SUNDAY, May 11, 2008 - Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer (JAZZ VIRTUOSO GARNER)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Done with Ease" - theme answers are puns wherein short "i" is turned to long "e" sound, with the the whole theme clued via 93D: Stretch ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme? (elongate)

I'm not the world's biggest pun fan, but this is a remarkable puzzle in many ways, with at least a couple truly fantastic theme answers. As someone who broke his back just two days ago trying to fill a grid with a demanding theme and blocks of 7-letter answers, I'm pretty impressed with those huge first two and last two Across answers and the wide-open spaces they create. Going big like that means you increase the danger of using horrible fill, and though the GPA ULT LEI run and its fraternal twin at the bottom of the puzze, NEA NYS ESO, aren't beautiful, at least you aren't looking at ARU (an actual answer I had in the original draft of my puzzle - don't worry, I killed it). It did seem, however, that this puzzle went to (to my mind) obscure proper names an awful lot today:

  • 1D: _____ Kadar, 1950s-'80s Hungarian leader (Janos) - my main mistake here: my brain invented a world where the NETS played at the Meadowlands (1A: Rooter at the Meadowlands => JETS FAN), giving me NANOS, which looks horribly wrong, even for a Hungarian name.
  • 49A: Jazz virtuoso Garner (Erroll) - "Alert! Alert! Be on the lookout for a two-L ERROLL, I repeat, a two-L ERROLL!" It seems that, by far, this guy's biggest accomplishment was composing "Misty," the song featured in Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me."
  • 101D: Director Mark of "Earthquake" (Robson) - Neeever heard of him. He died when I was in grade school. Turns out "Earthquake" was his penultimate movie. He also directed "Valley of the Dolls" and "Peyton Place."
  • 57A: Fashion designer Bartley (Luella) - I know she's been in my puzzle before, but I still don't buy her "fame."
  • 37D: German biographer _____ Ludwig (Emil) - ??????

Those guys all make ARP and MANN and INDIRA seem run-of-the-mill. None of them were killers, however, since the crosses were all fair and gettable, so no big deal. It just seems that the relatively open grid caused some necessary stretching ... which brings me to my one big question for this puzzle: 93D Stretch ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme? (elongate)!??? So many things are bad about this. First, it's a horrible pun. It's not even a pun. It's a halting play on words. Yes, the E's are long, we get it. Why oh why did you feel the need to include this monster. It's not nearly cute enough - I'm sure the challenge was exceedingly tempting, but it was Not worth it. First, there's the answer itself, which is a groaner. Second, it runs right smack through the very weakest part of the grid ... everything around the front end of ELONGATE is a disaster. SLUE (97A: Turn on an axis) is OK, I'll allow it, but crossing the Horrible EDUCT (87D: Extracted chemical) and the pathetic partial A SET (88D: "_____ of Six" (Joseph Conrad story collection))?? And on top of that OCTA (103A: Numerical prefix)? When your puzzle already has the beautifully-clued OCTANE in it (95A: 87 or 93). No. No no no. You don't need ELONGATE in this puzzle. This is like when I tell the American Idol contestants on my TV screen (to no avail) that they Do Not Have To go for the High-Powered Money Note at the end. That is a surefire way to ruin Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." But do they listen? No. They are tempted by the challenge, much like Eve with the apple. But it's an unnecessary challenge. A dangerous challenge. Sam Cooke doesn't need your Money Note, just as these excellent theme answers don't need any help from ELONGATE, just as I don't need a laff trak to tell me when to laugh at my sitcoms. I get it. Or I don't, and I change the channel. In this case, I get it. The title is enough - it tells me the trick. And a theme answer like MINNESOTA TWEENS is so fantastically badass that ELONGATE can only bring it down. Please, world, listen: resist the bad pun. Your life, the planet (and more importantly, my puzzle) will be better off for it.

Consider the musicality of the consecutive Acrosses "ANKA INDIRA CINQ" - that's practically a song refrain, especially if you elide the last syllable of ANKA (as often happens in song and poetry): ANKINDIRACINQ, ANKINDIRACINQ ... it's like INKADINKADOO, only less silly.

  • 62A: "Puppy Love" singer, 1960 (Anka)
  • 63A: Jawaharlal Nehru's daughter (Indira)
  • 65A: Rouge roulette number (cinq)

Theme answers:

  • 23A: State of a bottle-fed baby? (no-wean situation)
  • 38A: A platform in front of Elsinore, in "Hamlet"? (original scene) - not sure what the cluing on this one is supposed to mean
  • 51A: Massage therapist's office? (feeling station) - tee hee. Good one. Sooo much more fun than the filling station these days.
  • 67A: Group of yo-yo experts (Team Duncan) - excellent. Not having held a yo-yo in thirty years, I'd forgotten the Duncan name, but once I got TEAM, it came back, and clearly. I once saw an actual "yo-yo expert" in an airport lounge. He couldn't stop. It was like OCD. He may have been a yo-yo savant. I don't know. It was mesmerizing and embarrassing all at the same time.
  • 70A: One willing to take a bullet for Martin or Charlie? (Sheen guard) - good one, especially since Martin SHEEN played the president on TV (president ... secret service ... take a bullet ... not sure why I'm spelling this out for you, but there it is).
  • 91A: Little Bo-Peep's charges? (abandoned sheep) - two problems here. One, I thought she "lost her sheep," which seems to me different from abandoning them. Juno's mom "abandoned" her (in the movie "Juno," which I saw for the first time last night, which is good, if a bit too self-consciously hipster for its own good - if "Napoleon Dynamite" were a. good and b. about something, it would be "Juno"). Bo Peep just had some bad luck. Further, something about the past tense of this answer feels weird to me: "Abandon Ship!" seems like the main phrase - in imperative form.
  • 99A: Musicians at a marsh? (peat orchestra) - the only answer in the whole puzzle that even remotely smacks of Broadway, Thank God :)
  • 120A: St. Paul sixth graders? (Minnesota tweens) - the cream of the crop. Excellent.
There's some high and low-end crosswordese in this grid. On the high end, like a fastball thrown at your head, from out of the past comes Lauren TEWES (3D: "The Love Boat" actress Lauren). I think I learned what her name was from crosswords about a decade ago. You don't see her much, but with a name like TEWES, you're going to get work eventually. ENID is one of my favorite little bits of common fill. Somehow seeing it never bothers me, unlike seeing a word like ANSE (92D: Addie's husband in "As I Lay Dying"), which makes me want to blind myself. EAST L.A. (87A: Urban area in a Cheech Marin film) is quickly becoming one of the more tired six-letter answers around. I was so excited the first time I saw it - seemed clever and inventive and pop-culturey in ways that I love. But now ... I could use a rest. I do not feel the same way about Alain DELON (83A: Actor Alain), who has, by far, the sexiest name (first and last) in the whole crossword pantheon. The door is always open for ENID and DELON.


  • 15A: Superman, to his father (Kal-El) - gimme that! I'm surprised this doesn't appear more often, given its apparent "get you out of a K-jam" usefulness.
  • 25A: Woody Allen title role (Zelig) - never saw it, though I'm an unabashed fan of everything Woody Allen did from 1977-1979. And a smattering of his other films as well.
  • 50A: The toe of a geographical "boot" (Oman) - I've never heard of the Arabian Peninsula referred to as a "boot." There's only one "boot" - Italy. What kind of messed-up foot would go inside a Arabian Peninsula-shaped boot?

  • 55A: Like a Rolek watch (ersatz) - god I love the word ERSATZ. At some point it replaced MEDIOCRE as my favorite word in the language (around high school). I don't know if I have a favorite word now, but ERSATZ is very special to me.
  • 79A: Shade on the Riviera (azur) - wanted ECRU (!?) then wanted AQUA.
  • 80A: Calypso offshoot (ska) - three letters, Caribbean music => SKA.
  • 105A: Corrosive chemical, to a chemist (HCL) - hydrochloric acid.
  • 112A: Limo feature (jump seat) - I wanted MOON ROOF. I don't know what a JUMP SEAT is. Isn't that weird? I know the phrase, but I can't picture it. It seems it's just the rear-facing seat behind the driver.
  • 4D: Squash, squish, or squelch (step on) - inkadinkadoo, very cute clue.
  • 8D: Cuban-born jazz great Sandoval (Arturo) - Here he is playing with Alicia Keys.
  • 16D: Green card, informally (Amex) - aha, not that green card.
  • 17D: Leslie Caron title role (Lili) - The old LILI vs. GIGI confusion raises its head again.
  • 31D: Land west of Togo (Ghana) - My first time through I thought this was the name of the German biographer ... eyeskips'll kill you.
  • 32D: The less you see of this person the better (dieter) - disturbing, scientifically inaccurate clue.
  • 40D: Romaine (cos) - absolutely threw me. Had to look it up when I was done. Lettuce. Hmmm.
  • 42D: Warsaw Pact counterforce (NATO) - "counterforce" sounds like really bad Chuck Norris and/or Sylvester Stallone movie from the '80s.
  • 48D: "Bye Bye Bye" band, 2000 (*NSYNC) - Justin Timberlake's original posse. I miss the Boy Band era. So deliciously mockable.
  • 52D: Cousin of a camel (llama) - never thought of these beasts as related, given their separation by a gigantic ocean and all.
  • 78D: "Luncheon on the Grass" and others (Manets) - I was thinking this was a play until I remembered the French title, "Déjeuner sur l'herbe" - it's an exceedingly famous and much parodied painting.
  • 118A: Seaborne lackey (swab) - Forget SWAB, I just want to find a way that I can call someone a "Seaborne lackey" today. That's golden.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld


Ulrich 8:34 AM  

I liked the puzzle well enough (and share many of Rex's quibbles), but not as much as the Sunday puzzle by the same constructors during the ACPT--but then, I had met them both during lunch that day.

They do seem to have a fondness for rather far-fetched German references--I also have never read anything by Ludwig and the name rings a bell only in retrospect. In the said Sunday puzzle, they clued my least favorite German town, Essen :-), with an absolutely outlandish clue, if I remember correctly.

However, I take issue with Rex's assessment of Erroll Garner: He is unbelievable famous among jazz fans (even if I don't like his style in particular).

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Well, good! I didn't have to google and I did finish today.. There were places where erasures would have been needed, except I decided to do it online... TIROL can also be spelled Tyrol, SLUE can be slew, and SO DO I could have been Me Too! But MY MY, DUDE -- Since I wasn't doing it in ink, it was not AS BAD as it might have been, for me! And I enjoyed the theme answers, puns or not...


Unknown 8:52 AM  

After a shallow reflection, I guessed that the term Original Sin was converted to original scene. I suppose the reference was to the opening scene of Hamlet where we learn 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark' as we wonder around Elsinore Castle.

NEHI gets clued w/o Radar, there was no pitching WOO and YALE w/o referencing Eli, so it all seems pretty original to me. I had artlvr's Tyrol problem and entered Educe for EDUCT and axions for ANIONS. Still an entertaining puzzle form two nice pople.

JannieB 8:57 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Had many of the same snags as artlvr and philly, but got it all sorted out without wiki or google. Was a good level of difficulty for me, but fair and gettable. My only quibble were the abbreviations - too many to suit me. But the fill was fresh and clever. When I'm out on our boat with my husband, I feel like a seaborne lackey - glad he doesn't do the puzzles or I'd never hear the end of it. Happy Mother's Day!

Unknown 9:07 AM  

A second reflection on Hamlet...maybe they meant the play within the in 'the play's the thing'. The troupe had to create an original scene to catch Claudius. I now change my answer.

Peter Sattler 9:13 AM  

Phillysolver already answered this, but a bit awkwardly. So here's my shot: "Original Scene" refers to the setting of Act I, Scene 1 of Hamlet. It appears in the text of the play as, "Elsinore. A platform before the castle."

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

I hate Shortz's clues for amino. They run the gamut from not good to absolutely terrible and ridiculous. I guess I shouldn't expect much from a publication whose science section calls amino acids "protein units" and DNA bases "DNA units."

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I agree with Rex about too many proper names. Peeves included PEAT ORCHESTRA and DRAPE (75D Don, as a sari). We all know the orchestra pit and may even have seen an actor or two fall into it. But are the musicians really the "pit orchestra?" I have never heard this term before. As to the sari draping,to don is to wear or put on, which does not equate to "drape" in my book, even with a flowing garment. Would INDIRA Ghandi (nee Nehru) say "I am going to DRAPE my new sari today?"

miriam b 9:48 AM  

@peter sattler: You took the words out of my mouth (fingers) re the original scene - with Hamlet's father's ghost, IIRC.

I enjoyed this puzzle for the most part, and finished in fine style but had to do a PPG to see who ths Tim Duncan is. Clearly, I'm not a sports fan.

Happy Mother's Day to me and all others here who qualify.

Torbach 9:50 AM  

Thanks for the nice review. Glad our penchant for proper names didn't hurt anyone overly - and the extra bits of German were an accident, not the beginning of a trend, I promise!

ELONGATE - our submitted clue was simply [Stretch]: I guess Will saw the connection and a chance to make the link. Speaking for myself - and probably for Patrick to a degree - I've not met a corny enough pun to shy away from so, odds are, if we'd noticed the chance to make the cross reference we would have!

Our original title was "Cheap Shot" - a title-by-example we usually try to avoid, but it was an instance of a possible theme entry (CHIP SHOT to CHEAP SHOT)that happens to be a common phrase in the changed form as well, which we thought might be fun for a title.

Not sure if this was on our original list, but here's one that I woke up thinking about Monday-morning-quarterback-style, that would have forced a 23x23:


Clues, anyone? Maybe for an Easter puzzle?


Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Sorry, anon, sari can be draped in the passive -- or donned or put on -- correctly, or not, IMO

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

"Pit orchestra" is entirely legitimate and well-known in theatrical circles. It usually refers to the regular house orchestra that would accompany variety shows etc.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

@Rex - The world your brain invented is remarkably similar to the one we all live in - The NETs do play in the Meadowlands, as do the Jets, Giants, and Devils. The NETS play in Continental Arena, or ____ Arena, depending on who last ponied up the Naming Rights, at the Meadowlands, the Jets play in Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands.

Rex Parker 9:59 AM  

Wow, Tony, sorry I mischaracterized the ELONGATE problem. I thought for sure that the extra theme entry and the rough patch of grid had to be related. My mistake.

I am warming up to puns - done right. GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PEEPS is brilliant. You'd need a supersized grid, but why not? With an answer like that...


Rex Parker 10:01 AM  

Hey, if that NETS comment is true, then I retroactively object to 1D. Moreso. Yes, JANOS is the more obvious, name-like choice, but if ANSE can be a name, then NANOS can be a name too, I say.


Leon 10:02 AM  

Happy Mother's Day from me and my PEEPS ! Sorry Dudes, wait till June.

There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.
Brendan Behan
Irish author & dramatist
1923 - 1964

Ulrich 10:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 10:09 AM  

I'm signing off for the day to celebrate: a prequel to my birthday tomorrow, but more importantly, my favorite soccer team, 1. FC Köln (Cologne) just won its last home game and will play in the premier league again next year (1. Bundesliga)--after spending 2 years in the league below. The fans in the fan blog are crying, the players are crying on the field, the city is beside itself, I imagine.

A tidbit for the soccer fans here: 1. FC Köln is the only German team with the distinction of having at least one player on each of the three German sides that have won the World Cup in soccer.

Alec 10:34 AM  

Nice puzzle, even though I blew it by entering the nonsensical ERRATE in place of ERSATZ. By the way, I was very pleased to see EMIL Ludwig in the grid, because his biography of Napoleon is one of my favorite books. It was a huge bestseller in the earlier part of the century, and still worth a look if you're a Napoleon buff.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

(Spoiler? Don't think so. Just noting Puns galore in the Philly Inq. puzzle today by Merl Reagle.)

Congrats, Ulrich, and happy day to Mothers, me too...


Jeffrey 10:45 AM  

Did you notice that there were eight theme answers? E-long-eight. I think that justifies the use of that entry, but your tastes may differ.

Wendy Laubach 11:03 AM  

Anse was a total gimme for me -- "As I Lay Dying" is one of the funniest books I ever read. "Was e'er a man so misfortunate as I." Love that character.

"Cos" defeated me, as did Oman; I was stuck on Italy as the boot. I didn't realize the Arabian peninsula was considered a boot.

I didn't mind "elongate," but "Cheap Shot" would have been nice, too.

I messed up "Lili" and "Kalel." I should have known "Rili" couldn't be right, but I'm late to church and a picnic and couldn't think about it any more. I also had "Mets Fan" and "Manos." OK, laugh at me for not knowing the differences among Nets, Jets, and Mets. In retrospecit, "Janos" is obviously the better answer.

Tough puzzle, but lots of fun.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

@anon 9:21
I never knew Indira, but my friend Aruna once tried to teach my wife to "drape a sari." The lesson was a total failure except that it made this clue a gimme.

JannieB 11:15 AM  

Add to the list of geographical footwear - Hilton Head Island, also somewhat boot shaped

PuzzleGirl 11:20 AM  

In PuzzleGirl World, the Mets play at the Meadowlands. Yes, I know that's Wrong Wrong Wrong. And I might have caught it if I had done the puzzle this morning instead of last night. Ack.

One thing I can say for this puzzle is thank God for the downs. I read through the acrosses and got, like, three answers. Thought I was toast, but the downs saved me.

Green card tripped me up. Um, isn't that informal already? (As Rex said: Oh THAT green card.) And I fell into the GIGI/LILI trap. I don't know why I can never remember ANSE. I Love that book.

I finally saw "Juno" last week. Cute movie, funny moments, wonderful performances. All in all, a nice fairy tale (i.e., not at all realistic IMOO). I have one other thing to say about Juno, but I have to find a YouTube video and I don't have time right now, so I'll check in again later.

Happy Mother's Day!

janie 11:58 AM  

"cos" is a word i've seen only in xword puzzles -- as a word meaning "lettuce." never knew til today, however, that it's synonymous with "romaine" -- and my dictionary tells me that "cos lettuce" is also an acceptable (if perhaps kinda redundant...) term. live 'n learn...

had heard the term "pit band," so "pit orchestra" wasn't much of a stretch. fwiw:

wiki on pit

note to self: find some way to help disabuse dr. p. of the notion that all b'way=garbage. ;-)

happy sunday, all!


six weeks behind in saratoga 11:58 AM  

What kind of messed-up foot would go inside a Arabian Peninsula-shaped boot?

A skier's foot. I hadn't noticed before, but the Arabian peninsula does resemble a ski boot.

Bill from NJ 12:17 PM  

Remember when you were a kid and your Mom made a meal you hated and the more you ate, the more that still seemed to be left?

Every time I fixed a problem, it would just continue to grow. The problem was 106A - I had RESOLUTE which produced EDUCE which seemed correct to me. I blanked on ELONGATE because I was laboring under the delusion that double Es(long)to I(short)was the theme and I had AIWE at 82A which produced PEETORCHESTRA, which was both right and wrong, and on and on into the night.

It took forever to straighten the whole mess out.

@Wendy Laubach-

Don't you love the names in Faulkner? Joe Christmas is my fav orite. I like to dust off a volume every few years and dip into it. I consider him the American Joyce.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

The one clue I take exception to is 85D Hornet,e.g. NBAER.

1. Isn't NBA and abreviation? So where is our clue that the answer will be abreviated?

2. Would have been better if they had at least used Hornet or Celtic (fill in any other NBA team here) e.g. to get us pointed in the basketball direction.

I was only able to complete about half of the puzzle before I checked the web site for help. So by my rules for myself, I couldn't finish this one. There were a lot of Proper Names and Places that I didn't know yet, but that's my problem not the puzzle's problem.

janie 12:28 PM  

>85D Hornet,e.g. NBAER.

>1. Isn't NBA and abreviation? So where is our clue that the answer will be abreviated?

"e.g." covers it!



Anonymous 12:36 PM  

I put the Mets in the Meadowlands, too. I know better; it was just a brain fart.

For Brown alternative, I had PALE, until I saw NSYNC, then YALE. That's when I knew I was in excellent hands with this constructor.

Very fun. Best Sunday in weeks.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

@torbach --Chicks in Georgia; two ways.

jae 12:50 PM  

I was going for an errorless week and blew it. Like bill from fl I brain farted on METS. I also forgot about AARE and so had MONET and OARE. Missteps included DODGE for the Hornet clue, YASURE, TYROL, and CINC all of which were fortunately fixable. Alas, maybe next week.

kate 1:00 PM  

I really, really don't like ABANDONEDSHEEP. I have never heard the phrase "abandoned ship." Okay, it could be used in a sentence about some people who decided to "abandon ship" in the past, but it felt like a cheat to me, and interrupted the flow of the other theme answers, which all work perfectly.

Other than that, though, and all in all, a very enjoyable puzzle. I don't know enough about Superman or the Chisolm trail, apparently, as I couldn't get the cross at KALEL and ENID.

jae 1:11 PM  

Oh, and this was a delightful puzzle. The only weak pun for me was PEATORCHESTRA.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

What kind of foot can wear Arabia?
A clubfoot, of course.

mac 2:11 PM  

Congratulations, Ulrich! I just found out from a (Romanian) taxi driver in NYC that Holland (and Romania) is in Group C with Italy and France in the Eurocup......

I thought this was a tough but very enjoyable puzzle, just what I want on a day I've decided to spend idly otherwise. The NW was the last area to go, with a lot of erasing. It's odd how some names or words just appear out of nowhere. As far I as I can remember I've never read anything by Emil, but his name and the fact of the Napoleon biography just popped up.

Have to admit to one little tiny google for Sandoval...... There goes my week, unless I call Sunday the first day of the next!

Howard B 2:27 PM  

I never did find the wavelength for this one, but the theme answers were cute.
Bonus points for any puzzle which includes the word 'squish' (or any form of it), either in the fill or the clues :).

Squishy puzzling,

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

"e.g." is not normally used as an abbreviation signal. However, "initialisms" that are pronounced as written are not always signaled. The signal is mandatory when the abbreviation is never used as a pronounced word.

"NASDAQ" and "NBAER" can be clued either way; "SEPT" and "NDAK," normally pronounced in full, would always be signaled. The optional abbreviation signal for initialisms tends to get rarer during the course of the week.

JC66 3:01 PM  

A demanding, fun puzzle. However, I have to stress my displeasure in seeing TYROL spelled TIROL.

Barbara Bolsen 3:12 PM  

I too had the Mets in the Meadowlands, but at the last moment remembered the Jets. Janos definitely looked better than Manos once written.

I got COS because I remembered its association with lettuce (not Romaine), but somehow associated it with COS COB, which I think may be a town in Connecticut. Maybe they grow lettuce there?

I was in the zone for this puzzle, but my triumphant finish was marred when I arrived here and realized Superman was not known to his parents as Ralel. Had RAZORS for buzzers instead of KAZOOS. That left me with WOR for shower with flowers -- which should have sent me back to the drawing board, but didn't.

One last comment ...

No. Rex. No you didn't. You didn't raise Eve and the apple on Mother's Day, did you? But you did...

Happy mothers day to all of you out there who are mothers or who have mothered somone else's children as friend, mentor, safe person ...

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

By the way, in NYT puzzles an abbreviation signal will always be a word that isn't normally abbreviated. This is sometimes helpful to know. Here is a NYT Crossword Forum posting by Will Shortz from 2004 on the subject:

In answer to Henry: The abbreviation "e.g." for "for example" is a frequent space-saver in crossword clues and by my rules does not signal an abbreviation in the answer.

When I started at the Times in 1993 I wanted to be a purist on abbreviations -- strictly adhering to the standard that anything at all abbreviated in a clue would signal an abbreviation in its answer. This was the policy at Games (with rare exceptions), where I'd worked before. But then I ran head-on into the Times' style manual regarding officials' titles (Sen., Rep., etc.), states, and so on.

I asked the editor of the Times Magazine, who was my boss at the time, if it would be all right for the crossword to follow its own style on this. He suggested that I follow Times style for six months, and then if I still wanted to do something different, we should talk again.

He probably knew that after six months I'd be comfortable with Times style, and he was right.

So now you know.

The rule I follow (posted earlier) is a little more complicated than the purist's rule, but I don't think many solvers are confused by it.

--Will Shortz

The rule posted earlier was:

If a clue contains an abbreviation for a word or phrase *that is not usually abbreviated*, then it signals an abbreviation in the answer. But if the word or phrase in question is typically abbreviated, then it doesn't.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

I, like Tony and Patrick, have trouble saying no to bad puns (and other cheesy wordplay, for that matter), which made solving this puzzle all that much more enjoyable. And Tony, I think "Cheap Shot" is a terrific title for this puzzle. Don't let anyone tell you any differently.


Ulrich 3:47 PM  

@mac: Yes, Holland is in this year's "group of death"--a shame that two of the teams will not make it beyond the preliminary round.

@jc66: Tirol (stress on second syllable) is the way it's written in, well, Tirol and the German-speaking countries. But the clue should have indicated that the authentic spelling was called for.

I'm back on the web to sample more soccer bits from my home town, which has come to a standstill, I hear.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

@ Martin: Thanks

Very helpful posting that will help my puzzling skills.


Michael Chibnik 4:16 PM  

I decided to try to do this one by writing in all my guesses without my usual cross-checking to see if they work either horizonatally or vertically (depending on whether it was an across or down guess). This worked well (few mistakes), but it took me longer than usual to get the theme, leading to an average or even below-average solving time. And I had to google one letter (the w in Tewes) which I needed to solve the upper right hand part of the puzzle.

I hate having to google on any day except Friday or Saturday (and don't much like doing it on those days either).

dk 4:22 PM  

Liked this puzzle just fine. It as fun to see my adopted state MINNESOTA and my home state NYS as a cross.

I had Mets not Jets but the little gray cells kicked in and I was able to move from bizzaro world (like puzzlegirl's world).

My brother and I celebrated our own holiday (good son day) last night. We created that day for this year only as we both remembered and ensured that our mother and our children's mothers were gifted, carded and appreciated.

The superman clue was fun and prompts me to recommend IRON MAN.

Off to enjoy torte (raspberry) and a famosa (as my mom would say).

Happy Mothers Day

chefbea 4:26 PM  

I just got around to trying to finnish the puzzle which I gave up on. Been celebrating mothers day -breakfast then down to the beach (with a jacket)
Very hard puzzle today. Thought there would be mother's day related.

Unknown 4:33 PM  

Cos is what Brits call Romaine lettuce. And according to wikipedia,"Most dictionaries trace the word cos to the name of the Greek island of Cos, from which the lettuce was presumably introduced. Other authorities (Davidson) trace it to the Arabic word for lettuce, خس."
Right. We knew that.

Fun, but challenging puzzle today.

chefbea 4:37 PM  

@barb in chicago - Cos cob is in connecticut. Its is part of Greenwich. Way back it was Coe's Cove, I believe named for someone named coe. Dont know if he grew any lettuce there. The name was later changed to Cos Cob

mac 4:37 PM  

@joon, thank you very much - I had my very computer-literate son read your advise and he figured it out. I'm all set!

@barb in Chicago: that's a funny connection; you think they grow cos to make a cob salad?

JC66 4:47 PM  


Thanks for the clarification on TIROL. But, as you said, there should have been a var. or somethng else in the clue to indicate it's unusual ( NY Times) spelling.

chefbea 5:02 PM  

@mac very clever - re:cob salad

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

Tony Orbach was a high-school classmate of mine. We both played in the school jazz band, though as a pianist, my own contribution was mostly inaudible over the horns. I had no idea he was a puzzle guy until some Saturdays ago he slayed me on the corner of Cuchefrito and Dil/Orfe -- the first puzzle I couldn't finish unaided in a long stretch. But today, having gotten the theme, I enjoyed the pleasure of filling in Minnesota Tweens, a little incredulously, with no crosses at all. Howdy Tony!

Anonymous 5:26 PM  


Another editing rule says that a word may be signaled with "var.," "obs.," "arch." or other such tag only if that's what the dictionary says. The editor must respect the authority of the lexicographer. Alternate spellings listed as such in dictionaries will not be signaled.

The NYT standard, the Random House Unabridged, includes "also Tirol" in the Tyrol entry. Thus its clue will have no special signal.

Kimbopolo 6:49 PM  

A note to Rex and Mrs. Rex. Stop what you are doing and rent "Zelig" THIS MINUTE.

(That goes for the rest of you too).

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

Speaking of Peeps, check out this site:

For those of you of a scientific bent with a fondness for our marshmallow friends!


Anonymous 7:04 PM  

@ chefbea 1 -- There's a Mothers' Day puzzle in today's LA Times, which you can download from -- I worked at it on and off all day, before and after kids were here! Nearly gave up several times, but a fresh eye each time finally won out!


PuzzleGirl 7:16 PM  

I'm sure you all have been sitting at your computers waiting for my follow-up post. So here it is finally. (I was out doing stuff with my kids this afternoon, including having lunch at a local Panera where we ran into an Assistant Coach of the National Champion University of Iowa Wrestling Team, which was pretty exciting for me. I just happened to be wearing an Iowa wrestling t-shirt and he came over to our table to wish me Happy Mother's Day and say he liked my shirt. Awesome guy.) Anyhoo.... Rex's reference to "Juno" gives me the opportunity to introduce you to a local bluegrass musician here in Iowa City who is fabulous. Her name is Amy Finders and in this video she is singing with the Burlington Street Bluegrass Band -- an assortment of various musicians who get together once a week to jam for a crowd. The reason this is related to "Juno" is that I was completely distracted during the movie by how much Ellen Page (who plays Juno) looks like Amy. I mentioned it to Amy the other day and she said she's heard the same thing from a couple other people too, so I'm not just making it up. So. If you like bluegrass music at all, take a listen. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Michael Chibnik 7:23 PM  

Could someone tell me how to send a message to a previous commenter without sending it to everyone on the list (which may not be all that interested in the resemblance of Amy Finders and Ellen Page)? I tried linking via the commenter's name/label/moniker but that doesn't seem to work.

Pythia 7:24 PM  

Cheesy puns rule! I liked this puzzle a little better while solving than I did afterward during a review of the completed grid, when I said to myself, "Self, who the hell is Tim Duncan?" Also think the phrase "abandon ship" is idiomatic and "abandoned ship" isn't. They were lost, not abandoned, in any case. The others are all pretty spiffy. V. happy to know that the excruciating, I-am-so-clever clue for ELONGATE wasn't the doing of the constructors.

Overall, lots fo fun!

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

Looks like a hiking boot to me (or ski boot as someone mentioned).

Joon 7:38 PM  

three reasons why this week's pun theme was better than last week's pun theme:

1. there was a rule, not just arbitrary puns.
2. the punned-upon phrases were all well-known. apparently tim duncan was the least well-known of this set, but he's arguably the most successful athlete of the past decade from any team sport (who else has four championships?), so i don't feel bad for those who don't know him. anyway, no obscure 1950s clown song in this group.
3. the transformed phrases actually made some surface sense, or at least made enough sense to clue them, unlike most of last week's non-grammatical clunkers.

having said that... this puzzle was enjoyable for me, but perhaps not quite as much as a non-pun theme would have been. i actually picked up on most of the theme entries without crosses once i figured out NOWEANSITUATION, but ... i didn't love any of them. the fill, on the other hand, was pretty cool, and gave me quite some difficulty in some places.

PuzzleGirl 7:55 PM  

@michael: I've added an email address to my blog site.

Wendy Laubach 7:57 PM  

A Mother's Day suggestion: long ago I had some friends who covered their abdomens in finger-paint and made impressions of their belly buttons on paper for Mother's Day cards. No, they weren't six, they were about 22.

Earlier, Google suspected me of a virus and wouldn't let me on. My temperature must have gone down. Anyway, whoever heard of a Mac with a virus?

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

I want to put in a word for Erroll Garner too. Some people don't like him because he was not a bebopper during the bebop era, but he's a great pianist. Listen:

chefbea 8:31 PM  

@michael - I have my e-mail address also

Anonymous 11:49 PM  

I think the ARP/A FLAT section was a bit mean -- I didn't know ARP and know the key of exactly one symphony by anyone (that would be Mozart #40, A minor, which might even be wrong). After putting in E and A and E again, I opted "D" -- I like the idea of Duchamp having DR.P as a pal. Maybe his DJ.

Anonymous 11:58 PM  

The boot clue for OMAN is iffy, but I had fun with this puzzle. Everything eventually came together.

Erroll Garner and Artoro Sandoval, Wow! There are some other really great YouTube videos that feature Arturo with Dizzy Gillespie for example.>>>

Anonymous 2:09 AM  

Liked the theme, which became very clear after the SHEEN GUARD clue. As it happens with some Sundays, I breezed through areas where I knew the words, regardless of clue difficulty, and got completely stuck in areas with some difficult fill. The NE was tough because of KAZOOS, ZELIG, LILI, and ENID (never heard of the last three clues), had a bad crossing for ARP (I'd guessed ERP), complete guess on LUELLA / MIL, and AGRI, TIRL, ERROLL, and ARTURO made ORIGINAL SCENE very hard to figure out. I still don't get how that fits the clue, but I'm surmising that someone above has already explained it.

Unknown 2:34 AM  

I had a problem with that Minnesota thing since I had decided St. Paul had to be about the Saint - therefore I had sinne(r). That's what I get for forcing things in.

To those of you not steeped in the jazz world from birth - Erroll Garner was quite famed and prolific. I remember his mumbles (not singing, just an "mmm" at the end of phrases or wherever he felt like it) and will probably inherit some of his LPs from my Dad.

Anonymous 2:45 AM  

I'm getting too literal, when dk said the mother of his children was carded, I thought it meant she wasn't 21!
Not a fan of puns, but love Tony and Patrick to death, they are the new Lennon and McCartney of puzzles!

Ellen 4:36 AM  

I knew Mark Robson because he and my father were childhood friends in Montreal. This was balanced by my never having heard of Tim Duncan.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

could somebody tell me a dictionary they found 'reune' in? thanks. joe

Unknown 5:32 PM  

Wow! Did you knock one out of the park with your "A Change is Gonna Come" comments! Touch 'em all!

Erik Greene
Author, “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective”

Anonymous 3:19 AM  

I agree with those who appreciate Garner and "Zelig." I wish more were jazz literate (and "Zelig" is kind of cinematic jazz), since it is our one great native art form and is quickly being forgotten, along with its wonderful and great artists. And I've often thought that if I could leave just one Harold Arlen, Cole Porter or Duke Ellington quality song behind, I would go to my grave without regret. Same goes for "Misty."

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

It's funny that you mentioned Inkadinkdo. I had that song in my head the whole time I was doing this puzzle because of "peeka-boo". Peeka-boo sounded like Inkadinkado...

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

It's funny that you mentioned Inkadinkdo. I had that song in my head the whole time I was doing this puzzle because of "peeka-boo". Peeka-boo sounded like Inkadinkado...

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