All students at Eton / MON 3-4-16 / Actress Uta / Billiards variant / Went in haste / Billionaire Aristotle

Monday, April 4, 2016

Before we begin, I just want to say that this puzzle was very disappointing, even for a Monday. The lineup of the corners was all wrong, and the clues were predictable.  Indeed, as I puzzle over my morning coffee and newspaper, I have to think about the fact that I am feeling very grouchy at the moment, and....APRIL FOOLS IT'S AN ANNABEL MONDAY!!!!! (@Rex, ISWEAR I am laughing with you and not at you! alsopleasedon'tfiremethanks)

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BACK COUNTRY — Circled letters in theme answers spell out the names of countries, backwards.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Actor who portrayed Newman on "Seinfeld" (WAYNE KNIGHT - Kenya)
  • 22A: Obvious indication (CLEAR SIGN - Israel)
  • 34A: It may keep cafeteria food warm (HEAT LAMP - Malta)
  • 43A: Billiards variant (NINEBALL - Benin)
  • 54A: Ushers' offerings (PLAYBILLS - Libya)
  • 61A: Rural area...or what could be found in each set of circled letters? (BACKCOUNTRY)

Word of the Day: NINE-BALL (CLUE) —
Nine-ball (sometimes written 9-ball) is a contemporary form of pool (pocket billiards), with historical beginnings rooted in the United States and traceable to the 1920s.[1] The game may be played in social and recreational settings by any number of players (generally one-on-one) and subject to whatever rules are agreed upon beforehand, or in league and tournament settings in which the number of players and the rules are set by the sponsors. During much of its history, nine-ball has been known as a "money game" in both professional and recreational settings, but has since become established as a legitimate alternative to eight ballstraight pool and other major competition games.
In recent decades, nine-ball has become the dominant tournament game in professional pool, in the World Pool-Billiard AssociationWomen's Professional Billiard Association and United States Professional Poolplayers Association. Matches proceed quickly, suitable for the time constraints of television coverage, and the fast-paced games tend to keep the audience engaged.

• • •
I CAN'T BELIEVE REX IS AT A CROSSWORD COMPETITION!!! HOW COOL IS THAT??? VERY.  Or is it a crossword convention? I have no idea but I hope he is having fun.

Alright, yes, I cheated. I'm a Cheaty McCheaterpants. But I couldn't find my mistake anywhere! I was absolutely positive that the Italian word for new is NUEVA, not NUOVA...note to self: put "learn at least a little more about Italian" on my TODO list! Also, BAD ODE ROW makes me want to write a poorly-constructed poem about a crew team, and GOP ADMITS HIM is a decent little sentence fragment. Apart from that, the fill was pretty meh. Or maybe I'm just bitter because it had a lot of celebrities I'd never heard of. (Aristotle ONASSIS has a pretty cool life, though. You learn something new every day.)

I was actually a huge fan of the theme!!! First of all, I understood it from getting 61A right rather than the other way around, which is always good for a Monday theme I think because it makes it more fun to go back and think about what might fit into the theme clues. Second of all, I love the BACKCOUNTRY. My high school used to go on these trips where it would just be us, the wilderness, ginormous bulging backpacks that felt heavier than we were, and a tarp to sleep under. I think we pretty much survived on bagels and oatmeal. Ahhh, those were the days.

  • REF (39A: Red or yellow card issuer) — So, did you know that in rugby, the sport where the ball is basically just there so you have an excuse to beat each other up, you're supposed to be suuuuper respectful to the ref? You have to call them "sir" or "ma'am" and only ever gently suggest things to them. I am saying this because we had our first rugby game of the season today and it was super cool - literally, we played in the snow. Oh well. As one of my friends said, at least we didn't have to ice our rugby-induced injuries after the game, since they were getting plenty of ice on them during the game. 
  • ORBE (32D: "Kill ____ killed) — If you like games at all, and haven't played "Undertale," I highly recommend it.

  • SURF (27A: Explore, as the Internet) — My sister learned to surf one time. A couple of her teeth got knocked out, but she still loves it. Takes after her sister.
  • WAYNE KNIGHT (17A: Actor who portrayed Newman on "Seinfeld") — You think the current co-owner of a dog named Little Jerry Seinfeld was gonna let this one slip by her?
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 2:15 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Pretty clever theme for a Mon. with some zippy entries...WAYNE KNIGHT, NINE BALL...liked it.

chefwen 3:08 AM  

Hey Annabel, happy first of the month to you. I'll bet Rex is ecstatic to have you to do the write up today. He's probably spent after his action packed, puzzle filled weekend.

Good Monday offering which I throughly enjoyed even though I ended up with a mistake. Like Annabel I could have sworn that 60A was NUEVA and didn't notice that my ETON was filled with Turkish Chieftans, BEYS. Oh well, it was fun mental picture after the fact.

Learning moment Newman's real name.

Lewis 6:14 AM  

@annabel -- Ditto on NUeVA, and I was thinking, "Is BEYS a nickname for Eton students?" But I did catch it at the end; with BOYS making much more sense.

The theme is so basic, yet so clever. What makes it even better is that the backward countries stretch across two words. Recently, again and again, I've been asking "Why hasn't this theme been done before?" Some puzzle answers that appealed to me are CLEARSIGN, ISWEAR, HEADLAMP, and YURTS (will we see this word as an abbreviation for 'yogurts" one day?). I think in the NW (13A) ERA would have worked better than the partial ONA, and in the SE I like the column progression of ABOR/ADO/DEW (it has a word ladder feel without being one).

Terrific start to the week DK. You take a TAES to no one!

Z 6:49 AM  

This played tough (for a Monday), really more of a Tuesday or easy Wednesday for me. Other than WAYNE KNIGHT as a themer the PPP didn't jump out at me, but when I toted up the numbers the reason for the chunkiness became clear.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Products, and Proper Nouns as a % of answers. If it gets to 33% someone is likely to complain about the puzzle being unfair

27/78, 35%. However, 19 of the 27 are in the down clue/answer pairs, so Downs Only solvers are looking at a hefty 44% PPP today. Yowser.

Cat ON A Hot Tin Roof
OHIOAN (anyone else wishing it were OHIOIAN?)
La Vita NUOVA (classical pop culture in a foreign language. ON A Monday!)

ANAIS Nin (How's that pair for a fan fic inspiration?)
TIKI Torch (as clued)
METRO Goldwyn Meyer
ANTI-LABOR (as clued)
EBOOK (ditto)
TOBEY Maguire
Trevor NOAH
URI Geller

Now I'm imaging a new series on Starz: La Vita NUOVA starring WAYNE Knight with Uta HAGEN as Beatrice.

Cassieopia 7:19 AM  

Today's blog intro made me LOL - I love Annabel Mondays! :-D I found the puzzle difficult for a Monday, I too got stuck on NUOVA so that for a while, Eton was an all-BeYS school. Clue for ACE was my fave: "point of no return?" Overall, though, I enjoyed the puzzle. Happy Monday!

AliasZ 7:29 AM  

Welcome back, Annabel. I always enjoy your funny, sunny write-ups.

I liked the clever, albeit inconsistent, theme. All country names were 5 letters long except one. Why? It would've been nice to have two 5-letter, two 6-letter and one 7-letter BACK COUNTRY for symmetry. Perhaps too difficult, if not impossible? I tried and failed. I don't think tapiOCA NOMinee, rAISIN UTensil, insaNE DEWS, SODA BRABble or VerNON ABELard would have worked. Maybe sworN ON A BELief? AcACIA MAJor? Nah...

Still, an enjoyable puzzle, perhaps too tough for a Mon. in places, and mystifying for the odd choices in the two 3x3 minipuzzles in the NW/SE. But to BE FAIR, I liked DAYLIT, and a few other entries, I SWEAR.

Beethoven considered LUIGI Cherubini (1760-1842) to be the greatest of his contemporary composers. Why don't you try and see if he was correct?

Happy Monday!

Aketi 7:44 AM  

@Annabel, welcome back. Undertale was cute. There is a whole underground of pacifist gamers who try to suss out how to win vviolent video games without killing which is usually much harder to do. I too missed the NUeVO error and didn't notice that it created BeY do I had the use the checker cheater to find it.

chefbea 7:49 AM  

Fun puzzle and great write-up Annabel
I am anxious to hear all about the ACPT and see all the pictures

Gotta go dice my morels!!!

Unknown 7:56 AM  

My only qualm is that 3/5 of the countries are in Africa, would have liked some variety. However, I'm sure this was a tough theme to construct so it's not too bad.

Hungry Mother 8:09 AM  

Haven't been to B'way for a while, so PLAYBILL took me longer than it should, especially since we lived next door to the founder on the beach in Cape May Beach for 15 years.

Loren Muse Smith 8:12 AM  

Annabelle – terrific catch on the GOP ADMITS HIM. I never would have seen that!

I go to the ACPT for two reasons:

Hang out with fellow Rexites
Be a creepy star-gazing constructor stalker

And I looked for David Kwong all weekend. Still don't know if he was there or not. Hey – it wasn't my plan to accost him – just to follow him around a bit at a respectful distance.

Seeing David's name at the top of the grid is like seeing Sole Amandine on the menu; I rub my hands together and look forward to a treat. I swear. It had to have been tough to come up with real in-the-language phrases that work here, phrases that don't use four-letter countries and break the country up between the two words. Hold the jalapenos, please.

A couple of missteps – "fled" for HIED, FLAP for TODO (and then there it was somewhere else), "tassle" for TASSEL.

YURT is such a funny word, right? It always makes my think of some Dr. Seuss character. Purple, cheerfully waving tendrils. Long pointed toes. Sprigs of back hair.

Liked RAFT crossing SURF. We hope. Two naked emaciated people on a make-shift RAFT using make-shift oars to try to ROW past the SURF to get to the shark and man-O-WAR-infested waters to the rescue boat. My new favorite show.

David – excellent puzzle. Lots of theme real estate there. I gobbled it up.

I'll try to share more about the ACPT here in a little bit.

Roo Monster 8:17 AM  

Hey All !
Man, I love Annabels perspective on things. Makes me yearn for my younger days, when thoughts seemed new and exciting...

Rather liked this one. BACKwards COUNTRies. Pretty cool to have 'em in normal phrases/names. Although BENIN is a WOE. Is that a newer formed one?

Puz felt a tad tougher than a normal Monday. Liked YURTS, ANTILABOR, and all the Commotion clues. Had two writeovers, both in N center, sunLIT-DAYLIT, aol-MSN. So, got a little (insert other word for Crunch here) in a MonPuz. :-) High 3's count, 24 of those little suckers.

Just a bit of Random Nonsense:
Erosion IS WEAR
Relative of a TBar? T RAIL
Use lots of the 12th letter? MORE L
Sitting ON ASS IS okay
(Make your own) GOP ONA TET!


Chuck McGregor 8:22 AM  

I think I am discovering that my solve times are roughly an order of magnitude longer than ACE solvers like @Rex. Today was about 20 minutes. A good time for me for a correct solve. I suspect speed solvers would therefore be in the 2 to 3 minute range.

Just looked at the @Rex write-up and can’t confirm this today, the fair (meant two ways) Anabel being at the reins of today’s blog.

This puzzle had a few tough clues, namely names of the PPP variety. As usual, I ignored reading the theme clue while solving. Cute trick but quite doable without it and probably of little help with it (unlike yesterday where it really did help).

Anabel pointed out about the only worthy juxtapositions, so I defer to hers. However, I found a few other odd, cool sounding/looking BACKwards words (well…I think they are) that could be things.

TILYAD: Gardener’s competition I woulda gotten 1st at the Tilyad but my hoe handle broke.

SISSANO: Slinky Latin dance. Lyric (When you dance the mambo / I’ll weave to the Sissano.

LOTSIP: Goof off I’ve had enough of this lotsipping around. Get to work!

SIANA: Rhiana’s sister.

ROBALITNA: Arcane term for plagiarizing It appears that T.P. did some robolitna with his puzzles.

ERAHO: Little known Indian tribe in northern Idaho. It was a cold climate so the Eraho live in their ancestrally inspired YURTS.

YEBOT: Renaissance video game character. Yebot’s brother is Yonbot.

PALF: Petty theft. I palfed a couple of pens from the office.

I-KIT: Apple product just for doing I-CHAT.Some assembly required.

TAHCI: Small hibachi I guess it’s only the two of us so I’ll do the hotdogs on the tahci.

LIL: Lil (har)

Spring sorta came for a while, but is kinda taking a hiatus here this week.

Speaking of week, hope you all have a good one!


Doug 8:24 AM  

Annabel, you're always tired. Get some more sleep. You're in college, for chrissakes! That's where you eat, sleep, and drink. And somebody please explain to me the 15-A clue. I still don't get it.

pmdm 8:28 AM  

17A, 10D and 12D result in two proper names crossing a proper name. Even if they are names that most should know, there is a good chance that beginner solvers are not familiar with the MGM names. Seems unfair for a Monday puzzle.

Nancy 8:52 AM  

Hi, Annabel. Your review, and especially the first paragraph, was the high point of today's puzzle experience for me. Another after-the-fact theme that shows prowess on the part of the constructor, but adds nothing to the solving experience. But at least there was no junk. Except for the poor, unfortunate WAYNE KNIGHT, who is probably the only member of the Seinfeld cast whom no one knows by name. Am I right? Did anyone know his name? At any rate, I thought this was a quintessential Monday, with nothing to get the juices flowing.

Alec Schwartz 8:52 AM  

Best April Fools write-up EVER! TY, Annabel.

Wm. C. 9:11 AM  

@Doug8:24 --

Re: Point of No Return => Think Tennis. ;-)

Nancy 9:24 AM  

@Doug (8:24) A tennis ACE, i.e. a serve that is not returned. It earns the server a point, hence: a point of no return.

@lms -- I look forward to your write-up of the ACPT. I know it will be colorful and witty. And that it will put me right smack dab in the middle of the action -- without all the accompanying angst.

Lewis 9:33 AM  

(... back SEAT)

Mohair Sam 9:34 AM  

Well, you had me for two sentences Annabel, I actually thought OFL was just a tad grumpier than usual - and wondered what happened to you this Monday. nicely done.

Tough-for-a-Monday in this house. We call Newman "Newman" no matter what roll he appears in, so that had to fill. btw @Nancy, Seinfeld fanatics can name the actors who played the most obscure rolls - WAYNEKNIGHT a gimme for millions. YURTS on a Monday crossing an Italian word - tough.

Speaking of which, was surprised that Annabel and a few of you were naticked (or nearly so) by the "O" in NUOVA, that would require Eton to be a school for horses. So maybe upper class English BOYS graduate from Ascot?

Malsdemare 9:36 AM  

I read the first few words of the review and let out a wail: Where's Annabel? So grateful she was fooling. Good one, Ms. Bel. I blew through the puzzle, came here to RANT about the foolish prank. Now I'll go read everyone,s comments.

Carry on.

Ludyjynn 9:55 AM  

@Doug, Think tennis service ACE, a la a Williams sister; too powerful to return.

I have never uttered or heard anyone else ever say the 'word' GAH in real life.

@Nancy, WAYNE KNIGHT is laughing all the way to the bank, along w/ the other "Seinfeld" cast members, and yes, I for one know the actor by name. But then, you know how I love pop culture references. Maybe one day @LMS or another Rexite could construct a puzzle containing nothing BUT pop names, elating me and sending @Z and some others into a tailspin!

It's Opening Day here in BMore for our beloved baseBALLers, the Os.

Thanks, DK and WS.

KandRFenton 9:57 AM  

Omg, yes! Stupid NUeVA. To think I was so proud to have remembered to use the A instead of an O to make the tenses agree.


KandRFenton 10:00 AM  

Tennis. An ACE is a serve that scores a point with no return.

Nate 10:01 AM  

I don't really track my times, but think I set my personal record for completions without a single wrong letter on today's puzzle (6:35!). It helps when the long across clues jump out at you like WAYNE KNIGHT did for me. Also, this was a very under-30-years-old friendly puzzle, so that worked in my favor. Aristotle ONASSIS was the only esoteric clue, but I guessed at that once I had ONA___IS.

For me, the toughest answers were HIED (I know that's a word, not in my vocabulary though), YURTS (could have been a U or an E), and TASSEL ("el" or "le"?).

It's getting close to retirement time for the ol' "Yahoo alternative" clue. Both MSN and Yahoo have been lapped in relevance.

johnny stocker 10:13 AM  

I liked this overall. Definitely a Tuesday though, maybe even a Wednesday. This was my slowest Monday of this year by a mile.

Sir Hillary 11:20 AM  

I looked over 50+ other short-named countries to find another possible theme entry, but unless I REMAINAMORON, or MYLATIN is faulty, or you buy OSAMAHABITAT for Tora Bora, in the early aughts or OREGANOBAGUETTE for Herbal bread, the best I can offer is the fact that the skire sort ALTAISINUTAH.

Therefore, to overcome my lameness, I would like to propose that, for today only, our guest blogger be referred to as NONABEL. Come on, only a two-letter difference!

PS - If, like me, you always misspell Ms. Nin as ANiaS, you now have a nice reminder that it's ANAISSURELY.

Hartley70 11:20 AM  

Yup @Nancy, WAYNEKNIGHT was a gimme, as was UTAHAGEN, ONASSIS, PATTERSON and TOBEY, just in case you were wondering. Bring on the PPPs. I'm ready!

I thought this was a delightful Monday and Annabel's opening added to the fun. BTW, this was the best April Fool's Day ever for the NYT crossword and also for Jeopardy fans...10 tricks starting with Alex Trebeck entering without pants! If you missed them you can get surprised at the jeopardy website. Great show!

nick 11:27 AM  

Hooray for an Annabel! But the dusty pop culture fill of this puzzle? Ugh.

URI and ONASSIS and HAGEN and MSN and EBOOK and LUIGI and even WAYNEKNIGHT -- about as delightful as an afternoon of CSPAN.

Martín Abresch 11:44 AM  

Xwordinfo has a note from the constructor that adds a whole different dimension to this puzzle. David Kwong is a consultant for the tv show "Blindspot": he helps with the show's (not just crossword) puzzles. As part of an episode's plot, they wanted to hide a secret message in a NYTimes crossword. What's cool is that they wanted to use an actual crossword! They pitched the idea to Will Shortz, and he accepted. Today's crossword is the result.

This puzzle will be featured in tonight's (4/4) and next week's (4/11) of "Blindspot." What could the secret message be?

Charles Flaster 11:50 AM  

Thanks AT.
Thought some cluing made for a more difficult Monday. Only write over was ANTILABOR for ANTItrust .
Liked cluing for ACE and HEAT LAMP.
YURTS should become part of our CROSSWORDease lexicon.
Thanks DK.

jberg 11:54 AM  

@Chuck, unlike you I was really helped by the theme -- in most cases, I could figure out the country from a few crosses before I could figure out the whole answer.

I got NUOVA right off, my problem was trying to put Program where PLAYBILL should have been. I'ts too short, i know, but I was so conficent that I wrote it in all the way to the r before I noticed that. The one disadvantage to solving in ink on paper is that you have to find ways to remind yourself that a letter shouldn't be there, and none of those ways seems to work very well.

Those of you who went to the ACPT, Hayley Gold referred to her "big surprise" which I gather was an individual cartoon about each of the puzzles. I've seen the cartoons, but am wondering how they were presented there -- online, or did she put up a big placard at the end of each round? If you weren't there, she will email them on request--email link at her webpage.

Loren Muse Smith 12:28 PM  

Ok. So among the Rexites I hung out all weekend with were @Bob Kerfuffle, @Tita, @Mac, and @ims dave. Livelier, nicer people you'll never meet. All you people who've been on the fence about going – you don't know what you're missing. Seriously. Sure, it's an expensive weekend, but if you start squirreling away money now…

Mac – elegant and warm. Classy, fun, very, very intelligent. Plugged in and abreast of everything important in the news. She always has something interesting to say – about whatever you're talking about. If you go next year, try to finagle a seat next to her at dinner. You'll see what I mean – she's great.

Tita – bright, convivial, wicked smart. Like Mac, she is well-traveled and cultured and like Mac, she isn't all stuck-up about it. I mean, she's been everywhere and has so many interesting anecdotes that she relates in a way that doesn't make you feel like you're white bread and mayonnaise. You just feel like you're so fortunate to have crossed paths with her. Actually, try to finagle a seat in between Tita and Mac at dinner.

Ims dave – an exuberant, cheerful birthday cake of a guy. Dave is the den mother, the planner, the includer. He's supremely gravitate towardable. Dave pulls off being the glass-is-half-full guy without being so "up" it makes your teeth hurt. Spending time with Dave is alone worth the price of admission. A true mensch. Hey, and to cheapen it up and be all shallow, it doesn't hurt that he looks like George Clooney.

Bob K – highly intelligent, polite, funny. Permanent twinkle in his eye. Excellent conversationalist. Considerate. Thoughtful. Generous. Patient – Bob was my ride to Stamford from LaGuardia, and I called him all morning after yet another piece of bad news recounting the multiple delays and problems. I kept telling him to go on and I'd find my way there, but he wasn't hearing any of it. He always assured me that he had a good book and only a 6pm dinner reservation to make. He would wait for me. He did, and I'll always be grateful.

(One of those problems involved smoke in the cabin and a spectacular emergency airborne u-turn back to the airport. I mean, we landed FAST with alarms and everything while James Earl Jones intoned in my head, You. Are. About. To. Die. We were immediately surrounded by firetrucks. In the spirit of always wearing black because I had a black newfie and didn't want the dog hair to show, I'll definitely wear brown pants next year for the flights.)

A little more snippets in a bit…

Bob Kerfuffle 12:38 PM  

After I had entered WAYNE KNIGHT with the circles at AYNEK, I guessed that the theme would be "a mixed-up group of rappers," with the first being KANYE. (Is he a rapper? I don't really know.). Of course that thought quickly died.

Hand up for SUNLIT >> DAYLIT.

AZPETE 12:54 PM  

Hope somebody keeps track of the secret answer & shares it (for those of us who don't watch "Blindspot").

Loren Muse Smith 12:59 PM  

I will shamelessly post pictures of me with these rock stars – proof that I was there.

If there were a dictionary with people's pictures next to the adjectives, Patrick Merrell's picture would appear with "cool." Patrick is the guy I would want to be in charge in the event we all suddenly found ourselves starring in our own private disaster movie that I play in my head sometimes. The hotel lobby is engulfed in flames and we're being attacked by angry YURTS … I'm going to go make my way over to Patrick and follow his lead.

It was my plan to be all sportsmanlike and UNCombative if we had lost to Syracuse, Patrick's alma mater. We caught the end of the game together, and Patrick could not have been more gracious. I can't say enough great things about this guy.

Doc John 1:07 PM  

I had the same thought as Bob Kerfuffle about that rapper whose name starts with a K. Ever since his little "Imma let you speak..." stunt I have despised him (not that I was a fan of his before and with every passing day he does more to compound that animus) so was very glad that the puzzle wasn't about him or rappers.
Otherwise, a typical Monday except for that NUOVO thing.

puzzle hoarder 1:09 PM  

Hi Annabel nice belated April fool's joke. I was doubly confused as I had forgotten it was the first Monday of the month. I've also been very preoccupied with this rating system. This puzzle was a bit like last Friday's in that the across half played differently than the downs. It was the acrosses that were easier today in spite of having the themers and the reveal. The acrosses rated an easy 76.61. The downs on the other hand were a much more difficult 52.92. If you take out the theme the across rating drops to 86.3! Speaking of the theme WAYNEKNIGHT and CLEAR SIGN a
re Shortz era debuts. The rest of the theme has only appeared once before. Having this level of freshness in the elements of your theme seems to be a prerequisite for getting published at the NYPT. That higher difficulty rating for the downs also seems to have been combined with a high PPP rating per @Z. This may have added to the challenge for some.
This was an average Monday for me. I'm not familiar with the 17A name. CSPAN and MSN were a little slow going in as cable and the internet are weak points. NUEVO/NUOVA was my big write over. Overall a nice Monday puzzle.
@Hartley70 thanks for the response yesterday. I may have to get my bifocals prescription renewed.

Loren Muse Smith 1:10 PM  

George Barany – Look. I love crosswords. But George loves them more. The guy is such an affable, approachable, friendly guy whose love for the craft oozes from his being. George is earnest and open, and I just don't understand why Some People are so nasty about George's sharing other puzzles on his site, the site he works tirelessly to maintain in order to advance the cruciverbalist cause. I regret that I couldn't spend more time with him, but he was a judge – basically a big shot – and was busy with important duties.

RMK 1:16 PM  

I don't think Mr Onassis' life is that cool anymore.

He's been dead for over 40 years.

Loren Muse Smith 1:24 PM  

This is what the room looks like during the solving times. It's pretty crowded, but that worked to my advantage. Despite the yellow blocker guard things, I was able to cheat quite a bit off both neighbors' grids. This picture was snapped right after I was escorted out during puzzle 5. Had a bit of a dust-up when I was caught copying Bob's grid.

It's still up in the air, but if I'm not welcome back next year, someone else will have to post about the tourney. Sheesh. People need to lighten up.

Annabel Thompson 1:24 PM  

Ohmygosh that's so exciting. And looking at the puzzle, I have no clue (unless "GOP ADMITS HIM" is somehow meaningful but I doubt it). I might have to watch "Blindspot" this week.

Nancy 1:30 PM  

@lms -- What an awful, terrifying flying experience, and it's amazing to me that your legs were able to hold you up enough to even walk off the plane under your own power. Even more amazing that you continued on to -- and competed in -- the tournament. Congrats on your toughness and resilience. And you were lucky indeed to have Bob K waiting for you in the airport. He was also wonderful to me last August at Lollapuzzoola, taking this novice competitor under his wing and making sure that my maiden puzzle tournament went smoothly. It's always good to be reminded that chivalry is not completely dead.

I look forward to hearing more about ACPT, and I hope the rest of your reminiscences will be a lot less unpleasant.

Loren Muse Smith 1:38 PM  

I wasn't able to speak to as many constructors as I had hoped because this guy kept following me around, pestering me. Yeah, right.

Once my husband and I were checking out of the George Cinq in Paris (long story – we're not rich), and Sidney Poitier was checking out right next to us. The manager picked up on my Oh My God vibe and deftly steered Mr. Poitier away to a more private place to continue the business before I could make a scene. In my defense, I actually would not have said a word. Anyway, I suspect I gave off that vibe with Patrick Berry because after I met him the first time, I didn't see much of him at all. Probably because I gave off the same vibe, and he was just better at spotting me first and ducking around a corner.

Still. I have posed in a picture with Patrick Berry. My life is now complete.

Chronic dnfer 1:42 PM  

Tough for a Monday. No dnf and glad to hear Annabel rate it medium. Took me a while. Probably half an hour but it's cold and rainy out so glad for the diversion.

Hartley70 1:57 PM  

@MartinAbresh thanks for the heads up! It will be fun to watch. Perhaps there is a clear sign to a nefarious plot in an usher's Playbill?

@Loren, what enchanting descriptions of our 4 fellow posters. They are belated valentines! Now I want to meet them all for lunch.

chefbea 2:05 PM  

@Loren Love all your comments about the rexites!!!

Masked and Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Odd set of countries. "Blindspot" conspiracy theories ensue…
* Startin letters of the circled strings spell out: ALANA.
* Startin letters of the country names spell out: KIMBL.
* Startin letters of the GOP/ADMITS/HIM row spell out GAH. (A Trump reference?)
* YURTS/NUOVA crossin spells trouble brewin, for a MonPuz.

Very nice weeject cluster nests, in NW and SE.

Thanx, Mr. Kwong.

@muse: M&A always hates it, when they allow smokin, on a flight. Anyhoo, real glad U had all happy landins. That BobK is a real nice guy, ain't he? Someday, when I'm tired of secret identity gigs, I will turn up at that ACPT and buy U and him the first round. Or two.


welcome home with a snarl:

Teedmn 4:29 PM  

@LMS, thanks for the ACPT update, and I'm sorry to hear about the terrifying trip. Looking forward to hearing more, jealous of your real life experience, just experiencing vicariously and virtually here as I'm doing the at home version.

@Annabel, your write-ups bring to mind Unikitty from The Lego Movie, with the always cheerful outlook. Undertales was really fun, thanks for the intro.

The puzzle was fine, didn't know WAYNE KNIGHT from Adam but didn't need to, I never saw the clue 'cause I did that whole area with the downs. My Acrosslite solve added minutes to my time or so I imagine because it didn't seem hard but took me four minutes longer than an average Monday. But got the Happy Pencil on the first try so nothing to say "GAH" about here.

Thanks, DK.

Willie D 4:55 PM  

This is easily the funniest blog post here this year. :-)

Nancy 9:00 PM  

@Hartley -- Thanks for your heads-up to @Martin Abresh's heads-up. It's a miracle that I didn't miss this. I picked up the messages just now, but luckily the program doesn't go on for another hour. And, another miracle, it's on a basic channel that I actually get. So even though I've never heard of this program, much less ever watched it, if it's got today's puzzle embedded, I really do want to see it. Meanwhile, I'll study today's puzzle and see if I can notice anything unusual.

Gator 10:12 PM  

More important than today's puzzle, good luck with the rugby. it's an exhilarating game!

Anonymous 10:40 PM  

@unkown 7:56 3 of the 5 are in Africa and 3 of the 5 are Mediteranean, where Lybia is in both sets. I like the combination.

kitshef 10:55 PM  

Had the real @Rex been commenting, I'm sure he would have complained that ISRAEL is six letters, while the others are five. Or that TODO and ADO don't belong in the same grid.

He'd be right, of course, especially about the latter.

Really enjoyed this. Our Namibia Peace Corps friend was considered for BENIN, in which case our current planning to visit southern Africa would instead be focused on western Africa. Anyway, love geography and this was a case where sussing out the theme really helped my downs-only solve. Figured it out at BENIN and that was a key to fixing sole (to RAFT) and sunLIT (for DAYLIT).

Almost had to resort to acrosses for the SE, where sEa was first guess for DEW. BAs seemed reasonable, but ROa seemed unlikely. Eventually I listed everything that might go after BA on a Monday (A/D/G/H/N/R/S/T/Y), and everything that might go after OD (D/E), and playing with those combos yielded DEW.

Hartley70 11:15 PM  

So I just watched Blindspot, and here's the scoop. In this week's episode, a character named David who was killed earlier in the season has finally had his puzzle published in the NYT today. Note that David is the name of today's true puzzle constructor. His girlfriend, Patterson, who is the head of the FBI Forensic Unit gets a call from their favorite restaurant confirming a reservation for that night that David had made before he was killed. She decides to go alone and she takes his crossword puzzle with her. She completes the puzzle while eating and sees the first 3 down clues GOT ONE PATTERSON. Before his death they both were deciphering clues that were hidden in tattoos on a woman's body and she now believes he had solved the mystery of another tattoo.....To be continued next week.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

Did anyone watch Blindspot? This very puzzle was a key plot point. Very cool.

Tita A 9:59 AM  

Aaargh!!! I linked my google + profile to my blogger profile and now my online life as I know it is over!

Oh well.
@loren - you're outdoing even yourself today!!!

Thanks for putting so eloquently into words the amazing attributes of our fellow Rexites. You got them all spot-on. Well, except for me, of course. Too bad - you were on a real roll! ;)

Rats - and I had some pics to post. I'll try for Tuesday's comment section.

Timothy Smith 2:06 PM  

Anyone else notice that this puzzle was used in the closing shot of the NBC show "Blindspot". I thought that was strange...

spacecraft 9:59 AM  

Definitely not my cuppa. Not a fan of Seinfeld, ICHAT, GOT the idea. Plus, ANTILABOR? Was it ever called that? And then there's the rapper. I tell ya, I almost DNF the thing!

Theme was ho-hum; we can come up with BACKCOUNTRies all day. Fill was Mondayish; be sure all your ACCTs have your SSNS on them. One clue had me scratching for a while: "Point of no return?" Oh yeah, I'm not a big tennis fan either. But did enjoy that one thought-provoking clue. Bogey.

Burma Shave 11:50 AM  


She PRODS me as ICHAT with that BACKCOUNTRY stripper,
wearing TASSELs and a LEAF, it’s a CLEARSIGN I should tip her.
She ADMITS it’s alright TODO, and ISWEAR that IWILL,
but it wouldn’t BEFAIR to stuff her FLAP with PLAYBILLS.


rondo 1:34 PM  

Funny that ROW wasn’t clued “commotion”, that would have been a set of 4. Didn’t take long for HotpLAte to change INTO a HEATLAMP, nor mSnbc into CSPAN (I don’t Have cable), but a mess it did make.

ICHAT, ISWEAR IWILL. What a corner that is.

LIL Kim was a lot LILer 20 years AGO. Just as tall, but half the size. It wouldn’t BEFAIR to Uta HAGEN to name LIL Kim as co-yeah baby, so IWILL not, ISWEAR. Neither LIL Kim NOR LIL Wayne get anything as long as we can still have LIL Abner or Diamond LIL.

If you stop right in the middle of PLAYBILLS and turn down, you get PLAYBOYS. YES, I know, whoo cares?

Easy inkfest Mon-puz. What else TODO?

leftcoastTAM 1:36 PM  

This was a fun Monday that went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Great theme and execution, with fair number of "gimmes," as well as some friendly challenges, as there should be, especially on Monday.

Then, not just gimmes, but "takemes or I'll killyas," like the "Neither"/NOR and "Seconds"/THIRDS" clue-answer combinations.

Quite a full range, and spritely covered by Annabel

rain forest 1:39 PM  

In a hurry. Gotta go see my daughter and grandson.
Liked the puzzle, though. Kind of a different feel to it.

leftcoastTAM 4:09 PM  

Uh, I meant Annabel's "sprightly" comments. (Note to self: re-check spelling of words I rarely use.)

Diana,LIW 5:11 PM  

Ahem. Time for revenge. This was easy. Easy as peasy. What IS peasy? Has it ever appeared in a crossword?

Anyway, I never put the pencil down. No errors. All hits and runs. I rule. Bwah hah hah hah!

After last week, and especially the debacle that was yesterday, I'm finally hearing others say hard when my solve was smooth as frozen fog. Those backward countries were cool, too.

I'm still trying to figure out how the answer to *Ted talks" (from yesterday, Sunday) makes any sense. Anyone? I mean, I got the answer from the crosses, but it makes no sense at all to me. Someone said green paint...

And @Spacey from yesterday - your post was spot on about the non-existent word. And @Anon with the made-up map word.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for her Props

rondo 6:27 PM  

@D,LIW - Props to you, any puz you can walk away from is a good finish. Re: Star-ted talks, it doesn't make much sense to me as you have not yet brokeredasettlement (think that was the answer). I think that's what may have happened after you have finished talks. That's not green paint, but it seems there was something else that was, probably the made-up oceanmap. Outstep was unforgivable except maybe in a dance competition, and not at all like steppin' out.

leftcoastTAM 6:30 PM  

@Diana, LIW:

Probably answered by others, but...

Talks star[*]Ted that produced BROKERED_SETTLEMENTS.

Yeah, not a particularly good clue.

Diana,LIW 11:10 PM  

@Rondo and @Lefty - Yeah, I got the "started talks," but "brokered" indicates finished, in my humble mind. So I just couldn't wrap myself around that answer. Still can't. Bad. Baaaad!

And it was OFL, now that I look back, who suggested a "green paintish" answer there.

@Rondo - Oceanmap and Outstep are beyond "green paint," they just don't exist. (Green paint et. al. exist, but who cares? They are just one of many - nothing in particular.)

Thx for the props, guys!


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