SUNDAY, Jun. 22, 2008 - Pamela Amick Klawitter (LONG-ARMED SUMATRANS)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Chain Reaction" - theme clues are part of a long word chain that links all theme answers. Chain is composed of two-word phrases that interlock - FOOD COURT, COURT CASE, CASE CLOSED, etc.

Got a frantic email from the a senior editor at a Major publication last night asking me to explain the theme of today's puzzle. He'd finished but was still at a loss. I think my explanation and his subsequent message indicating he'd figured it out crossed in the mail. At any rate, I wonder if other people experienced similar bafflement. I got the theme easily, but I have to say that if I had started with 25A: CIRCUIT BOARD _____ ROOM SERVICE (foot locker) instead of 23A: FOOD COURT _____ CIRCUIT BOARD (case closed), I would have been completely flummoxed. What in the world is a "BOARD FOOT??????" OMG, when I google I get a glossary of lumber terms.

A unit of cubic measure for lumber, equal to one foot square by one inch thick.

Am I alone in not knowing this??? All the other two-word phrases in this chain are very familiar, common, in- the- (nonlumberjack)- language phrases, that BOARD FOOT stands out like a thumb that is sore after you tried to drive a nail through a BOARD FOOT and hit your thumb instead. Terrible. Otherwise, this puzzle's theme is clever, and tricky in that you have to build the answer from crosses - it's unlikely you could just look at the blanks in the clue and get it. This made it hard to blow through the grid. On Sundays, I like to go crashing into open parts of the puzzle when I solve those big theme answers. But today's weren't big at all (every one = 10 letters), and movement from one section to another was more deliberate and purposeful than more standard Sunday puzzles. This does not mean the puzzle was difficult - for all that the theme slowed me down a bit, there was nowhere in the grid that I ever got stuck.



In AcrossLite format, "TRAILHEAD" and "COUNTERTOP" are written as single words, which looks and feels like an error, though I guess that's technically how you write those words. I'm not sure how I feel about this inconsistency.

There were some great crosswordy words in today's puzzle, like ACRE (1A: Third Crusade site), which I always like to see in its non-unit-of-land costume, and OCELOT (57A: Pet animal of Salvador Dali), the clue to which provided me with OCELOT trivia I will not soon forget. The crossword zoo continues with the EFT (69A: Young newt) and ORANGS (71A: Long-armed Sumatrans) and CAGER, which is not an animal, but is clued as such (70D: Bull or Buck, e.g.). All these animals (and CAGER) are words that become familiar and unremarkable to you over time if you do enough crossword puzzles.

I'm calling foul on 26D: Place for an opinion (op-ed), for reasons I don't think I even have to explain. [I was mistaken - OP in OP-ED does not stand for "opinion," so I hereby retract this foul call. My apologies]

Best answers in the puzzle: FREELOAD (58A: Sponge), WHEELIE (82D: Something to pop), and CALIBER (88A: Bore). Most mystifying word (to me): AMOLE (44D: Soap plant).


  • 5A: Citadel trainee (plebe) - my (negative) feelings about this word are on record. Just gives me a weird feeling in my face when I say it. Ditto SELVAGE (65A: Fabric border). There's just something vaguely sickening about the words. They sound like disease symptoms.
  • 30A: Like some sacrifices (supreme) - oh I don't like this. How about [Like some Pizza Hut pizzas]?
  • 60A: Sylvia Plath poem that begins "I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root" ("Elm") - that "L" was an out and out guess. The "root" part helped.
  • 81A: "Father _____," hit 1990s British sitcom ("Ted") - o man, thank god this was just three letters with easy crosses. You started losing me at "1990s," and by the time you got to "sitcom," I was absolutely lost. If my wife and I are doing cryptics in "The Listener" (NZ), and she's reading the clue, as soon as I hear "Who played...?" I groan audibly and then shout "Next!" Non-American TV is a (near) complete mystery to me. One exception is "Kath & Kim," which is soon to appear in a U.S. version - please dear god make the Australian version available in the US on DVD right now! You ... DVD gods! It's better than 99.9% of what's currently on our stupid networks.
  • 86A: French word before deux or nous (entre) - knew the nous, not the deux.
  • 100A: Julia who starred in "Sabrina," 1995 (Ormond) - I only just this second realized that I have her confused in my head with Juliette Binoche.
  • 110A: Tennessee teammate (Titan) - "mate" ... of whom? Team member, maybe.
  • 2D: Prince Albert, for one (coat) - for a while I had COOT and really really wanted to keep it.
  • 3D: Gift that might cut (rose) - yeah, I guess. Do thorns "cut" or "prick?"
  • 6D: Dweller along the Mekong (Lao) - mmm, "dweller" ... crosswordesey.
  • 4D: Newly developed, as technology (emergent) - I'm torn between loving this for its modernity and hating it for its businessspeakiness.
  • 14D: Played the enchantress (allured) - How can you have "enchantress" and ODYSSEY (95A: Tale of a trip to Ithaca) in your puzzle and not link them! Circe!
  • 41D: Vikki who sang "It Must Be Him" (Carr) - Here it is. Is this from a show? ... it's pretty bad, lyrically.
  • 52D: Cut decoratively (sculpt) - do not like "cut" here ... too deliberately and unclevely misdirective.
  • 63D: Calyx part (sepal) - another great xword word.
  • 64D: They were seen at Black Power meetings (afros) - they sure were. They were seen on all kinds of black people, and a few misguided white people. Aretha rocked a nice 'fro back in the day:

  • 75D: "Syriana" actress Amanda (Peet) - nice to see she's getting into non-crappy films. She shares a name with the purveyor of my mom's favorite brand of coffee.
  • 80D: It's in front of a mizzen (main mast) - eeks. Sailing. Thankfully the answer is not overly technical, or I'd have been lost.
  • 83D: Write on a BlackBerry, maybe (text) - I'm not sure I'll ever become a texter. I may have missed that train. Too much fussy button-pushing on a small contraption, and for what? I'll just call you. Or better yet, send you a letter - mmm, snail mail - I love snail mail more than ever now, since it's so rare that anything worth reading (besides my magazine subscriptions) ever comes in the mail. Getting hand-written cards / letters is weirdly a huge thrill.
  • 93D: Garcon's handout (carte) - when's the last time anyone called the waiter that in non-ironic fashion outside of France? I mean, it means "boy." Are we still calling the "help" "boy?"
  • 94D: Bordello patrons (Johns) - I'd have preferred "Hooker" or "Whorehouse," but Bordello will do.
  • 97D: Channel for interior decorators (HGTV) - if that's true, that's a pretty small target audience...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I had an incredibly delightful time out on Quaker yesterday with reader Dave Eckert and his family (Picture!). Everyone was so kind and generous and genuinely fun to talk to. Dave's father was a newspaperman Back In The Day and I stood there in rapt attention as he told me stories about The International Herald Tribune and Katharine Graham ... and he kept saying "Oh, I'm talking too much" and I was like "Are you kidding ... tell me more!" Oh, and he is somehow also a musical theater producer. Just the most fascinating guy I've met in a long time. They grilled vegetables for me because they knew I was a "vegetarian" (which, to them, was somewhere on the exotic spectrum between "Nigerian" and "extra-terrestrial"). It was adorable. And the vegetables were really good. And I sneaked a taste of chicken, but don't tell anyone. Boat ride on the lake at sunset with Dave and his wife and (wife and I both agreed) supremely impressive daughter (smart, funny, beautiful). The whole evening was ridiculously enjoyable. And I had no connection to these people besides the fact that Dave comments on my blog from time to time. I'm really grateful for the kindness and hospitality of you and your family, Dave. Thanks a lot.


Anonymous 9:36 AM  


"I'm calling foul on 26D: Place for an opinion (op-ed), for reasons I don't think I even have to explain."

Maybe you object because you think the 'op' in 'op-ed' is opinion? But it's not: Op-ed stands for 'opposite the editorial,' that is, the facing page of the editorial page. So it's really not a repeat, tho for sure it looks like it.

Unless I have your comment misinterpreted.


Unknown 9:41 AM  

This is certainly a benevolent klatch of friendly people. Rex, Thanks for the dinner story and added to Doc John's news and Mac's travels and Bill from NJ's return and Wade's stories and other morsels of humanity, I believe this has become a community rather than a mere forum for debating the merits of a particular crossword.

Two nettlesome problems in an otherwise pretty quick solve for me...erse for ERST made TRADERS hard to see and seres for SORES added about two minutes to find and fix. For awhile I had carved for LATHED and I searched for many keys before unlocking ISLET.

I only recall one other puzzle this constructor, but this one was clever and I look forward to another one.

Gil Fitzhugh 9:44 AM  

The answer to “Garçon’s handout” isn’t “menu”, but “carte”. That’s what you would ask a French waiter for in France.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

You'll probably get a few notes on 93-Down being CARTE, not MENU.

janie 9:45 AM  

yep -- had to get the theme fill from the crosses and/but found it all to be first-rate and fun.

re ms. carr's song:it's pretty bad, lyrically -- talk about yer understatement. a kitsch classic in my book with its hyperbolic emotion and (shudder) the singer as passive victim. dorothy parker's short story, "a telephone call" is in the same vein but soooooooo much better -- because ms. dorothy knew something about psychology and the dynamics of gender and power (imoo.......):

parker prose

not sure i understand why "wheelies" are something to pop. i think of 'em as the sneakers that let ya roll.....

cheers, all --



Anonymous 9:56 AM  


You "pop a wheelie" on your motorcycle (or bicycle) when you take off fast enough for the front wheel to come off the ground.


Anonymous 10:01 AM  

I was a little surprised to see ACRE and ACCRA in the same puzzle both clued as locations.

Rex Parker 10:08 AM  

Yes, I am that big an idiot (re: Op-Ed). Not sure what I was thinking - if OP had in fact stood for "opinion," I'm pretty sure WS et al would have known that. The coincidence of OP- is disconcerting, but I revoke the foul call.


Belvoir 10:12 AM  

I agree, BOARD FOOT was just terrible.

I also agree "Kath & Kim" is hilarious. On Sundance channel they are showing the sketch show on which it started, called "Big Girls' Blouse", a sketch show like French & Saunders. Kath, Kim, and Sharon are all there, fully formed.

Was perplexed to see Father Ted described as British, since it was, since the writers, actors, plot, setting and gaffer were all Irish- but I did read that it was UK Channel 4 that bought the show, so technically it is a British production. (The Irish loved the show so much, RTE (the equivalent of Italy's RAI, your favorite) was shamed into carrying it themselves.) It's actually a cute funny show, my family enjoys it.

Rex Parker 10:12 AM  

But wait ... do the French really call their waiters "garçons?" Do they call waitresses "filles?" Wow ... they do. It just seems so ... condescending, at best. Oh well, c'est la vie, ooh la la, and Comme des Garçons ("Like Waiters?"), I always say.


janie 10:44 AM  

/glitch -- thank you!



Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I didn't know that about op-ed either.

I thought the weakest link was CARD counter...I know it's a phrase, just not one I use often. Maybe as often as BOARD FOOT.

I liked the selvage clue! A good crafty word. I should go cut off some selvage ends today.

And since I must not have published my comment yesterday, congrats to doc john from the great state of Massachusetts! Live long and prosper.

Doug 11:09 AM  

I guess we all have our sweet spots. I cringe when Paradise Lost and the Inferno pops up in the puzzle, but invariably RP has "just lectured on Dante so it was a gimmee." ;)

The timber industry in the NW results in a lot of news on lumber mills (mostly closures these days unfortunately--CAD$ has appreciated from USD$1.0=CAD$1.40 to even par in the last few years, + the freeze in US new home building) so BOARD FEET capacity is somewhat better known than in other places.

I got stuck on this in several places. For example, the area around 44D is tough: Sylvia Plath poem, area around the mouth, young newt and soap plant.

Without SELVAGE I couldn't get that area. And I can't unlock the SW box. Got a lot going so think it's affecting the allocation of all the grey cells to being clever!
The theme in retrospect is clever, but I think I like the pun-based (punny, punnish?) ones better.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

I guess it's all a matter of wavelength, but for me this one was the hardest Sunday I can remember (and I've been doing these for more than 50 years). It's all I can do to reconstruct the theme answers after the fact. This was a Strike Three week: stumped on Friday, Saturday, *and* Sunday, something I can't remember ever having happened to me. The trickery quotient in today's was, in my view, impossibly over the top.

Doug 11:20 AM  

I had the "AE" in 79A "Protection" but couldn't get the rest so just opened RP's answers. I work for a company called AEGIS for chrissakes. If that's not a DOH! I don't know what is.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Just returned from France where I queried a few waiters about their preference for being addressed as garcon or monsieur. To a man they said monsieur. I learned garcon in French class about 30 years ago but I think it's obsolete now.


Anonymous 11:23 AM  

The theme was good, because the connections between the linked words were pretty offbeat. I kinda liked CARD counter. I don't play gin, but I'm in awe of people who can actually make the calculations well enough to beat the house. I'm sure the casinos get rich on players who think they can.

JannieB 11:25 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle - I know we've had a similar construct before - but it seems like ages ago. Took me awhile to figure out what to do with it, but once I caught on, I was in awe of it. Very nice.

I agree - card counter was more awkward for me than board foot. I think "amole" was in the Maleska pantheon along with all those foreign currency and amerind clues. I don't miss them.

Hope we see more from Ms. Klawitter. Very nice work out for a Sunday.

Joon 11:27 AM  

no foul on OPED (although i did not know what it stood for), but what about [Some dates have one] for CHAPERON and then [Go out with] for DATE? that's the same word, used in the same context. (yes, one is a verb and one is a noun, but still.) we could probably come up with a CHAPERON clue that didn't use the word DATE, right? perhaps [Certain dance attendee] or something like that except slightly less ugly.

this puzzle was a very tough solve for me, ultimately leading to my slowest time (for any puzzle) in three weeks. it's getting increasingly common for me that sunday is the slowest day of the week--that used to never happen. it's probably got more to do with improving on fridays and saturdays than getting worse on sundays, though.

loved the theme. only BOARD FOOT mystified me; i "wanted" it somehow to refer to FOOTBOARD. CARD COUNTER seems totally in the language to me, but then, i'm a card player. anybody who wants to not suck at bridge has to count cards.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Re TRAILHEAD & COUNTERTOP: They are spelled (cheated?) the same way in the printed magazine.

I shared your befuddlement with BOARD FOOT... and, thank you for your complaint about "Tennessee teammate". Makes perfect nonsense.

I second joon's comments about CARD COUNTER. (I try not to suck at both bridge and blackjack.)

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

I liked the puzzle, but had a few quibbles:

I'm with Doug on BOARDFOOT. This is a common phrase in my experience.

I am another who did not know what OP-ED stands for, but I still cry foul because I've never heard it without the appendage "page." Knowing what the abbreviation stands for helps to explain it, but still doesn't make it feel right to me. I'm losing conviction more and more the longer I think about it, so I'll move on to:

I really did not like it that some theme clues had separate words and some used compounds.

I've been poked, pricked, and scratched by ROSEs, but never cut.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Oops, I just realized my comment about BOARDFOOT related to Rex's writeup and wasn't a quibble at all.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@joon & jim hamilton

Is "card counter" really applicable to bridge? I know you literally have to count cards to be good, but would you call a bridge player who did so a "card counter"? I've only heard it applied to blackjack, especially to the kind of players who get thrown out of casinos for being too good at it.

JannieB 12:40 PM  

@bill from fl - I play a lot of bridge and agree that while the better players count cards and get a count on the hand, I've never heard them referred to as "card counters". That's always been a Rainman, throw them out the casino sort of phrase to me. And btw, I never did understand why that was "illegal". I can see why the house would be ticked off about it, but if anyone can maintain a count of 5 decks of cards without mechanical assistance, more power to 'em.

mellocat 1:03 PM  

I had no idea Prince Albert was a coat, nor where the Third Crusade set up its siege. I guessed AGRA for the latter, thinking maybe there was a school with a goat mascot named Prince Albert? No? I did eventually fix the second A in AGRA based on the cross but never revisited the G, so finished with an error.

Was very puzzled by BOARD FOOT as well and disconcerted by the run-together TRAILHEAD and COUNTERTOP. Enjoyed it overall though.

jeff in chicago 1:04 PM  

I used to be a newspaper editor, so OP-ED was a gimme. And while I've never built anything out of wood I still got BOARD FOOT with ease.

Thought the DOT/DASH combo was clever.

jae 1:24 PM  

Really enjoyed this one. Took my time by trying to figure out the connecting words without the crosses (sometimes doable, sometimes not). My only minor gripe was "cut" in the ROSE clue. Did not know about OPED, nice to learn something.

@doc john: heart felt congratulations, I hope the reactionary troglidites (sp?) in this state fail miserably in Nov. I know how I'm voting!

BTW: Colbert did mention last week's Sat. "truthiness" puzzle on the air. He then coined some new word and said something like "Will Shortz I know your watching."

archaeoprof 1:38 PM  

This puzzle really fooled me at first. When I got "foot locker" as the first theme answer, I decided that "chain reaction" somehow referred to chain stores! That didn't work out very well...

George NYC 1:40 PM  

I don't think card counting is illegal per se. Casinos can throw out anyone they want to and tend to pick people who systematically beat the house.

Once visited the Citadel. The "plebes" have to traverse the campus on designated paths, with their heads down. Creepy.

JC66 1:45 PM  

In Bridge, knowing the number of cards that have been played in each suit is critical to one's success.

I don't believe card counting in casinos is illegal. They just ask you to leave; sometimes, by the "basement."

Pythia 1:48 PM  

Cool theme idea. Must have been a challenge to create. The progression follows as one might read the clues without jumping around, so the two down answers come at the end of the sequence, even though they start higher in the grid. Lovely. Using two compound words in the clues rather than all two-word phrases is inconsistent, and in the answers, FOOTLOCKER is one word in the non-brand-name sense, and MASTERCARD the brand name (is there any other sense for it?) is one word as well. Hmm. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking this is a (fatally?) flawed theme execution. Also seems like a lot of (extra) black squares were necessary to make the fill happen.

I know the term BOARD FOOT, and wouldn't have minded it in any case, as compared, say, to many of the trivial pop culture references some are so fond of.

Frenchified puzzle. Garcon is very old-fashioned. Waitstaff in France are generally known as serveur et serveuse these days.

Some cute clues -- YARN, ODYSSEY, OCELOT, ARE, VEEPS, AFROS. Clue for ARCS feels off -- a lob is a shot with an arc, the path of a lob is an arc. Ditto others re DATE and date in CHAPERON clue and the ROSE that cuts (it is cut, but it sticks or pricks).

Jeff 2:02 PM  

I had more trouble with this puzzle than I should have. Smugly writing in MMX for "Early 3rd century year," and then struggling to come up with a word that starts ML___ kinda set the tone. I think I was out of sorts from the beating I took from Friday's puzzle. I eventually solved it (save for thinking ABRE was someplace I hadn't heard of before and Prince Albert was some sort of BOAT). I particularly enjoyed the cluings of SHIITE and ARE.

I had no problem with BOARDFOOT-- actually got that one with no crosses. I guess all that time spent in the lumber aisle of Home Depot and watching "This Old House" have FINALLY paid off. YES!!

The theme seemed familiar, and indeed this puzzle used a similar technique.


Leon 2:02 PM  

Liked the Hawaiian Island Chain picture in the write-up.

Another Aretha:
Chain of Fools.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

I loved this puzzle - able to finish with no Googling, and only minor spousal support - well, after he explained the theme to me, I only needed a few words to be confirmed.

I spent a long time trying to find a 4-letter word for TOBACCO or SNUFF - you know: Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Better let him out! I only got the COAT from crosses.

I also had CADET instead of PLEBE and that took a long time to unravel.

Unknown 2:42 PM  

The OPED answer issue has been resolved, but this is a great chance to talk about an interesting American. Herbert Bayard Swope. The citation uses a great new resource, the indexed and reformatted Time Magazine archive.The OP-ED development is reviewed on page two of the story if you want to skip to that, but interesting things are revealed before that. How we got the word OpEd is mentioned HERE
Swope is also credited with coining the phrase 'Cold War.',9171,891923-1,00.html

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

"Jane Doh" stumbed onto why the 36D sequence actually makes sense, and I now think it is actually kind of cool.

MASTERCARD is the only case where the answer can be either 1 word or 2 (MASTER and CARD, or MASTERCARD) and the same is true in the clue (TRAIL and HEAD, or TRAILHEAD as well as "COUNTER and TOP or COUNTERTOP".

I also always thought that "op" stood for "opinion" so I learned something today.

mac 3:27 PM  

Great Sunday puzzle, which I did on a 9-hour flight on a plane with the shortest legroom I have every experienced, and I'm not that tall!
No wonder lots of people were standing and walking during the trip.
I got the theme pretty early, but was stumped by the one-word countertop for a while; - appliance of some sort? Roses don't cut, and I thought tomorrow's opposite: Abbr. looks a little silly in the grid when you read it again. Shiite was great, nice to see two i's in a row. A selvage is a wonderful thing, it's a bit of the inside of a garment you don't need to finish, it already is and won't fray.

Asked our son, who just got a Master's in Journalism, what Op-Ed stood for and he knew, thank God!

@doug, which Aegis company is this, the British one?

@Jane Doh, like your avatar and the book that has it as its cover.

And, yes, I love snail mail and good stationary, should do it more myself....

chefbea 3:27 PM  

Had a hard time today. Got Wall street and graph paper first from the downs and had no clue as to why a chain reaction. Took a while before I finally figured it out. wanted 2,4,6,8 etc to be cheer but then nothing fit.
I agree with everyone else - a rose does not cut you. The thorns prick

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

You're a Kath & Kim fan as well? That's noyce, diff'rent and unyewshual!

ArtLvr 3:45 PM  
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ArtLvr 4:00 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle too, no real problems... I had some of the same false starts mentioned above, plus thinking "marmot" for Dali's pet OCELOT upon having only the last two letters, ____OT! I wonder if there are other possibilities that would have fit? It also seemed that "fists" would have been more apt for Black Power meetings, rather than just AFROS.

I wasn't considering the past tense at first reading of the clue [Read carefully] and put in "parse": two of the letters fit, but it had to become PORED! As a quick rain came and went, I liked the sound of its homonym "poured" along with DRIP, SLURP and SPRAY PAINT...

Does evocation of Satan lead immediately to ominous elements like cloven hoofs, forked tail, or horned brow -- or to a mere GOATEE? That one cracked me up, so much so that when I got to the NW I was thinking of a libidinous Prince and entered GOAT, until remembering that Victoria's Albert was instead a sweetie. I don't know how great his COAT was, but the Crusades didn't get as far as "Agra" so that sorted itself.

In the learn-something-every-day department: mon dieu, CHAPERON doesn't have a final "E"! And catching up on yesterday's comments, I found that congrats are in order for Doc John on his marriage -- great news, and very best wishes!

@ mac, re WASH -- you probably found by now that this has the Western US meaning of a mostly dry river bed, also known as an arroyo... In South Pasadena, Calif., I lived at the top edge of the Arroyo Seco, doubly dry but very deep, and it was always tricky not backing the car out of the driveway too far! I wish I still knew all the words to the local song about the "L. A. River", with lines including "if you hear the sound of thunder -- it's not rain, just a motorcycle coming upstream".


Anonymous 4:21 PM  

The words for the song "It Must Be Him" make the singer Vicki Carr sound like she wants an incoming telephone call to be from a "Him" who could also be an "O Dear God" appositively:

"Let it please be (from) him. O dear god. It must be (from) him, it must be (from) him or I shall die."


"O Hello, hello, my dear god. It must be (from) him but it's not (from)him and then I die. That's when I die."

The song begins with the singer telling herself she should play the field and have fun and perhaps not care about hearing from "him" her "dear god."

Later she sings that she'll put her heart on the shelf and "he'll never hurt me anymore."

It's a very short story about someone who is conflicted about whether or not a god is needed to feel aliveness.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

Okay, since no one has yet mentioned this, I guess I will have to be the one to "go there".

Am I the only one who saw the clue for 2D "Prince Albert, for one" and immediately put down RING as the answer?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, then don't be alarmed. A "Prince Albert" is also a term used to describe a certain type of piercing. . . somewhere where most men probably would not want one.

-Ronathan :-)

chefbea 4:49 PM  

@ronathan talk about learn something new!!! OUCH!!

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

I really don't like the theme because the first and last words in every theme clue are extraneous. With only the second and second to last words you have all the information contained in the clue. This makes the whole theme really ugly to me.

Bill from NJ 6:05 PM  


I have written about this blog as being a community in my own blog and was truly pleased to see the many greetings I received from the good folk here after my recent illness.

I enjoy having a place to go to share a common interest I have with others on the subject of crossword puzzles.

Who sez puzzles are inconsequential?

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

I knew I could count on Rex to clue me in on what a BOARD FOOT was!

On this generally easy puzzle, I was frustrated to wind up guessing wrong on the cross of ACCRO and COHO, two items completely unfamiliar to me. No one else seems to have found this worthy of comment, so maybe it is just me.

JannieB 6:25 PM  

@anonymous 5:11 - you missed the fact that beginning with the first theme clue "food" you can link ALL the words (both clues and fill) to form two-word phrases into one long chain ending witih "sign". Pretty clever.

green mantis 6:45 PM  

No Ronathon, you're not the only one. And it remains a far better answer than "coat." Coat, schmoat. I still don't get it, and I intend to remain intellectually incurious about it.

I have to go play kickball now. Merry Sunday.

foodie 7:20 PM  

@Phillysolver, I agree with you that this has become a great virtual community. I was thinking the same this morning and my daughter and I discussed why/how it happens on certain blogs and not others. I feel that it's due both to REx's style, and to the subject matter which lends itself to wide ranging discussions, so you wind getting a real sense of the people on the other side of the blog...

Re this puzzle: I feel exactly like Jane Doh: that while the idea of the theme is good, there were significant flaws in the execution, especially where words needed to be compound in one reading-- e.g. "countertop" but needed to be used as distinct words to get to the next element of the chain : "top DOLLAR" not "Countertop DOLLAR". Counter Top is not really part of a proper chain. I got through it fine, but did not feel happy when it was over, and how I feel has become my self-referential assay of how great the puzzle is : )

Craig Richard Nelson 7:46 PM  
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Craig Richard Nelson 7:49 PM  

I'm crazy about both Amanda Peet and Peet's coffee. Tell your Mom to try Las Hermanas, a special blend available through their website. Mainmast gave me trouble for a bit with my error of sailmast and trying without success to make site into iota.

Anonymous 8:57 PM  


I'm one of the "do all the across then down" solvers, so first pass had parrOT, which only fit for a short while.


mac 9:44 PM  

@artlvr: thank you for the info on the washes, now it makes sense, no one made it clear to me.
I also had parrot for a little bit, but was corrected by the crosses.
@Bill from NJ: I try to be on subject with the comments, but I do think we should be able to have a little personal back and forth; we have become a community, and Rex should be very proud he created this. I am so looking forward to meeting many of you in person next February.
@Rex: I've been checking around at the other crossword sites, and your layout is so superior to all of them! Congratulations.

Pythia 10:29 PM  


Don't be fooled by Rex's superior layout.

What's really up is that this is the No Spin Zone (eat your heart out Bill O) for the NYT crossword solver community.

The good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of crosswords -- all discussed here with no sucking up.

I'd be WILLing to bet that this site is on the SHORTZ list of daily reading material. Of course, I may be wrong.

alanrichard 10:38 PM  

I didn't get the paper until about 2:30 when I was in the city to see The 39 STEPS. I finished about 3/4 of the puzzle while i watched the show. The most Challenging part is trying to do the puzzle with limited light!!! Then my wife and I went to the Planting Fields for the FOTA Boz Scaggs concert, where I finished the puzzle. Other than Board Foot???? everything was pretty easy - or at least something that made sense to me. The down side of theme puzzles is that once you get the theme it goes very fast. Anyway the shows were good; its always fun doing the puzzle, and my wife was happy because I took her out.

mac 10:42 PM  

@jane doh: I'm sure you are right. How many coincidences can we get? Also, the fact that so many constructors comment bear out your suggestion.

mac 10:44 PM  

@alanrichard: how was Boz Skaggs?

mac 10:52 PM  

That is Boz Scaggs....

Bill from NJ 11:39 PM  

I had an imperpect understanding about the nature of the theme but the understanding I had was enough to gain me a toehold, partiularly in the Midlands. I thought I was looking for two pairs of five-letter words as I had GRAPHPAPER SPRAYPAINT but as I progressed through the South WALLSTREET disabused me of that notion.

I had roughly half the puzzle complete before I got a grip on the theme but problems in the North, especially the ACCRA/COHO crossing kept me from solving for about 10 minutes but I finally guessed C and went forward.

PLEBE was my last answer and I brought the puzzle in in under an hour

ArtLvr 11:44 PM  

Thanks, glitch and max, for the "parrot" to add to my ____OT pet list! I got rather enamored of the marmot (marmota monax) -- also known in the US as woodchuck, groundhog, or whistlepig! Do see: .... especially the amusing photo of a closely related ground squirrel called the Yellow-Belly Marmot in Yosemite. Marco Polo had another name for one exotic cousin, -- and some think the horrendous bubonic plague was spread by a member of this family rather Rattus rattus!


FitDitz 11:55 PM  

I'm really sore about this puzzle, as I was one of the unluckly ones to solve "footlocker" first.

The abbreviation for tablespoon, Will Shortz, is tbl.; Plural is tbls. Teaspoon is tsp.; plural is tsps. To mix them up and invent tbsp is damn stupid and will result in foul tasting food.

Anonymous 1:24 AM  

I got this puzzle pretty quickly and easily, no need to google. Nothing surprised me or annoyed me. But even after I'd finished, I still did not understand the theme until I read RP's website explanation. Then it made sense.

I prefer other puzzles, but I guess variety is the spice of life so, too, in crosswords.

Wonder what type of response Will Shortz is getting at the NYT on this puzzle.

alanrichard 7:15 AM  

Boz Scaggs was very good, he opened with Dirty Low Down. The concerts at the palinting fields are always good. We take lawn seating. So you bring a chair & food and hang out and listen to music. The shows are about 2 hours. When we got there it was light enough to finish the puzzle. Exposure to literary arts and visual arts is also great for enhancing ones knowlege for doing crossword puzzles. I never heard of julia Ormond - but I got her contexturally but if Mabel Normand ever appears - I'll be ready!!!

Rex Parker 7:26 AM  


I think you are wrong. TBSP has been in the puzzle for as long as I can remember, and I've never heard a soul complain about it, incl. the many, many cooks/chefs who do the puzzle / read this blog.

A simple google search of "tbsp" reveals the validity of its cluing.

Know what you're talking about before you go lecturing, scolding, reprimanding, and tsktsking (take it from someone who has learned, repeatedly, the hard way)


Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Is OPED still 'opposite the editorial page' when a great paper like the NYTimes has ads opposite the editorial page?

any tennis shot, indeed any projectile that is not purely horizontal and is subject only to inertia and gravity (let friction = 0), describes an arc

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

jannieb: anonymous 5:11 here. I didn't miss the chain. In fact the chain is not relevant as you could still make the clues/answers into a chain even if you shortened every clue to get rid of the unnecessary words. Extraneous words in clues that have *nothing* to do with the puzzle answers=ugly, to me at least. (Apparently noone else minded, but every time I answered one I went "yuck!")

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

You aced it on the HGTV, designer comment. As a retired designer - I never watched it (but all my customers did) and board foot was a given; as was sculpt and op-ed. It is all what you are used to, the sports ones are the ones that do me in.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Then again, I love any puzzle I can finish fastly cause it makes me feel smart. Rex, I have never posted before but have lurked for a while. Have I met you at any of the tournaments? :D

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

cager as in basketball player
Chicago Bull or Milwaukee Buck
perhaps that's what was meant below ? if so I apologize

CAGER, which is not an animal, but is clued as such (70D: Bull or Buck, e.g.). All these animals (and CAGER) are words that become familiar and unremarkable to you over time if you do enough crossword puzzles.

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

What a crapy puzzle. Convoluted theme, odd ball clues. Only good thing: next time I see a puzzle by this one's author I can skip it.

kas 1:53 PM  

Bridge players have to be card counters. Did you know their are three types of Bridge players. Those who can count and those who can't.

kimbo 4:09 PM  

Thanks for your blog, Rex! It has saved my sanity on many frustrating Saturdays and Sundays! Could somebody please log on and explain the connection between clue and answer for 107 D - Drive and Pap?

Julie 4:11 PM  
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Julie 4:12 PM  

This blog is such a nice part of my day - I'm hours (and usually six weeks) behind everyone else, so the conversation is always over by the time I get here, which makes me vaguely sad - like I'm just hearing the whisperings of a ghost party, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

I loved this puzzle - it took me FOREVER to understand the theme (I refer to them as "tricks" :-p) but once I got it, I was able to fill in the last half of the theme answers by working the chain rather than by the crosses, and that was such fun!

The NYT usually kicks my butt on Friday and Saturday, so I was especially pleased to get them all this week with no help - google, husband or otherwise. Sundays I can usually do with a bit of thought, but this one was fast for me - I won't bother you with the details, because it's certainly still terribly slow, but if I can do a late-week or Sunday puzzle in under an hour, I'm a happy gal!

Board foot is a term I'm very familiar with, so the only argument I have with the chain is the countertop trailhead so many also didn't like. Still - I thought it was a clever puzzle I could do - what else am I looking for in a puzzle?

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Solved the entire puzzle, but still have no idea what the "chain reaction" is-or how anyone got footboard out of food court-circuit board. If there is anyone out there still reading this who can explain, please do. I thought a chain was where one thing leads to another-apparently I'm wrong?
Clearly I'm missing something!
Speaking of Aussie videos, there was a great comedy a few years ago called, I think, "Mother and Son" about a poorish hard working son who cared for his crotchety mother who, of course, gave all her praise to the other wealthy son who ignored her. Really worth digging up if you know how!

Julie 4:41 PM  

@calady - at first it seems like there's nothing in common, but you can follow it like this:

food court; court case; case closed; closed circuit; circuit board. When you read it like this, you can see that the chain goes all the way through the puzzle...

Deb 5:26 PM  

@kimbo - The clue for 107 D is "drivel," not "drive." That should clear up the answer for you.

Deb 6:00 PM  

@juliebee - You're not alone in the land of sixweeksback! I actually haven't checked out Rex's blog for several months, but back when I first stumbled upon it in December of '06, and for the several months I read it daily thereafter, there were usually at least a few sixweeksbacklanders who kept each other company - and Rex himself often made a reappearance. Looks like the readership has grown so much that he probably just doesn't have time for that anymore though. Lordy, there are 78 comments for this one puzzle alone! I think there used to be no more than maybe a dozen.

Anyhoo, the reason I popped back in today was that I was completely baffled by the theme. The first theme answers I got were "caseclosed" and "mastercard" and no amount of staring at them unlocked the secret for me. I'd like to think if I had given it a bit more time, I would have gotten it, but I was impatient today.

I disliked the "oped" answer also because it's just not used without "page." I didn't even take note of the fact that "opinion" was part of both clue and answer. (And yes, I'm one of those who always thinks the "op" stands for "opinion," even though I know I've heard the real definition before today.)

Chrisvb 6:13 PM  

I'm in! After lurking for months, I was finally motivated enough to jump through the Google account hoops (a long boring story) so I could post on this site.

No one mentioned the Lyon vs Lyons problem. I have been to Lyon, and never saw it spelled as Lyons.

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

Like Calady I did the puzzle and wondered about the theme. Finally, after much study, I discovered the connect.

Julie 7:06 PM  

Thanks, AnnArtisan - it's nice to know I'm not all alone in an empty hall, hahaha! It makes sense - the puzzle must be syndicated to more people than take the "live" option, and unless you subscribe to the puzzle online, we're bound to be doing it later. I thought about that when I saw how much fun I was missing, but decided to send Rex the money instead - this is where the real entertainment is!

@chrisvb - according to Wikipedia, it can be spelled either Lyon or Lyons in English. I get so used to adding an S to French words for no good reason that it didn't faze me, I guess.

kas 7:58 PM  

It would be nice if you could put the date in addition to the time. That way we could tell who original bloggers are and the ones who later because of syndication.

Julie 8:23 PM  

Of course, we COULD put the dates in ourselves, of course...


Julie 8:23 PM  

and a horse is a horse, of course, of course.

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

Juliebee-thanks for the explanation, I would never have figured the chain out on my own-and in fact, I'm truly impressed that anyone did.
Maybe we later posters should indicate the date if the set-up doesn't. I tried it on this one to see if it works.

Julie 8:36 PM  

Okay, calady - how'd you DO that?

Julie 8:36 PM  
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kas 9:58 PM  


Good idea -- because I'm always a week behind but I like reading the blogs

kas 8:09 AM  

6-30 -- i can still blog to this site

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Week and a day late and a dollar short. I got the theme upon glancing at the puzzle. Don't know why, it just came to me so that helped. My last word was ocelot. Plebe was easy, having grown up hearing my dad's stories. Board-feet too. I guess that comes from somewhere, but it was easy. Things like 'selvage' were hard, but I didn't have any real trouble. Didn't do much jumping about this time.

Anonymous 11:28 PM  

107D was clued as Drive! and not Drivel in the Dallas Morning News, making PAP a less than obvious answer. Boo.

Anonymous 4:04 AM  

My favorite picture of my wife has her with an ocelot sitting calmly on her lap. It was taken in the Darien, a province of Panama(the same one in which Balboa, in wild surmise, stood on a peak), which at the time, had no roads through it and was inhabited largely by nomadic Indian tribes and the descendants of escaped slaves. We were both Peace Corps Volunteers and met in Panama.

I am interested to learn that Dali kept an ocelot as a pet. I don't recall seeing an image of one in any of his works with which I am familiar.

Anonymous 10:55 PM  

8/26 As a newbie crossworder of little more than a year, I always believed that the Sunday NYT cws were impossible; but take comfort that the more I work them, the easier they get. Still, I am in awe that anyone can do one in an hour, or while at the theater! My goal is to finish, rather than finish quickly (I know my limitations). The day I was able to complete an entire puzzle was happy indeed. Had no trouble with OP-ED or SELVEGE, but wanted CREASES to be DRESSES, SAMOA to be SASIA, COAT to be BOAT and OCELOT to be FERRET at first. I take issue with the errant Ss, (LYONS) and thought of TIME as Life's partner (but not TIME'S). I giggled when saw WHEELIE, AFROS and SLURP right away; but EDDA, SEPAL and EFT -- are you kidding me?

I've devised a system of scoring myself, and feel a sense of bliss after completing a particularly satisfying puzzle. RP helps to understand the themes which are usually Greek to me. The blog is interesting to see that other word lovers are out there, and it is fun to read what clues people relate to.

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