German Dadaist Hannah / SUN 9-29-13 / Italian princely family name / 1960s-70s pitcher Blue Moon / Bacteriologist Julius / Fourth Arabic letter / Setting of 2012 film John Carter / Medication for narcoleptic

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Constructor: Norm Guggenbiller

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Overheard in New England" — common phrases are reimagined as phrases where "R"s (following "A"s) (except in one case, for some reason) are dropped, creating new, wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Theme answers:
  • 24A: A "Star Trek" officer and a physician are going to board a plane? (SPOCKS WILL FLY)
  • 36A: Atlantic fishery officers? (COD COUNTERS)
  • 59A: Work agreeably in a greenhouse? (POT ON GOOD TERMS)
  • 76A: "Happy Birthday" on a cake, e.g.? (GOBBLED MESSAGE)
  • 95A: Sexy operators? (HOT SURGEONS)
  • 112A: Where frogs shop? (HOPPER'S BAZAAR)

Word of the Day: Hannah HÖCH (29A: German Dadaist Hannah) —
Hannah Höch (German: [hœç]; November 1, 1889 – May 31, 1978) was a German Dada artist. She is best known for her work of the Weimar period, when she was one of the originators of photomontage. (wikipedia)
• • •

I liked virtually none of this. First, right off the bat, looking at the title, I'm thinking "Oh great, another speech parody puzzle. This should be wacky." I sort of remember how it is that New Englanders are supposed to talk, so this should be no problem, I thought. But the phrases in the theme answers are so preposterous and convoluted that I don't get Any for what seems like a very long time. Meanwhile, cluing is off and fill is boring and I'm having a very hard time caring. No one would ever use ENCASES for [Boxes up]. There are many, many [Non-Eur. U.S. ally]s. ESTS are not "probably" close. They're attempts to get close. There's a difference. I finished the puzzle somewhere near ESTS and honestly didn't even know what it was an abbreviation of for several seconds. The frame of reference for this puzzle is decidedly old. The clues seemed pulled from some secret Maleskan file, from SAL Bando to Blue Moon ODOM to the clue on THA (89D: Fourth Arabic letter). Really? Not sure there is anything from this century in the puzzle. Oooooh, the "John Carter" / MARS clue. Dat DERE was Fresh!

Joyless. I don't have much to say. Fill is not good, though I've seen much worse. Theme is a bit stale. Cluing is often off and old all over. But all that is a matter of (admittedly strong) opinion. What *isn't* opinion is what a colossal Failure HOPPER'S BAZAAR is as an answer in this puzzle. This puzzle should've been sent back with a little note saying "you've got a consistency problem there in your last theme answer. See how you've got an 'AR' in there that you haven't changed ... yeah, that's weird. That would not be 'Overheard in New England'—either both "AR"s would be dropped or neither would. And as BAZAAH is not a thing ... no. That answer turns your puzzle into a lie. So please come up with a new theme answer. Thanks." But no. "Close enough! Run it!"

I'll give this puzzle BUG ZAPPER. That, I'll give it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Gill I. P. 12:13 AM  

Wow, regional accents! I want to see a minesotah or maybe a y'all (hi @Loren).
I love Sunday goofiness but somehow my attempt to pahk the cah in the bahn yahd fell flaht....
Hey @Diri - do you say COD COUNTERS? I mean really...
Let's see, BUG ZAPPERS was fun to see. Well, come to think, the sound is pretty creepy. I mean you're sitting outside sipping your MIMOSA and then you hear this poor insect explode.
PATE topping a cracker....not in the Golden way Jose. My step-mom sent me a tin of foie gras from France. I wonder if I'll be arrested - (no gravage intended).
Best part of this puzzle was watching TCM and having Hitchcock appear while I was filling out 7D. SUSPENSE!! I know ACME is a "Never on Sunday" puzzler but I wonder what she'd call this....eeriepop?
Off to bed, early to rise for brunch while the weather is beautiful.

Steve J 12:20 AM  

Didn't dislike it quite as much as @Rex, but that's not to say I was thrilled with this one. Definitely noticed the theme was inconsistently applied. HOPPER'S BAZAAR was the worst example, but POT ON GOOD TERMS was also off. If you're going to have a theme based on dropped Rs, you need to drop all your Rs.

I was mildly amused by HOT SURGEONS, as that wasn't the type of operator I was expecting at all. But on the whole, the theme was a bit GOBBLED.

Most of this fell together pretty quickly, even with some of the cluing being a bit odd. But the Oregon area was awful for me, with no clue on COILED, ORSINI or DARTER. Agreed, Maleska-esque trivia, especially with the completely unhelpful clue for 48A (AUS? UAE? KSA? JOR? Does Japan have a three-letter abbreviation?).

WHALE as an answer for "oil source" bugged me. That needed "erstwhile" or something as a qualifier, as everyone except the Norwegians and Japanese agree that harvesting whales for the oil is unacceptable.

Off to a couple weeks of vacation. I know I should tune out, but I'm sure I'll be downloading puzzles when I get the chance.

jae 12:40 AM  

Probably medium but I also had problems in the Oregon area.  No idea about Tortile and DARTER had to be dredged up (got mixed up with some form of Sand DAbs).   The CRETIN SIRENS area also took a while mostly because I had nSEC instead of P(Pico)SEC which kept POLITICS hidden. 


Agree that the theme was kinda hit or miss.  Cleverest SPOCKS WILL FLY...lamest GOBBLED MESSAGE...most amusing POT ON GOOD TERMS.   So, a mild liked it.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

The John Carter movie might be new, but the character starred in Edgar Rice Burroughs' first book in 1912, so not so new.

One of my dad's common phrases was "hey you cretins" so that was a personal gimmie

retired_chemist 12:50 AM  

Interesting that is considered a 21st century thing. It is, but the original John Carter of Mars was an Edgar Rice Burroughs series of sorts in the early to middle twentieth century.

I recall A BEQ puzzle that did this exact same thing, with IMO better answers, a couple of years ago. Should have also been COD COUNTAHS,unless you consider only the first word of each theme answer as the overheard one.

Minnesota was a beast, with potential Naticks at HECHE/ECKO/HOCH. Eventually got it.

PETRI's first name - interesting trivium.

CERO? Crossing the ugly ENCASES? Bah.

An EREMITE on RITALIN? I like that...

BUG ZAPPER was the liveliest answer IMO.


Anonymous 1:01 AM  

I'm willing to give the theme clues a break--the image of Dr. Spock and Mr. Spock boarding a plane together is amusing--but for me, much of the fun of the NYT puzzles is the humor of the Sortzian clues. Today's puzzle was mostly just a slog for me--took a couple of passes. "Ones giving their addresses" gave me a smile, and "cell part" caught me off guard, but I'd have enjoyed more.

Glad to see my biblical friend Abel in there... Which reminds me, I've been missing Evil Doug.

Whitey Bulger 1:01 AM  

The correct version of Dat Dere.

Other than that, I'm sick and tired of people making fun of my accent. You bastads better watch out, I'm wicked pissed.

Puzzled Pastor 1:03 AM  

I'm willing to give the theme clues a break--the image of Dr. Spock and Mr. Spock boarding a plane together is amusing--but for me, much of the fun of the NYT puzzles is the humor of the Sortzian clues. Today's puzzle was mostly just a slog for me--took a couple of passes. "Ones giving their addresses" gave me a smile, and "cell part" caught me off guard, but I'd have enjoyed more.

Glad to see my biblical friend Abel in there... Which reminds me, I've been missing Evil Doug.

Noam د. Elkies 1:26 AM  

Yes, Maleska used the Arabic-letter clue for 89D twice, though it did also appear once before in the Shortz area, albeit a Longz time ago (1994). The letter ث is called Ṯāʾ in Wikipedia, whose entry for "Arabic alphabet" lists several orders which don't agree about which letter is the fourth (though all have the letters A and B first and second) — so it's a questionable clue even on factual grounds. Still, we don't expect the NYTimes to go for "F**κ ___ Police" either...


John Child 1:26 AM  

I guessed wrong on the cross of HECHE and HOCH, so I Googled. Then the app told me I still had an error. I wasn't interested enough to go look for it. DNF. DNC.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

Isn't anyone going to grumble about the way "clutters" was clued as a plural noun? The puzzle lacked pizzaz but spouse and I worked it out and had some chuckles along the way. Still have to agree that it didn't seem very New York Timsey.

chefwen 2:32 AM  

I did love SPOCKS WILL FLY and that's where it ended. Have to agree with the majority (so far). Hated 84D CLUTTERS that's like really unique. You're one of a kind, or you're not. You either have CLUTTER or you don't. I can't see myself walking into a room and saying "look at all the CLUTTERS in here".

Have only heard of SAND dabs and put DAbbER at 38D, that was my last area to tidy up.

A bit of a slog for me. Oh well...

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

Hard for a Sunday but I liked the theme, nice puzzle.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

I'd say the crossing of ODOM and DERE counts as a Nadick...

6:38 Anon 6:39 AM  

Erm, Natick.

mathguy 7:34 AM  

Agree that it should have been HOPPERSBAZAAH and CODCOUNTAHS, but really got a kick out of the theme answers. I seem to remember this theme or a similar one in another Sunday puzzle. There were enough gimmes (17) and semi-gimmes (where the entry is obvious when knowing one letter) to let me overcome not knowing nine of the entries.

@retired chemist: I never saw " trivium" before. It reminds me of "raviolo."

chefbea 7:55 AM  

Liked the theme but had to google a bit and still DNF. Loved the clue for Deere and edible.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Would you say something about last Sunday's puzzle? I got every square but couldn't understand what the boxes have to do with braille.

John Child 8:15 AM  

@anon 8:03 Look at the letter "O" in the boxes. Draw yourself a grid of where the Os are in each box. Then look at the Braille alphabet, and you can read off the meta answer.

Totally cool too: there are no other Os in the puzzle. The boxes weren't even necessary though they did make it a little easier.

loren muse smith 8:20 AM  

Hi, @Gill I.P.! Obviously I'm going to get a kick out of phrases like these, and I liked them all a lot more than Rex. Each one made me smile, so a good Sunday for me. @jae – GOBBLED MESSAGE was my favorite! Go figyah.

One of my nice emails from Paula involved a theme like this, so that BAZAAR jumped out at me, too. I understand why mine was rejected, but as I was filling it, I felt I had to exclude not only other AR incidences, but I had no R in the grid anywhere. I guess it'll take a while for me to understand all the rules! So, agreed, this could have been tighter - I would have been happier without the DARTER, LAHR, TARTANS, BAZAAR.

78D could have been a themer – BUG ZAPPA (annoy Frank?). Hey, I'm on to something. MIND RITA (obey Hayworth?), MILLA LITE (Hmm. Some kind of Jovovich clue. Oh well.)

@retired_chemist – hand up for struggling in Minnesota. Those names crossing took forever.

My "delicate first date topic" was "marriage!" Sheesh. That might be one for @Tita's Hall of Fame.

About to make a huge pot of the Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana. I have a copycat recipe that's so good you just want to turn around and slap someone. Really.

Hey, Norm – I won't finish a Sunday if it doesn't amuse me. I finished this one and liked all the theme answers! Thanks!

Glimmerglass 8:22 AM  

Abel was long underground before Enoch was born. He would have been a late uncle. I particularly like COD COUNTERS (card counters) as doubly New England.

Paul Keller 9:02 AM  

HECHE/HOCH was my downfall. HOCH/ECKO and ODOM/DERE were also unfriendly.

Didn't hate the puzzle as much as Rex, but I get where he's coming from. The theme is tired and not faithfully executed. It didn't completely ruin the puzzle, but you have to wonder if the editor couldn't have insisted on and gotten something better.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Better theme title:

Overheard in Nebraska

Subtitle: Midwesterners poorly imitating New England accents.

Needs to be Cahd Countuh, Hoppah's Bazah, etc.

It's just plain wrong. Drop the R's or don't. You can't half-ars it and pretend it's ok. (There's a little "old" England joke "R" joke there)

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

meant ... "old" England "R" joke ...

jberg 9:29 AM  

Took me a long time to get the theme, possibly because the phrases the theme answers were based on weren't all that colloquial. So once I got HOPPER'S I started to write in "world" - thinking the theme was 'artists who painted New England scenes whose names sound could sound like local attractions' -- and it did say "shop" in the clue. Shopper's World is next to the Natick Mall, so it seemed appropriate.

Fortunately, that left me one letter short, and I eventually got enough of the other theme answers from crosses for it all to make sense. The phonetics aren't quite right, unless you drawl the first syllable - which is why it's usually represented as AH.

CERO was the least believable answer for me -- I see, it's a mackerel (the Wikipedia entry is a hoot!)

Writeovers: MAta haris before MANEATERS, crawLS IN before STEALS, and sHALE before WHALE.

What everyone said - a long drudge. Time to ESTOP.

Mohair Sam 9:32 AM  

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed did most of this one and told me it was easy-medium. I watched the Phillies game (oh, how the mighty have fallen) and fielded yelled questions from the kitchen: "That'd be NOLES", "Anne HECHE, but I can't spell it", "Yeah, Bert LAHR was the lion"

Like any Sunday there were a few that had to fill (COILED, EREMITE, HOCH), but we're used to that. So we were happy with the puzz, cuz. Then I read Rex, and I can't really argue with his logic (except I was fine with ENCASES), hmmmm.

But - the point of the puzzle is to enjoy, and we did. Of course the fun was spoiled when I watched Paplebon pitch the ninth - what is wrong with that guy?

Susan McConnell 9:43 AM  

Anonymous@ 9:21 is right...this is a bad imitation at best, and it made the puzzle lame in my opinion. I spent it thinking, "OK, what does he think we sound like for this one?"

Sorry, Mr. GuggenbillAH.

Lindsay 9:51 AM  

Guess I didn't really understand this cuz I finished the puzzle asking myself "What's a 'cord counter'?. Someone who sells firewood? Maybe it's 'chord counter'. Something to do with music."

Speculating that "tortile" might be related to tortellini saved my bacon in that sector, especially as I thought we were allies with the UAR :~(

As a pen-and-paper solver, I was able to increase my enjoyment by flipping back & forth between the crossword and a NYT Magazine photo essay about homeless people living inn Wal-Mart parking lots.

Questinia 9:55 AM  

Overheard in New England... the MAINE version.

Actor Grant-German Philosopher-Petrol Tycoon-First English Child Born In America-Art of Loving Psychoanalyst-Son Who Gets Everything.

HUGH KANT GETTY DARE FROMM HEIR. bupkis after that.... good thing.

WestBay 9:59 AM  
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Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I finished the puzzle (not fun this week) and still don't understand 1D. What's ests?

Susan McConnell 10:15 AM  

@Anonymous 10:02 ESTimateS.

Dan 10:23 AM  

Anonymous@9:21: it's not that it's a bad imitation of a Boston accent, it's that you have to read the answers with a non-Boston accent to make them sound right.

That is, most non-New Englanders would pronounce "cod" the same way someone with a Boston accent pronounces "card". But the Bostonian would pronounce "cod" and "card" differently. But yeah, anyway, kind of a disaster linguistically.

(For gory details, look up "cot-caught merger" and "father-bother merger" in Wikipedia.)

Ellen S 10:25 AM  

@everyone: what you all said. ESTimateS--you hope they are close! I had to Google some of the more obscure trivia (HOCH, tortile) but glad I finished in time to comment, before the next puzzle comes out.

@Puzzled Pastor, I've been missing Evil Doug, too. The blog hasn't had many spocks.

Z 10:26 AM  

Liked the themers fine because I didn't notice the inconsistencies. Ignorance is bliss.

Finished with an error. Not knowing PRIVET made DuNGY look okay to me.

@Questina - excellent

@Lindsay - homeless? Interesting misunderstanding, that.

@JFC - if Da Bears lose today you might want to consider rooting for the Pack for the rest of the season. As for me, I will root for the Lions in my customary way, by playing ultimate instead of watching the game.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@susan McConnell. Thank you. That is one terrible clue! I understand Rex's complaint at the top.

retired_chemist 10:32 AM  

@ Math guy - good one. Well, one can have one trivium at a time. Hard to have one raviolo at a time though. Unless you are a supermodel on a diet....

@ chefwen, speaking of food, hand up for DAbbER on the same logic. I LOVE sand dabs and get them, usually more than once, every time I go to the Bay Area.

Danp 11:00 AM  

I wasn't nearly as offended by the inconsistency of the R's as others. If you say ca (car) or watah (water), no one has trouble understanding it, but if it sounds like another word, it stands out. Writers frequently pick a few words to spell phonetically to indicate an accent, while leaving others pure. Otherwise, readers would be driven to distraction.

Lindsay 11:06 AM  

@Z... Yes, someone who "has been alternating between stays in a Walmart lot and spots in the woods for the past seven years" is homeless per my understanding. Ditto the family that sold everything it had in an effort to find something better, and the 20-somethings who don't want to worry about bills or what's happening next. Though probably these last have parents' homes.

Apologies to people who are just seeking puzzle commentary.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Using Rex's (irritable) logic, the same would be true for the first theme answer, "Cod Counters." The second "er," also, would not be pronounced.

But, sheesh, aren't these supposed to be "fun"?


Norm 11:15 AM  

Thought this was kind of fun. Enjoyed the theme answers.

007 11:17 AM  

As a Bostonian who doesn't have the accent but hears it all the time I agree with all the comments about inconsistency and lack of fidelity to cahd countahs, etc. Finished but slowed down by putting in shale originally as oil source. Nice misdirect there if intended.

Jim Curran 11:43 AM  

Another misguided attempt to mimic the New England accent. In Boston the AR sound comes out as AH, not as O. It's the New York accent that turns AR into AW. Thus CARD would be CAHD in Boston but as CAWD or COD in NY. But hey even Matt Damon has it wrong in some of his movie roles

Susan McConnell 11:49 AM  

Well said, Mistah Curran.

Jim Curran 11:54 AM  

Exactly right Susan!

JFC 11:56 AM  


The only thing Rex likes less than this puzzle is me (he at least gave the puzzle BUG ZAPPER but doesn't waste one PSEC thinking about me), so if Da Bears lose today I will commit suicide, thereby alleviating Rex of one PITA. Suicide is also a better choice than rooting for the Pack....


Brookboy 12:06 PM  

I thought it was an OK puzzle, nothing mind-blowing (like some of the recent ones), but not as bad as Rex found it. I also was surprised at his finding it medium to challenging. I thought he'd rate it easy to medium, which is what I thought. Ain't often that Rex rates a puzzle harder than I do.

I'm old enough to remember when both Blue Moon Odom (61D) and Sal Bando (98D) were teammates on the Oakland A's team that won three World Series in a row (1972, 1973 and 1974). (A piece of trivium [new word learned here today] for baseball fans: Jim "Catfish" Hunter was also a member of those Oakland A teams before joining the NY Yankees in 1975.) Very nice touch, including those two key teammates from those teams.

I got a mild kick out of the pronunciation gimmick, wasn't offended by the lack of consistency (which I didn't even notice until I came here).

Went with SnEAkSIN (52D) until ELITISM (73A) gave me STEALSIN.

The only cavil I had was the straightforward cluing, the lack of sly wit that shows up in so many other puzzles.

But overall I enjoyed it, got it done fairly rapidly (for me).

Captain G. Piecost 12:38 PM  

A New Englander's comment - -

"What do you mean there's no 'ah' in 'pahk?' Of course there is. Pee ay ah kay."

BlueStatah 12:53 PM  

Hmmm. This was the easiest and best Sunday for me in many years. Must have something to do with the fact that Rex thought it was too old....

Carola 1:04 PM  

This one was definitely not TOO EASY for me - much I didn't know (ALT, HÖCH, THA ECKO...), couldn't remember (PRIVET), remembered wrong (EDMuND), or couldn't guess easily (most of the theme answers), Still, I liked it for being goofy and, to me, funny - especially SPOCKS WILL FLY and HOPPERS' BAZAAR (though I see @Rex's point about the inconsistency).

Not sure about the MESSAGE in the SIRENS-HOT SURGEONS-MANEATERS cluster, with EDIBLE below.

Agree with @Gill I.P. on the PATE-on-cracker question. When I had the P, I thought "P AND J?"

Z 1:08 PM  

@Lindsay - The photo essay is about people camping out in Walmart parking lots. Some of these people are homeless, some are RVers, some are just traveling. I found your initial comment interestingly inaccurate (why did the homeless become the most salient fact to you?). More interesting, in fact, than discovering that PRIVET is a hedge shrub.

@JFC - Seems a bit extreme.

Captcha pic is a white blur on a gray background. I'm pretty sure the number is 42.

Masked and AnonymoUs 1:14 PM  

@4-Oh: har... er... hoehh... er... haahh... er...
Good mornin, sunshine. Can tell U really suffered, workin thru this puz. Good for the soul, dude. Good for the soul.


Mystery Fish of the Day: CERO. Can U get that in a DARTER model?

Caught in the crosshairs snag: H?CH/ECK?.

PuzEatinSpouse gives this puz thUmbsUp. M&E, I like almost all crossword puzs. I made a real (flea-infested) crossword once. Unbelievable hard work. Can't imagine what it would be like to make a Sunday-supersized one. Day-um. Tempted to make a top ten list, of what doin that would be comparable to, in the real world.

But,... no. Let's just say thanx, Guggenbillah dude, for puttin it on the line fer us.

Phil Shaver 1:34 PM  

I am amazed to see that neither Rex nor the other commenters so far have referred to the famous magazine Harper's Bazaar, which IS correctly transformed into a Boston Hopper's Bazaar in the possible. Harper's = Hopper's. Get it?

Lindsay 1:51 PM  

@Z ... I was tying the dreariness of the solve to the dreariness of living in a parking lot. In retrospect that was glib and insensitive. I apologize for the gobbled message and hope to pot on good terms.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Most exaggerated pronunciations of place names in Massachusetts...Wistah (Worcester), Sumvul (Somerville), Woobun (Woburn), Ahbun (Auburn), Waban (Waban). This puzzle not really fun...agree with Rex.

joho 2:17 PM  

I thought it was kind of amusing but agree with those who have pointed out the inconsistencies in the theme answers.

I laughed thinking than M & A would post: Hah! Hah! Today he needs an interpreter!

I would much rather see ERN clued as a living bird rather than a suffix.

I wondered if the post office's MRZIP was a great big zero.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

I thought it was easy-medium.... especially after Saturday's total bomb [for me]. I didn't 'feel the love,' but got through it with no write-overs before the load of wash was done!

DavidS 2:21 PM  

Gah. Unenjoyable. I usually think Rex is a little too harsh, but there was *so* much to dislike in this puzzle! Naticks (HECHE/HOCH/ECKO and ODOM/DERE), inconsistent theme, poor fill. I would say, instead of "medium-challenging," it rates "medium-feh." Sundays should set a better standard. I blame the editor!

Z 2:38 PM  

@Lindsay - the curse of plain text. By "interesting" I meant that it sparked my curiosity. I totally missed your intended point.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

These dumb joke Sunday puzzles are the reason I stopped doing the Sunday puzzles. Yuck. I'll just stay away and not waste my time.

A Sunday Kind of M and A 2:44 PM  

Yo, @lms: I now see we both wanted BUG ZAPPA. Didn't mean to steal yer material. Have y'all made any epic puzs of yer own, lately? I see about half adozen subliminal themer ideas in yer comments, each and every day. Life in the back country must be agreein with U. Got any livestock, now? We got chipmunks.

Hope everyone of U nice folks get to keep yer government fundin. I'll be on a roadtrip for awhile, in search of the @evil duck.

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

Blah! A real slog, no fun at all.

Moon Unit and Dweezle 3:18 PM  

Leave BUG out of it, he's our kid brother.

pvg 3:19 PM  

I am irritated that I still don't understand HOT SURGEONS, that I am still working my lips around what the hell it means and am failing. The sooner this mag gets in the bin, the better, though. Oy...

retired_chemist 3:28 PM  
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retired_chemist 3:31 PM  

I HOT Boston (bumper sticker)
Have a HOT
HOT of the matter
Home is where the HOT is


chefbea 3:42 PM's heart surgeons...ah for ar

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

@Retiyahd_Chemist, assume you meant:

I HOT Bawhstin
Have a HOT
HOT of the mattah
Home is wheat da HOT is

If not, git outah heah!

MetaRex 4:11 PM  

My reax today pretty much duped OFL's...

Imagine that one big reason for the irritability of those of us in the irritated camp is that we knew right away what the theme was but then took longer than our usual times to SEE THRU the whole thang...

I like the WHALE/SHALE misdirection now, though it bugged me as I solved...

Gerrythek 4:32 PM  

I don't get it. Can someone please tell me why "Happy Birthday" is a garbled message (GOBBLEDMESSAGE)?

M and A Help Desk 4:41 PM  

@Gerrythek: The message ain't garbled. But it does get eaten, since it's part of the cake. So, it is a gobbled message. GARBLED MESSAGE merely serves as the original phrase, which gets garbled, New England-style, by the crossword's theme machine.

Alligatorwatcher 4:53 PM  

I'm European so many clues about bygone athletes or soap opera actors are lost on me. I think it's a cheap trick (Odom? Ani?). Otherwise, the puzzle was easy but boring. Didn't like the fake New England accent.

retired_chemist 5:23 PM  

@ Anon 3:56 - good one :-)

Has anyone else noticed that the number photos in the captchas are now MUCH easier to read?

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

"Phil Shaver said...
I am amazed to see that neither Rex nor the other commenters so far have referred to the famous magazine Harper's Bazaar, which IS correctly transformed into a Boston Hopper's Bazaar in the possible. Harper's = Hopper's. Get it?"

Yeah, we get the Hopper/Harper bit, but are annoyed that Bazaar is still Bazaar and not Bazah. Get it?

sanfranman59 6:39 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 no data
Tue 8:22, 8:12, 1.02, 59%, Medium
Wed 9:01, 9:44, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium
Thu 10:43, 16:30, 0.65, 4%, Easy (7th lowest ratio of 196 Thursdays)
Fri 18:52, 17:34, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 28:55, 26:19, 1.10, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 31:50, 27:42, 1.15, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 5:29, 5:09, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:20, 5:34, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium
Thu 6:49, 9:27, 0.72, 6%, Easy
Fri 10:12, 10:00, 1.02, 55%, Medium
Sat 23:03, 16:51, 1.37, 95%, Challenging
Sun 20:10, 19:20, 1.04, 58%, Medium

OISK 9:04 PM  

Enjoyed this one very much, despite a bit more pop culture than I like. I don't understand Rex's objections to it. Nice puzzle, gave me a few chuckles as well.

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

CRETINism is a real, horrible medical problem in parts of the world (caused by iodine deficiency). Victims aren't "dimwits". Unlike "moron", "idiot", etc., whose supposedly scientific uses are obsolete, CRETIN is off-limits for insults—except among boors, a group that apparently includes the NY Times puzzle makers.

wreck 10:44 PM  

I am quite perplexed when the "pros" find this puzzle challenging and I waltz through it. I guess it comes down to one's own wheelhouse. I enjoyed this puzzle!

LaneB 11:38 PM  

Pleased to get thru today's whilst keeping an eye on the NFL.. Not challenging for me, unlike this Friday and Saturday's both of which DNFed me.. Enjoyed the accented answers and had trouble with tht NW corner using coho for cero ( which I'd never heard of.)

Also, isn't the fourth Arabic lettr spelled THAA.

Judy Isvan 12:16 AM  

I guess no one else had close ESCapeS from cAfTAN-wearing clansmen while reeling in a giant CEfO fish! I think my solve was more exciting...

Tita 12:30 AM  

What can I say - today was my birthday, so I loved the GOBBLEDMESSAGE!!! I did indeed, thank you very much!

Plus my birthday was spent on Cape COD, surrounded by that accent.

Hand ups for wanting HOPPahSBAZAAh as well as CODCOUNTahS.

@lms - I may need to ask outright for folks to use the comments section on my blog page to elect themselves to my Hall of Fame - I barely have time to do the puzzles these days, even less to stop by here.
@Rex - dunno how you DO it!!!
Having said that, I too thought of marriage!!!

We have a standing Friday night BOCCE tournament at our friends with bottom land on the Housatonic, with a court they built using river silt.

And thanks, Mr. G, for the memory of Mr. Zip, who reminded us all to use that new-fangled invention, way back when. The last pony was still delivering the mail then, I think.

Oh - and I instantly got Clan garb, since I spent those 3 weeks in Scotland surrounded by the be-kilted wedding party.

Anonymous 3:49 AM  

I agree with those who wrote: "Aren't these supposed to be 'fun'?"

I do not look at the blog every day, but a casual reader could gain the impression that Mr. Parker and several of those who leave comments do not actually enjoy what they are why do it? You sometimes sound almost angry, Mr. Parker...maybe a bit of context and perspective would be useful; there are many of us who just enjoy doing these puzzles.

The frequently vehemently critical tone in the blog and in the comments section brings to mind something I heard years ago: "He knew everything there was to know about music except how to enjoy it."

Please: chill out.

Unknown 8:21 AM  

you can't spell a new england accent any more than you can spell how a southerner says "y'all" or how a brit says "canterbury". COD doesn't come close to the sound of "CARD" in maine, nor does HOT represent "HEART". etc. and 24a is a complete mystery... how do a ST officer and a physician add up to "SPOCKS"? BAD PUZZLE!

MJL 10:06 AM  

Loved how they set up the puzzle theme on Friday with "things dropped in Harvard yard?"

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Finished, but didn't like it. CERO, HOCH, DESC, AVEO/PRIVET. Took a real long time to get the trick, especially 'cos it was inconsistently applied, as discussed above.

My only question is why is ENERO "opposite" julio? That makes no sense to me. Anyone?

Tita 8:49 PM  

Now that you mention it, I hadn't a clue about the "opposite" part of that clue either, @anon@2:17.

And @Jim Curran - as long as I'm back, to a NYer, CODCOUNTahs sounds exactly like a Bostonian would... but there is no self-respecting native New Yahwka who would ever say COD for card - Cawd, maybe, but never COD.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

A more complete clue for COD COUNTERS might have been "Atlantic fishery auditors outlawed from Vegas." Like many of you, not impressed with the clueing or the answers for the theme puzzles this time.

LittleShep 12:32 AM  

In a two-column year long calendar July (julio) is opposite January (enero).

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

I'z iz jus' hopin' nobuddy tries ta make a suthun' puzzel, cuz tain't nary da rest of y'all gonna git it.

Sheesh........ I lived way up north in Va. for awhile which also carries some of that "cah in the bahn" dialect, but no, this wasn't a DNF; it was a DNC.

Solving in Seattle 6:24 PM  

I did not really care for this puzzle, partially because I was watching the Seahawks Colts game, which the Hawks should have won but didn't. Too many FMs by the Colts, plus the zebras on their side. Yes, I'll have cheese with my whine.

Had CriTTERS/rEiNSIN before the light bulb came on.
pure before NEAT. Bartender, I'll have my MERLOT NEAT, please.
And I thought Buster Brown said, "and that's my dog, TIdE..."

Capcha: dipelat. Make an ambassador happy?

Dirigonzo 7:13 PM  

As a native Mainah I caught on to the theme easily enough but I still had some difficulty navigating through the grid and foundered on the HeCH/HOCH reef where others sank.

The song playing on the radio as I type is "Hot Chicks and Little White Pills" which seems strangely apropos the puzzle, for reasons I can't explain.

spacecraft 3:40 AM  

Had to leave for the spohts bah to watch my EAGLES whip up on li'l brother. So DNF until tonight, when there'll be no one left to read this...but no matter. I'll throw in my $.02 worth.

OFL is not a big fan of this type of theme, and neither am I. The answers were OK, if not scintillating. So much more could have been done with the clue to POTONGOODTERMS. The imagination boggles. Actually, I thought Mr. Guggenmiller (really?) did a decent job with the fill.

Couple of w/o's: like many, I had SnEAkSIN before STEALSIN (?). One steals AWAY, not in. Also OFFkilTER before OFFCENTER; that one's OK. MOstly instead of MORESO; that was inattentive reading of the clue, my bad.

I give this one an 80. It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

ecanarensis 3:43 PM  

@Anonymous 1:37 AM: me, me, me!! CLUTTERS was one of several that had me screaming "No, wrong, uh uh!" Between these & the inconsistency of the 'cute' answers, this one gets two thumbs down from me. I've never seen ADZ without an E, tho some dictionaries give it as an "alt" spelling...probably last used when whales were a common source of oil, a bit before Buster Brown's dog was romping around. LACES makes things stronger? Weak.

Anybody else bothered by DRYS? If you have one DRY alone in a room & another walks in, you then have two DRYS??
This one gets both a "Meh" & an "Argh!" from me.

Anonymous 11:03 PM  

Yep, I agree. This puzzle sucked giant donkey balls.


JoeM 1:12 PM  

Actually the biggest problem is these are Brooklyn R-drops, not New England. Imagine Bernie Sanders and JFK saying "heart surgeon." Bernie says "hot"; JFK says "haht."

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