Head nurse on Scrubs / THU 9-26-13 / Dance reminiscent of horse's gait / Golden treasure in Bilbo Baggins riddle / Thickness measures / Darth Vader locale / Acid-burned Bat-villain / 30 Rock character or first name of his portrayer

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Constructor: Tom Pepper and Victor Barocas

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: CLOCK (41A: Instrument that hints at the missing parts of certain answers in this puzzle) — border answers must all be preceded by the numbers they would represent were the grid a CLOCK face

Theme answers:
  • 10A: 50% (1 HALF)
  • 13D: Acid-burned Bat-villain (2 FACE)
  • 38D: Like some circuses (3 RING)
  • 63D: Like barbershop harmony (4 PART)
  • 72A: Fin (5 SPOT)
  • 71A: Like a die (6-SIDED)
  • 70A: Sailors' domain (7 SEAS)
  • 58D: Length of a Beatles "week" (8 DAYS)
  • 26D: Popular women's shoe seller (9 WEST)
  • 1D: Annual Car & Driver list (10 BEST)
  • 1A: It has a red striped (11 BALL)
  • 5A: A gross (12 DOZEN)

Word of the Day: "I AM A CAMERA" (65A: Play that was the basis for "Cabaret")
I Am a Camera is a 1951 Broadway play inspired by Christopher Isherwood's novel Goodbye to Berlin which is part of The Berlin Stories. The title is a quote taken from the novel's first page ("I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."). (wikipedia)
• • •

This is very nicely done. I didn't sense precisely what was going on til near the end—I knew the answers around the edges needed numbers, but I honestly wasn't that sure about ___ BALL or ___ BEST and I kept having trouble shaking the phrase HALF DOZEN from my head because of the proximity of those answers, so I just plowed ahead thinking "OK ... think numbers somehow!" But then I finally got into the center with CLOCK. And then I was done, and *then* could look at how elegantly the theme was executed. It's very simple, especially insofar as it appropriates what is essentially a generic 78-word crossword grid shape. Nothing physical about this puzzle lets you know what's coming. Most of the fill is 3- to 5-letters. Very unprepossessing. And yet there are still some nice longer answers in there—the grid is especially lively for a 78-worder—and the payoff is nice. Icky fill is minimal. Good job.

I was surprised at how quickly I blew through this thing (well under 5) considering the whole HALF DOZEN confusion and the fact that I botched / didn't know / couldn't get *both* cross-references. If I knew the Bilbo Baggins riddle, I forgot it. And ENTER / INTO was just ... not forthcoming. If "a contract" had been in parentheses after [Sign], I might have grasped it more easily. But the whole "as..." thing threw me. That "as..." kind of implies that you're providing simply one example, where in this case you are providing really the only example. No one would consider [Sign] and "ENTER / INTO" synonyms except in the case where "contract" was the object. Clue is fair, in that there is precedent for it, but my brain just couldn't process it. Also had LEER for PEER, which really gunked things up for a bit. MILS was not coming easily, and so I was in real danger there (for a few moments) of getting totally bogged down in the SE. But then I thought about it, and LAMPS had to be right, so everything worked out. I'm vaguely ashamed that ODIC a. was a gimme, and b. helped me out Considerably in the ENTER / INTO region.

  • 43A: ___ Fayed, last romantic partner of Princess Diana (DODI) — this clue creeped me out. I know it's accurate, but the phrase "romantic partner" feels almost prurient. Euphemistically prurient.
  • 61A: Dance reminiscent of a horse's gait (GALOP) — I once put the plural of this word at 1A. Oh, 2009 me. So young, so stupid.
  • 54D: Head nurse on "Scrubs" (CARLA) — I had something else here at first. I forget what. I thought I didn't know this answer, and apparently I didn't. But then I did. 
  • 68A: "30 Rock" character, or the first name of his portrayer (TRACY) — one of the more reliably funny actors/characters on network TV.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Grizz 12:07 AM  

I was going to launch into a speil about the black man getting no respect, but then TRACY's black.

mathguy 12:10 AM  

It was a lot if fun. As it should, the theme helped solve the puzzle. Excellent!

Jisvan 12:42 AM  

My first Thursday sans Google! Got the theme quickly and hopped around the edges filling in the number related words. 9West was the last to fall, though I have 30-something pairs of shoes! I expect this was too easy for most of y'all, but I am a happy camper!( The rest of the week should fix that.)

jae 12:45 AM  

Easy Thurs. for me too.  It was pretty obvious at 1a/1d that something was going on with numbers.  I ended up solving the middle last so the reveal was almost my final entry.  Actually, my last entry was the Y in EDYS because I misread brand as band and was trying to remember if I'd ever heard the song "Slow Churned." 

Liked this quite a bit.  Tricky theme with a very smooth grid, plus a fair amount of zip.

Speaking of zip, I think I learned 65a from crosswords.

Seemed like a lot of names...9?

30 Rock mini with TRACEY and LEMON.

okanaganer 12:45 AM  

Twelve theme answers, completely encircling the puzzle. Nice Aha! moment when answering the revealer made sense of all those missing numbers. Solid idea, nicely executed, much fun! Plus not too many abbrevs or brand names, which I always appreciate.

Chad Montgomery 12:48 AM  

Really nice, but would have been way better without the revealer.

Harry Hassell 12:51 AM  

Theme helped me generally but it was not until the end that I realized that the numbers went around the puzzle IN ORDER. That was the real AHA moment for me. Pretty cool.

ZenMonkey 1:16 AM  

Very enjoyable I definitely don't mind the easiness of a Thursday when it's as pretty as this one.

@Rex, thank you for putting your finger on why DODI gave me pause.

Steve J 1:32 AM  

I found this insanely easy for a Thursday (finished this almost spot-on with my average Wednesday time, and that was with a slowdown while I hunted down a mistake with having SEGaR instead of SEGER; I can never remember how to spell his name, but thankfully there's no aDAM cheese). As evidence of how easy this ended up being, this is the first Thursday I can recall where something was filled without my ever having read the clue (in this case, 56A). That's typical Monday/Tuesday/many Wedensdays for me, but never Thursday.

But I'm not complaining. While this was easy, it was also brilliant. The theme was absolutely fantastic, and each answer is unforced (twoFACE is the closest to being oddball). Easily my favorite theme in a few weeks.

I picked up that something was going on with missing numbers pretty much straight away, but I had 9 or 10 of the 12 theme answers filled in before CLOCK came into place. Great reveal, and great theme. Great enough to make me not care much about yet another 90s-esque e-word and ODIC.

On top of the great theme, I really liked SHIP SHAPE and DEATH STAR.

Fantastic puzzle. Nice job, Messrs. Pepper and Barocas.

Evan 1:33 AM  

Definitely easy -- I think I set a personal best for a Thursday on paper. I think CYD was my only real hang-up. I couldn't remember the colors of the pool ball stripes, so I wrote in NINE at first (that's a yellow, now that I think about it). But then because I knew no number could fit there when I got A PIE, I threw in BALL and immediately knew the numbers went missing. From there, it was just a matter of figuring out where they were supposed to go.

If Matt Ginsberg's database is telling the truth, I'm amazed that DEATH STAR has never been an answer in any crossword puzzle. Ever. Applause to Tom and Victor for breaking it in.

Fine puzzle overall -- I liked that the missing numbers were all at the beginning of the perimeter words. I can imagine that it would have been tempting to switch it up for some of themers, or to use partial phrases (like for ONE or TWO), but it's consistent this way.

chefwen 2:08 AM  

@jae - Slow Churned sounds like a great title for a song, think you need to work on that one.

Blew through this one like nobodies business. Put the pen and puzzle down and Jon remarked "you're done already on a Thursday?" Got it right away with 1A and just kept working through the numbers. Cute puzzle, but I was a little disappointed that it didn't offer up a little more resistance, I enjoy that on a Thursday. Probably should shut up now as Friday and Saturday will most likely fillet me.

Questinia 2:32 AM  

if this puzzle were a food it would be an omelette as prepared by Jacques Pepin.

Jack Lee 3:08 AM  

A cute theme, but I'm afraid I completed the grid (well, almost) without realizing what it was, because I got 41A wrong (had ODES instead of ODIC for 24D), and because a lot of the theme answers work without the number. For example, BALL works as an answer for "It has a red stripe in pool" (1A).

Oh, dear, I also got Bob Seger and Pete Seeger mixed up.

Danp 5:26 AM  

@Questinia: Ugh! I hate half cooked omelettes with nothing but chervil in them. But I kind of agree.

Carola 6:43 AM  

Neatly constructed and fun to solve. Like others, I started out knowing that there were some numbers on the edges but didn't get that we were looking at a CLOCK until very late. There was something more difficult about that center section, so I skirted it until the end.

Got off on a bit of a wrong foot thinking that TEN fit with both 1A and 1D, and that TWO went with both FACE and HALF (because you've divided something in 2). Also thought that SEAS was fine on its own (without the SEVEN). But once I got the THREE-ring circus and FOUR-part harmony, I was clued in to the theme. Needed it for NINE West.

Talk about a SHIPSHAPE puzzle. (And I liked how that went with the SEVEN SEAS, too.)

Mohair Sam 7:19 AM  

I agree with everyone that this was very clever and a lot of fun.

However, on my clock the 10 comes before the 11. Just sayin'.

Rob C 7:32 AM  

Easy Thurs. Simple, tight, yet clever theme made for a fun solve. Caught onto it early and never slowed down. Lots of interesting longer fill all around b/c the theme was confined to the edges. Like @jae points out, I picked up on the 30 Rock mini theme - I wanted 4D to be clued that way.

Glimmerglass 7:35 AM  

Yes, it's easy, but I started off thinking it was dumb. BALL is just silly, I thought, some balls have other colors. DOZEN, I thought, is wrong -- what's the matter with Will? And so on. Ah but the light did finally dawn, probably about five [SPOT] o'clock. Rex's analysis is SPOT on.

K9doc 7:39 AM  

At first, thought it was a rebus and had 12DOZEN for 5across with 12D in box 5. So. I went back to box 1 and put in 10B assuming that it was the ten ball and 10 best. Couldn't get 5D to work so I abandoned this approachbut it seemed correct at first? Smooth sailing afterr that.

John V 7:44 AM  

This was a lot of fun! Hand up for knowing something was up from 1A on. I was thinking that it would be something like SITAR and TWELVE all around, but got the theme with FIN as a 5 SPOT!

Very cool theme, Tom and Victor. Nice change of pace for a Thursday!

Airymom 8:05 AM  

The clue for "Dodi" really bothered me. First of all--I agree with Rex,that "romantic partner" is inappropriate. My Dad would have said it has a komischer nachgeschmack (peculiar aftertaste). Second--I didn't like the adverb "last". They died tragically and horrifically and that's a distasteful use of the word "last". "Last" also implies that there were previous romantic partners, and that is just completely unnecessary.

Okay, got that off my chest.

Terrific puzzle--clever, fresh, something different. A bit easy for a Thursday once you got the trick, but I enjoyed it immensely.

joho 8:14 AM  

The only place I was confused for a bit was at 10BEST/10BALL before it was 11BALL. Seems as though I'm with @Carola and @K9doc there ... and I have to think many others.

All other numbers were easy and fun to find.

Today we have a SIAMESECAT following in the footsteps of the BALINESE and the MANX. I wonder who's next!

Brilliant theme guys, beautifully done. You two 12 O'clock Rock!

Susan McConnell 8:23 AM  

@Mohair Sam, are you confused? 10 BEST, 11 BALL, 12 DOZEN...should be the same order as your clock.

I love this. I got the 1 , 2, and 3 answers filled in, then jumped ahead to the rest. Just thought it was numbers until the last answer I filled in was CLOCK. Then realized that they were all in the place they should be on a real clock. I am impressed.

Notsofast 8:36 AM  

Cute and fun. A tip o' the Hatlo hat!

jberg 8:52 AM  

I had the exact same experience as @Evan - haven't played pool for decades, so put in nine contradicted by A PIE. Then I thought maybe it was a twelve ball, and we had twelves on the top, sixes on the bottom, working with D&D dice, maybe. It wasn't until CLOCK that I got it, wnereupon my enjoyment of the puzzle went up about 500%. Very nice!

Tricky in that you have SHIP SHAPE up there in what might be a theme-answer space, so I was reluctant to put in SIAMESE CAT - but it had to be right.

Many nits, though - SCOTIA is poetic? It's just Latin. And if something is two MILS thick, that's one measure, not two - you need to clue the plural some other way, e.g., 'units.' When I thought 70A was just "SEAS" crossing BOLO TIES I objected to the POCs with no hint that they were plural - but that was a little better after I saw the theme.

John Child 9:05 AM  

Wonderful puzzle that was easy, I think, only because it was so well done. I saw the missing numbers early but only caught the 1 to 12 at the very end. This was excellent in the same way that most Patrick B puzzles are. I give it a 12 out of 10 even though ETAIL should be banned forever.

Horace S. Patoot 9:07 AM  

The Magmic app (due to space limitations) had 34D clued as

my Memento

I thought at first that if only I new Italian I'd understand the answer.

Milford 9:15 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milford 9:17 AM  

Loved the theme, and it was my fastest Thursday to date - yay!

Went looking for a rebus, as per usual on Thursdays, and although I sensed something with numbers was going on at DOZEN, I finished the entire puzzle before seeing the actual clock - love it! I think someone should design an actual clock face with this grid.

Noticed the TENON and TENOR pair on the left side of the grid.

DEATHSTAR is a great entry. I personally thought the explosion in the original movie was way better than the re-done one.

Great puzzle overall!

Questinia 9:36 AM  

@ Danp, then make it his country, not classic omelette.

loren muse smith 9:45 AM  

I briefly considered "go commando" for 65A. Yeah right. Someone had to say it. Sorry, Tom. Kevin Bacon's Footloose music, which he says the band plays whenever he shows up anywhere, is kinda like your "go commando." I'll always remember that puzzle!

The only thing I can add to all the accolades for this beauty is that I've been trying for over a year to finish filling a grid where the theme words are around the periphery like this one, and several constructors have told me that grids/themes like this are notoriously hard to fill. I'm stunned at how clean this is and at all the drek in my sad little attempt.

Liked TENOR and 4 PART, GMAC and 10 BEST, 3 RING circus and RIOTS, and, well, sopped up EGG YOLKS are pretty much the highlight of my day.

Congrats, you two. @Questinia is right - this is quietly, understatedly, elegant.

oldbizmark 10:00 AM  

i thought this was lame. maybe because of the revealer? without it, it would have been much more fun. with it, i just knew to look for the numbers around where they would be and made the fill-in very easy. only hiccup was I AM A CAMERA and the cross CYD. I had SYD. Did not know either answer. Still, kind of boring, blah puzzle in my opinion. Thought the simple ET puzzle had much better execution than this attempt to do something clever.

Unknown 10:10 AM  

I almost finished this puzzle.That is very good for me.
I think that 43A was a perfectly legitimate clue. Diana was not a saint. It is a disservice to her memory as a woman to put her up on a pedestal. After what she went through with Charles she had a right to as many lovers as she wanted!!
I only knew the answer because there is an article in today's sports section about his father and the son's name was mentioned.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

Nice one.

At my first look at the grid, with almost nothing in place, saw the five spaces for 41 A, "instrument" in the clue, and wondered if it might turn out to be CELLO or ORGAN or the like. But finished with no write-overs; had caught on early.

(Personal note: Going on vacation. See you in two weeks.)

Z 10:21 AM  

@Mohair Sam - only if you write the numbers down outside the grid is there an issue. However, the numbers all precede the entered word, so I'm visualizing the number on top of the word. I am not visualizing them as Roman Numerals, though.

@airymom - I always presumed Charles was the first, making DODI the last. And while I get the icky feeling the clue generates, it is still a little surprising that a healthy woman in a troubled marriage having a romantic interest other than her husband would be news. I'd call it "being human."

Wonderfully executed puzzle. I got the number thing at (2) FACE, (3)RING, (4)PART. (9)WEST was a mystery, but otherwise straightforward fun. Getting the missing number thing early makes it easy, but I see that when one doesn't, the challenge increases. I thought Slow churned would lead to a butter, but agree that it should be a blues tune. Maybe Clapton can help us out here.

Z 10:25 AM  

I forgot - @Jisvan - congrats and welcome.

@Unknown - yep, only you said it more succinctly than I.

Paul Keller 10:37 AM  

enjoyed this one a lot. I feel alomost lucky that I didn't know ODIC and was slow to get YOKE. That gave me time to wonder about the numbers and made the revealer the last thing to fall into place leading to a very nice "Aha!" moment.

quilter1 10:43 AM  

Easy and oh, so clever. But now I have an eight DAYS a week ear worm.

gifcan 10:55 AM  

I thought, gee this is going smoothly for a Thursday. I started to clue into the numbers thing and had half of them before I got CLOCK. I put the numbers in their places and sailed through to the end.

I had a great time with this puzzle. Thanks Pepper and Barocas. I need a puzzle like this every once in a while.

mac 11:20 AM  

Very easy Thursday, but my admiration just grew and grew as I figured out the beautifully executed theme. Of course I knew it at 9 West. Me and my shoe fetish.

I'm going on vacation, too, for almost 2 weeks, but I'm bringing my laptop. Can't do without the puzzle and all of you!

chefbea 11:32 AM  

Late to the party...my clock stopped...Loved the puzzle. Will read the comments later

retired_chemist 11:32 AM  

I'll add mine to all the previous encomia. Knew something was up - BALL needed a number, a gross was 12 dozen. Briefly considered DOZEN DOZEN, and that the gimmick was doubled words like that, Pago Pago, etc. Then all around the edges it seemed to need numbers. Tried K9Doc's 5Spot @ 72A - no good of course.

Finally saw the theme when I got the reveal @ 41A, very late, when I had only a few unfilled squares. ODes instead of ODIC, plus not knowing Bilbo's riddle, kept it hidden. WOW! Really cool!

Thanks and kudos, Messrs. Pepper and Barocas. My time was unusually long for me but it was well and enjoyably spent.

MetaRex 11:33 AM  


And thx much to the commentariat for allowing the befogged insect brain of MR to realize that the numbers not only go in order but correspond to their positions on a clock face...you all gave me an additional jolt of appreciation for Tom P. and Victor B.'s great work.

Steve J 11:52 AM  

@Horace S Patoot: It took me until this morning and your comment to realize that

my memento

was indeed appendectomy memento. I had stared puzzled at it for a moment while doing the puzzle last night, looked at the crosses and saw it could only be SCAR, shrugged and moved on. I had just figured it was something I was clueless about, like most things Harry Potter or opera.

Mohair Sam 11:52 AM  

@Z and @Susan. Not confused. I got the drift off FACE, RING, and PART (2,3,4) so I put the numbers in the empty spaces in front of where the theme words begin to try to decipher the theme, that's when 11 (BALL) appeared before 10 (BEST).

I know: Pick, pick, pick. It was a great puzzle after all.

Tita 12:41 PM  

Mr. Pepper - thanks!! Mr. Barocas, too, but I hold a special place in my heart for Minneapolis Tom.
Yes, @lms - that puzzle is in my top puzzles of all time list!

Though, I wondered where the 11 went...no other squares put the 2 numbers in the same square - and not knowing my stripes from my solids, I figured 10BALL was perfectly fine.

The only ickiness factor I felt over DODI was being annoyed at having to know that piece of royal trivia.

@bobk and @mac - enjoy!

ahimsa 1:43 PM  

What a fun puzzle! Kudos to Tom Pepper and Victor Barocas!

I caught on early so this was one of my fastest Thursdays ever. But that's fine! Being a bit easier did not detract from the fun.

What's funny is that I wrote out all the numbers as words (e.g., TWELVE not 12) even though I had figured out the theme. When I was finished I thought, why didn't I write them out as digits?! That would have looked nicer and more like a CLOCK face.

Lots of fun long fill, too -- SIAMESE CAT, DEATH STAR, SHIP SHAPE, BOLO TIES (not a fan of the actual thing but the word is fun) and I AM A CAMERA. Amazingly, I actually knew that one but I can't remember how.

This is one of those puzzles that's probably easier (and looks better!) on paper since you can write in the numbers around the edges of the grid.

Bird 1:46 PM  

1A - no idea, but I get it from the downs. BALL? Which one? 11 I think.
DOZEN (off ZACH)? WTF?! Ah, must be a numbers theme.
50% = HALF. Doesn't really need a number so now what? And how does a numbers theme relate to SIAMESE CAT?

Ohhh, CLOCK. Very good.

A fun solve with very little to complain about today. Thanks MSSRS Pepper and Barocas

Carola 2:02 PM  

@ahimsa - About doing this puzzle on paper - yes, I enjoyed looking at my square clock face with the numbers arrayed perfectly around it. I also liked the O in CLOCK right in the middle to represent the little button where the hands are attached (I didn't draw hands in, though :) ).

Tita 2:26 PM  

@carola - if you did, they would have to point at 10 and 2...
Maybe some ADMAN in this blog can tell us why watch ads always show 10:10 WHy not 8:20?

OISK 2:33 PM  

I thought of best 10 instead of 10 best, so the 10 would be below the 11. Finished the grid very fast, catching on to the number theme immediately. A bit too much pop culture, never watched Scrubs, nor The Hangover, nor 30 rock, nor Star Wars, so I enjoyed this a bit less than most others seem to have.

Just guessing 2:46 PM  

@Tita - Looks happier?

Time Guy 3:21 PM  

@Tita: http://mentalfloss.com/article/22461/why-1010-default-setting-clocks-and-watches

Lewis 3:47 PM  

I liked ETAIL next to NETPAY, though I'm guessing they didn't do that on purpose...

Ray J 3:53 PM  

Did anyone think 5D should be clued as “Snap”? Didn’t think so.

Terrific puzzle – great job fellas!

sanfranman59 4:22 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 10:45, 16:30, 0.65, 4%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:02, 9:27, 0.74, 7%, Easy

Someone born in the past 50 years 4:32 PM  

What's a clock face?

Cheech and Chong 4:38 PM  

@Tita - We would prefer the hands to show 4:20

Jimmy Buffett 4:38 PM  

@Tita - I would prefer the hands to show 5:00

August West 5:41 PM  

Easily the best puzzle of the week, for all the reasons already articulated. Found Mon-Tue-Wed all easy and uninspired. This puzzle is almost seamlessly filled and full of much fun along the way.

Tita 9:27 PM  

Ha ha - y'all are great - I really miss being here every day!

chefwen 9:49 PM  

@Bob K and @Mac - Have wonderful vacations.

@Mac - I think of you every time I go to my hairdresser. There is a company right across the street with a couple of cute vans which have "Mac Made Easy" printed on them. I usually blurt out "HI MAC" and I know it's time to turn left.

sanfranman59 1:17 AM  

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)

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

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spacecraft 11:16 AM  

I wish the "appendecto" thing had been MY paper's only issue with space: MY puzzle had no clues after 59d! I had to solve this puppy with four clues totally missing--including a themer. Did it by a bit of guesswork and inference, so it didn't feel "easy."

Come to think of it, though, if you can solve it correctly without four clues, how hard can it be?

Started out knowing the first across; much of my youth was misspent in pool halls. Now just how to fit 11BALL into four squares. I stopped and scanned the clue bank for some kind of revealer; found it at 41a. Went right there and worked on getting that word; soon had CLOCK, and the jig, as Maxwell Smart once p.i.-ly said, was up. Oh, for the days when you could poke a little harmless fun without committing grievous offense. Human skin has really thinned out of late.

But I digress. Overall, despite the crowding of 10 and 11 in the NW corner, and the unfortunate STES, I agree with OFL: good job, guys. One w/o, had epIC before ODIC, though I should've known better. Guess I got Horace and Homer mixed up. I know, one's Greek and the other's Roman, but hey, they both start with HO.

rain forest 2:53 PM  

Like many, I guess, I thought 1A was 10BALL,and 1D was 10BEST, and so I looked in vain for numbers that worked for both across and down. Even after I solved the puzzle, I thought 11 was missing! Talk about your hubris.

So, anyway, I now like the puzzle way more than I did when I finished, although if I thought 11 was missing, I guess I *didn't* actually solve it. I weep.

capcha: 2 hurbyl. Description of a soup with an excess of oregano.

LongBeachLee 3:14 PM  

Rainforest, you're too hard on yourself.

Ginger 4:12 PM  

Several days ago an anon asked if Rex ever liked a puzzle. Here is your answer! Fun, Clever, (difficult to construct) Gimmick. Caught on at RING, then went back and parsed 1,5, an 10-A, and with it all adding up, swept through the rest.

Loved the non-theme long answers. Not many blue-eyed pets to choose from, though Siberian Huskies came to mind first. Learned where Cabaret came from. I watch very little non-sport TV, and have never seen Scrubs or 30 Rock; Also did not know DEATHSTAR, but all were gettable from crosses or by the SWAG method. (Scientific Wild Ass Guess)

Thanks Tom (he of 'gocommando' fame) and Victor.

DMG 4:23 PM  

Got stuck in the SW because I had "Noel" but belatedly thinking of YULE gave a completed grid. But I missed half the fun because I only realized that the answers missed numbers, but never saw them in order around the clock.

Today's Captcha explains them all: inciph.

Dirigonzo 5:06 PM  

I didn't have an inkling as to what was going on until I arrived at the CLOCK in the center of the grid and realized that I had been having problems around the edges and the missing numbers were just what I needed to fix things up. I didn't know 9 WEST but by the process of elimination and it's location that's what it had to be.

Speaking of clocks, don't forget to turn yours back an hour Saturday night.

strayling 7:53 PM  

Much fun. A newspaper snafu on 46 had me stymied for a while, and until I figured out the theme I was thinking up a dozen dozen ways to complain to the compilers (all gross).

In think this puzzle hit it just about right: not too difficult to solve before twigging to the theme; tricksy enough to be interesting; a nice "aha!" moment when the theme became apparent.

Well done, Pepper and Barocas! More please.

Solving in Seattle 8:10 PM  

IMHO, this puzz is as brilliant as the Rubic's Cube.
Clock smack dab in the center and the numbers right where they should be on the face. I'm in awe, Pepper & Barocas. (Pepper Barocas kinda sounds like a Venezuelan culinary treat.)

My few writeovers: Dark before DEATH because "side" wasn't long enough. IAMACAMERA totally on crosses. Like @Ginger, never seen 30 Rock or Scrubs, but know TRACY Morgan from Letterman.

@Spacecraft, my paper had...
44 Kind of sax46
Down Under
It took genius here about ten minutes to get the forehead slap.

Had a SIAMESECAT named Foo Paw for 15 years. Loved that little mean bitch.

Gonna punch out on the CLOCK now.

Capcha: etairdsu: An Italian dessert?

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