Sunday, Apr. 8. 2007 - Byron Walden

Sunday, April 8, 2007

[REX PARKER is (was) on vacation this week - today's guest blogger: COLMAN DeKAY]

Sunday, Apr. 8. 2007 - Byron Walden
Something went skippy in my technical attempt to say hi, so I'll try again.

Hey, my name is Colman. I'm an LA screenwriter, which means I'm obsessed with words and blessed with intermittent free time to do stuff like solve the world's most brilliant crossword puzzle.

Like many of you, I stumbled onto this site on a Saturday morning, trying to find the name of a small river in Mozambique.

And I felt that something cool was going on.

Smart guy, great spirit, fun place to land when you're in trouble over coffee.

Anyway, here's what I've got on today's puzzle:

Theme: The cited clues are anagrams of each other (fangbite = beingfat), which, in turn, are anagrams of the big clues ("undercoverFBIAGENT")

9A: Solitaire measure -- "Carat". How smart is that? Diamonds came into my head long after playing cards left.

29A: How Peter denied Jesus -- "Thrice". The only biblical reference in the whole puzzle. On Easter, I'd have thought there'd be more.

58A: Diana on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" -- I first thought Ross, but then remembered it was 1967 England, so Dors made sense. Anyway, you be the judge of who you'd rather see in that crowd.

11D: Reverse mantra of "The Shining" -- Redrum. One of the only gimmies this weekend, aside from 89A ("NNW's reverse" - come on!)

34D: "A Different World" actress -- Jasmine Guy. Such a crush I had on her. That's all.

All around, this was a pretty good Sunday morning ritual -- not too head-cracking, but not insultingly easy either.


Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Well, the three hidden anagram clues were fun to find, but it was very inconvenient to have to hunt through this gigantic puzzle for a clue that really didn't tell me anything. On the contrary, it was the hidden clues (MASKED AVENGERS, BLESSING IN DISGUISE, and SECRET ADMIRERS) that made their corresponding anagrams easy to find...once these hidden clues emerged from crosses.
Speaking of which, I still don't get why ELEVEN is "once across the Rio Grande?" I was trying to make UNA VEZ fit here.
It seems there's at least one musical clue in every puzzle (FORTE -- Piano's counterpart), so I'll start watching for the puzzle with no musical clue.)
All in all, I found this puzzle to be a pain in the neck. For me, it was more difficult and impenetrable than challenging and fun. I do like the word PLUNK, though.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

p.s. I just glanced at the SE corner and wondered what ANI was. Looked at the clue and...Snort!
(What goes in your nose to make noise...AN I!)
This combines with the AITCH beginning here to spell HI.
HI By(ron).

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Once = Eleven in Spanish.

I had UNA VEZ there too at first. You just got to shake your head in amazement over the mind(s) that put that clue together. Well done.

DONALD 8:45 AM  

Heeeeeeeeeeere's Johnnnnny!!!

Linda G 10:23 AM  

Good job, Colman. I managed to complete the top fourth of the puzzle last night, as well as a few scattered words throughout the rest. I decided to read your post over coffee this morning instead of trying to finish it.

I'll see you all here tomorrow morning ; )

sonofdad 10:31 AM  

Every single Spanish counting song I learned in grade school and from watching Sesame Street only went to 10. Someone needs to make one that goes to 11.

I thought this one was a bear to solve. Hardest Sunday for me in a long time.

Norrin2 10:50 AM  

I too thought this was tougher than your average Sunday. Tough but fair. I noticed Byron Walden got some good-natured booing at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament championship (evidently in rataliation for a tough puzzle he'd constructed for the previous years' tourney.) Now I understand why.

Colman deKay 11:14 AM  

Thanks for the explanation on the Rio Grand clue. I had NO idea what that was about...

DONALD 11:43 AM  

After struggling through numerous coy clues and arcane answers my postganglionic neurons were flat on their back!

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Omigod what a horrific puzzle. I'm still not done and not sure I even care to finish. Talk about slogging through the quagmire! So many tiny answers that get you nowhere. You know those bowls of pasta or certain salads you order where the thing still seems like it has the same amount of food in it after you've eaten steadily for 10 minutes? That's this puzzle. Plus I am no fan of anagrams; they make me crazy. Anyway, thanks Colman for cracking the code!

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

BEERIEST? Come on!

And why would the answer to Puppeteers Bil and Cora be BAIRDS instead of BAIRD? If you tell me it's because there's an S at the end of puppeteers ... it's so wrong.


Don't get me wrong, there were some nice answers in this. But overall, diabolical, and not in a good way.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

"Puppeteers Bil and Cora _____" would be "Baird"; "Puppeteers Bil and Cora" are "Bairds" but "beeriest" is truly a weird word and I'm not sure I've seen "taverner" before. A hard puzzle, but I actually liked it once I (finally) got the theme.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Once = eleven in Spanish. Doy. Since the clue was in English, I just kept pronouncing the word (rhymes with dunce) in my head. Wow. Thank you, Evad, for revealing the explanation that now seems so obvious! Part of me is quite amused. Part of me wonders how a quiz show host would read this clue aloud.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

This was a BEAR of a puzzle. Coleman, you rock! I had Rhodalite instead of carnelian until I got back down to that corner and knew nerf HAD to be right, and so did Reed (college).

I agree with those who scrunched their noses at "beeriest" and "algebrai" - jeez oh man!

I also liked tsktsk and plunk - I'm partial to any words with a "k" or two - they are usually good ones!

Thanks again Coleman - it's almost midnight here and I waited until just before bed to check your work to see what would fill my empty spaces! Glad I did! I'll be sleeping better!

ScottK 5:15 PM  

I HATE anagrams! Once I got the long answers I had to pull out the Scrabble tiles to figure out the crossed anagrams. I _thought_ 129A was a gimmee -- roof and flag? Must be RAISETHE. So that made the lower right corner a pain.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Ok, thanks folks, I now get the answers "AN I" and "ELEVEN". Wicked! So sorry to be dull, but can some kind soul explain to me how "A ITCH" answers the clue "it begins here" ???

DONALD 6:03 PM  

One word "aitch" defined as "combination of primary vowel (a) with consonantal symbols intended to exemplify the former quality of the sound" -- the letter H. Also used as an adjective, "shaped like an H".

The clue "It begins here" might read -- It begins the word "here".

Anonymous 6:13 PM  


What's with all the old cheesecake?

Anonymous 7:10 PM  

Well, AITCH EE EL EL! Many thanks, Donald. I was about to GO MAD trying to figure that out! Guess I need to retake English I as well as ALGEBRA I.

Anonymous 7:10 PM  

I have to agree with many folks here -- First of all, I tend to not like puzzles where you have to go "all around the mulberry bush" with clues tied together. I know others do but for me they are just kind of a pain. And not that much fun. Even when I saw that such was the case I was willing to stick it out.

Then when I uncovered clues like "ceramist," "taverner," and oh my goodness "beerest"??!! I started to wonder about whether I should spend my whole Sunday am on it. Got 2/3 through and decided to move on.

I can tell it is clever construction and I'm glad others liked it. But, for me, too many words that are really not words people use.

Thanks, though, Coleman -- good write-up!

See you tomorrow, Linda.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

It is supposed to be Algebra I , as in a course.

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

Oh. Give me the dunce cap.

Anonymous 10:24 PM  

Yep - somewhat more difficult than the usual Sunday puzzle. Glad I started this out in pencil (many erasures...arg).

Even though I am terrible at scrabble and anagrams in general, I liked having these in today's puzzle - found them quite colorful among all that obscure fill. And I was amused by B SINGLES and B GIRLS and BIBI Andersson, not to mention LBJ, BE NICE, and ENTEBBE. Heck of a lot of "B's" in there, Byron.

Coleman, thanks for filling in the blanks! (ESTADOS and BIG D eluded me.)

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Bibi and Kiki? I'd rather be named Mamie.

Orange 5:16 PM  

Hey, Queen(-for-a-day) Linda: You know how Rex tends to pepper the blog with retro cheesecake photos? And some of the guest bloggers have followed suit? How about some beefcake for those of us who aren't straight men or lesbians into retro cheesecake? Bring us the beefcake!

Unknown 7:30 AM  

Hi all, I just came across this blog a little while ago, and I love it.

Regarding this puzzle, just wanted to say that I'm Mexican and couldn't figure out ELEVEN until I read it here!!! I was so sure it was UNA VEZ that I never looked back... big mistake!!

All the best.

Anonymous 11:52 PM  

Glad to see that others thought this puzzle was particularly irritating. Had to use the internet to find the answers to some clues and then I discovered your site. Yea! The "once across the Rio Grande" was both confusing yet wonderfully clever once one realizes it's the Spanish word for 11. Same goes for "It begins here." This puzzle seemed to be more technically difficult, however, than most of them, and not that satisfying, in my opinion.

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

One week later here and I agree that this puzzle was difficult and not very much fun. I figured out the anagram theme after I finished it. This is the first time since I swore off dictionaries and googleing that I've had to go back to google. Way too many very obscure answers for me to do this without help (e.g. naiad, moloch, ecus, nimes, ares, saone, bairds, isaac, ft smith, threebody, gwenn, et. al). Also, way to many forced words (taverner ?). Hats off to those who completed this on their own. I did like the "once" answer. I had the v from lever and my san diego spanish kicked and gave me eleven.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

Okay, I'm still not done! Too obscure and way out there for me. Thanks for the help...

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

After reading all the comments, I am feeling pretty smug. 3 cups of tea in the AM and a couple of coffee in the afternoon, but I got it finished, and only googled Neptune for NAIAD, and some other answers to check; CARNELIAN, MOLOCH, and BELK, for instance. Figured ONCE out, but AITCH and the anagram thingie went over my head. (Anagrams are not my favorite mental exercise.)

All in all, I enjoyed this puzzle. Well.....I guess I enjoy them all once they are solved, but I usually panic when filling the second cup with only 5 or 6 short words in the grid.

Oops, I just discovered AMERANTH in my grid. (turns down smugness a notch or two)

Deb 2:50 PM  

I HATED this puzzle, and I love anagrams! I dislike puzzles with even one or two clues that cross reference each other, so one where the friggin' theme depended on not one, but TWO cross-references per clue was particulary irritating.

Cross-referenced clues are bad enough on the weekday puzzles, but on Sunday's much larger grid it was just incredibly cumbersome and IRE- (cause of an explosion) inducing.

And I love anagrams!


D in CO

Rex Parker 3:23 PM  

I just this minute finally decided to tackle this puzzle, and it was, indeed, a bear. I had already heard about some of the more difficult fill and I STILL struggled a good deal. I too am not fond of the cross-referenced clues. That said, I actually thought this one was Clever. The difficulty level was as hard as any Sunday I've done since I started blogging, I think. Some easy stuff, but lots of Friday-level stuff.


Anonymous 7:22 PM  

Ooooooh! I was about to type a question when I figured out my answer—wow, this threw me off. Three out of the four anagrammed clues had the anagram at the end (AVENGERS, FBI AGENTS and ADMIRERS), but BLESSING was at the beginning of the clue. I've been staring at the puzzle trying to figure out how in the aitch-e-double-hockey-sticks DISGUISE turned into B SINGLES. Doh.

PS, never in 100 years would I have figured out the anagram thing without reading this blog. I was thinking, "well, MARRIEDS admire each other, but DISARMER? eh, it's a stretch." Now I get it.

terry 11:41 PM  

Truly hated this one. First time I gave up on a Sunday puzzle in years. Nine days later I threw in the towel.

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

interesting blog...found, of course, by accident, as I was researching the answers on Google (I can hear the purists screaming, but did you realize how much you can learn - for example, when researching the 'Neptune's closest moon' clue, I learned Jupiter has 60! moons). I do have to admit that as soon as I started reading the blog, I saw that you guys were giving away WAAAY too much details for someone still working on it. So - I quickly exited and came back when I was done.
And by the way, this was in no way the hardest Sunday NYT I've ever come across

Anonymous 10:23 PM  

Hi --

I'm in Canada, so I'm only a couple of weeks late! And I have a question that has nothing to do with the puzzle.

I happen to live on a street called DeKay, and the only reference to that name I've ever run across is in the cemetery one street over - there's a family plot of a number of DeKay's.

I'd just like to know if Coleman would consider giving me any history of the name (nationality, pronunciation, etc.). I'd be ever so grateful!

The puzzle, by the way, was not my most favourite. I too solved the anagrams through the back door(much easier) and cross-references are really not my thing (especially when the numbers are printed in a tiny font in light gray); Bairds is simply not accurate - a cardinal sin in puzzle creation. But I have to admit, I too liked all the B's!

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

WOW, thought I would never get through this, IN OTHER WORDS, this was rough. Thanks, for all your help, I couldn't have done it without you all, but I wasn't about to give up.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

Hey, folks!

We proudly completeed the April 8th puzzle on Sunday, June 17th at 6:45 pm!


Do we get some sort of prize for dogged persistence?

thanks for the help with that darned Rio Grande thing...

A fun site!

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

LOL.I took one last crack at this yesterday (July 7th) and ran to Google with utter frustration. Without total relief there, I turned to your page for the last bits. Ugh. When I think of "clever" puzzles I think of puzzles with clever clues for common answers. But this one! I've never seen a puzzle that required so much obscure knowledge. If I hadn't had so many good experiences with crossword puzzles in the past, I think this one might have turned me off to Sunday puzzles completely. Harumph!

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