SUNDAY, Jul. 27, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel and David Quarfoot (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE IN JORDAN / "THINK BIG" SLOGANEER)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Going Every Which Way" - rebus puzzle with squares representing RIGHT, LEFT, UP and DOWN

Copped the theme straight off, but still found the puzzle quite challenging. Turning UP all those direction squares was a bit exhausting, especially since some of them were really, really cleverly disguised, e.g. S[UP], DOG! (92A: Slangy street greeting). There was only one part of the puzzle that I found really irksome, to the point that I wish the entire area had been torn out and remodeled: the hyper-Germanic far south, where two different Wagner opera heroines duked it out with some African range I didn't know (ATLAS - 152A: Africa's _____ Mountains), somewhere in Jordan I didn't know (PETRA - 156A: Unesco World Heritage Site in Jordan), and Tolkien's crazy-ass middle name (REUEL - 148A: The second "R" in J. R. R. Tolkien). When I wrote in ELSA for (139D: "Bridal Chorus" bride), I honestly didn't know if any letter after the initial "E" was correct. At that point, I didn't even know I was dealing with Wagner. I just knew that ELSA ... was a name. In some crosswords. Yuck. Otherwise, a pitch-perfect Sunday - very doable, but not too doable.

Theme answers:

Man, I'm not sure I can list them all...

  • 29A: Popular 1970s British TV series ([UP]stairs [DOWN]stairs)
  • 1D: Block (dam [UP])
  • 30D: Went from second to first, say ([DOWN]-shifted)
  • 16D: Barely fair, maybe ([DOWN] the [RIGHT] field line)
  • 16A: Command to an overly friendly canine ([DOWN], boy)
  • 37A: "Now you're talking!" ("All [RIGHT]")
  • 36D: Erect (standing [UP][RIGHT])
  • 101A: Football defensive line position ([RIGHT] end)
  • 72D: Secured, in a way, with "on" ([LEFT] a [DOWN]payment)
  • 71A: Liberals (The [LEFT])
  • 84A: Cause of unemployment ([DOWN]-sizing)
  • 38A: Took the risk ([LEFT] it [UP] to chance)
  • 38D: Not brought home ([LEFT] on base)
  • 41D: Awake by ([UP] at)
  • 70D: Sentiment suggesting "Try this!" ("It's [RIGHT] [UP] your alley!")
  • 90A: "Amen!" ("[RIGHT] on!")
  • 95A: Arrangements (set-[UP]s)
  • 125A: Exasperated teacher's cry ("Sit [DOWN] and shut [UP]!")
  • 113D: Happen, slangily (go [DOWN])
  • 89D: Took it easy (rested [UP])
  • 137A: Missing glasses' location, usually ([RIGHT] where you [LEFT] them)
  • 105D: Common entry point (stage [RIGHT])
  • 140D: Bazooka Joe's working peeper ([LEFT] eye)
I'm sure I skipped one or two in there, but really, at this point, I don't care. I'm just trying to beat my laptop's remaining battery time.

We are in Dunedin, NZ, on the very large property of some extended family. There are horses and dogs, and a sheep, who this morning was just hanging out in the front yard, grazing. Got to feed a cow and heifer this morning after a long, beautiful, muddy walk, so that was good. It's all too beautiful, really. Not sure what else I can say about it. Maybe I'll show another picture or two in a bit.

Points of interest:
  • 20A: Genus of poisonous mushroom (amanita) - YIPE (19D: Exclamation of surprise)! That's the most outer-spaceish answer of the lot, today.
  • 25A: Nickname for a bodybuilder (Muscles) - something about this answer seems so dated / campy to me.
  • 27A: Junior in the N.F.L. (Seau) - sometimes it pays to watch ESPN. A great defensive player (safety?) who languished on the perennial also-ran Chargers for nearly his entire career.
  • 53A: Opening screen option on many an A.T.M. (EspaƱol) - ooh, I like this clue.
  • 56A: "Think big" sloganeer (IMAX) - I like to blog every "sloganeer" clue, on principle
  • 66A: Tic-tac-toe plays (X's and O's) - very very nice. Sahra liked this one (She was watching me solve over my shoulder for a while)
  • 68A: Warner Brothers shotgun toter (Elmer) - easy and great. For other animated fare, see also TOM (147D: Cartoon feline)
  • 79A: Ralph who co-wrote "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Blane) - YIPE x 2. This is as bad as the poisonous mushroom genus, as far as I'm concerned.
  • 81A: Cartoonist Keane (Bil) - of "Family Circus" "fame"
  • 86A: It might follow a slash mark (divisor) - lovely. Took me a while - I was aided by a Roman numeral guess at 62D: Benedict III's predecessor (Leo IV)
  • 94A: Ball with a yellow stripe (nine) - frightfully clever.
  • 102A: Old musical high notes (elas) - no idea what this means, but I know this term ... from crosswords.
  • 103A: Deuce beaters (treys) - never heard anyone use this term in real life, except occasionally when a sportscaster refers to a three-pointer in basketball.
  • 119A: A hyperbola has two (foci) - a guess. Math constructors must have their math clues.
  • 133A: Part of a shark's respiratory system (gill slit) - this phrase feels entirely made up. What's the difference between a gill and a GILL SLIT?
  • 153A: A super's may be supersized (key ring) - man, I needed this answer. Was having real trouble, briefly, with the Downs down there.
  • 2D: Birds that can sprint at 30 m.p.h. (emus) - also, apparently, good swimmers (we got tricked on an EMU question on quiz night because they included this bit of trivia, throwing us completely off the EMU scent)
  • 5D: French orphan of film (Lili) - ???
  • 6D: Camper's aid (sterno) - weirdly, I get STENO and STERNO confused
  • 12D: Cyclades island (Ios) - pretty sure we had this very recently. Well ... here it is again. Don't confuse it with EOS (Greek goddess of the dawn)
  • 15D: Hollow center? (double "L") - goes nicely, in its self-referentiality, with SILENT U (87D: Building component?)
  • 42D: Bootleggers' bane (T-men) - why were Treasury Men after bootleggers? Tax avoision?
  • 43D: Son-in-law of Muhammad (Ali) - ALI was an educated guess. Not sure what else, in three letters, it was going to be
  • 48D: Proposed "fifth taste," which means "savory" in Japanese (umami) - I don't even understand the clue, let alone the answer. There are four other tastes? Salt, sweet ... dancer and blitzen?
  • 55D: Tasmania's highest peak (Ossa) - Kiwi folk here did Not know this one. And Tasmania's just over ... there (I'm pointing NW)
  • 58D: Z-car brand (Datsun) - had forgotten about these. DATSUN is now Nissan.
  • 60D: International oil and gas giant, informally (Oxy) - the only OXY I know gets rid of pimples.
  • 81D: Construction project that gave rise to the Ted Williams Tunnel (Big Dig) - nice. Timely. Also, one of the few positive references I've heard made about the Big Dig.
  • 98D: Pal of Kenny and Kyle (Stan) - love the "South Park" references.
  • 129D: Singer Mann (Aimee) - just got her new album, which has the awesome, hard-to-alphabetize title "@#%&*! Smilers"
I gotta stop. Tired. Family awaits. Children beginning to overrun my work area.

I am on indefinite leave after this. No idea when I'll have reliable computer access again before I return to the States. So I leave you (until further notice) in the capable hands of Puzzlegirl OR Wade OR SethG (who should feel free to add pics and video to this write-up as they see fit).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 1:22 AM  

Umami joins bitter, sweet, sour and salt as the five basic tastes processed by the tongue. All other tastes we experience are aromas meaning the combination of the five tastes and the sense of smell gives us flavor. Umami (not my mommy) is the essence of meat or savory. Some research indicates we may have the ability to actually taste fat, which based on my own experience, must be true. This other stuff I have to know in my efforts to introduce microbes to commercial food products.

This was a fun puzzle from two young stars. Seth, may I suggest you add a picture of Charles Atlas, the strongman to Rex's summary?

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Tough puzzle, but managed to finish without Googling but had to make a few lucky guese and "left" it up to chance.

As to sharks and gill slits. There is a distinction between fully developed gills and gill slits found in sharks and other cartreliginous fishes. If I recall correctly sharks have gill slits and not the feathery gills that other fish have. They therefore need to move all the time so that water is moving over the gill slits while fish with fully developed gills can extract oxygen from water without swimming.


asdf 2:47 AM  

Junior Seau is an old LINEBACKER (ancient by NFL standards). Safety is a good guess though. He played for the Patriots this past year when they went... I think it was, 18 and ONE?

Sorry, raised a Colts AND Giants fan, so the Patriots are tops on my list of Must-Not-Like teams. My knowledge ends here, as I can only speculate that I -think- he retired after this past season, at the age of 41 or so. Crazy old man. But that's the way Belichek likes his defense.

Keep the NZ details coming, too! I can't wait to see the place myself. (& thanks for the link on the right margin Rex! Love your blog.)

Doris 7:05 AM  

More stuff you could live without knowing: "Lili" is a 1953 movie musical starring Leslie Caron and the recently deceased Mel Ferrer. (WHAT did Hollywood and, for a while, Audrey Hepburn ever see in this guy?)

It was later made into an unmemorable Broadway musical, "Carnival." Lili is a hapless French orphan who is redeemed when she joins a carnival. And Leslie hardly gets to dance at all.

HudsonHawk 7:38 AM  

Seau was with the Chargers for some lean years, but did get to the Super Bowl with them in 1995. He later played with the Dolphins and the Pats.

Lili was before my time, but it did receive 6 Oscar nominations in 1953, including a Best Actress for Leslie Caron. Of course, she also was the title character in Gigi, which won 9 Oscars, including Best Picture of 1958, though she only received a Golden Globe nomination. Anyway, I'm used to seeing Lili and Gigi as crosswordese, but maybe they haven't come up as much as I'd thought...

JannieB 7:52 AM  

Really really enjoyed this puzzle - it was everything a Sunday puzzle should be. Took me a very long time, was ultimately doable, given a few lucky guesses. How come every time we see Tristan's love, her name is spelled differently????? I never know which spelling they want, or why there are so many variations. And the crossing with Tolkein's 2nd middle name was a definite Natick moment for me. Very lucky guess there.

I figured out the rebus while still in the NW corner, and worked my way slowly down the west coast. Then started in the Badlands and south again. My head-slapping last square was the "V" in the Bug clue. I stared at that forever.

Thanks guys - a really fun Sunday!

Barry G. 8:28 AM  

Morning, folks!

Tough puzzle, but enjoyable overall. I got the rebus theme early on but, like Rex, struggled mightily in the due south section. I guessed ELSA, but I only knew ISOLDE for 126D and couldn't get that to fit. As a result, I couldn't get REUEL, ATLAS or PETRA and eventually had to Google for Mr Tolkien's third name to finish the puzzle.

I thought we might be having a Massachusetts sub-theme going there for awhile, due to Junior SEAU (playing for the Patriots) and "Summer Mass. setting", especially since I initially put BRUINS for 1A. I'm actually not much of a hockey fan, despite being from Massachusetts, so I left Bruins there for a loooong time until I finally relented.

Anyway, as I said, a very enjoyable puzzle. As I've mentioned before, I don't expect to complete the Sunday puzzles unassisted, so I'm quite pleased with myself for getting through almost all of this on my own. But seriously -- REUEL, ATLAS, and PETRA crossed by ISEULT? Sheesh...

Barry G. 8:30 AM  

Oh -- and I forgot.... Seiji OZAWA (14D) also added to the Massachusetts sub-theme. Three Massachusetts entries count as a sub-theme, right? ^_^

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Great puzzle.

Penalty flag on "EENY" as a choice word (I know, I know, I get it now). Given "ELSE" as the only choice I could see for a choice word, I chose to wallow in the SE for ever..

Thought "TARN" (alpine lake) might be a lousy answer for ground cover and never recovered. Why I couldn't come up with "TARP" is beyond me.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Oh, yeah -- umami is, I'm told, the "taste" of MSG. Think Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

JannieB 8:57 AM  

@Barry - you forgot the "Big Dig". Wasn't that in Boston???

Leon 8:59 AM  

Wonderful Sunday puzzle Mr. N and Mr. Q.

16 down made this Yankee fan think of Pesky's Pole.

miriam b 8:59 AM  

The best puzzle in recent memory! Too busy to write more - though admittedly not as busy as Rex.

Margaret 9:02 AM  

Very fun, clever puzzle. Rex's Natick quadrant was actually one of the first areas I completed since:
1) I was a LOTR freak in high school and knew all of JRR's names
2) I just got back from Morocco where we crossed the ATLAS mountains to see the Sahara (amazing!)
3) Petra is high on my list of places-to-visit, it's also where the end of Ind. Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed, and
4) all those French lit courses from college paid off in that I knew the "other" spelling of Isolde.

But I had plenty of other trouble. The Carolinas were my DOWNfall. I had Leo II which gave me DIII*OR but I was thinking it was some kind of computer code thing following the slash so I never untangled that. I got DOUBLE L (eventually!) but SILENT U evaded me completely. Should have remembered that the eponymous Mr. Quarfoot was one of the constructors!

I only know Junior Seau because years ago, when he was younger and hotter, I happened to see him on Oprah (or some show) where they got the audience to chant his name, "Say OW! Say OW!"

Better than OWIE.

Margaret 9:11 AM  

Also, here's a great story on NPR by Robert Krulwich about UMAMI. It's what gives foods depth of flavor and is often fermented (like soy sauce) or very long cooking (like the demi-glace hubby and I spent 2 days making a couple of weeks ago.)

Barry G. 9:53 AM  

@Barry - you forgot the "Big Dig". Wasn't that in Boston???

Oh, yeah -- I knew I forgot one!

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

126D is clued as "Tristram's Love" not Tristan, so it doesn't really refer to a Wagner heroine, just the heroine of the legend Wagner drew from. The alternate spelling of Tristan clues the alternate spelling of Isolde.

Ulrich 10:21 AM  

The theme is far from new, but well executed--and took me forever to complete. I was severely slowed down by putting twice the correct arrow in an answer into the wrong square: LEFTies for liberals, and sit DOWN for the dog command--both better answers for the clues in question IMHO and therefore very hard to part with.

Orts and ends: The "r" in Tristram should tell everybody that the heroine in question is not Wagner's Isolde, but La Belle Iseult in one of the various spellings under which she appears in sources Wagner relied on.

Petra: On a trip through the mid-east in a WV BEETLE in 1963, I spent 3 glorious days there, with absolutely no tourists around and the only connection to the world represented by a bedouin and his son, who sold us hot tea every morning in the famous rock temple right at the entrance to the place.

And here they come again, the MAGI, whose bones have made my hometown, Cologne, a tourist attraction for 800 years. I have compiled a list of reasons why Cologne, not #$%^& Essen, is the xword capital of Germany--those who didn't see it the first time around, here it is again.

Ulrich 10:24 AM  

Oops--screwed up the link: here it is again:

Bill from NJ 10:26 AM  

That section in the Deep South was a real pain but ATLAS was the only mountain range I knew in Africa and I use whatever spelling of ISOLDE/ISEULT I need to make it work in the grid. Knew PETRA and REUEL fell via crosses.

I was on the lookout for what Joon likes to call Quarfeet from the beginning and I wasn't disappointed with DOUBLEL and SILENTU.

The theme hid from me for a while and I first saw it at 71A:Liberals but didn't know what to do with it and it wasn't until 137A{right}WHEREYOU{left}THEM that I finally got it. By that time, the puzzle was roughly half filled as I had gone cherry-picking in search of the theme. It became a fill-in-the blanks party after that.

I guessed at the LILI/AMINITA cross and was right. All in all, I found this puzzle remarkably easy once I tipped to the theme aside from that patch in the Deep South.

janie 10:31 AM  

it may not have been the brilliantest musical/contribution to theatre ever, but i wouldn't be so quick to put carnival! in the "unmemorable" category either. ;-)

while it may be that it suffers some from being "good clean fun," it also garnered several tony nominations, took a couple of awards, starred (among others) jerry orbach, and gave us the song (which sometimes i *would* like to forget...) "love makes the world go 'round."

i'm just sayin'...

also sayin', "hey, rex -- keep havin' a grand time" and "thx, mikeyjohn and dq, for the nifty puzzle today!"



Anonymous 10:47 AM  

ERNIE is a muppet not a puppet.

JannieB 11:03 AM  

Don't know which of you provided the art for today's puzzle, but well done!

miriam b 11:04 AM  

@ulrich: I got a kick out of your list of reasons for making Cologne the xword capital of Germany. You didn't mention KOLN; is that disqualified because of the umlaut problem?

JC66 11:05 AM  

Thanks Mike & David (if I can call you that).

Great puzzle. Plenty of aha moments. Lots of fun and very rewarding.

I got the theme fairly early and worked (slowly), moving around and around, back and forth; struggling here and there, until finishing.

Like others, the deep south (Texas) was the hardest for me. Adding to my difficulties here, I had TEACUPS for awhile instead of TEATS, thinking of little girls' tea parties and pluralized the rebus.

Anybody else fall into this trap?

jae 11:25 AM  

A worthy and enjoyable Sun. challenge. I think MN and DQ took a page from Henry Hook with that obscure grouping in the south. Hook puts out clever but doable puzzles every other Sun. in the Boston Globe. He almost always has one or two very obscure (for me) crossings. I think he's just trying to show solvers that he's tough to beat. I needed help from my world traveler sister (she lived in Jordan for a while) to finish that section.

Kikkoman is currently running a commercial on the Food Network the is all about UMAMI.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Wonderful puzzle -- especially the number of double-rebus answers. Love those "aha" moments, like jc66 said.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  


I too thought "sit down" first but immediately also thought of "Down Boy." I opted for "down boy" over sit down based on the stress on "overly friendly" canine. "Sit down", could be used for an overrly aggressive canine too but "boy" works better with overly friendly" as opposed to aggressive. Moreover, the command "sit" would be used as opposed to "sit down" when commanding a dog as opposed to a child.


Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Howdy All,

Always interesting to read the feedback from the blogosphere. MN and I originally constructed this puzzle over a year ago with a working title of something like "Pulled in Two Directions". It took an endless amount of time trying to find phrases that had exactly two directional words and that matched up symmetrically and that made the grid fillable and that balanced the direction uses and that represented all possibilities of two directions.

As one might expect, the SILENTU and DOUBLEL entries are my doing - a puzz just ain't a puzz without a silent letter entry; they're my #1 favorite thing in English/grammar/puzzles.

You can thank MN for his typical brilliance of XSANDOS, UMAMI, VWBEETLE, and any clue that feels remotely clever.


Ulrich 12:24 PM  

@anonymous at 11:56: Thx--what you write makes perfect sense. I can only say that I didn't know "down, boy", probably b/c (1) all our dogs have been girls; and (2) when I want to be stern with our dog, I talk German to her (one can sound very stern in German!).

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Just finally gave UP. Now after reading all your comments, I feel completely LEFT out for not enjoying this puzzle. (Could keep on in this vein, but will spare you any more bad word play.)

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Took me forever to figure out that left & right were also included.
And I fell into same trap penning Isolde instead of Iseult.
It took forever & that is good for this really dreary thunderstorming Sunday.

RodeoToad 1:15 PM  

Nice picture of Roy Scheider, Rex.

"Trey" is commonly used in place of "three" in domino games. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandparents and some combo of other family members staying up very late playing 42, a game I grew up thinking everybody knew and later found out is pretty much a sticksville/old-people game. It's sort of like bridge, I think (which I don't know how to play)--you make bids and catch tricks and designate trumps, etc. It's a four-person game (two sets of two partners), but there's a three-person version called "Moon," which is not as fun as it sounds.

Didn't they just discover umami? I thought it was supposed to be a pretty big deal, the discovery of this fourth taste. Reports I heard said it was best described as tasting like Parmesan.

Shamik 1:29 PM  

medium? Medium?!?!? MEDIUM??!?!?!?!?!

A record 8 letters wrong...mostly in that mid-southern area of comingled Naticks.

Did NOT enjoy this puzzle. Figured the theme almost immediately with UPstairsDOWNstairs.

Because of the in-laws being here, did this puzzle immediately following a Sunday morning solving of yesterday's infinitely do-able Saturday puzzle.

Thank you for today's challenge and my record number of letters wrong.

Very few campers use STERNO anymore. Too heavy for what little heat it puts out if you're backpacking. Propane is what is used mostly if you're car or RV camping.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

This was just a perfect Sunday puzzle, doable but with enough difficulty to make it fun. My congratulations to DQ & MN.

@Hudsonhawk & @geoff:
Junior Seau was widely loved in San Diego when I lived there. He had a very popular sports bar called Seau's. We did make it to the 1995 Super Bowl but lost in the first two minutes.

@Rex: ELAS is definitely a "spoorism" ... what do you think, better than "spoor?"

Margaret 1:43 PM  

There's a case to be made that Escoffier (b. 1846) actually discovered UMAMI even though it wasn't verified until 1907 by a Japanese scientist named Ikeda. There's a fascinating book called "Proust was a Neuroscientist" with the Escoffier/Umami story (and others) that illustrates how artists have intuitively discovered things long before scientists have quantified those discoveries in labs.

mac 1:50 PM  

Typical fantastic Nothnagel and Quarfoot puzzle. Took me a long time, but I enjoyed every minute and learned quite a bit. I was ready for those quarfoots (quarfeet?) this time. Got the rebus almost immediately because of Upstairs, Downstairs, but this kind of thing is still hard to find, and there were so many of them. My last area to be filled in was the New England section down to South Carolina. 88D should have come much faster!

Some of the theme answers are just amazing: Right where you left them, Down the right field line, Left a down payment. I imagine it is a lot of fun constructing with a partner, or not?

@ulrich, I liked your list about Cologne. Funny about reprimanding in German, I often spoke to my son in Dutch when I was angry with him.

George NYC 2:08 PM  

I nominate this as Sunday puzzle of the year. Brilliant theme and some very clever fill. Great fun.

dk 2:13 PM  

This one was a joho for me, without the victory part.

@Ulrich, thank you for the ISEULT information otherwise I would have gone on yet another embarrassing rant.

I got lost in Maine as I did not get DBOY until I got here. To add insult to injury I have a step dog to whom I often say down boy. That is the problem with having a low head score (my favorite clue of the day).

I loved the ups and downs (pun intended) of this puzzle. Hats off to the modest David and Mike (two letter) Nothnagel.

When camping I often strain STERNO through one of my hiking socks, creating a blindingly good beverage when mixed with Tang.

Off to bale the lawn.

SUDOG lets get DBOY

jae 3:14 PM  

@joho et. al. Ah yes, the 95 Super Bowl. We were 21 point underdogs and couldn't beat the spread. Our excuse was that San Francisco was cheating on the salary cap that year.

BTW my previous post should have read "... Food Network that is all about UMAMI."

chefbea 3:48 PM  

I must say this was the hardest sunday puzzle in a while. Even after I got upstairs downstairs it still took most of the day. Every time I went back to the puzzle I had aha moments. Really was a great puzzle - tough but great.

Havent had frogs legs in a while. I did make them once but that was before umami was known. Served it with a side of orzo with grated cheese (not out of a can)

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Hey folks.

Thanks for the warm reception to our puzzle. David and I went through a *long* list of possible theme entries before settling on those in the finished one point, I think we attempted to use all possible pairs of directions, but abandoned that idea in favor of retaining our sanity.

Trivia time: the bowling alley in one of the pictures Rex used in his post is in Lansing, Michigan. I lived there for about 8 years, and I've actually bowled at that particular alley.

See y'all next time...

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Couldn't finish: ISEULT, ATLAS, ELSA, REUEL, PETRA all uknown and not guessable by me (EMMA? EDNA? ENID? These are also women's names.) ISEULT is at the fringe of recognizability, but I assumed the answer must be from Tristram Shandy. Having RUMP for REAR hurt too, but I don't think fixing that would have saved me.

Have to say this section seemed to have a brutally high degree of difficulty for a Sunday. :-(

chefbea 5:06 PM  

Loved "one day at a time". Especially Schneider the super. Think I saw every episode.

alanrichard 6:00 PM  

The first thing I noticed was "we aim to please. You aim too, please!
I remember that sign in my friend's bathroom.
The I went to the NW and got the theme innediately. Never heard up upstairs down stairs but it made sense contexturally. First I thought the puzzle was all up and down, then I thought it was up and down or left and right - finally I realized it was a combination of both.
Getting off on a tangeant, briefly, the Stack Up puzzle was a 3 -4 minute thing for me. I took some scrabble letters and moved them around, no fooling it was a piece of cake.
I guess Reuel and Petra fit into the Natick principle. I got the answers but I had no clue.

dk 7:38 PM  

@chefbea1, did you see (he said breathlessly) the beet answer.

Carne Asada tonight from the recipe from todays NYT. Off to get the Hanger steak, work tomorrow so I think I'll just "drink til I hear that click."

chefbea 7:53 PM  

@dk did you mean sugar source??

I saw the carne asada

I'll be around tomorrow then on vacation for a couple of weeks. Nothing as exotic as NZ. Newport, essex, clinton, Mohican sun and wherever. As our governor is calling it...
a staycation (staying in connecticut)

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

this was a really fun sunday solving experience. i liked the sheer number of rebus squares, it made the puzzle much more difficult but that much more enjoyable as well.

my one gripe is the ISEULT / PETRA crossing, my one mistake. it was really frustrating to slog through this huge grid only to have one error because of a) foreign language variant and b) middle eastern city. ISEULD seemed perfectly fine as a variant because of the common ISOLDE, and PEDRA could easily have been the name of a city i've never heard of. better would have been to clue PETRA as a person, because at least it makes PETRA much more reasonable than PEDRA.

crackup 8:28 PM  

A great way to spend a Sunday, in between a bad baseball game. Arrived at theme early, but still had some trouble. I find I sometimes read the clues quickly and end up thinking in the wrong direction i.e. Tristan for Tristram. I knew Petra but couldn't figure out how Isolde fit in! Thanks for all the info on that piece. Love reading the blog and comments even if I don't get stuck.

fergus 8:54 PM  

Brilliant puzzle, eventually solved. ERASMUS is always worthy of recognition. Got stuck on ESTHETE, when I would have preferred EPICURE, and bumbled and stumbled with that other ISEULT.

Liked seeing DATSUN, even if it's bygone.

Anonymous 8:58 PM  

This puzzle took me a long time. AMANITA was one of the first I put in. One of the toxins in this mushroom is alpha-amanitin. It is familiar to molecular biologists due to its ability to inhibit RNA synthesis. Things went slowly but steadily after that.

I would never try this, but I have heard that all you need to do is soak the mushrooms in water until the rinse is no longer dark colored and they become safe to eat.

Bill from NJ 9:59 PM  

When I was about 13-14 I learned my first non-age specific crossword-specific answer that, as I remember it, was clued as Guido's High Notes. The answer was ELAS.

This happened in the Maleska Era and I was very proud of myself for knowing something that I did not understand and being able to spit it out in a puzzle.

Seeing it in the puzzle today brought me back

fergus 10:11 PM  

I told the young starlet, as we were walking back from Blue Oyster Cult, that she would encounter the word UMAMI over the next couple of days, one way or another. Uncanny, like when my son wanted to know what all the cultural references were that pointed toward a Raven. Then when we switched on the television, Jeopardy had a category devoted to Poe.

Bill D 11:15 PM  

Really, really excellent Sunday puzzle. I was having so much fun I didn't stumble over the theme until I was about halfway through, but didn't feel frustrated in the least. Went back to some answers I hadn't filled in and played around with the arrows, and Viola! Outstanding construction resulting from two of the best putting their heads together!

Loved so much of this puzzle - SUB-ZERO, DIVISOR, Xs AND Os (a double ampersandwich!), SPOILT, TOY SHOP, BIG DIG, KEY RING, and that's not to mention the double-directional answers. Glad I did this one today!

Rex must be losing his puzzle vibe all the way out there in NZ - I thought African mountains = ATLAS and Jordanian ancient site = PETRA were required crosswordese. I'm sure they've both appeared before. Fortunately I had the quintessential Tolkien fan, my wife, to verify REUEL for me.

Rex Parker 4:06 AM  

Hey all,

I'm alive and well and in Dunedin for the last night. Then back to Wanaka/Hawea tomorrow, then to Queenstown the next day, then flight to N. Island where we'll be in Taupo and then Auckland and then Home. HOME!

I am typing on an old IMAC at my brother-in-law's. It's one of those purple-flavored ones from the 90s.

I'll check back in when I can.


chefbea 6:45 AM  

I had a blue one IMAC that is

mac 10:20 AM  

This may get lost in cyberspace since it is a different date, but Tom in Iowa, I think chefbea would agree with me that you never, ever soak mushrooms in water because they are so absorbent that they would become soggy. In fact, you are supposed to wipe them, not wash them at all. I have this cute little brush specifically for cleaning mushrooms. Raspberries also don't like water, old recipies (receipts) say to "pick them over", but after all the salmonella and e-coli scares I rinse them these days, then quickly toss them on paper towels.

miriam b 10:54 AM  

@mac: I have a brush like that too. It even looks like a mushroom. Cultivated mushrooms grow in a synthetic soil which presumably is free of nasty matter but needs to be brushed off.

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

Been doing NYT puzzles long enough that i remember getting stuck with Leslie Caron clues in the past. She had the title role in 'Lili' (1953), and 'Gigi' (1958). Gigi is much more well known/remembered (more dancing, probably). A 4-letter answer with the two i's is still not enough to be sure which of these two is correct when the clue is cleverly ambiguous.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

"Lili" was one of the first answers I got. I own several copies of this quirky VHS video. It's a cult favourite and a valuable video to own.
The movie came out in 1953. Leslie Caron was very young (she was 22 playing a 16 year old) in it and,at first, utterly guileless. Her initial innocence in the film made her seem slightly retarded (can I use that word anymore?).
The charming song "Hi lily, hi lo" is sung by Caron and the puppets (manipulated by the puppetmaster Mel Ferrer). The movie has quite a dark theme which includes the idea of emotional rescue. Ultimately, Lily rescues the puppet master and he rescues her.

"A song of love is a sad song,
Hi lily, hi lily, hi lo.
A song of love is a song of woe,
Don't ask me how I know.
A song of love is a sad song,
For I have loved and it's so.
I sit at the window and watch the rain,
Hi lily, hi lily, hi lo,
Tomorrow I'll probably love again,
Hi lily, hi lily, hi lo."

Joon 1:37 AM  

bill from nj, i used to call them quarfeet but orange broke me of the habit. i think jimH is still carrying the banner, though.

i loved everything about this puzzle. i've been complaining for weeks that i missed seeing DQ's name on the byline--then this doozy comes up and i'm out of town! well, now i'm caught up, if only temporarily (going away again tomorrow, i.e. wednesday).

i'm a little surprised that DQ gives the credit for XSANDOS to MN. as i recall, that "word" has been in the puzzle once already this year, and i'm pretty sure it was DQ himself (with a trickier football-not-tictactoe clue). xwordinfo backs me up on this.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

I found this puzzle to be a lot fun as well, although I found it to be very easy, despite 'silentu'. I figured out [up]stairs[down]stairs from one 'S' and it was off to the races from there. I wasn't tripped up at all by amanita as I had some friends who studied mycology several years back and I still can remember a bit from what I absorbed from them.

I love the Boston sub-theme as well. Hubby is from there.

It's interesting that I seem to find most of these puzzles the opposite of how Rex perceives them. Go figure. :)

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Certainly in my top 5 puzzles this year. Congratulations to DQ and MN. Enjoyed the post giving the puzzle's provenance.

There were a lot of possibilities for misdirection in the rebus answers. That, I think, was what added most to the fun.

I'm proud I got Texas without googling. 131D could have been a lot of things but I guessed AWRAP correctly, and had ISLOLDE as 126D before I had any crosses. When 152A ATLAS mtns (in the last National Geographic, incidentally) emerged, I knew it must instead be ISEULT. Then PETRA 156A was easy. REUEL was a WTH, but the crosses were solid so I kept the faith.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Looks like the constructor was a little desperate in some areas with words like AMANITA, ISEULT, SILENT U, etc. Being Canadian makes some of these puzzles even tougher - we don't have ESPANOL on our ATMs, down know AIMEE what's-her-name, OZAWA is a new name to me and have never heard of BIG RIG. IT would be comparable to asking most Americans how many provinces we have here and naming their capitals - I could go on (no igloos here either).

WikiWidow 6:59 PM  

Going Every Which Way - MEDIUM???

Apologies for such a delayed reaction but for some strange reason my local rag decided to carry this Sunday crossword a month behind, rather than just the normal week.

I guess I must count myself amongst the minority, as I most certainly did not enjoy this puzzle at all. After spending a fruitless Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon struggling to come up with even a fraction of the answers, I finally gave in and succumbed to the lure of this web-site.

I had gotten a glimmer of the theme from the title (directions involved), as well as from the Upstairs/Downstairs clue. However I could not figure out how to fit the answer into the available spaces. Colour me dense, perhaps, by why would anyone think to delete all but the first letter of the direction portion of the answer?

And exactly how does that theme make it a rebus? From my understanding of that word (a representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a puzzle), this doesn't fit - there are no symbols or pictures representing the answers, only letters removed.

One has to start somewhere. And should be able to figure out puzzles without having a long history of solving previous such puzzles to draw on -- "Aha, they're doing THIS again..."

PuzzleGirl 9:25 PM  

@WikiWidow: It's not that the letters have been removed, it's that what actually goes in that square is an arrow facing the appropriate direction. So, RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT THEM becomes


The NYT applet doesn't allow you to insert symbols, so Rex simply inserted the first letter of the word.

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