Gamer's representation / WED 9-14-16 / Wine from single type of grape / Sofer of General Hospital / March locale of note

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PICTURE / FRAME (25A: With 36-Across, what this puzzle features, literally) — the "frame" (i.e. words around the perimeter of the grid, are all motion "pictures" that were "honored" (... in some way ...) by the ACADEMY of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (50A: Organization that honored those referenced in the [PICTURE / FRAME], with "the"):

Theme answers:
  • JFK
  • REDS
  • RAY
  • TESS
Word of the Day: RENA Sofer (37D: Sofer of "General Hospital") —
Rena Sherel Sofer (born December 2, 1968) is an American actress, primarily known for her appearances in daytime television, episodic guest appearances, and made-for-television movies. In 1995, Sofer received a Daytime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Lois Cerullo in the soap opera General Hospital. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a variation (VARIETAL?) of a well-worn theme-type (words-around-the-outside). Conceptually a bit of a mess, in that PICTURE FRAME suggests a static image, and PICTURE FRAME ACADEMY make an odd-ball assortment of central themers. I know very well that the word "frame" means something in movies too, but the phrase "PICTURE FRAME" doesn't evoke the film version of "frame." Just google it if you doubt me. Further, the whole ACADEMY angle is pretty weak. Or, rather, "honored" is weak. They all appear to be Best Picture nominees, though only "PATTON," "AMADEUS," and "PLATOON" actually won. I get that the clue for ACADEMY can't be a lot more specific than "honored" without giving the gimmick away, but it still leaves the exact nature of what the movies have in common pretty vague (I was surprised that either "GHOST" or "TESS" was actually nominated). So it's a sort of cute idea, but the theme-type is old and the overall execution is a little wobbly.

The rest of the puzzle is utterly forgettable. Fill is a little subpar, though the grid's fairly theme-dense, so I don't hold this weakness against it that much. The most memorable answer (SILENT L) is also it's most regrettable, in that it doesn't really feel completely silent, somehow, in the example provided (47A: It occurs twice in "chalk talk"), and I don't think of SILENT L as a good stand-alone answer. But then again I'm lukewarm to cold on all answers of the SILENT_ type except SILENT E, which is def a thing. Waiting to see whether AORTAS was going to be the English or Latin plural was about all the excitement to be had today. Puzzle zipped by with very little resistance, and very little in the way of entertainment. Hardest answer for me was ARGUED, as I think of [Wrangled] as meaning "herded" or otherwise "handled" (as livestock, horses, etc.). The clue is correct. I just had the wrong frame of reference. You see: exciting! There are some answers that I suppose you could consider bonus themers (FADE IN, ROLE, various actresses), but I don't. Too loosely connected to theme, too common. Good to not have any other movie titles in the puzzle besides the "frame" ones. Otherwise, the puzzle was just OK.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:10 AM  

Easy for me too. Thought this was pretty good given the constraints. RENe before RENA. Liked it.

David Krost 12:11 AM  

I agree with you about the silent L's. If they were completely silent it would be pronounced "chack tack". In much of the country, certainly in the Midwest, there is a very subtle hint of the L sound. It is close to "chawk tawk " but not quite.

Don't agree with you about picture frame. You are overthinking it. The crossword is framed by pictures. Technically their titles, but to use just the word picture is acceptable. People say "Did you see the picture Ghost" instead of the more technically correct but awkward "Did you see the picture titled Ghost".

chefwen 12:18 AM  

Much easier than yesterday's, for me. Biggest problems were of my own making. Kept reading 27D as auctioneer's hope and wanted sale in there, fortunately I already the R in place, but I must have looked at that word three times 'til I finally got it right and apparently ELIXIR in my world is spelled ELIXeR, IT A set me straight.

Cute puzzle, enjoyed the theme, old or not.

GILL I. 12:25 AM  

Yesterday I dined on Coq Au it was DORITOS and EELS. What a difference a day makes.
I loved AVATAR and I know a lot of you hoity toities thought is was a blah film. PLATOON gave me hives. PATTON was pretty good. A lot of it was filmed in Spain and I had George C Scott's son enrolled at the American School of Madrid while he was on location. His son was a very intelligent little snot.
I'd say GHOST was my favorite of the movies. Oda Mae rocked....
E Pluribus UNUM, AMADEUS...who doesn't like Mozart?

TomAz 12:36 AM  

Yes. Easy. But I liked it.

I thought the theme was fine. Agree with David Krost above. Rex's criticism largely unfounded.

Scott 12:57 AM  

It's a frame made up of pictures. What's hard to understand about that?

And of course nominees fit the clue "honored," for as we have all heard, it is an honor just to be nominated.

I enjoyed it! Theme was fun, puzzle was a breeze, except for the LADED/SANAA cross anyway.

Gaurawalla 1:21 AM  

Did Monday come twice this week?

Larry Gilstrap 2:01 AM  

I'm not really a movie guy, so these titles are just that. I know I'm pretty good at doing the puzzle, so I never scoff at easy. Yea me! I fumbled around a bit in the middle and then had an AHA moment realizing that the border was made up of Oscar nominated films. I enjoyed this Wednesday solve and question OFL's judgment of it. C'mon man! Now, it's my turn to rant; so, assuming I was single and assuming I had to resort to the internet to find some loving, a perspective partner might disqualify me merely because of my AGE? Really? There may be snow on the roof, but there's a fire in the fireplace. It's just a number, you know. Whew! I feel better. One nit: Southern California and San Diego, specifically, are known for hoppy beers, particularly IPA. Don't think for a moment that bitter is a bad thing. Then again, there's no accounting for taste in beer or puzzles.

Hartley70 3:09 AM  

@Chefwen, head slap! I did the same thing with "auctioneer" instead of "auditioner" and didn't get how ROLE related until I just saw your post. I'm feeling a bit feeble because you at least saw the error yourself! I was going to call this very easy but I can't if I'm supposed to understand the clues as well as answer correctly. What a drag!

On another topic, I'm okay with RENA, but it's time to retire old PIA. Her accomplishments are too light for immortality in the NYT.

I was pleased by the theme and my favorite part of the frame was AMADEUS...great music and a great film. AVATAR's 3D glasses drove me nuts. I hope the studios are done with that silly revival. I found REDS boring and I can't get excited about the rest of the films. I saw them all, but don't need to ever see them again. I do however, look forward to seeing a Schoenholtz byline anytime at all.

Loren Muse Smith 3:25 AM  

I finished this fairly easily and didn't notice the perimeter answers until I sat there, thinking that PICTURE FRAME must be some kind of famous movie documentary. No way. Too few theme squares. So my AHA moment was delicious.

I imagine those eating a perfectly-made buttercream frosting aren't interested in knowing how difficult it was to make but… just think about what goes into constructing a perimeter theme puzzle like this:

1. Find Oscar-nominated films.
2. Get pairs and grid'em up. but first, oops, deal with the corners.
3. Place two movies in the nw that start with the same letter.
4. Place two movies in the se that end with the same letter
5. Place four movies in the ne and sw, each pair having one ending with the same letter that the other one starts with.
6. Keep reminding yourself that you're not allowed to play around freely with placement because of the pesky symmetry deal.

I bet just coming up with a workable list was tough. And then to fill it… these are notoriously nasty to pull off. And Dan filled it with the further constraint of PICTURE FRAME and ACADEMY. Bravo.

It's no secret that I like the SILENT E kind of clue. But my very first thought for 47A was "open o." FWIW, the back of my tongue does with the L in PULSE pretty much the same thing that it does in "chalk" and "talk." Heck, even in something like "ALL night." All those L's (air quotes) are the same for me. Your day is now complete.

Hey! A new way to clue 32D PENCE.

Really liked this one, especially with its delayed aha moment and terrific reveal.

Martín Abresch 3:26 AM  

I side with @David Krost, @TomAz, and @Scott. The names of movie pictures figuratively frame this puzzle: PICTURE FRAME. FRAME isn't supposed to evoke the film version of "frame." I agree with Rex that the central revealers (PICTURE FRAME ACADEMY) are an odd-ball assortment.

I thought that the fill was good, especially given the large amount of theme material. I count three poor answers (KTS, IT A, and I MET), and a handful more subpar answers (SANAA, GRO, UNUM, RENA). Meanwhile, we get VARIETAL, IT'S A GIRL, ELIXIR, ORNAMENT, and HITHERTO—plus several fun movie names.

My big complaint about the puzzle is the cluing. There is just one question mark clue (DIET: Losing effort?), and that particular trick (the play on "lose") has been used many times before. The cluing was simple enough that I flew through the puzzle and set a new personal best.

P.S. My favorite of the 10 movies is AMADEUS: "Too many notes."

jae 3:39 AM  

@GILL I. - Yup, AVATAR = not a blah film. As for Campbell Scott, he recently was on Denis Leary's FX series Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll where he played himself as an intelligent grown up snot. And, I kinda liked PLATOON, although my vote for best Vietnam War film is "The Deer Hunter". I realize some Sheen/Brando/Duvall fans may disagree.

George Barany 5:15 AM  

Let's not overthink @Dan Schoenholz's relatively easy midweek puzzle. I learned some interesting trivia about PATTON, and got a chuckle out of the TESS clue (compare 65-Across today to 10-Across on Sunday). It would have been nice to clue all theme answers orthogonally, as was done successfully for AVATAR, REDS, PLATOON, RAY, and GHOST. Perimeter puzzles are notoriously difficult to construct, even without additional theme material in the interior, and @Dan is to be congratulated that this one came out so well given the constraints.

Charles Flaster 5:24 AM  

Rex was way too harsh with much unfounded criticism! I like the Silent clues
and there were creative clues for I'M A COP,
BTW -- I'M A COP is an important line in the movie version of Dragnet. The TV show brings back memories of the fifties.
NON PRO seems contrived and if we accept it then "Amateur" would be a better clue.
Of the movies in the Frame, AVATAR was the most inane but AMADEUS was wonderful entertainment.
Thanks DS.

three of clubs 5:48 AM  

I guess the pleasure in this was reviewing the final composition rather than the solving. I like themers which give one a real hint when it's most needed. Didn't need any help at all though. Might have been more interesting to just eliminate the clues for the frame completely and watch the picture come into focus.

Liked all the movies, well, maybe not AVATAR

Passing Shot 6:27 AM  

@chefwen and @Hartley70 -- me three! Kept seeing "auctioneer" for thr longest time.

Got FRAME first, and filled in PICTURE, but still did not get the theme and solved it very quickly without really thinking about any purported theme. Wasn't crazy about the clue for ON THE WAY; I don't think a clue should indicate phonetically unless it's very intentional -- just feels lazy. I also thought carats (KTS) was a measure of size, not quality or clarity.

Liked it more than Rex did, but this was way too easy.

r.alphbunker 6:31 AM  

Google let me down. I googled Example of damning by faint praise and today's post did not show up.

I thought the theme was great. It inspired me to make a movie out of my solution which is available for free here. To step through frame by frame repeatedly click on the --> or if you are in a hurry click on fast.

Lewis 6:45 AM  

This had to be difficult to construct, but the bottom line of a puzzle is How Was It To Solve? If it was meh or unpleasant, then many will blame the constructor's showing off. If it was terrific along with being difficult to construct, then the puzzle becomes special. This one fell somewhere in the middle for me. I didn't need the theme to solve it, but when I figured the theme out, it brought a small but decent aha. I liked the answer VARIETAL, but none of the others sang out. There were some nice clues (SELMA, AMENS, PLATOON). Overall, it was an easy and enjoyable solve, with no sticking areas, and I'm grateful for the experience.

I liked the cross of SELMA and ITSAGIRL, and that PIA is underAGE.

Here's a theme for a lazy constructor: SILENT MOVIE. The theme answers are all the Oscar winners, but because of the theme, they're not in the grid.

Tim Pierce 7:01 AM  

All of these movies won Oscars, just not for Best Picture. The theme is solid.

Kris in ABCA 7:02 AM  

I abbreviated carats as CTS instead of KTS which gave my speech giver the initials of "JFC" - a somewhat different connotation!

Jacob Roth 7:06 AM  

Lewis, that could be a hell of a Thursday, if the crosses at the edges of the puzzle have a letter missing that would then spell out movie titles off the grid.

Aketi 7:43 AM  
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Aketi 7:46 AM  

One nit. The puzzle is a broken picture frame. A true frame would not have missing pieces. My brain is not firing on all cylinders today because I kept searching for a black square frame. I did get all the movies though.

@chefwen, @Hartley70 and @passing shot, me four.

@z from 2 days ago, my answers are no and no.
@leapfinger from 2 days ago, you look great in a one piece. I prefer the full body cover of a wet suit,

@quasimojo from yesterday, we must be of a similar age.So little time left to respond with "I'm a QUINQUAGENARIAN" to questions about my age.

NCA President 7:50 AM  

As stunt puzzles go, this was one of the stuntiest. For someone to a) come up with this idea, and then b) think they could possibly do it, they get big ups from me.

That said, if this puzzle and Monday's puzzle were in a line up and I were to assign them to a day, I would've put this puzzle in Monday's slot and Monday's puzzle in today's slot. This puzzle seemed easier than Monday.

No groans, though some things were just really obvious which kind of elicited a groan all its own.

Joseph Welling 7:51 AM  

"The most memorable answer (SILENT L) is also it's most regrettable. . . ."

Should be "its."

Billy C. 8:20 AM  

@Chefwen, @Hartley70, @PassingShot, @Aketi -- Me five!

Harder than usual Weds for me, but that's good, a bit of a challenge.

I finished , still wondering about the theme 'til I got here. Didn't get " frame" of the puzzle. Doh!

For Sgt. Joe Friday, I was looking for "Just the facts, Ma'am." But sadly not enough space.

ArtO 8:26 AM  

Me six for auctioneer!!! Weird

NeilD 8:34 AM  

Super grumpy criticism. I loved it.

chefbea 8:43 AM  

Didn't realize the pictures were around the outside of the puzzle so it made no sense to me. Loved the silent L clue...and of course love doritos!!!

mathgent 8:56 AM  

I liked all the framing movies except TESS. I just looked it up and learned that it was nominated for six Oscars and won three in minor categories. As @LMS explains, it was tricky to construct but there was no payoff for me. I didn't even notice the movie titles until coming to the blogs.

Ho-hum cluing, weak theme, 23 three-letter entries. Put me down for a C minus.

I didn't do the Monday and Tuesday puzzles because I was still working on URBAN RENEWAL, the Mike Shenk puzzle in the Sunday magazine. What a challenge! I had to cheat to get the last city. Shenk is the editor of the WSJ puzzles and yet he's doing a job for his main competitor. Strange.

QuasiMojo 9:00 AM  

Haha. I was waiting for GrammarNazi to show up. But @JosephWelling beat him to it (if GN still comes around...) -- which reminds me whatever happened to CascoKid? I miss his sweet, earnest posts. I agree with Rex today, in general. I did not notice the so-called "picture frame" in the grid until I came here, and was underwhelmed. It wouldn't work well in a gallery, that's for sure. This strikes me as another example where the conceit behind the theme trumps the enjoyment of actually doing the puzzle. Too simplistic. And why now? This feels like leftover Oscar trivia from the spring. Who ultimately cares that all these films were nominated by the "Academy" (talk about a pretentious name for a group of industry insiders)! I wonder if Cicero would have been invited to join. This was about as entertaining as MAD magazine's movie "Up The Academy"!

jberg 9:05 AM  

I enjoyed the theme, even though I have seen only one of the movies. I spent a little time trying to make a frame out of black squares, and lookiong for some kind of picture inside -- like maybe make an anagram of FDIC and RENA (didn't work), but then came the dawn.

As @George Barany noted, Dick Tracy seems to be edging out Thomas Hardy as the go-to clue for TESS.

I have to admit I thought "How I MET your Mother" was a movie -- glad to learn that it isn't!

That's all for to day -- got to HIT THE RTO (Road To O-town)!

G.Harris 9:10 AM  

When one does something for too long and too well, one can become jaded. I believe that is Rex's problem. If perfection was perpetual it wouldn't be prized. I just try to enjoy the ride each day, on some days more than on others.

Z 9:11 AM  

Flew through this without noticing the theme. looked at the revealer clues closer post solve and saw the trick. Aha moment? More like an "Oh" moment. I'm with Rex on the wobbly reveal. The term evokes something you hang on the wall. It works, but it wobbles. Actually, it's just a little tilted and should be straightened.

As for the theme, It's not a trivia fest because they aren't clued as the movies. So the big discovery is that movie titles are made up of words? Movies are made about important people and places? Movies are? I will trust @LMS and @George Barany that this style of grid is hard to construct because of the constraints it puts on the grid. And it is not bad in any discernible way. It just isn't my cuppa.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

I was absolutely determined not to have to come here to discover the significance of PICTURE FRAME, so I said to myself: Use your eyes, Nancy. Go around the FRAME of the puzzle (that must mean the outside, right?) and look, for heaven's sake! And, son-of-a-gun, there they were -- all those movie titles that I'd completely missed while solving. The problem is that they had nothing to do with my solving pleasure at the time. So another "after-the-fact" construction feat that I sort of admire, but upon which I can't lavish amy real love. And, with the exception of IPA (???) it was also very, very easy.

Let me second @mathgent's rapturous recommendation of URBAN RENEWAL in thus week's Sunday magazine. It's a real challenge and a real joy. Actually, I'm "firsting" it, since I was the one who first recommended it to @mathgent. He then had to use all his (remarkable) ingenuity to get the puzzle, since his NYT was never delivered. The Times does seem to treat its San Francisco customers like chopped liver. Shame, shame on you, NYT!

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Any, not amy. This, not thus. My typing this morning is abysmal.

Roo Monster 9:48 AM  

Hey All !
Agree it was easy, also agree it was pretty hard to construct. @LMS makes good points in her post about the construction. Find 10 movies, 5 sets of symmetrical ones, and not only that, put three more themers in the middle and end up with light dreck. Even with large open NW and SE corners. Really tough to do. So I'm impressed DS!

Liked the puz also from solving perspective. Noticed also quasi-themers FADE IN and SCRIP(T). The L in Talk seems SILENT only sometimes. Sometimes it sounds like "tock", but sometimes you can hear the LK sound.

Didn't Friday say IM A COP DRYLY?

Liked ELIXIR next to DORITO. DOROTOs and beer?


Anonymous 9:56 AM  

My opinion of Avatar was that it was incredibly beautiful and incredibly stupid. Never saw the "frame." Oops!

puzzle hoarder 9:58 AM  

What I liked about this puzzle was being able to go through it paying no attention whatsoever to the theme. The answers went in just off Monday easy until I hit the SE corner where I blanked on a few long entries. I easily back filled from PATTON and PLATOON but it did cost some time.
@Larry Gilstrap I think the 61D clue is a piss poor description of an IPA. I like Stone Brewerys' Sessions IPA from your neck of the woods. If you're ever in Chicago try out an IPA called Vallejo. It's put out by a local micro brewer called Half Acre. The flavor is very similar to Stones Session. You won't be disappointed.

Tita A 10:02 AM  

I'm knitting up a storm in anticipation of the first grandkids next month! We don't know if ITSAGIRL or boy yet. Had a very interesting discussion at the yarn shop about the trend in baby clothes colors...lots of taupe instead of pastels... No foisting gender stereotypes here!

Our French friends love DORITOs. When they visit us, they stuff their suitcases with all sorts of decadent and smelly cheeses for us. When we visit them, we bring DORITOs. We get very raised eyebrows from customs officials.

Agree that it is a picture frame whose edges are made with picture names. Sheesh...

@r.alph...I nominate you for an ACADEMY award!

I liked the puzzle...and liked reading about the construction process. Sure, there is the occasional puzzle where you feel like the constructor did some crazy thing just to show it could be done, but I didn't have that experience at all with this one.

Tita A 10:09 AM  

Oops...grandkid...unless autocorrect knows something the parents don't know...

Mr. Benson 10:11 AM  
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Mr. Benson 10:12 AM  

I thought this was great. Tough theme for the constructor to pull off, and all kinds of neat, long, non-theme downs. But of course Rex is going to ignore all of that, kvetch about "SILENT L" and play dumb about the FRAME wordplay.

Only thing I didn't like is that the cluing was too easy in spots, especially the northern half.

Jack Gladney 10:38 AM  

You begin to wonder whether this blog is capable of giving a positive review to any crossword puzzle that doesn't fit some narrowly defined concept of quality, the criteria of which seem to change daily.

This is a very good crossword puzzle.

The theme is tight. The ten motion pictures clearly frame the puzzle. All films have indeed been honored by the Academy, and all of them will likely be familiar to people who do the NYT crossword. Despite the constraints of the theme and the grid, four relatively open corners (especially the NW and SE) were filled with what is clearly careful attention to cleanness, and only some minor junk slips in (the partials IMET and GRO). The fill, while not sparkling, is not stale either: the longer downs are all nice. Yes, RENA kinda sucks, but I barely noticed it because the crosses are so easy. And the cluing is perfect for a Wednesday.

I enjoyed this blog much more when Matt Gaffney filled in. His reviews were tight, consistent, and fair.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Horrible, horrible fill. And this is Wednesday? I had to double check that I downloaded the correct puzzle.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Wow - 10 pictures with an Academy award nomination, 2 having the same first letter, 2 having the same last, 4 having same first/last letter. How on earth can that be?

Well, there were 60 different films from 2014 (the first list I could find) nominated for an Oscar. Assuming Patton is the oldest movie (again, it's not worth the trouble to check), that movie is 46 years old. So, there are approximately 2760 movies to choose from. Yeah, maybe they've added categories, so let's assume 2000 is a reasonable number.

Forgive me if I'm not in awe.

Billy C. 10:50 AM  

I have very small hands.

Joseph Michael 11:00 AM  

Thank you to @LMS for pointing out the difficulty of constructing this puzzle, which I enjoyed solving. Liked the theme and the AHA moment when I finally realized what the PICTURE FRAME was.

While I doubt the constructor had them in mind, and though they may not have been award winners, the puzzle actually contains multiple other film titles besides those at the perimeters,such as FADE IN (3), PULSE (7), WAR (3), ELDER (2), DIN (3), EEL (2), JOINT (1), FAT (3), I'M A COP (1), ELIXIR (8), ON THE WAY (2), MAXIM (3), and FRANCE (2). The number after each title indicates the number of films with that title.

So it's not just a picture frame. It's a film festival.

the redanman 11:04 AM  

Substantially easier than Tuesday, fill was regrettable - it was like an afterthought. SE needed work

Art Wholeflaffer 11:22 AM  

AMADEUS wan't really Mozart's middle name. That's more of a later addition by others.

Mohair Sam 11:27 AM  

@jberg - It's a sad day indeed when Hardy is beaten twice in a row by Trueheart in TESS cluing. Of course if they clued "Glenne" played her" I'd be fine. Ms. Headly played TESS onscreen after she stole the camera from both Steve Martin and Michael Caine in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" - no mean feat.

mac 11:28 AM  

Good puzzle today, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't take the time to ruminate on the theme and the films framing the piece....

@Tita: I'm knitting as well! Due date today!

Hartley70 11:39 AM  

@Tita! It's lovely to hear the sweet news that a grandchild is coming your way. Congratulations! In this busy world, it will be a real treat for the new mother to receive hand knit baby things from you. I hear you about the color changes. I know a new trendy mother whose nursery and newborn are dressed in gray and cream. How things change!!!

Malsdemare 11:39 AM  

I cannot spell ELIXeR or VARIETeL, nor can I see the errors in front of my nose. Sad, sad, because it was easy otherwise, until it wasn't. I, however, apparently lack imagination sufficient to seeing themes or tricks. I needed Rex to explain the whole PICTURE FRAME ACADEMY thing; I was hung up on ACADEMY as "body of intellectual elites," to which I acknowledge I belong though would question how elite (or intellectual, for that matter) I am. Also did the whole "auctioneer's hope"; what's up with so many of us making the same odd error?

I don't watch Viet Nam movies -- just too reminiscent of an awful period of my life -- but I saw most of the others and liked them, even AVATAR, but I'm pretty nerdy and techy and was wowed by the futuristic look and tale. I also adored "The Martian," "Gravity," and "The Matrix," so that should tell you something about my low taste in art, although I will watch "AMADEUS" any time it's on the telly.

CHALK me up as one whose "Ls" aren't quite silent. I'm from Cincinnati, live in the midwest; maybe it's regional?

I like almost any puzzle that doesn't play dirty with truly impossible crosses (I don't mean challenging; just 'cause I don't know it, doesn't mean it's bad. I mean stuff such as that immortalized by a sendup of NYT crosswords, linked some time ago by one of our wonderful posters. I think the first clue was "the . . ." )

And on that totally opaque observation, I'll quit while I'm behind.

Chaos344 11:40 AM  

I had the same solving experience as many others have stated. I solved as a themeless and just flew through this thing. As soon as MHP appeared, I minimized AcrossLite and came directly here. It was only then that I learned what was going on with the puzzle. I liked it a little more than Rex so I'd give it around a B.

@Larry Gilstrap: LOL! Regarding your(tongue in cheek?) umbrage at potentially being disqualified from the dating pool based solely on you age, relax. ;-) Let me assure you that age is not the driving factor.

Apparently, you are unfamiliar with the Hot/Crazy Matrix? The Matrix is the result of an intensive scientific study that has been extensively peer reviewed. It has been seen by over one million people on social media. If you would like to take advantage of it's findings, you can Google it or use the link I have provided below. The video is a tad over 7 minutes in length, but the part dealing with male age starts at the 6 minute mark.

Trigger Warning!: This video may be offensive to the overly-sensitive.

AliasZ 11:41 AM  

This was too easy for Tuesday, or is it still Monday? I am all confused.

@LMS, I loved your JOINT effort. Speaking of which, if "joined" becomes JOINT and "burned" "burnt" etc., why doesn't "darned" become "darnt"?

We had GRO FAT and DIET, SEC and DRYLY, LAD and IT'S A GIRL, NOH and AHA, SCAD and UNUM, and a few other counterpoint pairs. That was fun. But we also have I CET, I MET, HITHER TO, OPEN TO, DORI TO, AHA-ALA-ALL, IPA-ITA, etc. somewhat echoing each other. That wasn't that much fun.

AMADEUS could have also been clued as Latin for Theophile.

Speaking of which, there are many musical possibilities in today's puzzle, including but not limited to AMADEUS, HARPS, ELIXIR of Love (Donizetti) etc., but for the first weekiversary of "adage" crossing MAXIM (Wed., Sep. 7, 2016 - Kary Haddad), let me offer this lovely Concertino for Two Pianos by Dmitri Shostakovich, played here by the composer and his son MAXIM.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

timjim 11:42 AM  

Like the recent M/F letter-switch puzzle, I didn't get the gimmick while I was doing it. Unlike that one, though, I did figure it out and have an AHA moment shortly after completing it. Cool. I liked it!

Tim Pierce 11:53 AM  

@Mohair Sam: they were right not to clue TESS here in relation to Hardy -- that hits too close to the puzzle theme. It's too bad as it is that they were only able to clue AMADEUS, JFK and PATTON in relationship to the movie subjects (but understandably so, IMHO).

chefbea 12:04 PM  

@Tita and @Mac...I'm knitting too. Due in February. All grandsons are marines so when they have babies I use cammi yarn and the border is pink or blue

chefbea 12:04 PM  
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chefbea 12:06 PM  

tried to delete the second post but was told I don't have access to the page?????

Gregory Schmidt 12:22 PM  

Played like a Monday.

Numinous 12:22 PM  

Can't win them all. Door swings both ways. Some admire the construction feat, some admire the solve. Todyay's theme is too complex for a Monday but the solve was too easy for a Wednesday. Too bad. I thought it was a nice clean puzzle. There will almost always be a little dreck. In this case, only a little. I bounced through this easily with only a little hesitation in the SE.

My feelings on the ACADEMY are mixed. It seems that more often than not the decisions are based more on popularity and film business politic rather than artistic merit. As a former member of the film industry, I reckon I can say that. I realize it's emotional, but don't let an outsider say that. I've been involved with a few films that were submitted for consideration. They were shorts and they bombed. Nobody had ever heard of the directors. So it goes . . . . Looking at the membership requirements, it becomes apparent that the ACADEMY is an Old Boys Club.

In the end, I thought this puzzle was pretty cool though I did have to go back and study the frame to settle on the theme.

Molson 12:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molson 12:26 PM  

I think the theme could have been done better in a 16-wide as a "before and after" revealer of BEST PICTURE FRAME and then used only movies that won Best Picture on the outside.

chefbea 12:29 PM  

I see it was deleted

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

thUmbsUp, Constructor Dan. Had no earthly idea what yer puztheme was talkin about, during the M&A solvequest. But was treated to one heckuva Ahar Moment, about 50-100 billion nano-SECs later. Jolted m&e plumb right out of my chair. "Ahar!" howl scared the budgie into the other room. Thanx. [Budgie says 'Screw U", btw.]
Question A. Is a theme that don't help U out a lot, during the solve, an ok thing?

Perimeter answer puzs are Polar. Bears. to construct. This puppy has primo fill, considerin the downright gruesome constraints of the perimeter answers (which U ain't gonna have much flexibility pickin out, in this case) and three revealer answers in the center.
Question B. Should solvers cut the puz any slack, due to the constructioneer's wild-ass ambitious (and clever) floor plan?

Wondered, during the solvequest, why they hadn't clued AMADEUS a dash tougher, maybe with some sorta movie flick clue. So, was suspicious for the right reasons, without deducin squat.

fave weeject: NOH. Pleasinly oriental crossword glue.

fave stuffins: ITSAGIRL. ONTHEWAY. IMACOP. NONPRO. UNUM. + Most everything in the corner stacks. See that? Dude has a grid not only with corner theme constraints, but also looong word stacks, in all them corners. It's like a fill death wish, almost. Crazy brave. Bravo, Constructor Dan.

M&A answers to Questions A & B: Not something U would want to see in every crossword puz. But something it's truly awesome to get to solve, every once in a while, for VARIETAL's sake. Occasionally, U just gotta go with More Cowbell (yo, @Z).
Ding Dong Daddy day, Constructor Dan.

PENCE is a pretty entertainin VP candidate. Dude looks like a deer in the headlights, whenever reporters ask him about somethin the Donald has just blurted out. But, I digress…

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Mohair Sam 12:51 PM  

@Masked & Anonymo4Us - Lay off poor old PENCE. How would you look in that poor guy's shoes confronted with the same problem? I might break down crying.

Masked and Anonymous 12:55 PM  

day-um. Look at those NW and SE corners. They're basically 6 by 7.5, and look how clean the NW is!
(The SE corner, maybe a little more pixilated.) This is mostly as tough as fillin a runtpuz grid without usin any black squares. No use denyin it; constructor Dan suffered*. Needs to build somethin more normal, now, to get his nerve back.

Yo to ICY & ICET, btw. har

Still really likin this WedPuz.


* to wit:

evil doug 1:07 PM  

Whatever clever construction feat the creator wants to attempt? That's on them. They'll have to decide if the difficulty is worth the payoff.

Their reward is whatever size check they receive+their personal sense of satisfaction for their own creativity+the *initial* appreciation of solvers for its interesting structure+the *enduring* appreciation of solvers if fill and cluing are memorable. For, say, a themeless or otherwise gimmick-free puzzle, the payoff is the same, minus the ego boost and that initial "aha" among the solving masses.

Too often the calculus for the latter exceeds the former because poor fill overwhelms the less enduring appreciation for the trick. Thus--except for the extremely rare puzzle that has brilliant clues/answers in addition to the trick--it comes down to: Is the ego stroke enough for the constructor to overcome the ultimate customary disappointment of solvers?

Leapfinger 1:07 PM  

@r.alph bunker, you pre-empted me by several hours with your Damned with faint praise observation, so I'm reduced to saying @Rex Feints at his damned preys.

That last POC leads to my main nitpicker in this otherwise enjoyable solve: a body with think that ones of the esses caboosing AMENS, HARPS, AORTAS or PHDS could've been pinned to tail off the singular SCAD. I exempt KTS from the donor list because of the "No 2-letter entries" rule.

Perhaps more later; right now we have a doggie emergency.

Joe Bleaux 1:10 PM  

Nobody's made me feel stupid today, so I need a volunteer. IPA (61D, "Bitter brew, briefly") ... Is pale ale (my guess) right? If so, what's the "I" for? Thanks!

Chip Hilton 1:11 PM  

Very easy Wednesday, solved as a themeless. Once I stopped to check out the theme, I found it to be clever and charming. So, I am in agreement with TomAz, Neil D, G.Harris, Jack Gladney, and others in feeling that Rex's sardonic negativism has become an unpleasant feature of this site. Interesting that several anonymous posters share his viewpoint.

I too misread auditioner as auctioneer. Weird.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

My first reaction to finishing this puzzle (in a Tuesday time) was "I don't see NOH picture frame." Squinting and turning the paper did not reveal the reveal until I looked at the edges and saw all the PICTUREs. AHA.

Although solving this puzzle did not raise my PULSE, I thought it was an ORNAMENT to the NYTime archive.

Congrats, @Tita, for a grandkid ON THE WAY, and wise to pick a neutral color (I like deep purple for my kid-knitting) since you are gender-uncertain.

@r.alphbunker, I preferred your moving PICTURE to REDS, and you beat my time by about 12 seconds. No write-overs - impressive.

I can only imagine what the Syndiland group will make of ANGELINA next to TAUT and AGE (Hi @Burma Shave).

Thanks, Dan Schoenholz, nice Wednesday feat.

Masked and Anonymous 1:24 PM  

@Lewis: SILENTMOVIES theme. har. Like the way U think.

Can tell from @muse and @George's comments, how thinkin about all the construction travails for this WedPuz made them shiver a lil bit, too.

@Mohair Sam: Shoot -- M&A would involuntarily pee all the way to his shoes, if a bunch of reporters with cameras and mics came rushin toward him, askin questions.

For what it's worth, from the M&A Staff Pic Database:

AVATAR: ***1/2
JFK: **1/2
REDS: ***1/2
SELMA: ***
PLATOON: **1/2
PATTON: ***1/2
RAY: ****
TESS: **
GHOST: ****
JOINTs: thUmbsUp.


chefwen 2:07 PM  

@Joe Bleaux - India Pale Ale

Dick Swart 2:20 PM  

Ol' Rex is a little picky this AM! To me, it doesn't make any difference if the 'device', the 'gimmick' if you will, is good.

And I don't mind the 'weak' fill if the gimmick is fun.

And it was ... the frame of motion pictures around picture frame was worth the time with a croissant and a cuppa to start the day (I am a late starter).

Chaos344 2:38 PM  

Hmmm? Just sat down for a late lunch and that the board is already up to 75 comments. Wouldn't have thought this puzzle would generate that kind of response?

@jae: Although I enjoyed both the Deer Hunter and Platoon, I think Full Medal Jacket also deserves to be in the mix. Maybe only because I'm a big Kubrick fan and I love R. Lee Ermey. The whole genre of military films is very subjective. It often depends on when and where you served. Not too many WWII guys left now, and Korean vets are in their mid-eighties.

@QuasiMojo: Good post!

Congrats to @Tita and @mac on your pending status as "soon to be" Grammas!

@Chefbea: OMG! Do they really make camo yarn? That's awesome! A hearty Semper Fi to your grandson's and hopefully, their sons!

@ evil doug: Couldn't agree with you more. While I can appreciate the difficulty many constructors face with grids and themes, the cluing and fill is my main criteria.

@Leapy: Oh No? Hope your doggie is okay? As you may recall, I much prefer dogs to humans! ;-)

@JoeBleaux: At the risk of being the umpteenth person to tell you this:
India Pale Ale.

Can't believe how many people COPPED TO the misread @ 27D. I've done the same thing on numerous occasions. Gettin old ain't fer sissies folks!

BC 2:52 PM  

To all who misread auditioner clue, I didn't do it today, but I misread clues about every third puzzle. Or I over look a very easy clue that could cut my solve time in half! Just glad to know I'm not the only one

BC 2:59 PM  

To all who misread auditioner clue, I didn't do it today, but I misread clues about every third puzzle. Or I over look a very easy clue that could cut my solve time in half! Just glad to know I'm not the only one

Chronic dnfer 3:31 PM  

Took 45 mins but no dnf. liked it.

OISK 4:05 PM  

I generally get here late, and sometimes just about everything I wanted to say has been said. @Lauren Muse Smith nailed it! Like many others, i didn't understand the theme until I was completely done. Didn't know that Tess or Ray were movies. AND, add me to the list of those who misread 27 down! My first entry was "sale." (auctioneer's hope). When I got "role" from the crosses, I looked again. And again! It is really fascinating that so many others had the same experience.

Easy, but very pleasant.

chefbea 4:10 PM  

@Chaos 344 Two of the blankies have a pink blue

Nancy 4:18 PM  

@Chefwen & @Hartley & @Passing shot-- Believe it or not, I also misread "auditioner" for auctioneer", but didn't write about it in my comment because I thought it was just a mistake peculiar to me. I find it fascinating that people here tend to misread clues in the same way.

@Numinous (12:22 p.m.) said today (and @Evil Doug has echoed) what I've been thinking for a great many weeks now. There's a real (if completely benign) chasm on this blog between the people who care most about the construction of a puzzle and those who care most about the solving experience. While there are some people who seem to enjoy both equally, I wouldn't have too much trouble identifying the people who are squarely in one camp or the other. I bet none of you would have much trouble identifying them either.

TomAz 4:58 PM  

@Chip Hilton: you wrote ". So, I am in agreement with TomAz, Neil D, G.Harris, Jack Gladney, and others in feeling that Rex's sardonic negativism has become an unpleasant feature of this site." I said nothing of the sort. I enjoy this site very much. I merely said that I did not agree with his criticism today.

Chaos344 5:19 PM  

@chefbea 4:10 PM Post:

Copy that Bea. Caught the different color border thing in your original post, but this post begs another set of questions.

#1. Three blankies? Are you hedging your bets in case of twins or triplets? Military people must always have contingency plans!

#2. Or, do you have multiple grandsons expecting babies? A wonderful thought!

#3. Or, has the sex of the baby/babies already been predetermined, and you're simply stockpiling blankies for future eventualities?

Don't forget, there are female Marines! Military regulations notwithstanding, that doesn't mean that they can't embrace their feminine side in regard to their undergarments.(Women who play professional tennis are allowed to have a thin colored border on their mandatory white tennis outfits.)

Last but not least, remember this. We are still talking about Marines here! Regardless of gender or sexual preference, they are still extremely capable of opening up a can of "Whup Ass" on you at any given moment! It would behoove anyone contemplating making a disparaging remark about their uniform or apparel to rethink the idea. Trust me!

GILL I. 6:03 PM  

@Nancy...Put me squarely in the "solving experience." Then, again, I've never constructed a puzzle. I have, however, bandied with Acme on some fun ideas for a puzzle and I did the same with @George B on the construction of a puzzle for our son's birthday. It was fun. It was also incredibly hard. You have to think of a million things. What will make someone AHA and OOH. Is it it appropriate for a Monday, Tuesday; will people like it...the list goes on. Then the grid, the format and on and on.
I'm a dunce when it comes to creating this little complex,fun,10 minute or 1 hour entertainment....but, by gum, I always look for an AHA.

Chip Hilton 6:03 PM  

TomAz - Sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth. My misinterpretation.

Anonymous 7:37 PM  

Fun puzzle - glad I'm not alone in misreading 27D clue!

QuasiMojo 7:47 PM  

@Chaos -- thank you! And @Aketi, yes, indeedy! Okay, I will admit that I also misread "Auditioner" as "Auctioneer." But then I've played the "role" of sucker at too many auctions over the years and it was the first thing that sprang to mind...

David in CA 8:04 PM  

@the not-in-awe Anonymous 10:46 AM
Did you even try to find such combinations; ones that fit in a 15x15 grid; ones that have no leading article; ones that can then be filled with decent "fill"? Or did you just assume it would be easy?

Personally I'm with the Muse - quite in awe of this one.

Liked it also, except that I kept looking and looking for something IN the "picture frame". The movie titles are all ON the frame! I was hoping for actor/actress names or initials or such on the inside.

Oh...and add me to the "Auctioneer" list! Had the _OL_ and almost wrote in SOLD, even though it really didn't fit the clue.

David in CA 8:07 PM  

@Joe Bleaux - great site for such questions as "IPA" :

Yes it is a real site :)

chefbea 8:37 PM  

@chaos344..these blankies have been knitted over the years. I am not stockpiling!!! Why would you ask that?

JC66 9:09 PM  


Great video.

Joe Bleaux 1:15 PM  


kitshef 6:21 PM  

Superlative puzzle. Great theme with the AHA momoent. Minimal dreck. Bonus good words (CICERO, VARIETAL, ELIXIR). Everything a NYT puzzle should be.

Only quibble is this should have run on a Monday.

spacecraft 10:40 AM  

I am cold to freezing on ALL "SILENT-" entries, no exceptions. A very momentary pause this time, because the puzzle is pre-Monday easy. The clues are downright kindergartenish--until we get to "Paper for a pad," which is a great, end-week level clue. It totally doesn't belong in this grid, as TESS doesn't belong with the rest of these films. Wait, there WAS such a movie? Never heard of it. these two outlying elements are really jarring, but at least it's good to be jarred at this early hour.

All of these films are cluable without reference to the film itself, so that's a plus. I agree that the revealer is weakish in concept, with that word ACADEMY sort of thrown in extra. I guess, on balance, I sort of liked it. Complements the coffee.

All others bow, DOD is ANGELINA. You may ARGUE, but in my mind you've already lost. Why weren't these latest two puzzles reversed? First down.

Burma Shave 11:14 AM  


for MAXIM, after a JOINT, or perhaps an ELIXIR.
She’s well ONTHEWAY so FADEIN and start closing
the FRAME, that’s how we’ll MANAGE her PICTURE.


Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Straightforward, fairly easy (for a Wednesday) puzzle. Theme? Movies? Really!?

Longbeachlee 12:26 PM  

Got all the words, but didn't see the theme, so is that a DNF?

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

"SILENTL" only works if one has a thick New Yawk accent. "Chok" and "tok" are not Standard English.

Rena Sofer is now on The Bold & the Beautiful, not General Hospital.

IPA was a new one for me, solvable only by the across clues. Not fond of NONPRO.

rondo 1:30 PM  

So 1a and 1d were gimmes and Rex’s rule-of-thumb pans out in this puz. Pretty sure I was done quicker than yesterday.

Seems odd to call it a VARIETAL when there isn’t a variety of grapes. Individual, or particular, or singular seem like a better fit. But we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway, so . . .

Well, ANGELINA would be the easy call and is apparently available again, and PIA gets more xword exposure than she did in Penthouse 30-some years ago, so I’ll go with under-rated yet well exposed yeah baby RENA Sofer – tall, dark, and winsome – and whose PICTUREs have actually appeared in MAXIM.

TESS? Anything starring yeah baby Nastassja Kinski gets my vote automatically.

If OFL and others keep whining about puzzles skewing old, here’s a quote from CICERO: ”To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.“

So if SILENTL is the worst thing in the puz, it’s really up to PAR.

leftcoastTAM 1:52 PM  

Liked this one, and am glad there's no law requiring that Wednesdays can't be easier than Tuesdays or even Mondays.

Had a pleasant "AHA" moment when the FRAME FADE-d IN with the crossing RENA who was the last to appear.

If you're not Rex, what's not to like about this one? (Yeah, I know, likely more than a few will have something to say about that.)

kitshef 2:21 PM  

Anon@12:25 - not just 'movies'. One-word movies (JFK being kind of squirrely there) that won at least one Oscar.

BS2 2:59 PM  

@teedMN - I finally REDDIT in the comments.


When a LAD has a PULSE like that, and is game for SLY ELDERs on stage,
well, ANGELINA’s bulge, it ain’t fat, her FRAME is quite TAUT for her AGE.


Larry Jordan 3:54 PM  


rain forest 4:06 PM  

Liked this a lot.

Sometimes the theme revealer is superfluous; sometimes, if rarely, it actually helps with the solve; today, for me, I finished the puzzle and was looking for a PICTURE FRAME within the puzzle. Then I finally saw the PICTUREs actually framing the puzzle. I went "Ohh!", which qualifies as an aha moment. Nice warm feeling.

I didn't see TESS, but liked all the others, except for AVATAR (nice effects, bad story). I'll also put in a plug for Full Metal Jacket which I thought was better than PLATOON.

Didn't read Rex (obviously didn't have to), but if he didn't like this one, there is no pleasing the man.

BS? 4:54 PM  


to MANAGE his OATs there in FRANCE,
it’s AMEN’S SILENTL for that LAD,
HITHERTO he’d SLY DIN Marion’s pants.


Diana,LIW 5:05 PM  

Yes, much easier than yesterday. Good reveal.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a doozy. I'll bring my pencil on the airplane.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

Was nice to see "maxim" clued as a phrase instead of the gross magazine. Hope that is a new fad that catches on.

Teedmn 8:17 PM  

Nice one (two, three) @BS, thanks!

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