Japanese porcelain / SUN 11-15-15 / Onetime place for Saddam Hussein's image / Cousin of tendril / Maar Picasso's muse / East German secret police / Kigali native / Sci-fi/historical fiction writer Stephenson / The House of Blue Leaves playwright / Mathematician who was subject of book Man Who Loved Only Numbers

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Having Aspirations" — W- words changed to WH- words, to wacky (and hacky) effect

Theme answers:
  • THE WHIRLED SERIES (23A: "So You Think You Can Dance," say?)
  • THE ROYAL WHEE (41A: Roller coaster shout from Queen Elizabeth?)
  • GET OUT OF MY WHEY (17D: "That milky liquid belongs to me!"?)
  • WHICH DOCTOR (68A: "Did you mean Doom or Dolittle?"?)
  • PRINCE OF WHALES (48D: One in line to rule the ocean?)
  • WHACKS MUSEUM (89A: Mob Boss Hall of Fame?)
  • WHINING AND DINING (113A: Making a complaint at a restaurant?)
Word of the Day: TAMIAMI Trail (66D: ___ Trail (Everglades highway)) —
The Tamiami Trail /ˈtæ.mi.ˌæ.mi ˈtrl/ is the southernmost 275 miles (443 km) of U.S. Highway 41 (US 41) from State Road 60 (SR 60) in Tampa to US 1 in Miami. A portion of the road also has the hidden designation of State Road 90 (SR 90).
The 275-mile (443 km) north–south section (hidden SR 45) extends to Naples, whereupon it becomes an east–west road (hidden SR 90) crossing the Everglades (and forming part of the northern border of Everglades National Park). It becomes South Eighth Street in Miami-Dade County, famous as Calle Ocho in the Little Havana section of Miami, before ending east of Miami Avenue at Brickell Avenue in Brickell, Downtown Miami.
• • •

After a nice streak of three wonderful puzzles, we come ... well, perhaps not crashing back to earth, but certainly rough-landing back to earth. This should please the STODGES of the SUNBELT, for sure, but the gimmick feels worn, and once you get it ... you've got it. I kind of found GET OUT OF MY WHEY and THE ROYAL WHEE amusing, but otherwise, this is just another, increasingly typical, bloated and wearisome Sunday. The fill suffers by contrast with recent puzzles. It's creaky with crosswordese and common short stuff (KENL? ITHE? OCAT?) and it's aggressively old-fashioned in its cultural frame of reference. ENSE! IMARI! NEH! OCH, make it stop. Looks like Will's assistant gave SWAG a decent, recent clue (78A: Coolness, in modern slang), but otherwise ... this thing's as modern as a TINTYPE (65A: Antique photo). Oh, except for the clue on NEAL (106A: Sci-fi/historical fiction writer Stephenson). That's quite up-to-date. Got his "Seveneves" sitting here on the "To Be Read" pile.

Speaking of TINTYPE, that second "T" was the last thing in the grid because TAMIAMI was a gigantic !?!!?!?! for me. You don't put TAMIAMI in a puzzle unless you're pretty desperate for vowels. I do think, however, that the crosses were fair, and TAMIAMI seems at least vaguely crossworthy, so no foul. Where there *is* a foul, however—a manifest foul—is at the absurd crossing of GUARE (110A: John ___, "The House of Blue Leaves" playwright) and ERDOS (104D: Mathematician who was the subject of the book "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers"). Two proper nouns of Not Great fame crossing at an unguessable letter—that's a Natick, for sure. You can't do that. As my mathematician / constructor friend just said, the fact that you happen to know an answer doesn't necessarily mean it's a good answer: "I knew ERDOS, but holy cow that crossing is bad." Empirically bad. There will be a decent-sized group of people for whom that square will be a total guess. That ... is a design flaw. And an obvious one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Some amusing theme answers put this in the liked it column, although @Rex is right, this is a bit of a letdown after the last three days. 

We coined a verb form of CECILIA...CECILIAED...It's used when you get up from where ever you are sitting or resting and then return to find someone else there.

From the lyric:

Making love in the afternoon
With Cecilia
Up in my bedroom
I got up to wash my face
When I come back to bed
Someone’s taken my place

The Hesslers 12:26 AM  

Funny that you call the ERDOS/GUARE crossing a "Natick". You coined that term on July 6, 2008 with a puzzle with the exact same theme!!

Music Man 12:34 AM  

Wow so glad you brought up that crossing because I was screaming natick at my grandmother in law (and explaining what that means). I just left it blank and said screw it, so now I see that it was an R, sure, why not.

Theme was familiar but I did like some of the clues. Got WHINING AND DINING with no crosses early, got the theme, and blah blah blah. Quite a few answers that, again, my grandmother-in-law seemed to have to rack the deepest parts of her brain to get (like TAMIAMI), leaving me saying uhh sure if you say so.

Didn't hate it though, got a couple laughs.

George Barany 1:38 AM  

Veteran constructor @Alan Arbesfeld has given us a pleasant Sunday puzzle with an unusually low 132 words. The seven theme entries were all original, and I had no major hiccups with the auxiliary fill.

I do want to write in defense of the ERDOS/GUARE crossing. Hungarian Paul Erdős was one of the major mathematicians of the 20th century, who reportedly said "A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems." His genius, as well as his personal eccentricities, were wonderfully captured in the book referred to in the 104-Down clue [link to the New York Times book review], but his greatest fame is for the so-called Erdös number--the nerdy equivalent of the Kevin Bacon game ... which brings us to John Guare, whose most famous play (in my estimation) is "Six Degrees of Separation" [also made into a film starring Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland, and a young Will Smith].

chefwen 1:57 AM  

Yessiree, the R in ERDOS/GUARE was my last letter in and it was purely a guess, I just lucked out by guessing correctly.

I loved this one, THE ROYAL WHEE was my first long one and I really did laugh out loud, also laughted with WHACKS MUSEUM. This puzzle amused me to no end. My biggest hang up was not knowing 12D and guessing at DOnA MAAR. Took me waaay to long to change that to DORA, I was so sure of DOnA.

Husband tried to tell me that KENL Ration was spelled kennel. Had to bet him $5 before he'd back down, guess he didn't remember the ads.

I sprinkle my Deviled Eggs with ground Cayenne pepper instead of PAPRIKA, gives them an extra zing that makes you sit up and take notice.

Thanks for the WHINING AND DINING Alan Arbesfeld, it was great fun.

jp flanigan 2:31 AM  

Pretty ho-hum. I got stuck with the "almost there" message and couldn't find my wrong answer for about 20 minutes. Frustrating. Ended up being OUTpACED.

Anonymous 2:40 AM  

Agreed that this one was not as good. Was totally guessing at the natick Rex identified. Maybe the OCAT/WNET crossing at T's is not technically a natick, but it was pretty horrible-- the initials of a radio station and a game that hasn't been played since the 1920's? Not the reason I do the NYT. Maybe better luck tomorrow...

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

Also, I'm pretty sure that's the 3rd or 4th time "coolness"/[slang term] has been used as a clue/answer pair in the last few weeks. If it was once fresh and modern, it's quickly becoming old. Time for a new trick.

Moly Shu 2:46 AM  

Agree with @Rex on the GUARE/ERDOS cross. Who and who?? Yikes. Fortunately, living here in SFla, TAMIAMI was a gimme. I didn't care for it much, but I'm just an old COOT living in the SUNBELT.

'mericans in Paris 3:49 AM  

Did this one -- or, rather, didn't finish this one without the help of Mr. Google -- AT HOME alone, as Mrs. 'mericans is travelling in Asia.

If yesterday's puzzle was crunchy WaldORF, today's was flaccid KALE. IN A WORD, meh.

I was so glad to see @Rex rail against the GUARE | ERDOS crossing. HOLY COW, holy Natick! I started out in the north-west, where my first thoughts were that the puzzle was BY FAR too easy. Took me a long time to get THE WHIRLED SERIES, which does not seem to me a good answer to ("So you think you can dance", say?); but finally got my first theme answer at THE ROYAL WHEE. (Alternative clue, without the aspirant "H": What fills Buckingham Palace chamber pots.)

Living abroad, I didn't know the Wisk competitor, nor NEAL Stephenson nor WNET, and only ever heard of SWAG as a reference to the goodies one gets at a conference; never heard of OCAT; would have no reason to know the Latin start to the Massachusetts state motto. Being one of the COOTS, however, I knew Deudely Do-Right's love, and the answer to 54D.

NOTE to Will Shortz: Can you please retire EMO, ENO, and ETON?

TAMIAMI Trail was a gimme, as I spent ten years of my youth (8-18) in a suburb of Miami. For most of that time, that straight-as-an-arrow 2-lane highway was the only means to drive to the west coast of Florida. In the early 1960s it was a gateway into a magical world: sawgrass as far as the eye could see, punctuated occasionally by pockets of jungle; Seminoles in brightly striped shirts spear-fishing in the canal that paralleled the road while standing in dug-out canoes; egrets and more exotic birds crossing low over the road in the misty dawn.

Some answers were uncomfortably evocative of Friday night's events in Paris (not the constructor's fault). Many are asking, who were the terrorists' ARMERS? And the radio is full of first-hand accounts: "I RAN, I HID, I'M HIT in the NECK." Let's hope THIS WEEK is peaceful.

TokyoRacer 5:29 AM  

Yep, that was the one I didn't get - knew I could count on you to condemn it.
Oh wait, I didn't get the middle S in SASES/ITISI either (thought ID had to be in there somewhere). What the hell is sases?

Lewis 6:52 AM  

My favorite part of the puzzle was the theme answers, and trying to figure them out in advance (which I did twice). I felt that the cluing was too direct, and would have liked more spark there. It was a blue collar solve, like putting in a maintenance session at the gym, which feels beneficial, though not memorable.

But some things stood out. There is a long O sub theme. I counted 16 words with that sound, headed by the trio that started with it, OCAT, OGEES, and OGRE. "The OGEES" sounds like a band from the past. And does not ENO, COOTS, and WORF sound like a law firm?

Gregory Schmidt 7:16 AM  

Barf. Bad puns, and no fewer than 3 Naticks for me. Of course, ERDOS/GUARE, as many have and will mention, and also WNET/OCAT/IMARI (seriously?) and ENSE/OGEES (pick a random vowel). ENNNEAD/SULA would have been yet another, except I'd recently seen ENNEAD as a synonym for NONET. No chance for a Google-free finish with all that in today's.

Gregory Schmidt 7:26 AM  

@TokyoRacer - SASE is an acronym for "Self Addressed Stamped Envelope". It used to be seen in back pages advertisements - "Get plans to build your own hovercraft! Just send $.25 and SASE". Then you would get your plans mailed back to you in the stamped envelope which you had provided. (I always wanted to send away for those hovercraft plans...)

Unknown 7:39 AM  

Ungrump yourself, fearless leader. Puzzle had lots of laughs. And ENSE, tagged by you as bad fill, showed up in one of the three puzzles you liked. The R in GUARE/ERDOS was an easy, likely guess. Dont see why you take so against TAMIAMI. Just coz you didnt know it? Finally, our old filler friend oneOCAT made a guest appearance from the crosswordese graveyard-- I admired the chutzpah.

chefbea 8:03 AM  

Could't finish. Knew I had to add an H to the W but what does that have to do with having aspirations?????

Sandysolver 8:20 AM  

Self Addressed Stamped Envelope

Mohair Sam 8:36 AM  

C'mon Rex, this was a fine Sunday puzzle whose only sin was following two consecutive gems. We especially liked the theme, and found a lot of clever clues (loved 93a - LOWRISE).

Don't know why we know Paul ERDOS, but we do - so no natick there. But we did natick on the W in WORF/WEIR (had an M). Don't watch T.N.G. and am guessing that "Hanging Rock" is a cult classic. Nobody else is mumbling, so we must be the outsiders.

TAMIAMI new to us too, but sussable as all hell, and with fair crosses. Is ENNEADS used only in crossword puzzles?

Going back to the handful of complaints about the sprinkling of new terms in yesterdays puzzle. . . . I wonder if Margaret Farrar got letters the first time she allowed "Snafu" in the puzzle? On second thought, wonder if she ever did allow it?

Mohair Sam 8:40 AM  

@jae -Will be using "CECILIAed" around here from now on, great word. Thanks. Have you seen the Stephen Curry ad on ESPN where he gets dissed for CECILIAing his father?

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Can someone explain Enneads? Egyptians Gods. Really?

Z 8:48 AM  

ERDOS was no problem here, but two last names crossing can be tough so I sympathize.

@Tokyo Racer - Self Addressed Stamped Envelope, for when you want something back.

How different are the themes from the originals? For me the differences between the WH sound and W sound is next to non-existent unless being emphasized. The only two that are really different are WHEE (from the extended EEeeeee at the end) and the missing T sound in WHICH. Otherwise the theme and originals are homophones (Party line in a gayborhood?).

The Hesslers - nice catch.

@chefwen - I like the cayenne pepper idea. Do you warn people?

Teedmn 9:14 AM  

I felt some love for this puzzle, probably because, after rebuses, WHACKy punnish phrases are my favorite kinds of themes. I smiled at THE WHIRLED SERIES and also at the image of QE2 on a roller coaster. The only one that felt stale to me was the WHINING AND DINING but it did help me change "chIme IN" to WEIGH IN.

As usual, there were writeovers. LienEE before LESSEE, PEON went in, came out and went back in because I was expecting 19D to start with "noN", mOpER before LOSER, and spelled NEiL's name wrong even though I've read several of his books. And hand up for the lucky guess at GUARE/ERDÖS. When I see a five letter mathematician starting with "E", I always assume it is Euler, but here I had the D already so that wasn't going to work.

Thanks Mr. Arbesfeld, you gave me nothing to BLINK AT today (I mean that in a good way :-).)

Leapfinger 9:16 AM  

As a residual Canadian (Eocene Div'n), I have a memory corner with Princess Elizabeth's annual Christmas radio broadcast: 'I thank you, my sister Margaret Rose thanks you...', so THE_ROYAL_WHEE was (shell we say?) particularly whelk-come.

No visits to Natick, because:
*ERDO appeared in another Sun-puzz a couple of years ago (NE corner); I looked him up because MAGYAR, and discovered brilliant, eccentric, humorous, all that and a dash of PAPRIKAsh. What more can you possibly want? By my lights, "N is a Number" gives value for the hour it takes; ERDO is bound to exhibit periodicity. Just remember that Math lives count.

*Check your pantry for ingredient lists. I'll be astounded if you don't find GUARE, by gum!

* LESSEE, what else? I also read voraciously as a kid -- assorted weird stuff -- so I thought normal vocabulary included such phrases as 'blue funk', 'brown study' and 'Not on your TINTYPE!', though I had only the vagus idea what a TINTYPE might be. I say this only to point out to @Rex that there are STODGES in the Bible BELT also, and some were pleased, though some of it was SERTA Sealy.

Other seminolables:
TAMIAMI meandering over to trAILS
MASCOTS: where Ashwood-Smith sleeps when camping out
RWANDAN: Roy Williams & Amos Alonzo Nagg ... Some twisted coaching, there, fer sure.
It looks asif UNCLE OTHo collapsed.
Perhaps because MISS PELL married Mr. Grant?
ATTA_CHE: Pat on the back from Fidel (Elnézést)
If you've had your surfeit. PEON it.

Tarzan, starting a subsidiary to Uber, transporting by jungle liana:
Whither on the vine?

Thought this an A+ Arbesfeld, a fun solve.
Enjoy your day!

Nancy 9:23 AM  

I had some laughs, too -- particularly THE ROYAL WHEE. And I loved the clue for WHICH DOCTOR. Easyish for me, but not that easy. I didn't know WORF. I had CHIME in before WEIGH IN. And I didn't know you NESTED measuring cups, but maybe that's because I only have one measuring cup, which I pretty much never use. Which reminds me @chef wen (from yesterday), I loved your comment: "I'm worrying. I'm Jewish. That's what we do." And to @chefbea today: "aspirations" in the sense of breathing -- you expel air when you make the WH sound.

A nice pun puzzle. They were cute. I never object to cute puns.

GILL I. 9:28 AM  

TAMIAMI=> Little Havana=> Calle Ocho=> Bodeguita del Medio=> Croquetas Habanera=>....No WHINING, just GOOD DINING....
A typical Sunday romp. I enjoyed it.
I always wondered about CECILIA. I mean, how rude. I loved that song when it came out and my sister and I would sing it at the top of our lungs.
I think the only thing I really didn't like was writing in LESSEE. I know it's legal and all that but in this part of my world no one says that. It's always "tenant".
KALE is so overrated and please leave it off my salad thank you very much.
THE ROYAL WHEE....!Fun. It's raining here in Northern California, so I and the birds and the plants are happy campers.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Once the WH/W trick was obvious, most theme answers fell into place. I'm perversely grateful for that awful GUARE/ERDOS cross because it is a perfect natick example - never heard of either person and had to Google to solve the cross. Yuck. But I understand the meaning of natick now, which is something. I guess. Maybe. And in a fit of stupidity, I initially had THEWHIRLEDSENIES and didn't see the glaring error until morning. Argh.

Ludyjynn 9:51 AM  

TAMIAMI, as @Merican noted, was a gimme. If you haven't driven it, go for it. It can seem endless, but the wildlife along the way is remarkable, much of it unique to the SUNBELT. Like the drive from Miami to Key West, everyone should try it at least once. You'll like it, Rex!

Can't we all just get along? Yes, the last three puzzles were edgy and full of SWAG, but this was not too shabby, either. The theme was WHell executed and fun, IMO. Almost DNFed at SULA/ENNEADS cross, but guessed right. Just because I am unfamiliar w/ this Morrison work does not make it a bad clue. I learned something new. My age has nothing to do with it.

Another gorgeous Fall day. Gotta take advantage of it, so I'm off.

IN A WORD, AA and WS, thanks!

Tita 9:54 AM  

I liked the theme, esp. THEROYALWHEE and WHACKSMUSEUM.
There were three naticks for me...the afore-mentioned one, _EIR/_ORF, though WEIR was the best guess there, and I used SULi, thinking ENNEiDS was fine.

TAMIAMI was sussable...crosses there were fair.

Does anybody SPLICE any more? My folks took home movies all the time to send back to the Old Country. But rather than just having us wave at the camera, they wrote screenplays...they're absolutely hilarious...in a very odd way.
I still Have the SPLICing machine we used to edit the 8mm film...two reels with a 3 inch screen, and a little cutting device. A special glue to join the cut ends. High tech!
(I wonder what my dad would do with a GoPro and live streaming...)

I should update my avatar for Christmas ACORNs...

I found this plenty clever and fun for a Sunday. Thanks Mr. AA

chefbea 10:13 AM  

I too do not understand enneads for 19 down

JayWalker 10:16 AM  

I ended my puzzle with one blank space. The "A" in "swag" (78A) and, therefore the "A" in "tra" (69D). I don't know "swag" but accept that it is correct. Just my lack of being hip I guess. I would accept "tra" but I canNOT see how it fits with "Chorus line leader?". Can someone please explain that to me? I grok the "?" but I still don't see it.

AliasZ 10:30 AM  

I know many -- well, at least two -- people who aspirate before the W: instead of pronouncing 'where' as 'wear', they pronounce it H-ware. For them this theme doesn't work.

Shouldn't 73A be IN A WHIRRED? Where is @Whirred Whacks anyway?

@George B, excellent 6-degree connection between the ERDŐS number and John GUARE. Thanks for that.

The missing link is Frigyes Karinthy (1887-1938) born in the same city as Paul ERDŐS, albeit 26 years earlier. Karinthy is the originator of the concept of "six degrees of separation" in his short story "Láncszemek" (chain links), from a collection titled "Everything is Different" (1929).

In it he describes a discussion at a social gathering about the shrinking of the globe, how the entire population of the world can be connected within five (not six) steps, and making a game of finding such links. The writer is given the task to connect to a riveter at Ford Works. "The riveter knows his Department Supervisor, who knows Ford, who is on good terms with the CEO of Hearst Publications, with whom Mr. Árpád Pásztor became quite friendly last year, who is not only an acquaintance but, to my knowledge, my close friend -- it would take one word from me to ask him to send a telegraph to the CEO to ask Ford to direct the Department Supervisor to tell the riveter to urgently nail together a car for me, because, as it so happens, I need one."

Fun and games inspired by this fun puzzle, for which I thank Alan Arbesfeld.

Andrew Morrison 10:43 AM  

GUARE and ERDOS? Fail.

I knew where my error was when I finshed. It just took me 18 letters to find the correct one. 'R' was the winner.

Individually, they are rather obscure, but it is a Sunday puzzle. Crossing each other? Weak.

Other than that glaring exception I thought it was a very easy puzzle.

Tim 10:44 AM  

Enjoyed the theme a lot. Although I wasn't personally stumped by the GUARE/ERDOS crossing, it's quite definitively a Natick.

I had more trouble with INRI/OUTRACE, since (not knowing anything about Calvary) there was no way for me to distinguish between OUTRACE and OUTPACE there.

Also poor shows: OGEES/ENSE, OCAT/WNET/IMARI, and SWE/LEON. (I was quite sure that if any European country were not a member of NATO, it would have to be neutral SWItzerland.) I don't object to the use of these words inherently as Rex does, I just find the crossings unreasonable.

But the theme was delightful, even if straightforward. THEROYALWHEE is my very favorite themed answer in a long while.

Anon: ENNEAD is an obscure word meaning "group of nine."

Tim 10:47 AM  

@chefbea: the WH sound in words like "whirled", "whacks", "whee" is often pronounced as an "aspirated" vowel. Google for "aspirated wh" for more details.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

OK for the LGBT " community" to take offense at "homophones," or are gay people still just a joke?

Carola 11:07 AM  

Easy here, vying for fastest Sunday status. Regarding the sticky spots that have been mentioned - I love reading theater reviews (how I wish I didn't live so far from Broadway!), so I knew GUARE and have visited Florida enough times to be familiar with the TAMIAMI Trail.

I loved the image of always proper Queen Elizabeth indulging in a ROYAL WHEE, but had to look at myself in a mental mirror with some chagrin at WHINING AND DINING, although as a nice Midwesterner I do the WHINING in my head.

Music Man 11:16 AM  

Had to look up enneads myself too, it's a group of nine. So nine baseball players on a field, nine Supreme Court justices.

Indypuzzler 11:21 AM  

I totally agree with Rex about the GUARE/ERDOS cross and as I whittled down to an n and an r I was just LUCKY to have put the r to close out and get my happy certification of completion on my app.
However, I am not a SUNBELT CODGER so I would say that TAMIAMI TRAIL would be known to anyone who has driven down to Florida on spring break...but I will concede that it likely would not be known to folks west of the Mississippi. Take THAT Santa Monica Freeway, Ventura Highway, et al!
Also, I did not think this skewed so old other than historical references. There is the somewhat old Simon and Garfunkel clue but has Bono become emblematic of geezerpuz? I have no idea what the OCAT game is fer shur and I would be happy if I never saw it again.
I am about an hour away from the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe but I wonder how many solvers know it was in Indiana? Of course, knowing that didn't matter due to crosses.

Andrew Heinegg 11:25 AM  

Fortunately or unfortunately, a bad pun is the only good pun. I.e., if it is not a groaner, why bother? That said, the puns were the only good thing about this puzzle. It was a distasteful combination of too easy and naticked crossings. You have higher expectations for Sunday NY Times x-words and this one does not get there.

Leapfinger 11:31 AM  

@Gregory Schmidt, If you provide the hovercraft, I'll get the eels.

gzodik 11:33 AM  

@chefbea - The "H" sound is termed an aspiration in phonetics.

Which admittedly makes no sense when most people now pronounce "whirled" exactly like "world".

Hungry Mother 11:34 AM  

Snowbird, stodge, and mathematician, so pretty straightforward for me.

Blue Stater 11:41 AM  

@Chefbea - When you add the sound represented by the "h" in, say, THEROYALWHEE, it's called "aspiration."

Joseph Michael 11:44 AM  

HOLY COW. John GUARE is an established Americsn playwright. If you didn't know his name, consider yourself lucky to have learned it.

Thought the puz was only OK. Liked WHINING AND DINING. But overall the theme felt like something I had seen before.

Bob Friedman 11:49 AM  

I couldn't agree more with Rex about the crossing of Guard and Eros. I had to guess and of course I guessed wrong.

Master Melvin 11:50 AM  

Love driving the TAMIAMI TRAIL every February en route from W coast of FL to the Keys. Great wildlife, particularly waterfowl. Nice spot to stop along the way and watch alligators. Very special part of this great, varied land of ours. No idea why it's a problem for Rex.

ted cole 12:05 PM  

What happened to your W0rdplay interview? It was very good. I commend
you for your work at Elmira.
Ted Cole

old timer 12:05 PM  

I, too, was Naticked at ERDOS/GUARE. But THEROYALWHEE made up for all the bad stuff.

Never been to Florida, but somehow I knew about the TAMIAMI trail. I suppose that's short for Tampa-to-Miami?

chefbea 12:11 PM  

@Tim and others..thanks for the explanations . Never heard of an aspirated vowel!!

Wm. C. 12:33 PM  

Two complete guesses for me, batted .500 -- got WORF/WEIR, missed ERDOS/GUARE. It's a rare Sunday when I have to make a complete guess, so I cry foul on these, even though the puzzle overall was enjoyable.

I'm a SNOWBIRD, in Florida now, and --as it turns out -- my neighborhood borders directly on Rte 41, AKA the TAMIAMI_TRAIL (albeit the URBANIZED N-S stretch, not the E-W Everglades stretch). And as it turns out, in the north I live only a few miles from NATICK, where my grandkids and their parents live -- so that was a gimme of years past.

Chuck McGregor 12:35 PM  

@ George Barany 1:38 AM: Another thank you for the excellent write-up about the GUARE / ERDOS cross, It nicely SEALEDUP the relationship between the two. A kudo to Mr. Arbesfeld for the “hidden” clue, which I’m sure was no coincidence.

The immediate area where I live seems to be a focus of very low degrees of separation (i.e., amazingly small world stuff). Here are just three prime examples of many, many stories I could relate.

I bought a new acoustic bass from a luthier in nearby Rockport, ME. He took me upstairs to his shop and showed me a bass he was working on, mentioning the name of the owner, a Barry Backus. Well, I seriously BLINKedAT that! About 35 years ago I was at a local jazz club (odd name: “Uncle Mary’s”) in my hometown in Connecticut. The bass player’s amplifier gave up on him. By chance, I had mine in my car and offered to let him use it for the rest of the night. Yes, he was the one in the same Barry Backus.

I was working here on a children’s musical theater production (Flat Stanley) and was talking to the director. On some easels on the stage she had placed some large pictures and noted that one was a picture of her hometown, Northport, NY. “Oh,” says I, “An aunt and uncle of mine used to live there. He was a minister.” “Methodist or Presbyterian,” she queried. “Presbyterian,” I replied. Then she says, “Anne [my cousin and my father’s NIECE] was my best friend in grade school.” I also seriously BLINKedAT that. That was some 60 years ago!

Some years ago, I was off for the afternoon while on a job in Houston, TX, so I went to my hotel’s pool to relax. I struck up a conversation with another guest, an (M)adman from Los Angeles. Somehow, Maine came up in our conversation. He says, “My parents live in Maine, Christmas Cove.” I definitely BLINKedDAT that and related that, since boyhood, I had been there many times while on vacation, both by land and by sea. It was his turn and he BLINKedDAT that. I now live only a few miles from the Cove.

My avatar is the Pemaquid Lighthouse (my own photo), also only a few miles from my home. It is depicted on the Maine Quarter and is home to the most famous puddle in Maine. Countless pictures have been taken of the lighthouse reflected in this little puddle (varies in size with the rain/tides/wave action) amongst the spectacular rock formations leading to THEEDGE of the Atlantic.


Jamie C 12:43 PM  

BLIN KAT, PEE KAT, ATHO ME. This puzzle sucked.

Teedmn 12:49 PM  

Hi @Leapfinger: I had to look up elnézést, of course. I also listened to how to say "Elnézést, ezt nem értettum" which is something I need to say after many of your posts (I have to work on my pronunciation).

Tarzan offering alternate transportation - classic.

Sharpening carillons = WHetting bells?

tkincher 12:58 PM  

I liked the recent-reference clue for Brian ENO (for scoring "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"). Otherwise, I had the same problems as many, although I liked the puns. I do know ERDOS but I got the third letter first and had his contemporary, Gödel, in there for a while which didn't help.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Two Naticks - wnet/ocat and erdos/guade or whatever it was.

I don't mind corny theme answers, but a double Natick is inexcusable.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Har, "fag"-phones. Musta slipped by OFL's gaydar.

quilter1 1:20 PM  

The Natick got me so DNF. But I got a smile out of some of the theme answers. So, OK.

Alto2 2:07 PM  

Easy-medium for me, too. I live right near Tamiami Trail, yet I stared at that clue for 3 minutes until it clicked. Duh.

jclaireb 2:29 PM  

I'm curious if any other solvers with Florida bonafides (as if) have heard the story that it's called the Tamiami Trail because from Tampa -- it's the road Ta-Miami --
Also heard it's Tampa-Miami smooshed together Tam-iami -- but that's not as fun.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Whacks museum made me smile

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 2:48 PM  

Getting a teensy bit tired of ageism rearing its head here every time there's a stodgy puzzle. I'm a proud Sunbelt snowbird for whom Tamiami was a given, but I didn't love this slog anymore than you did. Guessed ( wrong) on the math/playwright guys. Otherwise, yeah, meh. Thanks for the blog though .. It's fun checking in ... Nobody in my real life does puzzles.

Gregory Schmidt 3:29 PM  

I really wanted ENNEADS to be BENCHES, (baseball, SCOTUS), until it just became untenable.

Leapfinger 3:33 PM  

Hi back @Teed/MN! I think a lot of foreign travel language needs can be met with "No thanks" and "I don't understand". Make it easy on yourself and whittle it down to "Nem értem"; you can always embellish with a smile and a shrug.
(Make the first and last "e" sound like "tempo"; the accented "é" sounds like 'air', and if you touch the tip of your tongue to the back of your lower teeth, you'll have the right "r" sound with the "e" cut short.)

My little mother used to come from Montreal to spend the winter months with me. One time, she answered the front doorbell to a carpenter who was doing some work for me; as I overheard the Hungarian accent and the Southern accent talking from the next room, I knew well and good that neither had a clue what the other was talking about.

Hate to hear them bells be flat.

dick swart 3:42 PM  

Writing as an over 80 in a small town, I was delighted to be able to work through the Sunday puzzle and was happy with the selection of aspirations.

As compared with yesterday's where I realized that my small expertise had been entirely outdated and spent a great deal of time with google.

I know that to become popular and appealing to the shifting/shifted demographics, crosswords must be more current. Even I am appalled by the occasional clue to people and events from before I was born.

Fountain pens seem to be another of my interests that certainly appears to be dated, although the FountainPenNetwork run out of the Netherlands has some 90,000 members and is very active fora blog on a rather arcane topic.

Z 4:03 PM  

According to Wikipedia, TAMIAMI is a portmanteau of Tampa/Miami. I wonder how many people have made the full Miami to Copper Harbor journey on US 41. I've driven on it in Wisconsin and Michigan, but that is a mere fraction of it's ~2,000 mile length.

OISK 4:12 PM  

Guessed right on ERDOS, but I think I had heard of him, so not really a pure guess. Definitely never heard of Guare. Otherwise, though, really enjoyed this puzzle, and as often happens, felt exactly the opposite of REX - liked today's, disliked yesterday's. Yesterday's was not n-ice n-ice, baby. I love puns.

Almost had "Io" instead of "Yo," I speak Italian, not Spanish, but I fixed it. Perfect week for me.

Numinous 4:22 PM  

I guess y'll missed it, this wonderful Stewie Griffin puzzle. Stewie invariably aspirates each and every WH word which irritates Brian, the Griffin's dog, no end. Now I think about it, I wonder how many of you actually know about Family Guy. I sorta smiled or at least mumbbled a "hmmf" at each of the themers.

When I lived in Australia working as a film editor at the ABC (Australia Broadcasting Commission), I worked, for a time, with Peter WEIR. Often visited him and his wife at his "villa" north of Sydney. An interesting guy with interesting ideas about film. The only thing we never discussed is why the D got left off his name.

I naticked at GUARE/ERDO too. Had to look up the play. Otherwise this was a reasonably quick solve for me.

ANON B 4:26 PM  

Apparently the theme is changing an unaspirated
"W" To an aspirated "Wh". In grammar school I was
taught that "white" was pronounced "huwhite".
I ignored that and I have never heard anyone
apirate any "wh" words.
I looked in the dictionary and the "correct"
pronunciation is the aspirated one. So sue me.

Numinous 4:36 PM  


I believe the Muses are an ENNEAD.

At the same time I was hob knobbing with Peter WEIRd, I worked on a show aimed at the hip youth of Australia called KTK. We interviewed mostly musicians and made, gasp, short films that would now be called music videos. We made one to that particular song, CECELIA. I wonder if it could still be found in the archives of the ABC.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

Tamiami is better known here as Alligator alley. Would have been better clue.

kitshef 5:25 PM  

TAMIAMI, WORF, ERDOS, all gimmees. Liked the theme, but the number of obscure word, often crossing, are unacceptable. All the above, plus LEON-ENO, ENSE-OGEES, and most unforgivably, OCAT-IMARI-WNET. Also, I've never heardYOTEAMO. It's always just TEAMO, though with the vast Spanish-speaking world that could easily be regional. Oh, and surprised no one complained about ITO, though that was anoyher gimmee here. Mathematics and skating - talk about my wheelehouse.

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

Of course rex doesn't know the Tamiami Trail. He doesn't do real traveling and is quite one dimensional. Same comment about his appreciation of art and music.

chefwen 6:06 PM  

@Z - Hell no, no warning. I like my guests to discover their own little surprises, it's more fun that way.

Hyunanimouse 6:37 PM  

@ Numinous

Cool HuWhip. Gotcha,dear boy!!

Leo 6:49 PM  

Can someone explain ocat?

Leo 6:50 PM  

Can someone explain ocat

Numinous 8:14 PM  

Making deviled eggs at our house, WHEE always add a generous dash of Slap Ya Mama, a Cajun spice we discovered in New Orleans. Sprinkle it on the top? Hell no, mix it right in! At pot luck parties, they are always the first things to vanish completely.

paulsfo 9:54 PM  

for the first, and likely the last, time, i agree completely with OFL.

The Ear Worm 10:03 PM  

Natick galore for me (though i had no problem with the Erdos cross, since I know someone with an Erdos number of three :) )

WNET, and OCAT on the other hand, or ENNEADS and SULA. I really really really wanted benches for enneads despite never putting it in there since every cross but SULA was rock solid.

Otherwise, giggled at THEROYALWHEE because who wouldn't. The others were mostly fine. Medium-challenging if you go by time, but most of that last bit was me putting in and takin out the A in SULA, trying to get a happy pencil while I had OCAw and WNEw quietly chuckling to themselves.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

Who is this amazing Leapfinger person? He or she is absolutely brilliant.

Bronxdoc 11:23 PM  

There were things I didn't know (tamiami, sases, ennead), but Guare wasn't among them. He's major current American play write. Definitely fair game.

Tapir's Baby 1:07 AM  

Nutshell version.

One Old Cat (one o'cat) was a street ball game, similar to scrub, with a pitcher, a catcher and a striker (batter) who tried o run the bases. It was not a team game; the object for everyone else was to put the striker out, at which point everyone rotated positions. One o'cat had one base to run, but if there were more players, there could be more bases, and 'four o'cat' is apparently the precursor to the game of baseball as we know it.

cf stickball, stoopball and similar games that were played in city streets or vacant lots with a minimum of equipment

Maruchka 8:13 AM  

Very smooth and fun. WHew - I can hear the WHistling WHind blowing through the WHords.

Fav of the day - WHACKS MUSEUM. Leave the gHun, take the cannoli.

Deviled eggs are a staple, here. PAPRIKA was the only topper used in my family, so the condiment-laden Southern versions were a revelation - relish, roe, mustard, peppers, fried oysters, etc. Mmm. Time for a par-tay.

I don't get the quibble with GUARE, either. He is a major playwright.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

To anon at 4:55PM

The Tamiami Trail (US41)and Alligator Alley (I-75)are two separate highways. The Alley basically runs from Lauderdale to Naples.

Paul Rippey 11:45 AM  

I had benches for Supreme Court and Baseball lineups and thought it was a very clever clue, so I resented ENNEADS. I remember TAMIAMI from John D. macDonald novels. His hero Travis McGee would frequently drive along it in the rain or find a body on it. Great stuff.

the redanman 10:13 AM  

I don't always do these on Sundays, so I am late. There were about 4 semi-Natick and one true Natick boxes in there. Definitely heavy on croswrodese-rote answers for the casual solver.

But then again I knew TAMIAMI cold.

Sure can tell a SHORTZ from a SHENK these days.

Gail Kamensky 9:50 PM  

Tra la la

Kalimba 10:33 PM  

In the Acrostic in that very same Sunday NYT magazine, there is a clue "Group such as the Muses" and the answer is "ennead." Funny, even though I finished that acrostic first, this puzzle was a DNF for me because of that one word, crossed with Sula.

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

Got lucky on the GUARE/ERDOS guess; the rest of them went in on crosses. I agree these two are unknown enough to fully qualify for a natick.

Gonna be relatively short, if not sweet, today; we're celebrating Thanksgiving early and there's TONS to do. Theme is passable: THEROYALWHEE is an image worth forgiving everything else! Had the predictable mOoS before LOWS, and huMIlITY before TIMIDITY; not too many other snags. Typical wide variation in fill skill. Call it C+.

But now tell me: just how many ALISTS (?) can there be?

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  




Anonymous 11:51 AM  

To JayWalker @ w0:16
a chorus line eg. Tra la la etc :)

rondo 12:01 PM  

Totally bovine? Wholly cow, er, HOLYCOW. Nary a write-over, but the last letter in was the R in GUARE/ERDOS and was a “scientific wild-ass guess” – SWAG. That was the only “medium” thing in this puz; otherwise I dutifully filled it in and may have smiled slightly at WHACKSMUSEUM. Kind of a bore, even for COOTs and STODGES of my age bracket, I think.

I guess MERYL can fill in as today’s yeah baby, CLEARLY talented, but not exactly my cuppa.

BTW, “OCH” means “and” in SWEdish.

OGEES, not much to say about this tired puz. Time for brunch and my SERIAL.

AnonymousPVX 2:01 PM  

I agree the Natick made the puzzle a waste of time. I too decided to leave it blank, as that was clearly the constructor's aim. Congratulations. Had every other clue so this ticked me off.

rain forest 5:55 PM  

Didn't get my Saturday paper until noon today, so I did both Saturday's and today's today, and I liked them both.

Drew blanks on yesterday's for about 5 minutes until OUTER SPACE made itself clear, and then it was a bit of a romp, but a fun one. First entry was ARCANA, he said proudly.

Today's was mostly pretty easy, except for the SW section where I took some time to untangle it. Knew both WORF and ERDOS, so no problem there.
I liked all the themers, though as mentioned, some were better than others.

Joseph McGrath 6:10 AM  

Liked Whacks Museum a lot. Didn't get A or B, but not O - put NOTT. Put suMa instead of SULA. Too many proper names for moi.

Carl 8:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl 9:40 PM  

Having grown up less than a mile from the U.S. 41 Highway in Nokomis, Florida, I was happy to see the Tamiami Trail make an appearance. Now could someone tell me how "made an effort" becomes "essayed" (85 across)?

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