V-shaped fortification / SUN 3-2-14 / Strike ground in golf swing / Astronaut Thomas as four space shuttle flights / Gallic girlfriend / Daughter in Sound of Music / Post-W.W. II female service member / Locale in Gray's elegy written in country churchyard

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Oscar Double Features" — wacky phrases made out of the titles of two Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated films:
Theme answers:
  • 23A: Nelson Mandela? [1995, 1985] (BRAVEHEART OUT OF AFRICA)
  • 30A: One giving unreliable testimony? [1976, 1985*] [* = Nominee] (ROCKY WITNESS)
  • 53A: Reason for missing a flight? [1970*, 2000*] (AIRPORT TRAFFIC)
  • 68A: Part of a line at O'Hare? [2002, 1976*] (CHICAGO TAXI DRIVER)
  • 86A: Cheesy pickup line? [1944, 1995*] (GOING MY WAY, BABE)
  • 106A: Reason why all the computers are down? [1976*, 2005] (NETWORK CRASH)
  • 118A: Seaside outing? [1955*, 1954] (PICNIC ON THE WATERFRONT)
Word of the Day: REDAN (104A: V-shaped fortification) —
[F., for OF. redent a double notching or jagging, as in the teeth of a saw, fr. L. pref. re- re- + densdentis, a tooth. Cf. Redented.]
[Written sometimes redent and redens.]
1. (Fort.) A work having two parapets whose faces unite so as to form a salient angle toward the enemy.
2. A step or vertical offset in a wall on uneven ground, to keep the parts level.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/redan#ixzz2ulV7cSk4
• • •

I found this one a bit of a letdown. I'll try to explain why. First, the answers aren't nearly funny enough. If you're going to got wacky, Go Wacky. AIRPORT TRAFFIC and NETWORK CRASH are just … things. There's no playfulness, no humor. They just lay there. GOING MY WAY, BABE was pretty funny, but all the other theme answers were just kind of blah. No HER PLATOON? No UNFORGIVEN WORKING GIRL? There've gotta be wackier pairings out there. Next, the theme is simply too easy to solve. Once you see that you're just dealing with really famous movies, all you need is a few crosses (if that) to figure out the movies involved. Theme simply doesn't provide enough resistance to be interesting. Lastly, the movies are almost all clustered in the post-1970 era. If we're including Oscar nominee as well as Oscar winners for Best Picture (and we are) then there are hundreds of potential answers, most of them pre-1970. But only three of these 14 movies go back that far. Yes, I am complaining about the puzzle's not being old *enough*. Actually, it's a complaint about overall balance. Note that it is the third complaint on the list, and not nearly as big an issue as the first two (which essentially sink the puzzle, for me).

Then there's the fill, which is really rough. Two words I've never seen (REDAN, BAFF) and another I've barely seen (HEMAL), and then a lot of … filler. There are some highlights (PINPRICKS, FINAGLED), but way, way too many lowlights. I know that not knowing a word is not a good reason for dinging it, but when it's rank obscurity used as a crutch (as REDAN is), then I think you have to wonder what it's doing here. It's not exactly a demanding place in the grid. There's a reason this word hasn't appeared in the NYT in 12 years, is what I'm saying. It's 16 years for HEMAL, and … hmm, looks like *never* for BAFF. I now feel much less bad for not knowing those. Thanks, cruciverb.com database! I like learning new words, but I also mildly resent when pro constructors rely on obscurities rather than solid, interesting, recognizable words and phrases (preferably with clever clues). Those three are just the tip of the weak-fill iceberg. I am a movie fan and really wanted to like this. But it ended up as a mild disappointment.

Hmm, looks like I've already gotten mail about this puzzle:
I've been playing golf my entire life.  I've written award-winning articles for now defunct Travel & Leisure Golf.  I have logged more hours watching golf on TV than I care to admit.  I'm a single-digit handicap.  I have never -- EVER -- heard the term BAFF (27A answer to the clue "Strike the ground in a golf swing").  I, of course, am sensitive to golf- -- esp. golf -- and wine-themed clues because they're something I know too much about.  That's an example of the use of lexicological arcana in a Xword taken to the most ludicrous degree. […]


UPDATE: Puzzle of the Week was a tough call this week. Two fantastic metas from Peter A. Collins (Fireball) and Erik Agard (Glutton for Pun), respectively. I found Peter's meta harder to figure out, but Erik's overall grid tougher to solve. At any rate, both are enjoyable in different ways. Evan Birnholz is also off to a very strong start at his independent puzzle blog. His themeless puzzle was the best themeless I saw this week (and I saw some very good ones, particularly the one from Ian Livengood and the J.A.S.A. crossword class in Saturday's NYT). But we're returning to easy(-ish) themed puzzles for this week's winner: "Letter Chop" by Matt Jones (Jonesin' Crosswords) (get the PDF or .puz version from the Jonesin' Crosswords Google Group, here). I won't say much about it so that you can solve it on your own, but what most impressed me about it was how much humor he was able to get out of such a simple theme concept. Plus the overall fill is crisp and clean. If you just want to read about it but don't want to solve it, go here.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Moly Shu 1:09 AM  

I echo the mail sent to @Rex. I've been plying golf for 39 years and have never encountered the word BAFF. I have encountered REDAN however, (it's a style of putting green usually on par 3's where the green slopes severely from front right to back left).

Agree with @Rex mostly, I probably enjoyed it a little more. Liked EDKOCH and FIEND, didn't like NFLERS.

Oh, the movies ? Meh

Steve J 1:18 AM  

I didn't mind this one, but I wasn't excited about it, either. Agreed that once you noticed that the theme just combined titles of Oscar-winning and -nominated films, they were really easy to fill in. Picnic was the only one of the lot I wasn't familiar with.

I blazed through this in record Sunday time, finishing in about half the time of my typical Sunday. Perhaps because it went so quickly, I didn't notice much of the less-ideal fill as I solved (I did notice BAFF; I'm glad to find that it's unknown even to gold enthusiasts). I did notice that there wasn't much in the way of fun, interesting fill, with just FINAGLED (great word) and PINPRICKS standing out for me.

paulsfo 1:18 AM  

I'm surprised that Rex didn't just call this "easy". I guessed wrong at the cross of FEH and HEMAL but I don't think I've ever finished a Sunday faster.

Had never heard of REDAN (or, obviously, of BAFF or HEMAL). BTW, though both come from the French, REDAN and redoubt don't come from a common root.

Thought it was fine, though I'd prefer, as always, clever and amusing clues.

John Child 1:19 AM  

I didn't find the fill bad at all for Sunday. In a big puzzle there's always some weak fill: This felt quite clean to me. What does the eseometer say?

BAFF, REDAN and HEMAL were all crossed very fairly I think. I didn't think IDEALS was a good synonym for Paradigms, but I figured out that it wasn't meant in the Poli Sci sense but rather in the paradigm of virtue sense. Nice misdirection, at least for me.

Finished wih MARgO Thomas for an error: the odd cross looked sufficiently Spanish-ish to me. I agree that it was too easy. A (desirably) tough Sunday could take me twice as long.

jae 1:36 AM  

Mostly what Rex said. A tad flat. Add me to the chorus of life long golfers who never heard the term BAFF...hit the big ball first, chunked it, chilli dipped, caught it fat...but not BAFF.

Ellen S 2:46 AM  

Shucks, I'm just glad I finished the puzzle before the next one comes out. I couldn't even get a toehold on MAS's Friday puzzle, to my dismay (maybe I'll go back now and try again); really loved Saturday, and this one, I pretty much agree with @Rex. I had the same response as @John Child to IDEALS/paradigms, but my son-in-law who was kibitzing said, well if it fits and seems to be what the constructor wanted, it's the right answer. Yeah, that's kind of my philosophy, too.

Evan 4:41 AM  
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Evan 4:44 AM  

Pretty easy, and I'll add STILL LIFE, DON'T ASK, and MAN ALIVE as lively fill, though I agree with Rex on that shorter fill. I screwed up the LISAS/ALOIS crossing with ALOIC/LICAS. I haven't seen ALOIS recently -- certainly not in the NYT since it last appeared in November 2009 -- and I figured that if they were going to do LISAS that they would clue it as the plural first name. Oh well. And it's a little strange seeing both METS and their scoreboard letters NYM in the grid, though the latter is clued as a suffix.

I wrote today's Washington Post Puzzler, and I have a new themeless puzzle up at Devil Cross (plus the results of last week's meta contest). Enjoy both on your Oscar Sunday, y'all.

The Baff 6:05 AM  

King Richard III , Act V, scene IV

CATESBY: Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!
The king enacts more wonders than a man,
Daring an opposite to every danger:
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!

[Alarums. Enter KING RICHARD III]

KING RICHARD III: A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

CATESBY: Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.

KING RICHARD III: Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain to-day instead of him.
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!


Danp 6:16 AM  

Easier said than done, but this could have been a fun theme to work on.

MISSINGTHERIGHTSTUFF - Not getting Murdoch products.
THEMISSIONOFMICEANDMEN - Find the perfect cheese
PRECIOUSGANGSOFNEWYORK - Subject of West Side Story?

Elle54 6:42 AM  

I'm just disappointed that I'm already done. Agree about Baff. Golf runs in my family with my sister on the LPGA.

George Barany 7:08 AM  

I really enjoyed @Evan's Washington post puzzler (link was in his 4:44 AM post). He was too modest to point out that this was one of the winning entries in a contest where puzzles were evaluated "blind" -- i.e., based on content only, rather than the name and reputation of the constructor.

Seeing PICNIC as one of the movies in the answer grid to today's NYT puzzle presents a way to segue to a puzzle from earlier in the week, as brilliantly deconstructed by @Hayley Gold in her recently launched webcomic Across and Down. I recommend this site with the highest level of enthusiasm.

chefbea 7:47 AM  

Too tough for me. Too many words I did not know, like everyone else has said.

I'll try one of @Evan's puzzles now

Glimmerglass 8:00 AM  

Perfectly acceptable Sunday puzzle. A trifle too easy for my taste, but that's Sunday for you. The theme, while not terribly wacky, was impressive with seven longish theme answers. Most didn't even need "?" Considering the density of the theme, I thought the fill was mostly clean (ok, not BAFF) and sometimes sparkling (TRADE WAR, PAN ARAB, PINPRICKS, MAN ALIVE, STILL LIFE, and more), with some fancy (and fair) words (ITERATE, SUPINE, REDAN), and a minimum of obscure proper nouns. Rex is hard to please.

Mohair Sam 8:29 AM  
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Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Q: Mr. Shortz, how would you characterize the recent criticisms of your work?

A: FEH (25D)

billocohoes 9:17 AM  

Can someone explain the 'y' cluing for PSI?

The double-f led me to 'DUFF' which I could see if it was an origin of duffer, but no, not BAFF.

REDAN was ok, a projection from a military fortification so defenders can shoot lengthwise at attackers who have reached the base of the wall.

Pet peeve of using 'an' to precede words starting with 'h' - Shakespeare didn't have Richard III cry "An horse, an horse, my kingdom for an horse."

Mohair Sam 9:24 AM  

Very easy Sunday. I'm word for word with Rex this morning. I saw the Oscar theme and hoped for a lot more fun.

BAFF doesn't make our analog dictionary! But it filled easily enough, and after all these years I finally have a new insult for my golf partner. So it's all good.

Anyone who followed Rory around the PGA course yesterday saw plenty of BAFFing from Brandon Dejonge.

Sir Hillary 9:28 AM  

Easy and fun enough. I never notice the fill as much on Sundays, so all good as far as I am concerned.

REDSBREAKINGAWAY - Major league secession?
GIANTTOMJONES - Commemorative statue in South Wales?

Mohair Sam 9:31 AM  


Google Psi - it looks somewhat like our "Y".

The "an" is used generally on the sound of the next word. Had Richard III been Cockney he would have indeed said "An 'orse, an 'orse . . ."

Z 9:41 AM  

@billochoes - In my magazine it is the Greek letter PSI, looks like a trident.

Movies aren't my thing, so I'm less likely to be disappointed by an Oscar puzzle. Still, the themers do have a certain green paint quality to them. Meh.

I don't often make notes for later on my puzzle, but I did circle 27A. I've replaced a divot or two during my infrequent plying of the game (@Moly Shu - it does seem to me that it is a game one plies rather than plays - still, any game that can be played with a beer cart nearby can't be all bad), but that was a new term for me.

OWS - REsAN. Completely missed the tense clue on FINAGLE(D), so no one to blame but myself.

I thought it would be challenging until I got my toe-hold (AN ASS/PAN-ARAB) then it fell pretty easily. Baseball's Ironman will always be Gehrig, so that was a writeover. Otherwise, pretty much agree with what's been said.

@Steve J - re:Beer Advocate - you have a point, but there are useful reviews, you just have to dig for them a little. In case you hadn't noticed - my longer beer-ratings method is to pick the beer and then look for an appropriate review to plagiarize. Fortunately, I never plan to run for political office or a tenured position.

AliasZ 9:44 AM  

Sunday puzzles are fast becoming my least favorite of the week. Years ago it was with great anticipation that I waited to fish out the Magazine from the 5-pound Sunday Times and attack the puzzle every weekend. Nowadays it has become an often boring, routine exercise with little challenge.

I am an avid movie fan but do not share the enthusiasm for the Oscars, which may have started out as a sincere positive acknowledgment of outstanding cinematographic performances, but turned into the superficial, gaudy hype we know today, riddled with politics, favoritism and back-room intrigue. In other words, I couldn't care less.

So today's puzzle left me totally cold save for BAFF, REDAN, ASOK, ALOIS, LAING, EDER, AKERS and a few other good bits.

Hilary HAHN is quite a good violinist, here playing Capriccio No. 24 by Niccolò Paganini, as well as the work Paganiniana by Nathan Milstein (starting at 4:35), based on themes by Paganini. However you should also hear the great Nathan Milstein himself perform his own Paganiniana right after Hilary's version to see the difference between good and great.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Andrew Morrison 9:52 AM  

I assume this was edited by Maleska. It had a musty smell.

joho 9:55 AM  


@Rex, nice write up.

I, too, was BAFFled by BAFF.

I also wrote PINPRICKS and FINAGLED in my margin, but that's just not enough sparklers for a Sunday-size puzzle.

Still, I appreciated the timeliness of Oscar winning movies and am looking forward to watching the red carpet & show tonight!

What will I be wearing? My "sack dress!"

billocohoes 9:58 AM  

Thank Sam and Z. Didn't realize that was a Greek letter, was trying to connect a y-axis with pounds per square inch.

Carola 10:17 AM  

Agree with Rex, althought I thought ROCKY WITNESS was pretty good, too. Thanks, @Danp and @Sir Hiillary for the alternate titles.

In German, BAFF means "flabbergasted," which is how I felt when it turned out to be right.

Questinia 10:18 AM  

Agree with @Rex and I couldn't agree more with @ Alias Z. Sunday has become quantity over quality. It's like doing dishes by hand after a big dinner party because the dishwasher is on the fritz. Obligatory tediousness. I wish there was a second Sunday puzzle, one which is harder than Saturday's.
@ DanP's offerings are much better than the puzzle's.

I recommend @ Evan's puzzle at the Washington Post.

Norm 10:42 AM  

I knew Rex would complain about REDAN. For me, it was like seeing an old friend after many years. I'll take it over some rap star's name made up of jumbled letters any day.

John V 10:43 AM  

As I'm not a movie person, MEH here. NW didn't work for me. Easy otherwise, but uninteresting.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

BAFF needn't have been.

Change the first "F" to an "R", get BARF; clue as "Get rid of a hairball'.

Change MOLL's second "L" to a "D"; clue MOLD as "Shape" or "Fungus".

Clue the resulting ERIDE as "Most expensive Disneyland ticket".

Gets us a "three-fer"; three gettable clues at the cost of one obscurity.

Music Editor 10:48 AM  

I wasn't too puzzled by baff, as I remembered that when golf clubs had names instead of numbers, a 5-wood was called a baffle. I miss those old names, like spoon, brassie, and mashie.

Joe The Juggler 10:52 AM  

I understand that the clue said "part" of a line at O'Hare, and that technically a taxi driver could be "part" of a line of taxis, but what a very poor clue/answer. With so many clever possibilities to choose from, I would have liked to see a cleaner theme clue/answer.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Anonymous@10:46: I think you just showed your age. Don't believe there have been E-ride tickets for years -- but I remember them too!

Sandy K 11:13 AM  

I'm surprised that @Rex wasn't harsher on this one.


Friday's WSJ "Interacting Oscars" had 10 themers that were more amusing, and the bad fill count was definitely lower.

On to the Cryptic...

loren muse smith 11:17 AM  

I'm not really a big movie baff, so it was with trepidation that I started this one. With my first themer, ROCKY WITNESS, I thought, "Yay! I can do this!"

"Liesel" before LOUISA and before deciding it was probably "Liesl" anyway.

"Scarf" before SHAWL. I know we are legion on that one.

@John Child = paradigm –love the word for its weird ending (consider its siblings, phlegm, diaphragm). But I've never truly understood what it meant. When I was a long-term sub for middle school, we had to attend faculty meetings quite often, and such words were always thrown around: paradigm, rubric, didactic, phlegm. . . I never understood a lot of what they were talking about; I have no degree in education.

Oh well, they say those who can teach teach. Those who can't enact laws about teaching. I guess the corollary to this is those who can't teach run their mouths about it on crossword blogs.

MAN ALIVE! Are leaves really still RAKED? Then everyone goes inside to watch the OATER, LARAMIE? Right. Back then, a, uh, pair o' dimes'd get you two packs of Teaberry gum.

FINAGLED. Hmm. Feels more like it involves "manipulation" than outright "trickery." I can FINAGLE with the best of them, but I use supremely expert manipulation. Anyway, I'd rather finesse an invitation to an exclusive dinner than FINAGLE it.

@Evan –that ALOIS/LISAS/RPI area was my undoing, and I forgot to go back and guess. And about STILL LIFE and its clue. Awful coincidence of a sort. Yesterday my mother-in-law and I were having a deep discussion of quality vs quantity of life and your own say in the matter of your personal destiny. I kept trying to think of a short story I had to read in high school with this theme– it involved a small boat – but all I could think of was Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – nothing to do with deciding your own destiny. But still. Makes you want to rethink that clue.

"With the jawbone of AN ASS. . ." Those mighty mule mandibles.

@Bob K – yay for you! SUPINE went in immediately. My first thought, though, on the clue, "lying face up" was thinking about praying, promising to the skies that I wouldn't say bad things about people behind their backs if only I would win this most recent Powerball lottery.

Little known fact – in the burning of Atlanta scene, Rhett Butler roared "A HORSE! A HORSE! My kingdom for A HORSE!" But DEPALMA cut it.

I've golfed (mornin', @notsofast) exactly one time in my life and BAFFed my way around the course.

@billocohoes and @Mohair Sam – so is it a historical account or an historical account?

@Danp – nice entries! Yeah – it's irresistible not to think of other themers. I couldn't think of any. But it if you expand it to nominees, too, how 'bout (and there's a sound change that I like) – "consequence of Hideo Nomo's retirement?" GONE WITH THE WIND UP.

Fun Sunday, Alan. I enjoyed unveiling each themer. That's what good Sunday is for me!

Steve J 11:21 AM  

@Danp: Love your alternate themers, especially the Wall Street and West Side Story ones. Those would have been much more fun and lively than what we had, which for the most part are just titles that can make grammatical phrases.

@Joe the Juggler: I had the same thought process as you regarding CHICAGO TAXI DRIVER. While accurate, it felt off. Something like "Michigan Avenue hacker" would have worked better (and provided a nice bit of misdirection for many).

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

I don't understand how ITERATE is an answer for Repeat. That would be reiterate, no?

Evan 11:30 AM  

Thanks, @George and @Questinia.

not a robot 11:35 AM  

Was the answer for "Some hangings" a double entendre?

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Conspiracy! Russians invade the Crimea and Redan appears in the puzzle. Wikipedia “Battle of the Great Redan”

Susan McConnell 11:43 AM  

Agree with Rex, for the most part. But I didn't have a problem with the "wackiness" level, because I didn't assume wackiness was intended. The two titles just seem to make sense for each clue, without trying to be funny.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Actually, if you are a devotee of P G Wodehouse, you are familiar with the term "baffer" from his golf stories, and it isn't too much of a stretch to come up with the cognates. Maybe just a British thing?

Conrad 11:47 AM  

@billochoes: The Greek letter psi resembles a trident or pitchfork. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_alphabet

bigsteve46 12:23 PM  

This is a perfect Sunday puzzle for what Sunday puzzles used to be - and, IMHO, should still be: a day for people whose entire lives do not revolve around crossword puzzles, who couldn't care less who the constructor is, who don't know a pangram from a panda bear. A communal event, perhaps on a weekend getaway, or after a barbecue, where people pass by and throw in an answer or two. The only thing anyone is keeping time of is how long until they have to go back to work on Monday. Kudos to whoever created this one!

Carola 12:47 PM  

@loren - "... paradigm, rubric, didactic, phlegm" - LOL The jargon where I taught involved lots about "pre-reading" and "activating schemata" - made me want to RANT AT the waste of classroom time.

Mohair Sam 12:48 PM  

@Loren Muse - Note that I said ""an" is used GENERALLY on the sound of the next word". I used generally because I absolutely knew that some wiseacre would ask the a/an history question, to which all answers are arguable.

Brookboy 12:56 PM  

I have to agree with @bigsteve46. This puzzle seems to have disappointed the crossword cognoscenti, for reasons not clear to me.

Have to say that I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit, especially the movie themed clues. Rex and others may have been able to infer the theme answers directly from the clues, but I needed a lot of crosses to get there, and I enjoyed that.

Like others, I never heard of the word BAFF before, but that happens a lot to me in crosswords. My thought is that if the word is legitimate it is fair play. Besides, isn't it kind of contradictory to complain that the puzzle was too easy, and then complain that this or that word is too obscure?

So thank you, Mr. Arbesfeld, for an enjoyable puzzle.

Blue Stater 1:20 PM  

I didn't mind BAFF. What I mind are mistakes. LLDS aren't "degrees for attys." They are honorary degrees. Some holders of L.L.D.s may be lawyers, but that's a coincidence having nothing to do with the name of the degree. I liked the puzzle, for reasons admirably set forth by @bigsteve46. But the puzzle was let down by sloppy editing.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Fair point, Brookboy, but I'll note two things: (1) I don't time myself but this was easily the fastest I have ever done a Sunday puzzle, and (2) after over 50 years of being a fervent, obsessed golfer, I have never heard the word BAFF. So those are two things worth noting (if not "complaining" about). Also, it's not that I never encounter words I don't know in a puzzle, but it's a bit strange when it's in an area where (I like to think) I have some expertise -- so, in contrast, not knowing REDAN doesn't bother me at all.

Blue Stater 1:27 PM  

Ooops. Shoulda looked it up. Apparently LL.D. degrees are awarded as earned degrees in some jurisdictions (not in the US). I must say I held a joint appointment in a (US) law school for a few years and never heard of it, so I still think it's not a fair clue-answer pair.

OT: I see items marked "Comment removed by author" (quotation inexact; can't find one now). How do you do that?

RnRGhost57 1:28 PM  

@Loren, "those who can't teach become administrators"

Carola 1:31 PM  

@Blue Stater - To delete comments, you need to have a Blogger account (names appear here in blue). There's a little trash can icon next to the time stamp; you can click on that and delete the comment.

Ludyjynn 1:35 PM  

Ala the late, great Siskel and Ebert, one thumb up, one thumb down. It coulda been a contender w/ more clever reveals.

loren muse smith 1:38 PM  

@Mohair Sam and @billocohoes -
I'm not a phonologist, but...

I've given this some thought.
Deciding between a and an is not a matter of the letter of the alphabet that follows. No one says, *"I saw an unicorn." It's dependent on the sound that follows.

Of course, Richard didn't say, "An horse" because that H is in a stressed syllable and hence it's loud, clear, aspirated and enjoying its full-blown consonant status.

If, though, that initial H is in an unstressed syllable (historic), it could lose a lot of its feel as a consonant (in my allegro speech it certainly does), and be treated more like a vowel.

I'll have a hard-boiled egg.
I'll have an homogenized egg.

@Carola – those meetings were an horrendous tragedy.

@RnRGhost57 – yep – couldn't agree more, for the most part. I have encountered some pretty with-it principals.

MetaRex 1:43 PM  

Thx much for the reference to the eseometer, @John Child. For now, MetaRex and r.alph are on crucimetric hiatus. Both of us would love it if you and other folks help move us forward in cracking the riddle of how to evaluate the ESE load in a puzz objectively. Here'sa relevant link from r.alph with a link to my system.

The hiatus has its good points...didn't think about the ese as I solved this one.

Jeff 1:50 PM  

FEH is pretty bad and I'm surprised folks aren't complaining more about it!

mac 2:33 PM  

Very fast and easy. Apparently Dan Feyer did it in 5.15...

I had to get quite a few answers through the crosses, but no problem there. Love still life with three ls in a row, and I think kthxbye is my favorite.

I think Sundays become a little tedious when you get better at the Fridays and Saturdays. It becomes very important that it has a knock-out theme. Give me two or three regular sized tough ones any weekend.

@joho: We're throwing a red carpet party for 5 visiting Dutch/Spanish friends tonight. When they asked how they should dress, I told them to wear their tiaras.

Amigo Chicago Midis 2:39 PM  

I love love love this kind of theme...
And if answers could have been funnier, then by all means, make that puzzle, I for one would love to solve it...even collaborate on it!

Alan A always does my favorite kinds of themes, I feel a kindred spirit with him.

Scrabble note:
BAFF, BIFF, BOFF, BUFF all good!!!
As are:
BAFFY (a wooden golf club)
BIFFS (to hit)
BIFFY (a toilet)
BOFFO (a BOFF, a hearty laugh, as in BOFFO performance)
BUFFO/BUFFI (an operatic clown)
BUFFY (of a yellowish-brown color)

PS It's official, I'll be wandering about the ACPT :)

LaneB 3:21 PM  

Movie titles for best pictures and nominees moved this along pretty quickly coupled with the many crosswordese answers. Nice topical theme. So I can't explain why the puzzle aort of irritated me. But it did. Go figure.

Paul 3:42 PM  

Movies were identified by year of release in the clues. Title of the puzzle implied Oscar year to me.

Paul 3:43 PM  
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Donna Singmaster 3:47 PM  


Nancy 4:01 PM  

Some more theme ideas:

THE STING IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT: (No mosquito netting)

(Will you PLEASE get us some mosquito netting!)

TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH HIGH NOON: (Booze makes the itching go away)

AS GOOD AS IT GETS IN THE BEDROOM: (NOW we have mosquito netting!)

MISSING THE BIG CHILL: (Nostalgia for the Winter of 2014)

DARLING DOG DAY AFTERNOON: (The toy poodles get judged)

GREAT EXPECTATIONS OF HUMAN BONDAGE: (The Marquis de Sade daydreams)

Gill I. P. 4:14 PM  

I like Alan Arbesfeld puzzles and I love his name but this one felt a tad too staid for my Sunday enjoyment.
BRAVE HEART OUT OF AFRICA did make me sing though. Well, so did GOING MY WAY BABE. Come to think of it, maybe I liked it more that I thought.
I knew BAFF because it's in my old trusty dusty AtoZ Crossword Dictionary..
@Amigo, I remember plunking in BOFFO during a pleasant little scrabble (that turned into a yelling match) game. I won!
By the way: @Evan I just did your "The Post Puzzler No. 204." WHAT A TREAT - well except 1A had me scratching head....
Well, I guess I should go and slip on my green and red velvet moire pinprick dress for tonight's fete. I'm in charge of the FINAGLES.

tuning into oscars tonight 4:24 PM  

see @Nancy (4:01 p.m.) Post is amusing.

Z 4:28 PM  

RnRGhost57 - Nearly as obnoxious as "those who can do; those who can't teach." To be fair, though, administrator and teacher are not the same job, a fact often lost on people who haven't done both jobs.

@lms - I've been in charge of those staff meetings. It was always surprising to me how much time we spent discussing phlegm. Paradigms, while just as misunderstood, have the benefit of being essentially germ-free.

Moly Shu 5:05 PM  

@Z. Ya got me. In my haste to be first to post, I typed to fast. Maybe I should have gone with "struggled with golf"

Carola 5:36 PM  

@Nancy - Outstanding - really LOL.

jberg 5:43 PM  

This felt like a long, painful slog to me -- but much of that was because the NYT failed to deliver my paper this morning; not having an online subscription, I had to print the puzzle from the online Replica edition, which made it way too small -- so I spent a lot of time removing my glasses and holding the puzzle up to my myopic eyes, trying to make out the numbers. Aside from that, what everyone said.

Interesting point: ELKS and BPOE have the same length. That gave me a fair amount of trouble.

I hope they get their delivery system working again by tomorrow!

Casco Kid 5:45 PM  

2:55 12 Googles plus some key assistance from Mrs. Kid for SENNA, MIDI and FORCEFUL. But no errors on submission.

Googles for
* LOUISA von Trapp
* ASOK of Dilbert fame
* Linda EDER
* R. D. LAING (I had LAnge)
* Otto HAHN
* The Apple LISA (??)
* ALOIS Alzheimer. Guessed GEORG
* River AARE
* Astronaut Thomas AKERS. Turns out there are two shuttle astronauts with last name Thomas, but neither with a 5 letter first name. Just lucky, or good editing?
* Jacques TATI
* I googled for Gray's Elegy locale, but ended up guessing LEA.

Armed with these answers, I was able to get the crosses. That is, the crosses weren't gettable without these nailed down. Of these, only DEPALMA is a dope-slap.

In print, PSI was printed as a Greek character psi. In electronic versions, it was clued as "It's pitchfork shaped" without a question mark. Nasty. NYM was subtly clued. Fair, and kept me guessing.

I guess a paradigm can be thought of as an IDEAL by someone who knows nothing about paradigms. The moral element makes the two concepts orthogonal. But, OK, whatev.

Kept wanting seculAr for PANARAB, and I'm not remotely sure Nasser was a secularist. I just wanted it so . . .

TOUSLE was a long time coming. bOther, hasSLE kept the NE block for a good long time. FEH for "Yuk!" is a stretch. I don't think I know that one. eEw kept a block in place for awhile there.

As the minutes turned into hours, my FORCEFULness declined and I became blind to even T_X_C for poisonous. There is much to be said for a maintaining a positive attitude even as things fall apart.


Z 5:59 PM  

@Moly Shu - My typos are never improvements, so I give you an "A."

sanfranman59 6:06 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 6:19, 6:18, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 6:27, 8:16, 0.78, 1%, Easy (3rd lowest ratio of 220 Tuesdays)
Wed 8:10, 10:14, 0.80, 7%, Easy
Thu 15:06, 18:09, 0.83, 20%, Easy-Medium
Fri 25:43, 21:04, 1.22, 87%, Challenging
Sat 23:11, 28:20, 0.82, 12%, Easy
Sun 23:22, 29:27, 0.79, 9%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:19, 4:00, 1.08, 82%, Challenging
Tue 4:06, 5:13, 0.79, 0%, Easy (Lowest ratio of 220 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:07, 6:17, 0.81, 6%, Easy (13th lowest ratio of 217 Wednesdays)
Thu 8:56, 10:24, 0.86, 22%, Easy-Medium
Fri 15:32, 12:11, 1.27, 86%, Challenging
Sat 14:35, 18:32, 0.79, 12%, Easy
Sun 15:38, 20:16, 0.77, 10%, Easy

Fred Romagnolo 7:02 PM  

I was A history teacher for 30 yrs. (pronounced 'uh')I agree that if a lot of golfers don't know the term, it's too obscure to be legitimately used. Redan is not an obscure word. I had no problem with LLD. my copy of the NYT had a clear depiction of the Greek letter.

Nancy 8:02 PM  

Thanks, Carola!

OISK 8:32 PM  

Nice going Nancy! @Andrew Morrison - "musty" is fine with me. Puzzles that impart a huge advantage to those who actually listen to - watch advertisements, (loaded with product names, like yesterday's mess) not so much. I enjoyed this one very much. Timely and cute. Thanks, Alan. And thanks to Big Steve for his very apt comment on what Sunday puzzles should be.

My not-as-clever-as Nancy suggestion for a clue: Requirement for political office - IQ 42.

(yes, I know, the numbers would have to be worked in somehow….)

Steve J 9:12 PM  

@Paul: The year of release and the year of the Oscar are one and the same. Tonight's Oscar awards are for 2013.

Casco Kid 10:14 PM  

More on paradigm: a paradigm is a fundamental assumption or world view used to interpret real-world experience. The classical example is the earth-centered Ptolemaic paradigm, in which planetary motion is described by an increasingly complex set of circles. The Copernican paradigm place the sun at the center of "the universe" and planetary motion is described by simple set of ellipses. In neither world-view is the paradigm considered "ideal" but in each the paradigm is a consistent set of ideas -- more or less useful -- used to interrogate and interpret data.

This is the notion of paradigm used by Thomas Kuhn in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" and the only notion of paradigm in currency in philosophy today, AFAIK. Paradigms shift in times of revolution, as with the Ptolemaic-to-Copernican shift, but the shifts are rare and involve a watershed of insight into the data. I doubt any advocate of a modern paradigm would call it "ideal" as, by now, any thinker is ready for a to paradigm to shift sooner or later.

Another modern paradigm is the Central Dogma in molecular biology: DNA becomes RNA becomes protein. Cracks have formed, but for the most part this paradigm remains intact.

Is there a paradigm shifting today? Well, you might consider "gender" a shifting paradigm. From the binary XX/XY to Facebook's Fifty Shades of Gender, of which XX and XY are not included (!?)
(http://www.iol.co.za/scitech/technology/internet/all-the-different-genders-on-facebook-1.1654445) As we collect and interpret data in each of these paradigms, we'll end up selecting one that is maximally useful for future analysis, until new data forces it to shift again, and perhaps back to the original paradigm. So, you see, there is nothing "ideal" about paradigms.

If there is anything "ideal" in this area, it is the scientific method by which an abundance of data can be assembled to force a paradigm shift to occur.

But back to the crosswords. If a "paradigm" is thought to be "ideal" by some of the people some of the time, then that is enough for it to be clued that way. So I don't contest the cluing. Just, you know, whatev.

ournyt 11:49 PM  

We actually have a REDAN Road in Stone Mtn., GA...I always thought that was someone's name...it's not even in Merriam Webster online dictionary but is in the Free On Line Dictionary.

Z 11:54 PM  

@Casco Kid - Paradigm Lock is seen here often. Not being able to solve rebus puzzles, almost anytime you see someone vent about a "wrong" clue/answer, refusing to consider that an answer might be backwards or take a left turn. If one's paradigm regarding crosswords is too rigid look out, because there will be days that solving the NYTX will drive you batty. Shortz has given license to constructors to force solvers to shift our paradigms.

Rex Parker 12:11 AM  

"Kudos to whoever created this one!" is my favorite comment ever.


Nancy 11:29 AM  

Thanks so much, OISK! Thought your contribution was very funny also.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:27 PM  

@Anonymous, 11:29 AM - Ain't English wonderful?:

1. perform or utter repeatedly.

1. say something again or a number of times, typically for emphasis or clarity.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Redan is a common word in military history.

spacecraft 1:09 PM  

FLAG on the play! Fifteen yards and a warning of ejection if ever repeated: No disrespect to the great Cal RIPKEN, but he is NOT "Baseball's Iron Man." That honor permanently and irrevocably belongs to Lou Gehrig, whose six-letter name fit in perfectly. Lou's family ought to sue Mr. Arbesfeld for this travesty. Have you no sense of history, sir?

As for the rest of it, I'm more or less in with the majority; the theme answers were OK, but as numerous examples above show, ALOT more could have been done with it. The fill is 21x21 fill: bound to be some clunkers, but not terrible overall. Nice to see one of my faves Brian DEPALMA make an appearance.

Natick at ALOIS/LISAS guessed correctly, so finished with only that sinful writeover at 97a, which I had as a gimme anchor. It took a painful while to fix that.

A golf enthusiast, I agree with many others: BAFF is 100% new to me. Not even the Scottish commentators during the Championship at Royal St. Andrews ever uttered it.

My score for this round is 66829996 (lucky tee shot on that par-3 4th!). 55 for the first 8 holes--but at least I get a high full house out of it!

Dirigonzo 5:16 PM  

In a bit of syndi-synchronicity today's Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo also featured movie titles (his all contained the names of birds) and I spotted at least 3 instances of short fill that bled over: EAU(DE), (ED)KOCH and ATO, and HONUS Wagner was substituted for Cal RIPKEN.

I hesitated to write in LISA even though I was pretty sure of the crosses because I didn't know Apple ever used names other than, well, apples.

Two pair - I'm out.

Allen 7:27 PM  

Immediately put in Gehrig instead of Ripken

Anonymous 8:41 PM  

58 ? = Answer from Wikipedia -- In parapsychology, psi is the unknown factor in extrasensory perception and psychokinesis experiences that is not explained by known physical or biological mechanisms.

Joshua 1:34 AM  

@AliasZ: Actually, politics, favoritism and back-room intrigue were part of the Academy Awards starting from day one.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

My paper printed 58 Across simply as a ?. I would suppose the software wasn't able to translate from the Greek.

dulcigal 6:27 PM  

In our region, a baff is what a cat does to you as you walk by, reaching out a paw to tap your leg. It can be an expression of either affection or irritation. Our favorite clue was 16D, "Many a hanging." Was "still life" intended to be a pun? We hope so.

Dirigonzo 4:12 PM  

@dulcigal - HAH! Good question - that particular interpretation of the clue/answer hadn't occurred to me; I suspect the macabre association was unintended.

bananafish 4:45 PM  

Mr. Arbesfeld is clearly not a sports guy.

Did Barry Bond become "Baseball's Sultan of Swat" when he eclipsed Babe Ruth's home run record? Did Brian Kelly become "College Football's Gipper" when he became Notre Dame's head coach? If someone scores more points than Wilt Chamberlain's record 100 in an NBA game, will that person become "Basketball's The Stilt"?

Then Cal Ripken is not the answer to "Baseball's Iron Man".

And in 40+ years of golfing, I have yet to hear the term BAFF used, and believe me, there have been plenty of opportunities. That clue/answer need to be taken out and beaten to death ... only I'm worried that someone would keep hitting the ground instead.

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