THURSDAY, May 29, 2008 - John Farmer (DOHA DWELLER)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Across and Down - a rebus puzzle in which certain squares contain ACROSS in the Across answer and DOWN in the Down

Given the complexity of the theme today and the large number of curiously clued answers, I'm surprised I tore through this thing as fast as I did. I am only mildly embarrassed to admit that the first thing that went into the grid was ARSENIO HALL (29A: "Coming to America" co-star). I don't know how that happened. I hadn't even bothered to look at 1A yet, which is where I (like all good red-blooded Americans) usually start my puzzles. I guess there's something about 1988 that just shouts at me, demanding my immediate attention. (Here's a trailer for "Coming to America" - keep your eye out for the SST and ERIQ LaSalle). The one thing that's mildly grating about this puzzle is the lack of symmetry. As I've said before, with rebuses, there should be symmetry or there should not be symmetry. Near symmetry is like an itch I can't scratch. Inexplicably irksome. Today, the NE and SW rebus squares are symmetrical, and there's a rebus square dead center, so my brain really wants the NW and SE rebus squares to be symmetrical too. And they're not. Oh, and I'm not too fond of the plurals WESTS (38D: Novelists Nathanael and Rebecca) and ONEMANBANDS (46A: Versatile performers). Other than that, I thought the puzzle was fantastic.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: First clue (One [ACROSS])
  • 4D: Jazz/blues monthly ([DOWN] Beat)
  • 18A: Spans, as a river (stretches [ACROSS])
  • 13D: Hit the skids (go [DOWN]hill)
  • 35A: Relocate from one side to the other (move [ACROSS] town)
  • 26D: Master (get [DOWN] pat)
  • 58A: Facing one's house from a short distance away, say ([ACROSS] the street)
  • 39D: Scorn (look [DOWN] on)
  • 68A: Transect (cut [ACROSS])
  • 45D: Inverted (upside-[DOWN])
There was many an -er word in the clues today. Not sure why I'm so attuned to those - maybe because the -er suffix often makes for ridiculous words (however valid). Something like 15A: MDX maker (Acura) isn't likely to make anyone bat an eye; the "stationer" in 60A: Stationer's item: Abbr. (env) is a little odder, in that it's simply uncommon; feels very old-fashioned. Not a bad word, just a less common word. I can imagine someone's being called a "kvetcher," I suppose - 67A: Kvetcher's cry ("oy vey") - but I have a harder time with a word like "dweller" - 9D: Doha dweller (Qatari). O man, even looking at that "DW" combination is starting to make me dizzy. Have you ever come across a word you see all the time, and then really looked at it, and thought "o man, that word does NOT look right." I feel this way about DWELL/ER. I also feel this way about COULD. Anyway, returning to "dweller," it's one of those words you see in crossword clues a lot, like "denizen" and "slangily." The only time I would ever use the word "dweller" is in the phrase "cellar dweller" (referring to a last-place team).

Lots of odds and ends:

  • 5A: Outdoor wingding (bar-b-q) - in some ways, the puzzle lives perpetually in 1962. "Wingding?" Here is my one and only experience with the word "Wingding" (it's in first line of the song)
  • 10A: Secretary of state after Muskie (Haig) - "I'm in control here!"
  • 16A: View from the Ponte Vecchio (Arno) - helped me change TO SCALE to IN SCALE (12D: Relative to dimensions), which seems a really awkward phrase.
  • 20A: Spots for Velcro (straps) - which part is the Velcro, the clinger or the clingee?
  • 23A: Oktoberfest exclamation (Ach) - OK, what the hell is up with "ACH!" Do Germans just shout it whenever they feel like shouting?
  • 33A: _____ Scamander, pseudonym of J. K. Rowling (Newt) - at first I was annoyed at this clue (who would know this? I've read all the HP books and I didn't know this) but then I got a cross or two and it was obvious.
  • 39A: Title girl in a 2002 Disney film (Lilo) - "... & Stitch"
  • 43A: Chip in a Dell, briefly (CPU) - gotta give PCs equal time, I guess. Apple tends to make more puzzle-worthy products.
  • 50A: Abstract art pioneer Jean (Arp) - he was born to inhabit crosswords. Dada!
  • 52A: Quarterback Rodney (Peete) - any relation to the golfer Calvin PEETE? Whoa, it's true - they're cousins (though first or second cousins I can't quite tell).
  • 53A: Bike shop stock (tires) - I'm going to the bike shop today, hurray! @#$#! you, $4 gas.
  • 63A: City on the Oka (Orel) - and I thought Hershiser was the only one.
  • 64A: Non _____ (not so much, in music) (tanto) - new one to me, but it's so close to the French "tante" that I got it no problem.
  • 7D: Sci-fi debut of 1921 ("R.U.R.") - Robots!
  • 8D: Celt of NW France (Breton) - wrote in BRITON, as in "Arthur, King of the"
  • 35D: MTV's "Date My _____" ("Mom") - this is slowly becoming a common way of cluing MOM, which MOMs everywhere have got to find disturbing.
  • 43D: Game in the Arctic (caribou) - oh, game.
  • 54D: Hall-of-Fame Nascar racer Bobby (Isaac) - Isaac Bobby or Bobby Isaac? I wanted only UNSER. I thought NASCAR was all-capped...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS O My God, I can't Believe I forgot NARTHEX (2D: Church vestibule) - that word was completely unknown to me and it scared hell out of me. I believe NARTHEX is the name of that robot I have pictured, above. That's what I'm going to call him, at any rate.


Anonymous 8:43 AM  


But for a change (to anagram)

I got it!



JannieB 8:46 AM  

Interesting that you took issue with "wingding". I had more trouble with bar b q -- I've never ever seen it written that way - BBQ, barbecue, but Bar B Q sounds like a ranch for xword constructors. Like you, I am also tired of contrived plurals, but one man bands doesn't bother me nearly as much as the recently appearing "sonars" and "mafias".

I managed to solve this one, but must confess I never saw that across also went into the rebus - I just used down and thought the across clues seemed strained at best. What a head-slapping moment when I saw the error of my ways. Because of the aforementioned outdoor wingding, the Dakotas were the last to fall for me.

Enjoyable puzzle today.

Larry 9:09 AM  


In Texas, Bar-B-Q is the way small scale (but very good) 'cue joints peddle their wares. Some times you will see a roadside stand having merely noted, on a 4 x 8 sheet of white painted plywood, "B-B-Q"

Check out this month's issue of Texas Monthly for reviews of the best in the state, and several uses of the abbreviated names:

Ulrich 9:14 AM  

I like rebus puzzles especially when they stay close to the original meaning of rebus, i.e. when the multiple letters in a square spell a word for which you can draw a picture (egg, cow, heart, arrow ...). Today, I got the rebus quickly, after which the theme answers fell one after the other like dominoes. Easier for me than yesterday's puzzle.

@rex: No, the Germans do not say "Ach" all the time, especially not at the Octoberfest, unless it's someone who's sobbing into his beer and telling the stranger across the table that his girlfriend has just left him. Which is to say, "Ach", by itself, is an expression of regret or hurt, like "Oh weh!" (German version of OY VEY!), but not as strong.

What you're more likely to hear at the Octoberfest is a long "Ahhhh!", the sound one makes when one has spent a long day in the sun, is all sweaty, has ordered a cold draft, takes a first deep swallow, leans back, wipes the foam from the mouth and says it: "Ahhhhh!". It doesn't often get better than this in life.

Billy Belman 9:41 AM  

"Kvetcher" is totally valid. I was called a "kvetcher" many times during my childhood. "Stop kvetching, you kvetcher."

PuzzleGirl 9:41 AM  

I guess I give a rebus puzzle a little more slack in the symmetry department. As long as the rebus squares are included in answers that are symmetrical, I'm happy.

I initially winced at BAR-B-Q, but I'm sure I've seen it spelled that way. I'm not so forgiving of IN SCALE (that's just wrong), GET DOWN PAT (awkward) and STRETCHES ACROSS (well, that's ... a stretch).

Rodney PEETE was my first gimme. Rex, I think it's hilarious that you were able to associate an obscure football player with an obscure golfer. Okay, all you football fans, back away from the keyboard. Maybe he's not obscure to people who know football, but the only reason I know his name is that he's married to Holly Robinson.

I had never heard of Date My Mom until it was in a recent puzzle, which was clued as "_____ My Mom." I assumed it was a reality show, but didn't have the D and couldn't get it from the cross so I guessed it was RATE My Mom. Now THAT's disturbing.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Very tough but very fun.

JC66 9:58 AM  


Holly who? :-)

Joon 10:06 AM  

this is definitely the fastest i've ever rebused, and quite close to the fastest i've ever thursdayed. so i'm happy about that. it didn't occur to me until i had found four out of the five rebus squares, though, that they worked differently ACROSS and DOWN. (no wonder i was having trouble figuring out the down phrases.)

answer that made me indescribably happy: NARTHEX. omg, what a beautiful word. so much better than APSE, but you can pretty well guess which one comes up more in crossworld.

BARBQ is fine. INSCALE seems fine to me also.

rex, NEWT scamander is the author of one of harry's textbooks, fantastic beasts and where to find them. JKR actually wrote such a book (with that "pseudonym") and published it for charity. there's another one like this, quidditch through the ages by kennilworthy whisp.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

@jannieb: I can sympathize - I was about 90% of the way through this one before I realized that the rebus wasn't just involving the word DOWN, but ACROSS also. I finally twigged in the NW corner (where I finished) as ONEDOWN just didn't make sense as a 'First clue'!

Anybody else notice that all the across theme entries would still make sense if the word 'across' was replaced with 'down'? [The clues don't fit the modified entries, but the entries themselves still make legitimate-sounding phrases, is what I mean.] This is probably why I was initially confused.

To wit:

Does anyone say 'down the street'? It's commonly used colloquially in Australia. eg. "I'm just going down the street to grab a newspaper."

Great puzzle. Every time a rebus crops up I realize that I've forgotten how to put multiple letters in the NYT applet!

Wendy Laubach 10:12 AM  

I must have low tastes in comedy, because I thoroughly enjoyed "Coming to America" and easily remembered Arsenio Hall. Movies like "Airplane!" also strike me as endlessly hilarious.

I struggled for a while before I saw the rebus, but otherwise the puzzle was straightforward enough that I never saw a number of clues. Getting "Mai" and "Tai" written in backwards did delay things a bit. I credit Rex's recent comments about "Clare" of Assisi for getting that answer, since I hadn't otherwise heard of her.

I tried to jam "TROPPO" where "TANTO" belongs, but that means "too much," not "so much," right? And I knew in my heart it had two P's and wouldn't fit. I guess I must not be paying enough attention to musical directions written in Italian, because I find all these tempo/style clues difficult to get despite how often they show up. So the publisher or composer probably is wasting a lot of ink telling me how I'm supposed to be playing -- unless I learn them all eventually by doing crosswords.

Joon 10:13 AM  

ps--the first time i heard of "date my mom" was when the show's full name was in a themeless (i think it was byron... let me check... yes, saturday march 22). it's kind of weird to think that my only connection to this reality show is that i learned it for crosswords! that might make sense if the show were called ESAT or something, but not "date my mom."

pps. best clue of the day was definitely [A Baldwin] for PIANO. i almost laughed out loud when i finally got it.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  


Holly Robinson is an actor that I remember in "21 Jump Street", a series about undercover police officers. It also starred a young Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

I'm sure as a child I was called a KVETCHER when I bugged about wanting to have dinner at Chalet BAR-B-Q.

Easy crossings saved NARTHEX from the NABES file. We'll need the robot to go after Will if it shows up again.

Nice fun puzzle.

JannieB 10:30 AM  

@john reid - thanks for validating my solving experience. I never realized that "across" should also be part of the rebus because down always made some sense in both phrases.

@larry - guess here is Tenn we don't have too many classy bbq restaurants -- surprising since it's probably the official state food group, if there is such a thing. The alternate spelling must be colloquial.

On the other hand, I immediately put in Piano for Baldwin because dad bought on for my mom and it sat in our living room for many years. Great clue, however.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

I fail to see the problem with DWELLER.

fun puzzle.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I was interested to find out what the sci-fi debut of 1921 was.


Never. Heard. Of it. In my life. Yikes, have many?

Wendy Laubach 10:34 AM  

Wikipedia: R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) is a science fiction play by Karel Čapek. It premiered in 1921 and is famous for having introduced and popularized the term robot.

I certainly didn't know this; I know RUR only from crosswords. Which is odd, because I like science fiction very much indeed.

Rex Parker 10:38 AM  

R.U.R. = Crosswordese 101. Learned it from crosswords, never seen it anywhere else.


Shamik 10:46 AM  

Agree with John Reid in reverse...that down works as well as across. Never caught that each rebus would have both across and down.

And really...can't there be a country called Yatar somewhere?!?!?!? I thought I was just talking with someone about that at the barby I went to over the weekend! (wink)

jae 10:51 AM  

Fun puzzle! I was briefly tripped up by BILLY for PIANO and the MAI TAI reverse but other than those a smooth solve. Figured out the double rebus when GOACROSSHILL didn't make sense.

Answers like St. Clare=ASSISI and RUR are pure crossword for me. I've probably seen RUR a half dozen times and knew after the third one that I needed to commit it to memory

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Did the whole thing with either UP or DOWN in each rebus square. It sort of worked, but not really well.

I really enjoyed the misdirection of "A Baldwin".

Nth-ing the fame of R.U.R.

Joon 10:57 AM  

i'll disagree with rex here. i think RUR is pretty darned famous. back in my sci-fi-addled youth, i learned about this play, in which the word "robot" was coined. (though interestingly, not by karel čapek, the author of the play, but by his brother josef, a painter/writer. karel wanted to call them "laboři.") never seen RUR in puzzles before, although i'm sure it's a common grid entry. it's totally legit, though--RUR is one of the most famous sci-fi works of all time.

Rex Parker 11:09 AM  


What do you "disagree" with? I said it's crosswordese. It is. I said I hadn't seen it anywhere but in crosswords. I haven't. You can talk about its "fame" all day long, but that has nothing to do with what I wrote.


Anonymous 11:10 AM  

I wanted UNSER as well for "Hall-of-Fame Nascar racer Bobby". But I knew it wouldn't work as he was not a NASCAR driver, he was an Indy driver - which is "open wheel" racing - and no, I am not an auto racing fan at all, I just listen to too much sports talk radio.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I love a rebus puzzle and esp. a double rebus like today.
I must not be red-blooded, Rex, because 1 Across is never where I start. I look for the fill-in-the-blanks first as they usually are easier for me.
So many fun moments in this puzzle.
Newt Scamander - looks like a repeated lizard
Chip in a Dell - conjured up cartoon image of Chip 'n' Dale
Hide in a closet - started looking like leopard? Horrors! Whew, thank goodness it was only leather. Still a dead animal but at least not an endangered one.
Baldwin - There's a brother named Piano??? Loved it.
Lovely Thursday.
Two Ponies

Unknown 11:18 AM  

I suspected rebus pretty early, but kept solving without using one since I didn't know it was a 'two fer' rebus. So, 'onea' worked, didn't know the jazz mag so 'abeat' was ok. 'Getspat' and 'movestown' was ok. 'Cuts' and 'lookson' worked, but 'upsides' was beginning to bother me. Choked on 'sthestreet' and had a blank at 'go hill'.

I got NARTHEX, PIANO immediately and ISAAC quickly, but LEATHER (ACH!) was so clever. One other error I had was reading Dell as want chips with your Rubeun?

I think this was a super feat of construction using the Down and Across crossword terms. I thought there might be an 'up' usage, but I now see why not.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

the NYTimes doesn't capitalize all the letters in any acronym of more than four letters

dk 11:33 AM  

I got the rebus right away and @puzzlegirl you came to mind as I filled in DBEAT.

ATOY was another favorite.

The all time best (just for me, for today) was the pairing of OVA and INVITRO and nearness of MOM that provides one option for dating... forget it I not will not inflict psychological damage.

Given my fondness for Robots I always like to see RUR... who (if you watch the movie) gives meaning to: This is not ATOY!

on to Friday!

janie 11:50 AM  

r.u.r. redux --

the original b'way production (1922-23) had a run of 184 performances and has a "dramatis personae" list that includes not only "a robot" and "robot" among several roles, but also "a robotess"! ;-)

equal opportunity robots

there was also a *very* short-lived revival in december of '42 (4 performances...) directed by lee strasberg (he of the actors studio fame) with scenic design by boris aronson (of fiddler on the roof fame).

truly nifty puzzle!!

cheers, all --


Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Narthex was a commonly used term in the UCC/Presbyterian church I grew up in. Took me a bit to dredge it up as I'm now a UU and we use a more secular name for such an area in our building.

Mary in NE

miriam b 12:03 PM  

A tour de force! Ingenious and fun puzzle.

I love RUR and I love Čapek (note the hacek). The word NEWT sadly reminded me of the fact that about six years ago I loaned my copy of Čapek's novel The War with the Newts to a coworker who never returned it - and I've retired since.

During my first job after college, I loaned a wonderful biography, The Unknown Brahms, to the nice woman who washed the glassware in my lab. I left, moved away and got married, and of course never saw that book again. It's probably going for big $ on Alibris.

Recently I loaned a copy of The Adventures of Dr. Eszterhazy to a good friend; it's probably advisable that I keep in close touch with her, otherwise I'll have to start putting the word loaned in quotes.

OREL: Birthplace of Turgenev.

ASSISI: Not only famous for Sts. Clare and Francis, also known for traditional counted crossstitch embroidery in which the background is filled in and the motif is blank, contrary to the more usual technique.

OLESTRA: Yecch. Discredited, I presume, in view of non-breakfast-test side (or should I say bottom) effects. OY VEY. And also ACH. And CIAO.

Joon 12:05 PM  


i should clarify: i was disagreeing that RUR is crosswordese. i don't know if "crosswordese" has an official definition, but there seem to be two plausible ones:

1. a word appearing frequently in crosswords (e.g. ERA, ALE)
2. a word appearing much more frequently in crosswords than out (e.g. EIRE, ALEE)

RUR might be crosswordese under definition 1, but i think i tend to think of crosswordese in terms of definition 2. and under definition 2, RUR is crosswordese in your (rex's) experience, but not in mine, since i've seen it many times before but today is the first time i've seen it in a crossword.

James F 12:07 PM  

I seem to recall that NARTHEX was fairly common in the Maleska days.

Also, I liked the puzzle a lot, but wish that a couple of items could have addressed to achieve perfection:

The locations of the A/D squares along the edges are almost, but not quite rotationally symmetrical, and

We got ONE(ACROSS)--where is ONE(DOWN)?

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I'm glad to see Rex relaxing the May 3 Doctrine ("If it doesn't work in the Down, you absolutely cannot draw a pic in the box. Hence, not rebus.") a bit. Of course, this is a different situation and theoretically two pictures, or a sufficiently clever picture, might still work. Still, any puzzle that confounds Across Lite ("why can't I get credit for a 'D'?") is fine in my book.

Doug 12:11 PM  

Lots of Italy fill today--mmmmmhhh. I have a watercolor of the Ponte Vecchio so the the view as it STRETCHESACROSS the ARNO is a daily sight. ASSISI was just in the puzzle recently, and of course PIANO is the Italian actor cousin of the Hollywood Baldwin brothers, of whom NON TANTO people know. In the old days when a chicken laid an OVA and not an uovo, the NARTHEX was in use! The Baldwins are obviously from a virile family, from which the Italian (and Spanish) name ARSENIO is derived.

As we say in the "continent", CIAO CIAO.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Is there an organization somewhere that I can join with a name like "Crappy Solvers Against Rebuses?" These things throw me when they are a normal rebus, this one might as well have jumped from the page and slapped me around. I'm still not quite sure I understand it.

green mantis 12:18 PM  

Hey, does this work?

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

A phrase I am likely the first in history to utter:


Unknown 12:32 PM  

@green you can struggle for a few days and figure out how to add an avatar. Welcome to the orange and blue world.

green mantis 12:36 PM  

Oh my god, I didn't know that would be so thrilling. Now I have to make a blog. Avatar Philly? You just blew my mind.

I cursed this puzzle before I cracked it, but that may be more about my dismay over being up this early than the worthiness of the grid. Too many Freedom Beers last night.

So, Arsenio Hall was my entrance, too. My only real issue with this puzzle is IN SCALE. Because, that's not a phrase. So stop it.

Can you guys tell me what to call my blog? I plan to write from a bug's eye point of view about the issues of our day: why I can't get anyone to do a karaoke duet of You're the One That I Want with me, my crush on all of you guys, and the unwelcome involvement of dried fruit in otherwise reasonable pastry. Phone lines are now open.

dk 12:43 PM  

@green mantis - this may work but I certainly do not! Too much time reading this blog. I also welcome you to the orange and blue.

@zach, you may wish to consider a splinter sect from my cell (err group) for decency in crosswords. We are planning meetings with snacks.

Unknown 12:54 PM  

Ok, I'll quit now, but I did wonder dk if u r an r u r

green mantis the picture/icon to the right of some posts is sometimes called an avatar.
I have a few quick ideas for your bug blog. Insector Gadget, Droning On, Bugger Off, Anticks, One Nasty Bug, Don't Tread on Me and Super Fly.

JC66 1:38 PM  

I thought today's puzzle was great. Loved the double rebus and the PIANO clue.

As a nice Jewish boy, I've never heard of NARTHEX before.

@ two ponies

Isn't Newt Scamander a play on words on NEWT salamander?


I'm a very heavy TV watcher, but, sad to day, I never tuned in to 21 Jump Street.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

@ jc66 Yes, that's what I meant. Don't know if Harry Potter ever used an eye of newt but it all seems to fit together.
@ green mantis Metamorphmantis?
Two Ponies

imsdave 2:06 PM  

BASS for grouper really threw me (and doesn't appear to be entirely accurate). Thought BRETON and QATARI side by side was a nice effect. Loved the PIANO and CARIBOU cluing. All in all, just nice to be able to get a paper today and do my second puzzle of the week. Very nice puzzle.

green mantis 2:16 PM  

No, I know Philly, I just meant that I can only process one minute advance into modernity at a time. This has all been very taxing. Thanks for the names!

In other news, why exactly is OKD okay as fill? Is it just me? I know we've seen it a million times, but that is fuuunky. It's starting to look really weird, sort of like what Rex was saying about words that begin to lose their meaning or go alientastic after you look at/think about them too much. Happened to me with "cow" once. I couldn't remember how to spell it. Cou? Cao?

God I've got to go back to sleep.

Orange 2:44 PM  

R.U.R. was assigned reading in my high-school English class, believe it or not. So I gather it wasn't on everyone's reading list?

I was OK with the plural ONE-MAN BANDS—I even linked to that recent Pixar short featuring dueling one-man bands. In a world with air guitar competitions and Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments, I'm surprised we don't see more Battles of the One-Man Bands.

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

Wow, I still don't get how people can make rebuses like that! I was still recovering from the brilliance of that TRICK/TREAT one...loved this!
Symmetry or not, I think brilliant!

Even tho I have never been to Germany, I bridled again at seeing ACH in reference to Oktoberfest!
It's like cluing OYVEY as something you'd hear at a bar mitzvah...

I just put RUR in a puzzle I was constructing yesterday and debated taking it out bec I have ONLY heard it in crosswords,'s as crosswordese (to me) as it gets!

And I too have only heard of Peete as in Holly Robinson Peete (must be a girl thang) and just realized NOW I have always in my mind pictured Halle Berry! I guess bec she too was married to a baseball player who roughed her up or something, no?

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

That was a fun and clever puzzle; took me a while to figured out the rebus though I suspected one quite quickly. Solving on paper I put in both a rightward and a downward arrow through the center of each of the rebus squares to indicate [ACROSS]/[DOWN]. I'm reminded of another Thursday(?) puzzle a few months(?) ago with an [ON]/[OFF] rebus; was it by the same constructor?

Re 1A:ONE[ACROSS] -- didn't we just have a discussion here about a self-referential crossword entry that spelled out "ONEACROSS" (at 4D or thereabouts)?...

41D:LEATHER -- I hastily filled in FURCOAT; fortunately this is at maximal distance from LEATHER so it couldn't stay in the grid for long.


Unknown 3:17 PM  

I had the lead in a production of R.U.R in my freshman year at college, 1963. It is my favorite gimme.

Please add cliffdwellers to the list. It's a club at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and also applied to some native americans.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

I'll put in another vote as one of those who had never heard of R.U.R before

chefbea 3:36 PM  

what a fun puzzle after I figured out that it was a rebus. Got upside down and cut accross first and the rest came easy
I too liked the intersection of invitro and ova.

@phillysolver I too saw deli instead of dell.

Lets have lamb at our next BBQ

Anonymous 3:48 PM  


You are inspiring me to get organized and get myself a blog identity. Meanwhile, I feel I know what you look like:

Whenever I think of insects, I think of the saying by the French Jesuit Philospher/Biologist, Teilhard de Chardin: 'The history of the living world can be summarized as the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes within a cosmos in which there is always something more to be seen.'

dk 3:55 PM  

@phillysolver - no,no not RUR: BORG

"Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours."

yum @chefbea1 - grilled lamb

Bill from NJ 4:31 PM  


I had exactly the same experience. I got all the way to UPSIDE* before my vague suspicions became manifest and I had to re-evaluate the whole thing. A giant AHA! moment for me.

As a nice Jewish boy myself, I kinda wonder about Germans and the expression ACH linked with Oktoberfest. Jewish people at bar mitzvahs don't go around saying OY VEY all the time and I don't like these kinds of steretypes whereever they are applied. Thanks to Ulrich and Andrea for bringing this up.

I suspect that BarBQue in all its forms are a function of the amount of space there is on the sign used to display it. In a puzzle, anywhere between 3 (BBQ) and 8 (BarBeQue) spaces can be used.

As to RUR, I am familiar with it through the puzzles but I seem to remember reading about Capek and RUR in Isaac Asimov's novels about Robots. I think it might be a chicken and egg thing for me.

All in all, an agreeable puzzle for me.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

I kid you not: I was sitting in a waiting room at a fertility clinic about to have a first consultation with our fertility doc about doing IN VITRO fertilization when I solved that corner (with OVA crossing!). It's a sign! Of what, who knows...

ArtLvr 4:48 PM  

@ Anonymous 4:38 --

Good luck! My favorite recollection from the time of my last visit to the delivery room was the woman next door who already had nine children, but was moaning over and over "Oh lord, I wish they'd introduce me!"


Anonymous 4:48 PM  

@John Reid,

Good observation. DOWN would work for most of the Across theme answers (maybe not 18A) ... if clued differently. I did aim to have the Across clues distinct so people wouldn't think that either A or D would fit. As I discovered, phrases with D are more prevalent than phrases with A, so that more people fell into the trap of "it's just a D rebus" is not a surprise.

I'm never sure how a puzzle will be received--hit, miss, close but no cigar--so I'm glad to get the feedback. Thanks for all the comments.

- john farmer

p.s. all the luck in the world to you!

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

p.s. all the luck in the world to you!

for anon @ 4:38, that is.

- john farmer

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

Yes, anon, good luck!

Mantis, I'm up for that duet next time you're in town.

mac 5:06 PM  

A brilliant amd very enjoyable puzzle! I did start with oneA, but thought Abeat sounded just right for a jazz magazine. When I got the rebus part with go downhill/stretches across, I went back and fixed it.

I knew there were a bunch of Baldwin boys, but couldn't think of any but Alec; thankfully I got as far as iano with crosses then had the famous headslapping aha moment we all love so much. And yes, bar-b-q make me look again, too! We don't have a lot of those restaurants in CT, but at home I man the gas Weber, a great barbecue.

Agree with the in scale problem, and don't like the spelling of okd. Doesn't okayed look prettier, and OKed?

I was looking for the oneDown as well, but the puzzle would have been even more asymmetrical.

Clare of Assisi I knew about thanks to Rex (and the embroydery fact as well)and I know both Capek and RUR from xwordpuzzles only.....

Unknown 5:07 PM  

@ anon mazeltov!
I am always happy to tell the story of how I came to have grandchildren. Three plus years of every possible fertility treatment and the professional advice to give up were countered by endless prayers and resulted in the most beautiful miracle I could have ever hoped for (Madaline). Three years later with only G-d's help, I now have a grandson.

@'s a HIT.

@ artlver is that a new haircut? No wait, I know what's different. You are back in the orange and blue world.

Richard 5:26 PM  

I agree 100% about the symmetry. It's like a a note out of key.

Two Ponies 5:28 PM  

Sorry to take up space but I'm trying (again) to go technicolor.
"Can you hear me now?"

Two Ponies 5:29 PM  

Success! Maybe I can get an avatar as well. I feel like such a dinosaur.

Ulrich 5:41 PM  

I couldn't get "ach" out of my head: The first line of the first scene of the most famous drama in all of German literature, Goethe's Faust, contains it. As I was working in the garden, I've tried to translate the first few lines in my head; this time, I tried to capture not only the meaning, but also the meter and rhyme scheme (as far as this is possible). Here goes (German first):

Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
Juristerei und Medizin,
Und leider auch Theologie!
Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.
Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
Und bin so klug als wie zuvor;

I’ve studied, ach! philosophy
medicine and jurisprudence,
and, said to say, theology,
with single-minded diligence,
and here I stand, a fool and poor,
as stupid as I was before.

ArtLvr 6:48 PM  

@ philly -- Thanks, yes... I needed to have the option of the little trash can, quickly deleting overlooked goofs in spelling! I don't know when I'll get other stuff added to the new page, but the main thing is accomplished. Whew! Feet in the mouth are not to be borne if avoidable.

Didn't anyone think the maternity-ward monologue I overheard was unique in malapropisms? Ah well.. It had me giggling all through the delivery.


miriam b 7:04 PM  

@artlvr: Yes, I loved the delivery room story. I keep a running list of malapropisms Here are two favorites.

"Lord and behold!"

"He looked at me like two heads."

ArtLvr 7:04 PM  

@ Ulrich -- thanks too for your latest German offering and translation! One of my favorite songs, "Wienerlied" had some of those words:

"Was stimmt us so froehlich ob arm ob reich,
Und macht uns den Englen in Himmel gleich?"

Please forgive any errors...

Orange 7:12 PM  

Anonymous 4:38, good luck! If it takes, the baby's middle name should be Johnfarmer.

jubjub 7:13 PM  

I started with the rebus being ACROSS everywhere, decided that in the bottom half of the puzzle it could be DOWN, but only at the end did I figure out that it was ACROSS across and DOWN down. This caused me to put "GO ACROSS HELL" instead of "GO DOWN HILL". Almost reasonable.

Ditto above gripes about INSCALE and BARBQ.

ARSENIOHALL was my first answer as well. Coming to America is awesome. It's no Trading Places, but it is close!

Never heard of NARTHEX. Looks like jumbled anthrax to me.

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

So, my Game in the Arctic was NARWHAL, which I thought was pretty clever, though I sort of have a hunch that they're endangered. Also, on the Chip in a Dell clue, I was thinking about the Farmer (ha ha) in the Dell, and rather than have a cow patty I entered PAT.

Green Mantis, at least you managed to come up with a pseudonym -- I wasn't even technologically competent enough to accomplish that.

ArtLvr 7:41 PM  

@ miriam b:

I'm glad you liked the tale too, and will add it to your collection! I wish I could describe the lady in question -- huge, quite memorable. I enjoy your anecdotes also.

I don't know if I can give up my signicon for an avatar?

NARTHEX has an interesting mixed etymology, by the way -- one possibility was about a final waiting-room shape for this vestibule, another made reference to large leaves. It was a struggle to get that word to surface this morning, and the spot where I started wrong was in the SE , like phillysolver, wanting "upended" and "trike" until I saw the light.


miriam b 8:07 PM  

@artlvr: Thank you. I enjoy your posts too. Here are a couple more goodies for you:

"My cousin is such a sloppy eater. His table manners are to be desired."

"She tripped on the stair carpet and capitulated right over."

BTW, my late mother was a collector of Malapropisms too. She always made sure to write them down. Even in the presence of the Malapropper, Mom would pretend to be making a note of something or other, and she always succeeded in this subterfuge. I have too much trouble keeping a straight face to attempt this.

I happened to look up NARWHAL today and found that it omes from an old Norse word meaning "corpse man" in one reference and "corpse whale" in another.

They still eat whale meat occasionally in Norway, though at one time during periods of privation it was a staple. I hope they never ate NARWHAL, especially in the NARTHEX.

Now I have a German poem going through my head:

"Ehret die Frauen! Sie flechten und schweben
Himmlische Rosen in irdische Leben."

And again, if Ulrichuis lisening I hope I got that right.

Bill from NJ 8:21 PM  

@green mantis-

Welcome to the blue-and-orange world!

If your blog is anything like your commentary, it will be a very fine addition to the bloggesphere(sp) although it is a scary thing to have your very own platform.

Anonymous 8:33 PM  

For me, the hardest answer today was TANTO. RUR was familiar from both my old Sci-fi habit, and the fact that it was assigned reading in my high school, as well.

Loved the rebus, but still don't understand how you're expected to fill in those squares in Across Lite. I guess I'll have to keep doing the puzzles on paper.


Anonymous 9:07 PM  

I worked for a gal who only spoke in malapropisms...too many to remember, but the ones that stayed with me 30 years later are
"Harry, he smokes like a fish"
"In the morning, I'm up like a light" and "We'll burn that bridge when we get to it"
my grandfather used to always say the "weather was clear as a bell" which I've heard others say...
Watch any reality show and you hear a dozen a night, in between the mixed metaphors...

To be honest re: ACH/OYVEY I wasn't deploring the use of stereotypes, I'm actually all for them! ;)
I was deploring the use of stereotypes incorrectly!

Michael Chibnik 9:47 PM  

narthex was new to me and I didn't know that people from Qatar are Qatari. Count me among those who got "down" but not "across." I did write in "one across" but couldn't get "across__" to work for 4D and "one down" seemed ok for "first clue." And why can't someone move downtown or live down the street (even if these aren't as good as the across fills). But I have to admit that "cut down" for transect didn't seem right by any stretch of the imagination. Speaking of "stretch" "stretches down" didn't look so good either.

Now I understand the puzzle, I am impressed with its cleverness.

Ulrich 9:53 PM  

Since Rex hasn't interfered yet to stop the posting of malapropisms and I have one post left for the day, let me make a personal contribution: A few days ago, an early post of mine had a paragraph that started "To those who are sick entire of...". Phillysolver immediately wrote to me (gentleman that he is) that I probably meant "To those of you who are sick and tired of...", to which I could only reply that I had never seen the phrase written and that it sounded to me like an interesting non-grammatical idiomatic expression (which by now has entered the vocabulary of our household BTW). I then deleted and reposted (GOOGLE: Do you hear us clamoring for an editing feature?)

Question to the language mavens: Was this a malapropism or a mondagreen?

mac 10:08 PM  

@Ulrich: I have a different problem. I seem to be good at spelling and editing (even doing that for my English major husband), but I will sometimes use a word I know to be appropriate but I don't know how to pronounce it! There are a lot of illogical pronounciations in this language. And then I deal with English friends who pronounce words differently again.

fergus 10:18 PM  

Ulrich -- I believe that is an example of an Eggcorn, which someone cited last week. The term is derived from Acorn, where a item or phrase finds currency in common use while differing from the original correct version.

miriam b 11:05 PM  

@Ulrich: IMHO your phrase doesn't fit the criteria for a mondegreen, which require that the mishearing changes the meaning. An example: When I was a child, I misheard Three Cheers for the Red, White ands Blue as Three Chairs, etc.

I'd call the following a malapropism, and it does bear a family resemblance to your "sick entire":

A friend tells me that he has been trying in vain to persuade a woman he knows that the phrase is "to all intents and purposes" rather than "...intensive purposes."

I hope others will weigh in here.

In conclusion, here's another bombon from my box of assorted gaffes: "It's the best thing since white bread."

Anonymous 11:40 PM  

It pains me to check back in on this borrowed computer, as I suddenly have no tolerance for anything but technicolor, but just wanted to thank everybody for the warm welcome to vivid hues. I also accept, Jim, as I long to replace my last memory of the city, when I was up for the weekend via the Peter Pan from D.C. with a lechy guy trying to rub my feet and steal my pot through the whole trip. Don't worry, I quit long ago. I take Greyhound exclusively now.

Bill--thanks for the encouragement. I have been thinking quite a bit about the scary factor, trying to figure out what neighborhood of revelation I want to live in. Once it's out there, you can't stuff it back in.

Didn't Halle Berry lose hearing in her ear from being hit by somebody famous and creepy, like Wesley Snipes? If that's wrong, please don't come after me, Mr. Snipes. I love your work.

And oh, the dream team of 21 Jump Street. The waxen-yet-somehow-cute Richard Greico now looks like a vampire heroin addict. Eh, he was always the poor man's Johnny Depp, anyway.

I think the fertility clinic anon should name her child Narthex. Narthex Agora. Good luck.

Sorry for all the ramblings Rex. Back to bed!

Anonymous 11:46 PM  

I did not have trouble with the stereotypes - maybe it is the American way of trying to connect with our various countries of origin?? I knew ACH from the song "Ach, du lieber Augustine" which I have only heard sung during Oktoberfest beer parties, and also when I went to the HoffbrauHaus (sp?) in Munich during college days. And my mother (not Jewish but grew up in Brooklyn - is that close enough?) says Oy Vey all the time.

Wendy Laubach 1:06 AM  

Aphasia can produce some fine malapropisms. When my father was recovering from a mild stroke, he recounted how he'd been lifeflighted to the hospital, and how some friends teased him about having faked the whole thing in order to get a helicopter ride. He complained that they were "throwing asparagus" at him -- by which we understood him to mean "casting aspersions." Lord, I do miss him.

Anon 4:28 -- I add my wellwishes to all those above.

Rex Parker 6:38 AM  

I would appreciate it if you didn't wait for me to "interfere" before you stopped going on about non-puzzle issues. Please get your own blogs if you want to go back and forth about non-puzzle-related things. I'm continually surprised that I have to repeat myself on this issue. This is not a blog for two or three people to chat to each other all day long - thousands of other people read this thing.

One aside here or there is no big deal, but snowballing conversations about food, or bumper stickers, or cute things you overheard somewhere, or whatever, belong Somewhere Else. Keep the conversation in the puzzle ballpark and resist the temptation to use the comment section as if it were your personal email account. That's all I ask.


Wendy Laubach 12:30 PM  

Hosting a blog must be a lot like presiding over party guests who set up a Monopoly game in the middle of your living room and won't go home! People start talking about what interests them and forget the host.

kas 9:17 AM  

I have a problem with crosswords that have a "word" in some of the squares. Just doesn't seem proper.

impjb 4:19 PM  

If RUR is crossword 101 then I must have been sick that day, or possibly I'm still attending that class.

Anonymous 9:22 PM  


@Rex- tante (aunt in French) is not obviously related to TANTO (64A) (italian for "a lot.") Or do you know something about that that I do not?

Anonymous 8:00 PM  

how is blue ribbon NORM?

Prune 3:29 PM  

Unlike our venerable leader, the semi-symmetry doesn't bother me. When the complexity of the theme makes the construction this difficult, I'm willing to search the entire corner for the theme square. Since the duality's placement is quite restricted within the answer phrases, I looked at the edges. Even then, Mr. Farmer managed to get the themes with a single offset, to the opposite end of a four-letter answer.

I *do* have troubles with some clues. For instance, the general drafting phrase is "to scale", not "in scale". "OKD" is a term I'd love to see shot at dawn. "Go down hill" is not hitting the skids -- it's on the way, but not there. "BAR-B-Q" should be labeled as regional, in some fashion. It's common in some areas, unheard of in others.

I give props for bringing in Rodney Peete (a name I barely recall) and Bobby Isaac (new to me), although NASCAR is all caps, no? Most of all "Baldwin PIANO" is a gorgeous judo move -- the fall is acknowledged with a laugh.

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