Tribal symbol of luck / WED 8-6-14 / Rapper with the 2008 hit "Paper Planes" / The Time Traveler's hosts / "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" lyricist Harbach / 1998 Alanis Morissette hit with a slangy misspelling / "Catch-22" character who "hasn't got brains enough to be unhappy" / Dreyfus Affair chronicler

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Let's go with Medium-Challenging, since it felt tougher than normal

THEME: BBQ (or, phonetically, "B Be Q") B's in normal phrases turn into Q's, phrases become Wacky. The revealer BBQ is at 63D: Summer event, briefly … or a phonetic hint to 19-, 26-, 47- and 53-Across.

Word of the Day: ISADORA (38A: Dancer Duncan) —

Angela Isadora Duncan (May 27, 1877 – September 14, 1927) was an American dancer. Born in California, she lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50. She performed to acclaim throughout Europe after being exiled from the United States for her pro-Soviet sympathies.

Duncan's fondness for flowing scarves contributed to her death in an automobile accident in Nice, France, when she was a passenger in an Amilcar. Her silk scarf, draped around her neck, became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, breaking her neck. In 1987, she was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia)
• • •

'Sup, CrossWorld. Devil Cross puzzler-in-chief Evan Birnholz here, taking a double dip in the dangerous waters that is Rex Parker's blog today and tomorrow. Let's do this thing.

Theme answers:
  • 19A: French chicken dish garnished with kernels? (CORN ON THE COQ) – I'm pre-pubescently tittering about this answer if only for the fact that coq au vin means “cock with wine,” so putting corn on the cock, well…'d titter too.
  • 26A: Quartet on an online help page? (THE FAQ FOUR)
  • 47A: What Ben stitched for his business partner? (JERRY QUILT) – This is fine, but I thought this screamed out for a Seinfeld clue. [Appropriate gift for Seinfeld at the premiere of "Bee Movie"?], perhaps?
  • 53A: Royal ending to a mathematical proof? (QUEEN SIZE QED)

This puzzle....I dunno, there's something that felt a little clunkier than what I'm used to seeing from Brendan's work. This was harder for me than I expected, but that's not really what's bugging me about it. A challenge during a midweek puzzle is fine. It's just that some of the theme answers fell a little flat for me, and the fill isn't particularly sparkly. THE FAB FOUR is a nice base phrase, but THE FAQ FOUR doesn't conjure up a humorous wacky image in my imagination – four what? Four questions? Same sorta deal with QUEEN SIZE QED. Good base phrase, but the resulting theme entry feels a little strange. Is it that the QED is written in larger print, or that it has a royal flourish? It's just confusing. If you go wacky, go Wacky. I'm also whistling QUEEN SIZE QED for a 10-yard holding penalty for the extra unchanged Q.

Plus, owing to all of those Q's, the fill gets pretty constrained – THANK U (8D: 1998 Alanis Morissette hit with a slangy misspelling) and BASQUE (36D: Like the sport of jai alai) are nice entries, and who doesn't love JUJU right at 1-Across? But there’s also the FRAS/ATNO combo in the northeast, the ICBM/COS/ESQS/MES mash-up in the southeast, and other answers like ORR/ENOS/ELOI/UTNE/ONER elsewhere (though the latter is salvaged a little bit by its duplicate clue with QUID (53D: British Pound, informally)).

The phonetic revealer itself is cute, and appropriate given Brendan's initials. From a constructing standpoint, I'll also grant that it’s very difficult to find enough words (actually, any words) where you can change a B to Q and get a viable new word and, on top of that, have it work reasonably well in a common phrase. I assume that's why of the four theme answers, only one of them changes a B at the beginning of a word – just not many options when the new Q comes at the end. The only other theme answer I can sorta come up with is VAMPIRE QAT [Dracula’s chewable African stimulant?], but, eh.

Like I said, this was a Wednesday toughie. I couldn't crack any theme answer until I wandered down to the southeast corner where BBQ was sitting. The cluing was pretty ambiguous in other places. 40D: Flat fish must be, it's, it's actually RAY. 31D: "You're right about that" has to be SO TRUE, yes? Nope, it's SO IT IS (one of those pesky 6-letter 3-word answers). The clue for OTTO (7D: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" lyricist Harbach) is quite challenging for a Wednesday, and I had no idea who ISADORA Duncan was, though both were fairly crossed. I think UNICEF would be maybe the 10th or 11th thing I'd think for the clue 4D: Trick-or-treater's cause, since I'm always expecting it to be candy-related, but it's definitely a creative clue.

So, perhaps this one didn't have the punch I would have hoped for, though the challenging cluing raises it up somewhat. Admittedly I'm probably spoiled by Brendan's awesome puzzles at his indie site -- his themeless Mondays and his themed Thursdays always offer up some fresh new phrases and interesting twists. In fact, Matt Gaffney nominated BEQ's "Check Your Privilege" puzzle for Puzzle of the Month for July -- a well-deserved nomination, in my opinion. Go do that puzzle if you haven't yet.

  • 23D: Deceitful (SHIFTY) — I had CRAFTY at first. Oh, how heads would have rolled if that crossing OFT (37A: Frequent, in odes) had instead been crossword staple OTT.
  • 49D: John who won two Pulitzers for fiction (UPDIKE) — He always wins my childhood for having probably the fewest number of lines for a celebrity guest on "The Simpsons" and being told by Krusty the Clown, "Shut up, Updike!"
  • 57D: Book of Mormon prophet (ENOS) — My wife and I just saw The Book of Mormon this past weekend, yet I don't think ENOS came up at all in the dialogue. Still a hella good show either way.
Finally, some crossworthy announcements:

1) First, meta master and occasional Rex substitute Matt Gaffney is running his annual tip jar drive -- please chip in whatever you can to support his great puzzle work.

2) Speaking of metas, Pete Muller just released his monthly music meta for August. Go do it before the deadline on Sunday, August 10 at 11 pm ET. I haven't solved it yet but according to the leaderboard it looks a little easier than the last couple of them.

3) Speaking of metas x2, *I* just released a meta of my own at Devil Cross. E-mail me your answer before the deadline on Tuesday, August 12 at 6 pm ET. One random winner gets a free t-shirt. Without giving anything away, Monsieur Gaffney has the following to say about it: "Ah, I see you've got the crazy. Congratulations." Which is kind of the best quotation ever.

Signed, EVAN Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld


Steve J 12:36 AM  

Agreed with Evan nearly across the board. Found this clunkier than I'm accustomed to from BEQ. The resulting phrases are just kind of odd. My inner 13-year-old did get a chuckle out of 19A, though.

Also agreed that this felt fairly challenging on a Wednesday. Not that that's a bad thing; I just would have liked it to have been smoother, and would have liked something to jump out in the non-theme fill.

jae 12:36 AM  

This was on the easy side of medium for me but...rappers, New England authors, basketball players, some Spanish, a boat load of Qs, British slang...this was all over the map.   It could play tough? 

The fill seemed spotty to me. Especially after yesterday's gem.  I'm sure it has something to do with the aforementioned boat load of Qs. 

QBS -  also a reveal?

So, mostly liked it and I'm ignoring FLEETER and BRRR with the extra R.

And THANK U Evan.  I had many of the same thoughts.

wreck 12:38 AM  

It was kind of a mixed bag for me. I almost universally love BEQ puzzles, but this one did not wow me. Perhaps because I expect too much from him, but the "B" turning into "Q" only worked "across" but not "down." I'm not a big Scrabble player, but this one had to be off the charts for high Scrabble scores!

Moly Shu 12:44 AM  

Medium challenging for me also. Had EVAN, UVA and UNICEF in the NW and that was it. Finished the rest, and went back to ponder the NW. Finally saw TAXI and finished. JUJU being unknown to me, really held me up. I thought it was a fun, thinking solve. BEQ always delivers. Slight disagree with @Evan, the leading Q in QUEENSIZEQED is not a problem because only the B's are changed to Q's. To me it is fine.

Thanks for filling in @Evan, looking forward to tomorrow.

JTHUrst 12:47 AM  

Liked the puzzle but did not get the B to Q until arriving at Rex's site. It might have helped knowing the Constructor was BEQ, which I don't receive in my paper.

This is what I call a Nibbler puzzle. Nibble here in the SW, nibble around Updike, nibble around the N and then some of the theme answers start to unravel.

But DNF because I had two choices on the Book of Mormon prophet: Elos and Enos and did not have a clue on the 'no blank u' Leeds lower-class. Even running the alphabet I could not fathom what it could be. I still do not know what 'nonu' means. Also 11d 'atno' is not clear.

But I still liked the puzzle, Js, Qs, and Zs, what's not to like. I guess I was raised on puzzles like this or is it reared?

retired_chemist 12:51 AM  

Cute. Medium challenging works - I found it a bit on the hard side of that.

Sure IS (31D) and ON line (20D) slowed me down a bit.

Liked CAHN crossing its antonym KANT.


Casco Kid 12:57 AM  

I guessed right at the ENOS/NONU Natick and let FRAS convince me that ATNO was right and so ...COQ. I felt lucky to have RITA pop into my head as Katrina's little sister, and UVA too, as I am a Maryland native. ISADORA/ORR was another good guess. Giving BEQ a pass on QUEENSIZEQED rather than QUEENSIZE-D-QED. Few rabbit holes but lots of stare time.

Definitely Medium-Challenging here. 40 min, stretching but not breaking credulity. Happy for the midweek W.

Kristin 1:13 AM  

Oh cool! I just won a bottle of BBQ sauce and a gift cert from a local eatery In a raffle. Lucky theme!

RnRGhost57 1:17 AM  

Challenging for a Wednesday. But it just didn't light my "playfulness" burner, and given that the constructor is BEQ, gotta rate it in the "meh" category.

jae 2:27 AM  

NON U = Non Upperclass

jae 2:57 AM opposed to NOBS which means upperclass among other things...

John Child 4:41 AM  

Once in a while a BEQ puzzle lights me up, but mostly the clueing is ... not aligned with my brain. FML I'm sure, but it's not as much fun when three of four clues evoke "Huh? I have no idea." Today I didn't like the theme answers either, so meh. And it took a long time, so a double dose of meh. Oh well, here's looking forward to a Tricksy Thursday.

Danp 6:31 AM  

I've heard of jerry rigged, but never jerry built.

r.alphbunker 6:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 7:15 AM  

OTTO and ISADORA were gimmes, but I thought it was QwIK. Oh well.

Not always yummy but a great effort.

Davidph 7:23 AM  

@JTHurst -- atno is atomic number, I is iodine. That answer is a bit of crosswordese we could do without.

Susan McConnell 7:52 AM  

Easy, and kind of a letdown for a BEQ...but maybe he is saving his best stuff for his indie site and sending the dregs over to Will now.

Glimmerglass 8:07 AM  

@danp: The British expression JERRY BUILT came out of anti-German feelings during WWI (or was it WWII?). The idea was that German goods were shoddy. I think the phrase you're thinking of is "jury-rigged" (a sailing phrase meaning "improvised").

Norm C. 8:11 AM  

If 'B's are supposed to be 'Q's, then what are all those other 'B's still doing in the grid unchanged?

Norm C. 8:18 AM  

OK. Never mind. The change only applies to the enumerated theme answers. Still, would be cleaner without the outlier 'B's, I think.

mathguy 8:18 AM  

Loved it. Got a kick out of the theme and the revealer. Would have liked a little more crunch, however.

Arlene 8:22 AM  

JUJU area gave me some trouble - but this BBQ switch was quite a clever idea. I appreciate the creativity - and even knew the rapper in this one!

RAD2626 8:26 AM  



enough to spoil it for me despite the two clever revealers. And using a rapper when "Woody's ex" or " "Lost in combat" would have worked just fine - given that we already had EMINEM - seems excessive.

Evan, thanks for the write up and all the great links. I was not aware of several of them.

Carola 8:26 AM  

Agree with Evan all around. Puzzle had me STUMPed through the upper NW and Central chunks. Then KANT x CAHN got me into the NE, where FLEETER aptly sent me on a swift jaunt through the East.

Got into trouble when I called on uBeR to give me a lift. Also had to erase craFTY. Stared at -CEF a long time.

Seemed like lots of names/titles today - I count 23. Wearing.

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

What is a bueensize bed?

I expected a "quick convertible" as a theme answer.

The theme would've worked better if all entries containing the letter Q were derivatives of B-words: SHAB, BBS, BUID, ESBS, BASBUE, BUIK, and be clued as such. I was a little surprised at the immense number of qlack squares in this one. Lots of choppiness, isolated runtpuzzes in the corners and all across the grid. The rap artistes only made things worse. Not my favorite qy a long stretch, and I am very surprised qecause I usually like QEQ's irreverent and quirky themes and clean fill.

Who was it that said: "Neither a voodoo doll nor a JUJU be"?

Who was it that said: "What's UPDIKE"?

Who was it that wrote the novel: "The Adventures of a SHIFTY FLEETER"?

Now I have to go TINKLE some cat collar bells.

Who was it that composed:

TINKLE, TINKLE, little bell,
Now I wonder what you sell
Dangling loose at such a height,
Like the key on Franklin's kite?
TINKLE, TINKLE, little creep,
Now I lay me down to sleep

RooMonster 8:30 AM  

Just tried to post basically a tirade about the puz, through my phone, but when I went to post, it got erased! I'm not going through the whole thing again, but summarizing, not thrilled with today's puz.


Mohair Sam 8:35 AM  

Played very challenging for us and we struggled until we got to the revealer, then things fell quickly. ISADORA a gimme here, her life story made into a movie starring Venessa Redgrave - fascinating biopic.

Agree with the majority here, this just didn't have the zip of most BEQ's. Although I love the way he avoids crosswordese as well as anyone - check out the threes and fours.

John V 8:53 AM  

I'm not one to talk, as I rarely do well with a BEQ puzzle, but this was a clunker, to me. Theme felt too clever by half. My finished grid looked like a Saturday DNF.

May I propose we update the acronym CAP -- Crosswordese, Abbreviations, Partials -- as things to be avoided in puzzles, to CRAP, the added R meaning Rappers. Rapper names are the modern junk fill, IMHO; MIA loves ESNE.

Fred Smith 8:56 AM  

Alcott was pretty easy for me -- I live about 200 yds from the Alcott house.

Leapfinger 8:59 AM  

There's good JUJU, and there's bad JUJU; Then there's JUJUbes, and , if you push it, JUJUques, for the as grew up in La Belle Province de QUEbec.

The funniest part was CORN ON THE COQ: everyone knows there's no corn in coq au vin.

Waiting for mo' bettah BEQs.

Dean 9:03 AM  

My many years in Britain caused me trouble in two spots. First, there is a fiver. There is a tenner. But there is not, and as far as I or any Brit of my acquaintance can tell, any such thing as a ONER. Second, the whole U/non-U thing (now a relic anyway) was never a thing in Leeds or anywhere else in the north. I believe the clue you seek is "Formerly, lower-class in London." And I've heard of jerry-rigged, but JERRYBUILT? Unh-uh. As for the cluing, I had exactly one "nice!" moment... and only because I momentarily had "curio" for "dust collector." Clunky is right.

Fred Again 9:03 AM  

(Continued....) and Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau did not fit.

jberg 9:04 AM  

Always interesting to see what people know and don't know. ISADORA Duncan more or less invented modern dance, but it was some time ago, I guess (before my time, too, actually.)

Never, ever heard one pound called a ONER, and NON-U means what it says - the middle class as well as the lower one, everything but upper. See Nancy Mitford's great article on this.

I somehow got the theme with THE FAQ FOUR, which led me back to CORN ON THE COQ-- how could I not love it after that? I agree, though, all those Qs required more crosswordese than usual.

Loren Muse Smith 9:15 AM  

EVAN – thanks for the write-up. I went straight back to 37A to see what "Ott" would do and got my second childish chuckle after the CORN ON THE COQ.

First of all, I loved the revealer, "B, be Q" – how unbelievable that anyone could find entries that would incorporate such a change. Really. I sat and stared out the window thinking of other possibilities with different revealers:


Once I changed a misspelled "passee" to BASQUE – thanks to the theme – I finished this with no problem.

Liked the clues for TYPO and ROTC. Brendan's clues on his independent puzzles so often make me laugh out loud; not only are some oh-so irreverent, but they are spot on in making you think of just the right word. I bet he would have clued TINKLE in some other puzzle differently, and he would have clued it perfectly.

If I had to guess, I would say that the coincidence of the letters in BBQ is happily serendipitous. I get the feeling from working BEQ's puzzles that he is much more interested in pushing the switch/add/subtract-a-letter envelope than he is in putting himself in a grid. To consider switching out a B for a Q for me would be laughably unthinkable, but here he's done it.

(That being said, I have to say I always like seeing a, uh, well how 'bout a selfillie in a grid – recently we've had MAS in a Martin puzzle, JULIANA in a Julian Lim grid, THANASUKOLWIT in a Saowalak Thanasukolwit grid

don't do it. . .

Before stumbling onto this blog, I never paid much attention to the constructor, but now that that's the first thing I look at, I feel like I'm in on some kind of subtle inside joke when there's a self-referential entry.

So, Brendan – once again I'm so impressed with how you've manipulated our language. (FWIW, I had the misfortune of watching this show, Botched, last night where I saw a woman who had gone to Tijuana for a cheap tummy tuck. Talk about a queer belly.)

Thanks for this, and thanks for your Mondays and Thursdays. To quote Evan – "Brendan's awesome puzzles at his indie site -- his themeless Mondays and his themed Thursdays always offer up some fresh new phrases and interesting twists." I couldn't agree more.

Lewis 9:24 AM  

Evan -- good job and you're even in the puzzle! Your comments are always so thoughtful.

M&A -- lots o' U's

Yes, there was a lot here that didn't pop out of my head and I was nickle-ing and dime-ing throughout. It felt more like a Thursday than a Wednesday. It also felt like a puzzle constructed with confidence. It got my brain off to a good start this morning!

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP) -- Since this is a letter-switching theme...
1. Find a non-theme answer that contains two of the same letter.
2. Find another letter you can replace that letter with, keeping the integrity of the puzzle. That is, the new letter will appear twice in the word as the original letter did.
3. Find at least two other letters you can replace that letter with.

If you wish to post a reply, just write one of the letters you replaced the original letter, or use . I'll post an answer later this afternoon.

dk 9:27 AM  

OO (2 mOOns)

BEQ = think hard in my puzzle world. I expected misdirection coupled with obscure and novel fill. I got it in spades.

My complaint is like Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game this puzzle just seems to be a dust bin full of alliteration. I figured out the trick when the grid was filled and as noted above thought the true reveal was QB not BBQ.

And, I am not sure JUJU is tribal good luck but I have an open mind.

All said a fine Wednesday - got the little gray cells working and required 3 espressos.

NCA President 9:29 AM  

I've become a big BEQ fan. I do his puzzles regularly and really enjoy them...especially because he isn't constrained to any particular puritanical censorship, he up with some pretty adult (read: realistic, everyday) clues/answers.

Bu this puzzle reminds me of what happens in, say, jazz when a heavy hitter steps up to do a solo on a large stage and everyone is filled with expectation. Sometimes, instead of some new, amazing statement, you just get a good, if not clunky, performance that leaves you glad to have seen the soloist in person, but slightly disappointed. It happens to the best of them.

Usually, as a performer myself, it can happen if you over think it. And I wonder if some of the NYT constraints can't be partially blamed for the clunkiness in the puzzle. Maybe nothing specifically, but as BEQ created the puzzle, he might have had NYT in the back of his mind which guided him to make decisions he wouldn't have otherwise made.

Even then, he might not have made any one choice consciously, but the freedom with which he creates his own puzzles for his own site have a wild, reckless abandon to them that feels like he is less beholden to a few mistakes here and there...whereas, with the NYT, the reckless abandon is traded out for more calculated, "civilized" fare.

I could be completely wrong on all of that. Personally, I was just slightly disappointed in this puzzle...mainly because it was from a constructor I really like. I can see how, if you don't know his work, you could hold the difficulty level against him and some of the quirks in the puzzle would be annoying.

Ah, art. It's all about relationship, trust, and appreciation for the artist's perspective. Did I like today's puzzle?...meh, it was ok. But I'm still a fan of BEQ.

Fred Smith 9:44 AM  

@Casco Kid --

Maryland, huh? When did they move Casco Bay into the Chesapeake?

I suppose you dine on crab cakes, now, not lobster. Too bad for you...


Bob Kerfuffle 9:51 AM  

Loved it.

Had the good luck to catch on to the gimmick right away, with CORN ON THE COQ, thought, "BEQ, you Devil, great play on your initials!" And relished the thought of the fulmination by haters of self-referentiality!

OK, a write-over at 15 D, KAHN before CAHN, one of my Every Single Time mistakes. But everything else came with a bit of thought.

Michael Collins 9:52 AM  

Please join the Association to Ban ONER from Xwords.

Carola 9:54 AM  

@Lewis - Fun PPP! Using - y, c, g. You have a great eye!

chefbea 9:56 AM  

Too tough for me...and on a Wednesday??? Couldn't figure it out??? Did know Isadora Duncan

And the Q in Queensize doesn't get changed to a B..or has that been said. Haven't read all the comments. Have to go get my hair trimmed

mac 10:11 AM  

Great Wednesday, loved it. Partly because I feel an extra bit of accomplishment when I solve a BEQ puzzle.

The NW, with juju the last to fall, was toughest for me. The oner does not sound familiar, quid is much more common. Thought non-U was non-union.

I saw Vanessa Redgrave as Isadora Duncan. I'll never get the shawl/car scene off my eye balls.

Z 10:16 AM  

NW was tough. Theme was tough (even after I got JERRY QUILT and BBQ it took me a couple of beats for the light to flicker on). ALCOTT is not on my "Literary Giant" list so I tried eLiOTT. So a struggle here. On a positive note, neither MIA nor EMINEM appear on my list of randomly spelled rapper names, so no problem with them.


ROTH. KANT, ZOLA, UPDIKE, ALCOTT - quite the freshmen reading list today.

In unrelated sports crossworld news, ISAO's distant cousin NORI AOKI, hit a grand slam last night. Unfortunately (fortunately?) Nori is nowhere near as good a baseball player as ISAO is a golfer.

{Hey, Earl of Crossworld - since you have the keys to the car you could update the indie puzzle links😉}

ArtO 10:21 AM  

Tough for sure but satisfying to have finished despite so much trivia and the JUJU NW opening.

Got the Q for B at COQ which helped greatly.

Always amazed at the stuff our leader doesn't know. I mean, Isadora Duncan! Good grief!

pmdm 10:23 AM  

There are a lot of proper nouns - too many for me - about 20 - that are answers in this puzzle. As RAD2624 pointed out above, not all of the rest of the filler is problem free.

As with most puzzles with so many proper nouns, the puzzle is easy or difficult depending on how many of the proper nouns you know. Without the proper arcane knowledge, the puzzle truly becomes a big slog. So this puzzle left me grumpy.

r.alphbunker 11:14 AM  

NW gave me trouble. I stared at this grid for 4min 9sec before getting JET {Black}
M_ S Año part
_ _ _ U Tribal symbol of luck
_ _ _ I Where business is picking up?
_ _ _ N Actress ___ Rachel Wood
_ _ _ Black
_ _ _ Florida port, briefly
_ _ _ Cavalier's sch.

Once I saw JET I finished as fast as I could type.

joho 11:18 AM  

I was really impressed with BEQ’s ability to come up with the super clever reveal using the most difficult letters he could pick for the exchange AND create coherent and fun phrases ... quite a feat!

Thanks for the write up, Evan, and the bonus BEQ which I can't wait to do.

Three great puzzle days in a row!

Blue Stater 11:55 AM  

I lived in Britain for five years. Never, never once, never ever, heard a pound referred to as a "oner." "Fiver" for a five-pound note, yes, but never "oner." That's what happens when you artificially toughen up puzzles after the fact and don't edit them carefully. I expect better from BEQ, at least.

Z 12:07 PM  

ONER in the Oxford Dictionaries online. Note definition 1.1.

Danp 12:16 PM  

@glimmerglass - I think you're right, but I think I have been saying jerry-rigged. Googling it suggests I'm not alone, so I'll probably start my prayers tonight with, "OMG, I'm hardly sorry."

Masked and Anonymo9Us 12:28 PM  

NON-U? [shiver] -- Low-class concept, indeed.

But here, we have nine U's, and with a heck of a scrabble score, to boot. What can I say? This BQ B good.

fave weeject: JAX. If one chooses to bypass this Florida port, have U written JAX off? Also admired the MES/ESQS finale. Abbreviated POC with weeject, from the piked position. Sweet. Better MES clue: Limited mess??

thUmbsUp, for this funky, feisty WedPuz ONER.


Primo writeup, 13-Across. Dude. Talk about yer psychic name droppin... Qt.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

As others have said, there's no problem with Queensized because the theme involves changing B's. And note that all the thematic Qs cross untransformed Q-containing answers. But I'm surprised that nobody has sniffed at the untransformed Bs in the fill. They don't bother me, but some purists seem to expect that letters involved in a theme be avoided in the fill lest they seem to thwart the rule.

Fred Romagnolo 12:59 PM  

As a San Franciscan no problem with ISADORA (she had a hippy brother, Raymond). Agree that "jury rigged" morphed into JERRY BUILT, so no problem there, either. Didn't know EVAN, ROTH, or MIA, but actually did know EMINEM, as I recall, he was in trouble some time back for hateful comments about some minority (gays?). Got ONER through inference. I think the extra r in BRRR is hinted at in the clue. Think the crossing of CORN ON THE COQ with ON A TIP was slightly bawdy and wonder if Will was being sneaky. I think he must sometimes feel constrained by the blue-nosed prudery of the NYT. All speculation.

Mark Rosenfield 1:05 PM  

Having spent the first 30 years of my life in the north of England, I agree with all the previous comments about oner - never heard it spoken over there. Secondly, they would never say non-U in Leeds. It is a posh southern English thing, and might only be used in Yorkshire by "U" people.

Tupac Chopin 1:13 PM  

There are more official sites, but here is a nice etymology summary of jury-rigged, jerry-built, and jerry-rigged. Short version - 400 years old, 150 years old, and 50 years old.

Evan 1:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 1:27 PM  

To clarify a little about the theme, since multiple commenters have brought it up: I have no problem with the extra B's elsewhere in the grid. They're not in any of the theme answers except for the revealer. Plus, there have been plenty of simple change-a-letter themes in other puzzles where the changes involve more common letters (like A to E, or O to U), and almost certainly there would still be an extra A or O sitting somewhere else in the grid. If those other vowels would be acceptable, so too are the other B's in this puzzle.

The extra Q in QUEEN SIZE QED is different in my book because it's in a theme answer. If the game is change B to Q, it's not as elegant if there's another Q in a theme entry that did not get changed from a B. An editor once gave me that tip on a similar puzzle of mine where the theme was changing S to P, and so my answer POLAR POWER didn't work with him because the second P didn't change from S.

For other comments:


I actually don't have complete control of the site. I can only put up my own posts and edit them as I see fit. I can't update Rex's blogroll or delete spam comments, for instance.


While I'm flattered to be (mistakenly?) called "our leader," the "how do you not know X" type of comment is one of the types that drives me craziest. No, I didn't know Isadora Duncan. So what? Every solver has gaps in his or her knowledge. I don't express amazement every time someone comments that they've never heard of a certain rapper or pop star that I know, and that comes up all the time here. (I should add that the frequent call for the NYT to dial down its use of rappers in the answers is a different story with me.)

M and Also 1:36 PM  

@Evan: One crossworthless announcement...
A puz that really messes with the whole "Breakfast Test" thing? It's here and it's free and it's over at

Announced in the topmost little block of comments.

"Thinkin mighty small since 1925 or so"

OISK 2:42 PM  

Couldn't recall whether Nestle spells "Quik" Qwik", but "nonu" looked better than "nonw" so I got it. Two rappers, (Eminem I have heard of, MIA not) and an unfamiliar singer named Roth, plus an unfamiliar song "ThankU" and an actress named "Evan" exceed my pop culture quota a bit. I also mixed Harbach up with Harburg, but "Yip" didn't fit. Challenging for a Wednesday in my ancient book, but still pleasurable. Fine puzzle.

Steve 3:44 PM  

I'm British. No-one uses ONER in the way that it's clued here, whatever the Oxford Dictionaries online page might say. It's flat-out wrong. Even dictionary editors can make mistakes.

The only usage for ONER I've ever heard is applied to a conker that's won it's first battle.

Tupac Chopin 4:18 PM  

@Steve and others - Good to know that you are the sole experts on all things British and that the Oxford University Press and its researchers are bunch of liars. Nothing iller than noted reference works being filled with lies (or is it lays?). I wonder what none-British works they got they got their examples from.

sanfranman59 4:18 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)

Wed 14:04, 9:31, 1.48, 99%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 10:27, 6:08, 1.71, 100%, Challenging

Based on the posted solve times, this puzzle definitely falls at the extreme end of the Challenging range. As of now, it has the highest ratio of the 240 Wednesday puzzles in my spreadsheet for the Top 100 solvers group and the fourth highest in the All Solvers group. I was definitely challenged by it, but then I typically find BEQ puzzles to be tough sledding.

Lewis 4:24 PM  


The J's in JUJU can be replaced by L's, P's, or T's while keeping the integrity of the puzzle.

My view is that BEQ made the best choice here!

Blue Stater 4:40 PM  

@Z, 12:07 p.m. I would dearly love to see the OED's cite slip on "oner" as referring to one (currency) pound. Even people with more Brit cred than I have think this is a mistake. What troubles me more than the mistake itself is that, even if you accept this as a legitimate British usage, which I do not, "oner" thus clued is yet another instance of the NYT puzzles reaching far into the most marginal of uses to come up with a clue. Any competent editor would have struck this.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

@RooMonster, you spoke for me today. I never have figured out what I'm doing on the phone to lose a long diatribe before I can post it (and it always seems to happen with the really long ones, the ones I've filled with all sorts of clever remarks, never with the short ones). Obviously I'm pressing something wrong, but it escapes me.

You also spoke for me as to the quality of the puzzle. I hated nearly every minute of it.

Norm 5:41 PM  

This may not have been the best BEQ ever, but any week with three BEQ puzzles is a good week in my book.

Carola 5:41 PM  

@Blue Stater - From the OED:

2 a. colloq A thing denoted or in some way characterized by the number one or by singleness; spec. one shilling; one pound; one hundred pounds.

There are two citations that refer to money:

1889, Pall Mall Gaz., 19 Oct.: "His to anything between a fiver and two or three hundred oners."

1962, T Parker & R Allerton, Courage of his Convictions: "A one-er for the Guv'nor, and fifty each for me and George here, that's cut price. Two hundred all told, how's that?"

There are two other citations, one referring to a game called Snobs and the other to conkers, as @Steve mentioned above.

AliasZ 5:51 PM  

@Blue Stater, et al.:

We had already established among ourselves, our super-intelligent Rex Parker Bloggers Committee or RPBC for short (with OFL at the helm) a long time ago: Will Shortz is an incompetent editor.

We furthermore established that the OED, Merriam-Webster, dictionary-dot-com and all other dictionaries combined have no idea what they are talking about.

We have also established that Wikipedia is often wrong, incomplete and misleading.

Therefore, I would like to make the following motion: prepare a petition to the owners of The New York Times requesting that Will Shortz be fired as crossword puzzle editor effective immediately. We don't need no stinkin' editor.

It would more convenient for the crossword puzzles to be edited and approved by the RPBC because, simply put, we know everything better.

Only puzzles that receive a majority approval rating, hereinafter called the Crossword Acceptability Quotient or CAQ, will be allowed in the NYT. CAQ* rating criteria and grading rules will be established during our next general assembly.

This way we will never have another complaint. The best side effect: all of us will always be among the top 50 solvers of all future crossword puzzles. No more cheating, Googling and DNF. We will all be winners. Let's hear it for democracy!

Anyone second the motion?

*Not to be confused with CAC (Crossword Action Committee) established for the eradication of all crossword references older than a few decades (the time is determined by the average age of members).

Lewis 6:02 PM  

@carola -- WTG on the PPP! And thank you for the compliment!

Charles Flaster 6:03 PM  

Great from BEQ ad expected. Medium or 16 minutes. Loved the theme. Parsed it at queen size bed.
Had to spend 8 minutes at upper left.
Jax gave it to me.
Thanks again BEQ.

Lawprof 6:18 PM  

Two rapper and one MMA references. The horror!

LaneB 6:40 PM  

Felt more like Friday than Wednesday but I ground through it--a DNF in fact due to ESTe crossing with eLCOTT. Never did get the B/Q gimmick or recognize the revealer. I'm usually bad with such things, and today was no exception. Did'n't know UTNE, NONU, ELOISE or ATNO---and still do not. Also too much rapper stuff for this old guy.

Blue Stater 8:03 PM  

@AliasZ: I'd second the editor part, slightly amended to say that the undersigned believe that it's time for a change in the editorship. But then I've been saying that for years. The rest, of course, is way over the top. I continue to think my criticism is a fair one.

As for the cites produced by Carola and Steve, I feel a little, but only a little, better about that clue-answer pair. It still strikes me as exceedingly marginal for, say, an exceptionally tricky Saturday, and way out of bounds for a Wednesday.

Numinous 10:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:19 PM  

BEQ = Proper nouns in pop culture

Anonymous 10:24 PM  

What a dolt--smug ,self regarded,turgid and usually wrong as here.

Joe Dipinto 1:30 AM  

Given the large number of musical clues/answers (hardly atypical for BEQ) I retroactively wished that 1-across had been clued as "1964 Wayne Shorter album", or, even better, "Bluenote Records album No. 84182". OK, probably too esoteric.

I filled in non-U thinking that it meant "non-University". I like that meaning better, I think.

No other (non-facetious) complaints about this puzz. I enjoyed it immensely.

Nancy 2:05 AM  

What does M. M. A. stand for?

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

M.M.A. = Mixed Martial Arts

the redanman 10:35 AM  


B Equals Q

and so it goes

sorry if someone else said this, I can't bother to read all the posts most days

Agreed, BEQ is intentionally Quirky, but this one he tried way too hard and it fell a bit flat.

spacecraft 10:30 AM  

This conceit--and what else could you call it?--fell surprisingly fast for me, considering not one but TWO rapper clues! Well OK, even I have had EMINEM osmose into my consciousness; I don't like him, but I'm forced to recognize him. The other, MIA? Too bad he isn't. Anyway it went in on crosses.

Before getting the trick, the NE snagged me for a while with a very familiar set of "brothers:" the FRAt. Just the kind of clue Will loves, too. But alas, I discovered that TBS (another channel, Loren!) and the baller was, of course, SHAQ. That led to more troubles, momentarily, in the SE when UPDIKE prompted his OLD teammate, Jason KIDD. Remember they would HEATUP in Miami?

I wouldn't characterize THANKU as "misspelled." U is just a common text shorthand, and THANK is spelled correctly. Of all the clues today, that one bothered me the most.

After beginning with JUJU, I would have loved 70a to be BEES, wouldn't you?

Having spent three years in Merrie Olde, I know QUID very well. ONER? Never heard it.

One other "nitlet:" the clue for ATMOST contains the word "more." Hmm, comparative and superlative forms of the same word...

1078, good but not great. SOITIS.

LongBeachLee 12:23 PM  

Have I gone brain-dead? Why is UNICEF a trick-or-treater's cause?

Solving in Seattle 1:38 PM  

This was pretty tough for a Wednesday. Pop culture/lyricist intense. But ultimately didn't STUMP me.

The theme is good for a non-Thursday rebusy trick: B be Q.

@LongBeachLee, trick or treaters raise money on Halloween for UNICEF.

Can anyone tell me what a UTNE reader is?

8799 - not good enough.

DMG 2:03 PM  

So many names, rappers, authors, actors... Nearly gave up with the NW and SC mostly blank. But came back thinking BEQ makes his puzzles solvable, and it turned out I could do this one, though the SC meant dragging ZOLA and the proper spelling of EMINEM ( want EMANDM) up from some depths. The NW came from an aha moment on TAXI which confirmed JET, and the never heard of JUJU gave me JAX, an abbreviation I have also never heard despite living in Florida for several years. And, as always, I have that little glow that comes when I crack one of this creator's posers!

You'd think such a beautiful draw would put me on top, but, alas, just another average. 898

Wikipedia 2:16 PM  

@SiS - Yes, I can. Just as I can tell you what just about any other word means.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Well, this was hard at first until after breakfast and 2nd cup of coffee. Then all fell into place. Patted myself on the back for getting it right without lookups. Even the Rappers (Ugh) went in with the crosses. I'd rate it "Medium" because I finished. It's only "Challenging" when I don't Ha.

Ron Diego

rain forest 4:14 PM  

Oddly, I found this relatively easy. The NW was a snap, actually, and with SHAQ in place, that gave me CORN ON THE COQ with only -ORN entered. And that folks, per @M&A, is yer rodeo.

I liked the themers and the two revealers, didn't mind the Q in the last one, and for some reason I knew pretty well all the names except for EVAN, which came from the crosses anyway. So, I was FLEETER than usual.

I don't understand the fawning over constructors that goes on here, nor the sentiment that a puzzle doesn't live up to expectations. I'd say this was a very good one, the third in a row this week. Let's keep it going

126 aha

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

DNF. Brain Elected to Quit. : (

Dirigonzo 5:36 PM  

I went from thinking possible DNF to a complete grid with no write-overs more quickly than I would have thought possible. I especially liked the clue for BRRR, a sound which can apparently use a variable number of Rs depending on the needs of the grid, since we see BRR quite often.

It's either 101 or 191 - either way, that's a 2.

Dirigonzo 5:37 PM  

I guessed right but forgot to check the follow-up box.

Waxy in Montreal 5:49 PM  

Personal syndisynchronicity as I saw THEFAB(Q)FOUR at the Montreal Forum 50 years ago this week. Thankfully provided a quick theme reveal.

NW corner provided much trouble - only UNICEF obvious there and it certainly didn't help having UNC at 2D for far too long.

Joe in Montreal 9:28 PM  

Hey Waxy, a friend of mine was just telling me about seeing them here too. Anyways, I learned something from this puzzle. I always thought jai alai was the pre-columbian game where the losers were sacrificed to the gods. I don't think Basques do that though.

Z 9:46 PM  

@SiS - Think Readers Digest for left wingers. Also, the USPS managed a 50% success rate and one beer smelling apology note. Thanks.

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