularly character. I did, however, know who ORESTES was—right up my alley (40A: Brother of Electra). Got YEOMEN from -MEN because it just ... sounded Englandy (2D: ___ Warders (Tower of London figures)).

Twyla Tharp attended my alma mater. Also, Tharp and Sharp (my real last name) are close. So I feel an affinity with her. She wrote a whole book on the creative process, so I'm not surprised to see a quote of hers used to clue ART (5D: "The only way to run away without leaving home," per Twyla Tharp). Thought 24D: Where police look for matches might have something to do with arson. Then police line-ups. Never think of police actually being *in* DNA LABS, but I guess they do look *to* the labs for answers, so OK (24D: Where police look for matches). FIG TREEs were part of my backyard landscape growing up. Knobby trees with big-ass leaves. Lots of fig orchards in central California. Also in the Mideast (which I assume means "Middle East") as well (37D: Part of a Mideast orchard).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

75 comments:

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Mumsie I wuv you.

Johanny Bach, Op #0

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

First pass through and things weren't looking too good, although I finished in an average Thursday time. I cracked the theme from out of nowhere with almost nothing. I hadn't even gotten my first Across yet (FALLING BLOCKS) and cracked TETRIS, also noticing the block pattern. Pretty awesome. That got me in and I filled most of the grid by working out the theme answers. That's unusual for me - most times the theme doesn't contribute much to the solve.

Had to throw darts on the TRURO / SLUR cross and the OERESTES / ENVOIS - STAPES crosses. How much does that cross suck? Hit two for three, which is better than usual when guessing. For STAPES, I decided that the only possible consonant was an S, but settled on a vowel (O). -1. Bummer.
..............................

Loved the clue "One who frequently sees Spots, for short". Wasn't fooled at all, but liked it.
..............................

Missed opportunity to clue NOM to NOM NOM NOM. Didn't care for the ho-hum clue that was offered.

JFC 12:48 AM  

I have no way of judging this puzzle. But I can judge Rex. I knew he would not like this puzzle or at least damn it with feint praise. Don't ask me how I knew. Just believe me that I knew.

However, I appreciate the Nina Simone clip, even if I didn't watch it, because I loved "Point of No Return."

JFC

JFC 12:50 AM  

Did I really say feint praise? Shame on me....

JFC

Anoa Bob 2:43 AM  

JFC, I like feint praise. Adds an interesting twist.

Confidently put LSD for 5D "The only way to run away without leaving home...".

Instantly remembered 35D AGLISTEN from Eng. Lit. 101 and Robert Burns' "Ode to the Conjugal Act".

If you liked the Nina Simone hook-up like me, check this out.

Evan 2:49 AM  

Rex, does that picture at the top mean you were an avid Q*bert gamer? If so, I'm impressed, because it's way, way harder to play and master than Tetris.

Besides the matching Tetris blocks, there are some other quirky couples in this grid -- EVA and EVO, THERE'S MORE FILLMORE, the artsy French twins OEUVRE and ENVOIS, and ST. MARKS looks like what happens when SMARTS and STACK have a baby.

I never saw the article that leaked the puzzle theme in advance, so I fortunately still had the a-ha moment. However, I have to give credit to the Kotaku user Kingman Cheng for coming up with the most clever comment in response to that article and the puzzle in general:

"So...if you fill in each white square will the crossword disappear from the page?"

Aglisten Carla Michaels 2:59 AM  

For a theater to "GO DARK" is a very theater-y, artsy answer, totally evocative, so I disagree slightly with @Rex there, but feel the same with almost everything else...
Esp the ERE/EEN. I gasped when I thought it was gonna be EER/EEN!

Never seen or played TETRIS, so I didn't know if I should let the falling blocks fall, reach the top or disappear, so puzzle was more or less meaningless for me, but I like the idea of trying to represent another game, in this case computer, in a crossword format, even tho the subtleties were lost on me.

Are the black squares exact parallels to what the blocks look like in TETRIS? If so, wow!

The puzzle felt nice and erudite with FIGARO, ART, GLISSANDO, ORESTES, ENESCO, ENVOIS (??!) OEUVRE, ENDNOTE...
Not a sports or Simpsons ref in sight!

Evan 3:32 AM  

@acme:

Yes, the black squares represent Tetris blocks. You can see a simple animation of them here.

If we wanted to be uber-picky, you could say that the puzzle is actually missing two different blocks -- the backwards L and the backwards Z. In Tetris you can rotate a block while it falls, but you can't invert it to get its mirror image, so an L-shape and a backwards L are two different blocks to deal with.

manitou 4:46 AM  

There was a Ben Tausig puzzle with the same concept a few years ago in the SF Guardian. I recall it being a little more elegant and including the name of game's inventor.

Clark 5:50 AM  

Tried TUSHEE, TUSHIE, TUSHEY — nothing worked. Then I spotted a typo. Meant to change NUTTY to BATTY but had BUTTY. The TETRIS thing was lost on me, but that made it more challenging (though not so interesting) to work out the instructions.

Tyler 8:00 AM  

I loved Tetris, and I still felt I was missing something. Cute, though.

Susan McConnell 8:14 AM  

The black squares gave the TETRIS theme away right off the bat for anyone who played it. Felt easier than most Thursdays...lots of musical answers (GLISSANDO, SLUR, OEUVRE, ELO, FIGARO, ENESCO). Really didn't like AGLISTEN, and the ERE/EEN made me say EEW!

Nancy in PA 8:14 AM  

I still love Tetris, but it didn't dawn on me that the black squares were the correct shapes until I read Andrea's post. Duh. But I liked the puzzle. Had wentDARK before GONEDARK. Love that theatery phrase.

John V 8:33 AM  

Didn't see the black squares as tetris pieces until coming here but now I do and .... Wow! Very cool!

NW was a bitch, with OEUVRE under TYPEAB, BELS, etc.

Had PSA for 18D for the longest time, had WGT form AMT at 20@

Very creative stuff, Caleb. Congrats!

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

An easy Thursday for me, with no Bart teacher, family member, favorite phrase. Truro is a lovely town and bears no resemblance to Natick, home of big malls and Doug Flutie.

Carola 8:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
joho 8:38 AM  

I had to come here to be educated and thus impressed with this puzzle. Especially the part that the black squares represent the falling blocks ... nice touch!

Never having heard of TETRIS I tried to anagram the letters into a word that made sense somehow to the theme. TETRIS seemed like a word already but meant nothing to me. So, while I finished the puzzle correctly I didn't get a kick out of it due to my ignorance.

@Rex, we had a FIGTREE in our back yard in California when I was very small and I remember picking them right off the tree ... very juicy but with a taste I had to acquire!

Carola 8:40 AM  

Thought it was just fine - BUT I didn't get the NEATO! moment until coming here for the "reveal" about the Tetris shapes. Far from it - when I looked at the top couple lines of the grid, my reading of this blog for the past several months had me asking "Cheater square?" So much for my SMARTS.

I also liked all the musical references very much. Maybe they were supposed to get us humming that Tetris tune.

Had trouble in the NW. Guessed coLEEN, and Trusts for the banks category - and "tap" for ART (well, it's dance and sort of like running...in place). Took an eon in crossword years to straighten out.

Thanks, Caleb! For your next one, I'll try to remind myself that THERE'S probably MORE.

8:38 AM

The Bard 9:06 AM  

Antony and Cleopatra | Act 4, Scene 15

CLEOPATRA

No more, but e'en a woman, and commanded
By such poor passion as the maid that milks
And does the meanest chares. It were for me
To throw my sceptre at the injurious gods;
To tell them that this world did equal theirs
Till they had stol'n our jewel. All's but naught;
Patience is scottish, and impatience does
Become a dog that's mad: then is it sin
To rush into the secret house of death,
Ere death dare come to us? How do you, women?
What, what! good cheer! Why, how now, Charmian!
My noble girls! Ah, women, women, look,
Our lamp is spent, it's out! Good sirs, take heart:
We'll bury him; and then, what's brave,
what's noble,
Let's do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us. Come, away:
This case of that huge spirit now is cold:
Ah, women, women! come; we have no friend
But resolution, and the briefest end.

Z 9:10 AM  

Meh. Just didn't get into this one, much. ORT/ETA/ERE/EEN/ELO/ESS/EVA all in one puzzle. Eww. The longer fill is lively, and the use of the black squares (I guess I would consider them "negative space") as the theme is creative. But the compromises really brought it down to "meh" for me.

I am wondering what the SISTER is doing atop the LAY READER. Such behavior comes AT A COST. I could go on (AGLISTEN, FILLMORE, TUSHIE, much to OBSESS about in the south), but I have stuff to do.

edwords 9:22 AM  

What is wrong with Truro? It's a beautiful town, totally different from anywhere else on the Cape, and just a stone's throw from P-Town, the most outrageous place in New England. Why the hate?

Milford 9:25 AM  

Like the TETRIS theme, reminds me of the Pentamino puzzle a few months ago. Got the theme at FALLING BLOCKS.

Definitely played my share of TETRIS, even to the point of dreaming about it. Didn't someone do a study about that?

Finally got that TUSHIE that everyone wanted to have pinched yesterday.

DNF, though, because I had AGLItTEr, which feels more like a word than AGLISTEN to me, and the EEN and ERE didn't help . The poetic words always feel a little made-up (sorry, @Bard!).

Favorite entries were 9D, (But wait,) THERE'S MORE! and 34D FILLMORE, or as I spell it, F-F-F-I-L-L-L-L-M-O-O-O-O-R-E, Fillmore Junior High!

Milford 9:32 AM  

@edwords - No hate for TRURO here. Was at the Cape last summer and we went to an amazing French bakery shop near TRURO (I think, maybe it was a little south in Wellfleet?). Truly decadent.

jberg 9:38 AM  

DNF, because I did not see = still do not see - ESS. Oops, now I see it - it's singulare! I was looking for ESSeS or SeS - as in 'it's in the esses' - and when that didn't work (reaching the TOP rather than sTOP), I decided it must be EES, which kept me from seeing TUSHIES. Also, not helped because I don't know OTTO Octavius, and misremembered ENESCO as Enescu. In hindsight, OTTO Octavius (i.e., Otto VIII) is a nice twist on the usual crosswordy Otto I and Otto II, etc. I also somehow didn't read the clue for 60A, so changed aglitter to aglister (ugh!) rather than AGLISTEN - famous for its line in "Winter Wonderland"

TETRIS delayed my first book by at least a year. I was truly addicted. To the point where I tried deleting it from my computer, but would just reload it from a floppy disk whenever I felt the urge to play. Nevertheless, I didn't notice the shapes until I came here.

FILLMORE was a big Whig at one point, I guess, but he bolted later to run for President (again) as the American Party (aka 'know-nothing') candidate. But "ersthile Whig" wouldn't sound as good as a clue.

@JFC, maybe the reason you knew in advance what @Rex would say about this puzzle is that he told us on Sunday.

baja 9:39 AM  

Too highfalutin for me! Although I must say that there will always be someone who lived next door to Mr. Orestes growing up, someone else who went to Glissando College, someone else who has a recipe for mushrooms and envois, someone else who thought Stapes was the best book they ever read and Oeuvre was the worst car they ever drove.

Wearing my cranky pants starched today

Cheerio 9:53 AM  

Impressive!

jackj 9:54 AM  

Caleb Rasmussen has certainly come on like gangbusters and with only three published NY Time puzzles TODATE, he has achieved a sort of nerdy stardom (and perhaps a fan club for all I know). Good show, Caleb!

Today’s topic is TETRIS and my only previous contact with it came in the mid-1980’s when a group of us shared a beach house for part of the summer and with video games galore for the kids, one of the ladies in our group sorted through them, thought Tetris looked interesting, tried it and never left the game or let anyone else play it, for the entirety of her stay. I think she liked it.

Fill-wise, any puzzle that has BUT as a standout entry promises to be highly entertaining and Caleb doesn’t disappoint as he also gives us the brilliantly clued OEUVRE mirrored by the super-cutesy TUSHIE as prime examples.

THERESMORE, GLISSANDO, GONEDARK and PUNTED are among the many more smart bits that test our ability to pull answers out of cleverly posed clues while there are a few frustrations as well, AGLISTEN, ENVOIS, STAPES and SLUR, most notably.

My biggest disappointment came at 7 down, clued as “Crackers”, which of course means “crazy” and when the B of BUT appeared and a five-letter word was in the offing, I hoped to see BARMY as the answer but, alas, our nutso subject is only BATTY.

Thanks Caleb, but of course your fan club will now surely be asking, “What will you do for an encore?

Romanian Names End in U 10:10 AM  

Found this to be one of most enjoyable puzzles to solve in a while. Normally I don't like puzzles whose themes are quotations or this type of variation, but for some reason I enjoyed deciphering this one out. Loved the music "sub-theme." I felt for sure the instructions would involve music. Amazingly, I never noticed the tetris shapes even after I finished the puzzle. I wouldn't have finished the NW corner without knowing that the circle boxes contained a t and an e (at least I suspect I wouldn't have. Very enjoyable.

But once again G. Enescu's name is spelled wrong. Grr.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:55 AM  

I still miss the Thursday Rebus.

The Twyla Tharp clue was a gimme for me, only because I recently did a puzz with the exact same clue. But since I print and set aside a lot of puzzles, it might have been published any time in the last three years.

Thank you, Evan, for posting the animation. Without it, the "instructions" in the grid made no sense to me, since I have never in my life played TETRIS or any other video game.

Two Ponies 11:06 AM  

With puzzles like this I write the circled letters in the margin as they get filled in.
That effort got me nothing today.
Sorry Caleb, but if you've never heard of or played that game it was a big disappointment.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

A man was attacked by a great white shark in TRURO this summer. Nearly bit off his leg. It was all over the news so I think that was fair game.

Sandy K 11:17 AM  

Finished the puzzle and saw TETRIS, but knew nothing about the game, blocks, shapes, etc. til coming here.

Guess for those who know TETRIS this constuction was NEATO and showed lots of SMARTS.

Loved GLISSANDO and THERE'S MORE musical terminology.

TUSHIE- hot!
ERE/EER- not...

Sparky 11:26 AM  

Started at the bottom and worked up. EVA my first entry. LaerTES before ORESTES. He's a brother. SISTER easy as we had a similar nun clue recently.

I approached this warily because of my abysmal experience on Sunday. It was tricky but
doable and I enjoyed it. Know nothing about TETRIS. Didn't matter. The only games I play on the computer are Solitaire and Mahjong.

Thanks @Evan for the illustration. Thanks @Caleb for the puzzle.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Do you own a cell phone manufactured after 1995? Then I guarantee that you own a copy of TETRIS. You may not know it, but you own it

Susan McConnell 12:04 PM  

@Z - so glad I came back to read more comments. Thanks for the chuckles!

Sparky 12:23 PM  
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syndy 12:31 PM  

I was really hoping someone besides me tossed in OEDIPUS! I will join in with those concerned about Rex's bullying of poor TRURO! What's with that?-Got FIGARO offa Factotum.HAH!I liked the puzzle.but I was glad that one egg was an oeuf

dk 1:00 PM  

Had nap instead of ART. Note use of foreshadowing.

Joho, had to fight the parrots for the figs in my Pasadena back yard.

**(2 Stars) AGLISTEN! ABREAK is what I want. Think of the function of an x-word. The use of the TETRIS shapes and theme are cute and all but over shadowed by some rather lame fill.

joefrombrooklyn 1:21 PM  

I found this to be quite hard for a Thursday. Unlike Rex, it was the bottom that really stumped me (although I found the NW hard too).

In the SE we had ORESTES and TRURO crossed with an obscure definition of SLUR. , ENVOIS and STAPES didn't make the section any easier.

Moving to the middle, ENESCO/DSC stumped me.

Then GLISSANDO, AGLISTEN, and even FILLMORE (although I feel like I should have known that one) were tricky long answers crossed with arbitrary fill (TMS, ROT, ERE, EEN) that didn't give me any firm hold on the SW.

Now that I look at it this puzzle was really for music devotees. You have ENESCO, ENVOIS, GLISSANDO, SLUR, FIGARO, even OEUVRE.

Totally missed the Tetris design despite hundreds of hours played in college. Maybe it pays to look at the big picture before diving into the clues.

mac 1:27 PM  

Odd to have the whole puzzle filled in and to have no idea what it was about.

I too wanted LSD at 5D. Thought Beefeaters were at the Tower of London.

Gone dark is my favorite answer.

chefbea 1:34 PM  

Still busy getting our new house in order so not much time for puzzling. Have heard of Tetris but never played it or know what it's about

On another subject...you might find this blog interesting!!! Like mother - like daughter

http://jodiskitchenandhome.blogspot.com/

Truro Tetris Trouble 1:37 PM  

I did not take Rex's comment to be a dislike of the town TRURU, but the awkward crosswordese spelling of TRURO- but then, only Rex really knows...

@anon 11:33
My cell phone does not have Tetris.

Carola 1:58 PM  

For those who weren't familiar with TETRIS - the game involves not only FALLING BLOCKS but also a zippy musical accompaniment. Likewise, the grid offers us the Tetris shapes and also a lot of music - but here the "accompaniment" is classical, with Bach's entire OEUVRE, Enesco's Rhapsodies, FIGARO's "Largo al factotem" and Handel's ORESTES, embellished with SLUR and GLISSANDO. Funny contrast!

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Liked the puzzle a lot, once I corrected the 2nd-to-last circled letter from u to i (i had tuccus for the longest). That help me get the first 2 circles and the NW, which had been vitually blank, also for the longest.

Surpised no one has chimed in with this connection - Sgt. Snorkel's dog in the Beetle Bailey strip is named Otto. Having Otto clued via the strip would have made the SGT answer much easier, IMHO, but maybe that was the point of going the Octavius route.

RT

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

"I have no way of judging this puzzle. But I can judge Rex. I knew he would not like this puzzle or at least damn it with feint praise. Don't ask me how I knew. Just believe me that I knew."

You should always bet that Rexy won't like the crossword. The odds will always be strongly in your favor.

Lewis 3:13 PM  

@milford -- loved your TUSHIE comment

@baja -- you made me haja

Never played Tetris but still liked the puzzle's sparkle.

JFC 3:33 PM  

@Anon 2:22 - A safer bet is that Rex likes it if Patrick Berry is the constructor....

JFC

sanfranman59 3:35 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 19:07, 18:48, 1.02, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:30, 9:22, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging

The Anonymous Penguin 4:07 PM  

Didn't enjoy this one. I hate when you have one clue for multiple entries, music is not my forte at all, and I've never heard of Truro. Also, I was much more morbid than everyone else and tentatively had DIE for the Twyla quote at first.

chefwen 4:24 PM  

Like @Bob K. still missing my Thursday rebus.

Never played Tetris, but somewhere in the recess of the old gray matter I recall hearing that name, then is all started to make sense. TUSHIE was cute and I loved THERE'S MORE I even scribbled in but wait on top of it.

O.K. but not my favorite.

Clark 6:54 PM  

Everything I know about TRURO I know from Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance.

jae 7:51 PM  

Not a tetris player either but I've heard about the game and knew it had something to do with shapes. Mostly medium for me but the NW was tough. I fell for the bank misdirect and it took a while to get YEOMEN.

I understand the mixed feelings about this one. I thought it was OK but might have liked it better if I'd played the game. The fill was definitely hit or miss.

Marvin 9:55 PM  

Really tried to make TUckus work in the SE, but alas...

Noticed the shape of the black squares right after getting TETRIS and was gobsmacked that I hadn't noticed it earlier.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:45, 6:47, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Tue 9:35, 8:58, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:49, 11:50, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:18, 18:48, 1.03, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:52, 3:41, 1.05, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:21, 4:40, 1.15, 87%, Challenging
Wed 6:48, 5:57, 1.14, 85%, Challenging
Thu 10:19, 9:22, 1.10, 75%, Medium-Challenging

OISK 10:53 PM  

Really liked this one. Did not see that he black squares were Tetris pieces, but I should have! No rap, no rock, but "high culture" clues, right up my opera-loving alley. And I didn't need to know who MRMIYAGI is. (hated that puzzle, which was also a Thursday)
Thanks, Caleb.

mmpo 2:05 AM  

How did the sarcastic fencing instructor motivate his students?
He damned them with feint praise...
Probably needs work. I was just tickled by Anon 2:22's typo and thought it was begging to be worked into a pun.
Anyway, I found the theme rather unsatisfying for a Thursday. Felt more like a rather ho-hum Wednesday puzzle to me. All that for DO NOT LET THE FALLING BLOCKS REACH THE TOP? Nothing funny or clever about that, so...I was disappointed. Having the black squares form the Tetris pieces was indeed clever, but...does nothing to make the puzzle fun to solve.
Glissando was a gimme for a trombone player (me). Slur might have been but was not (I was looking for a line in the sense of phrase, not an actual line on the printed music. That's the tricky nature of crosswords...). Enesco really was not a gimme (not my repertoire). And DSC and OTTO were both beyond my ken, so...the central south frustrated me.
That's all...Hey weren't the names of the contest winners supposed to be published with this puzzle? Maybe they were and I missed it. If so, the information is gone now (or I didn't look in the right place). I'll stop now. Everyone has probably gone on tomorrow's puzzle anyway.

Tita 10:25 AM  

Didn't have the circles in my grid, but realized that it was Tetris, because for a few brief periods, I was addicted.
THought it was cute, and it did help finish the grid, which was hard for a Thursday.

@chefbea - congrats on your new home - goo dluck.
And what a scream that your daughter's blog also features beets.

Twangster 3:38 PM  
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Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Just an amateur but feel a bit slighted by the answer "tushie", 59A since the clue didn't call for slang. Additionally, wikipedia mentions that the fill is never meant to be "upsetting", and this is a word many people would not use conversationally....Just sayin'

Notsofast 1:48 PM  

PUNTED is just wrong. Look it up. Puzzle was MEH.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

I agree with 10:10 A.M. The correct spelling is ENESCU. Wiki says the French changed the spelling. Those dastardly French have a myopic way of just being "different" from others and seem to look down at the rest of the world. I've talked with many a Frenchman who claimed the French invented just about everything that was ever invented.
No one will read this but it's nice to get it said, anyway. I feel better!

Red Valerian 12:49 PM  

I thought it was cute, though, like @Bob K and @chefwen, I miss rebuses.

Got TRURO, but more because it's a (considerably bigger) town in Canada--"the crossroads of Nova Scotia." The clue for SGT (Snorkel, e.g.; Abbr.) was nicely tricky (and redundant, looking at it again).

Had BonkY for 7D (Crackers), which made me want 21A (One with a habit) to be SmokER, but I held off on that.

Thought FIGARO and FIGTREE sharing the same F a bit odd. Was mildly surprised (not offended) at TUSHIE, but I agree with @Anonymous 8:32 that the clue should have indicated slang. Perhaps "Butt" would have been better.

Butt I had fun!

Spacecraft 12:58 PM  

@anon 12:06: It is the Russians who inwented everything; just ask Ensign Chekhov. See, your blog WAS read. Glad you feel better.

@Syndy: I too thought of Oedipus--for just a second, till I realized he was Electra's son, not her brother.

@Notsofast: (and BTW I like your handle) I agree: a punt is a type of boat, but I don't think you can mix noun and verb the way this clue does. Not good.

Well. Saturday came early this week. Not medium for me: full-bore challenging. This, despite the "reveal" at my very first glance at the grid: "Hey, those are TETRIS blocks!" Counting the circles, I immediately sussed that the game name belonged there, and STILL had all I could do to finish with no help, errors, or writeovers.

This is a very intellectually slanted puzzle, while I am but a PSEUDO (from last week). I had a Natick--or should I say now, a TRURO--with that U. A SLUR is a "musical line?" Does that mean the TOSSPOT is actually singing when he speaks? And my apologies to those who live on Cape Cod, but you are the ONLY ones on the planet who would know TRURO. Sounds lovely, but obscure for sure. The cluing was Saturday level, and it didn't help that I never heard of OEUVRE.

@Evan: for weird pairs, how about AGLISTEN/GLISSANDO? And FIGARO/FIGTREE?

Well, at least we finished with a cute TUSHIE.

Ginger 1:11 PM  

WOW I'm impressed with the grid and the theme. As Rex says, this causes compromises to be made with the fill. IMHO it's worth it.

I fiddled a bit with the game back in the 80's, and after coming here checked my cell phone, and AHA, there it is. Got the theme from circled letters T E T R, but had REACHbotTOm for 54 A, so getting the SE was tough. (Don't the blocks fall down?)

Clever, clever puzz, Thanks Caleb

rain forest 5:28 PM  

I never played Tetris, which is probably a good thing because of my addictive personality, but my kids did, and so I kind of know what it is all about. However, this puzzle was an absolute bear for me. I'm thinking FALLING STOCKS, and I couldn't get off that. It was only just before completion that it dawned on me what the theme was. I know TRURO, Nova Scotia, and so I thought there can't also be one in Massachusetts. Wanted THATCHER for the big Whig, even though FIGTREE and FIGARO seemed obvious. Oddly, I just wrote in OBSESS and STAPES with no crosses. For some reason, I don't like words that people never use, such as ATILT, AROAR, and AGLISTEN, but I guess crossword puzzles couldn't exist without them.
EILEEN crossing SISTER was a nice touch, and ultimately I had to admire the puzzle, even though it took me forever to finish.

Red Valerian 6:07 PM  

@Ginger--try out the game on your phone! (I just checked mine, and I don't have it.) Yes, the blocks fall down, but the idea is manipulate their orientation as they fall so that they completely fill in a row. If you do that, the row disappears. I think the game ends when the rows (with holes in them, obviously) stack up to the top, and points are earned on the basis of how long that takes.

@rain forest--"our" Truro is named after the one in England, as I suspect the American one is, too. Theirs (or ours) could easily have been New Truro, I guess.

Waxy in Montreal 6:10 PM  

@Ginger, also had REACHBOTTOM for the same reason you did. Only realized it couldn't be right when the 59A clew was also BOTTOM. But even then DNF due to ENVOIS and STAPES.

Always remember ORESTES for the obscure reason that it was ballplayer Minnie Minoso's real first name (memo to self: brain needs decluttering!).

Thanks Caleb for a great puzzle. You're about to REACHTHETOP as constructors go.

rain forest 6:48 PM  

@Red Valerian Thanks for the info about the Truro in England--didn't know that.

@Waxy in Montreal Do NOT declutter your brain. Such efforts will result in your not knowing that your name is Waxy.

Dirigonzo 7:49 PM  

I had started this by myself and had made little progress when WPP arrived on the scene and together we made some real progress but the them remained a mystery. I left for a massage (AHHHHH!) and when I returned WPP had all but a few squares done, one being the R in Tetris which she had never heard of. She left the Military hero's award for me (not that I am one) and with DSC in place we could REACHTHETOP to finish the grid. Now I have to go ask her how she knew AGLISTEN.

The Canadian contigent of syndiland is out in force today - maybe the full moon has brought them out?

Waxy in Montreal 8:17 PM  

@Diri, either the full moon or withdrawal symptoms brought on by the continued lack of any NHL hockey to watch...

TAM 8:18 PM  

I expected more comment on the Natick cross, "Truro and slur"-- unless you're and eastcoaster or are really fluent in crosswordese.

Dirigonzo 8:30 PM  

@Waxy - I never understood why you don't have a hockey league of your own, since many of the best players are from north of the border!

Red Valerian 9:03 PM  

@Dirigonzo: to quote an American film--"show me the money!"

As to why so many Canucks today, I dunno. Maybe we're feeling all warm and fuzzy about y'all on account of the Barack/Mitt luncheon today, so we wanted to share.

Which reminds me--what happened to Evil Doug? I know he was not one of your favourites, @Diri, but I found he often added real value (if that makes any sense) to this blog.

Seriously, what happened to ED?

@TAM--what else did you consider? Traro and slar? Triro and slir? etc. Do you really think the vowel too Naticky to infer, or did you have a different issue with the clues/answers there?

I think this is three! over and out

Joshua 10:58 PM  

@Anonymous 8:32 AM: TUSHIE is not generally considered an "upsetting" term -- it's more "cutesy" as another commenter indicated. It's the kind of word that those who use the word would use when talking to their young children. Consider that the word "ass" sometimes appears in the NYT crossword grid, and TUSHIE is a lot less offensive than that.

Jericho 12:01 AM  

Hey Joshua, why would the biblical term for donkey be offensive to anyone? Just askin'...

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