Sunday, July 6, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "What the H?" - puns involving changing W-words to WH-words

Thorny as all hell, but too often in an irksome way. As I told fellow blogger Orange last night, I am going to honor this puzzle by naming a crossword constructing principle after one of its elements. I call it:

The NATICK Principle. And here it is: If you include a proper noun in your grid that you cannot reasonably expect more than 1/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you must cross that noun with reasonably common words and phrases or very common names.

Question for the day: does NC WYETH (1D: "Treasure Island" illustrator, 1911) pass the "very common names" test? Answer, NO. I mean, if the cross had been inside the name WYETH, fine, I'd have guessed it, as there is Another Famous Artist Named WYETH (Andrew, same family). But once we're into initials, forget about it. This guy is not W.C. Fields or E.E. Cummings. N.C.? The only N.C. I know is NC-17. Criminy. Look, I don't mind stuff I don't know (I see it every day), and I don't really mind stuff I don't know crossing other stuff I don't know, but only if there's some way for me to make a reasonable guess. If you don't know the lesser Wyeth or (choke) NATICK (1A: Town at the eighth mile of the Boston Marathon), that far NW letter could be anything, any consonant and at least two vowels. And I'm not even getting into the adjacent CARROL (19A: Charlie Chan player J. _____ Nash). Come on. That NW corner is just dickish. Not clever (à la Walden), or evil (à la Klahn). Just dickish.

The theme answers - I don't know. Felt very sub-BEQ. And what is "weatherwise"? - it's a random adverb, right? I mean ... what is it, except some word a weatherperson might use to describe what kind of day it is? Or can someone be "weather wise"? "You know much about the weather, master." Not terribly familiar with the term "editorial we," but I'm guessing it's like the Royal We, only ... used by an editor. When speaking for the paper as a whole.

Theme answers:

  • 22A: V.I.P. in a limo? (wheeled authority)
  • 36A: Stories about halting horses? (tales of whoa) - cute. I thought "halting" meant "lame" or "limping," and so the clue made me very sad until I got the answer
  • 58A: Causes of meteorological phenomena? (weather whys)
  • 77A: Iceland? (Isle of White) - white from ice? or white from all the white people?
  • 98A: Barrier Ahab stands behind? (whaling wall) ... saying his "whaling adverb," THAR!
  • 115A: Cry after writing a particularly fun column? (the editorial "wheeeeeee!" [just two e's, actually])
  • 16D: 45, e.g.? (whirled record)
  • 57D: Where ax murderers' weapons are on display? (whacks museum) - ax murderers? Yikes. Golf and lumberjacking were just too tame, I guess.

What else? Well, a lot. There was much that I liked about this puzzle, but before I get to that, here's what I did not like: SNEERY (56D: Derisive), ARISTO (87D: Blue blood, informally - I never like it, no matter how many times I see it), ITEMED (45A: Detailed, old-style), and "ED TV" (30A: 1999 film with the tagline "Fame. Be careful. It's out there") - actually, I'm torn on this one; while I like the absurd, dated (pre-reality TV!) pop culture on this one, I do not like recalling most Matthew McCaughnehoweveryouspellhisname movies ("Dazed and Confused" excepted).

OK, the fun stuff - allow me to list it:

  • 7A: 1971 Tom Jones hit ("She's a Lady") - how much do I love that this was the Very first thing I put in the grid. No crosses. Turn it up!

  • 27A: Singer Winehouse (Amy) - she's like a talented Britney Spears, this one.

  • 42A: 1954 event code-named Castle Bravo (H Test) - never sure how to keep these letter-tests straight.
  • 43A: Swedish Chemistry Nobelist Tiselius (Arne) - wow. No idea.
  • 56A: Certain guy, in personals (SWM) - single white male. The airport code of my local airport is BGM, which always makes me laff whenever I see it / think about it.
  • 60A: "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are _____!" (hit 1978 album) ("Devo") - awesome. I love these guys. O man, this is an Early video:

  • 61A: Eponymous German brewer Eberhard (Anheuser) - crazy-looking clue, familiar answer.
  • 63A: Says, in teenspeak (goes) - perfect. Sadly, no longer just "teen" speak. Those "teens" who started speaking this way ... are now my age (20 years past my teens).
  • 70A: Missile's course (vector) - stumped me briefly. Wanted something simple like ARC.
  • 82A: French-Belgian border river (Lys) - if you say so
  • 83A: Start of a sign on a gate (beware) - great clue
  • 94A: MDX and RDX maker (Acura) - luckily, I had most of the letters in place before I ever saw the clue.
  • 102A: Literally, "back to back" (do-si-do) - in what language? DOS is "back" in French ...
  • 107A: Long-distance swimmer Diana (Nyad) - good name for a swimmer.
  • 108A: Something little girls may play (dress-up) - I can tell you that it's not just little girls. Boys are more than happy to play this until they start getting the idea that it's something only girls do.
  • 2D: Showed delight over (aahed at) - had OOHED AT, which seemed reasonable.
  • 8D: Residence on the Rhein (Haus) - had the "H" and then had a complete mind-block, with HERR blocking any other German word I could think of. Finally remembered the term HAUSFRAU. My good friend and erstwhile roommate in grad school was (is) a German historian, so I really should know more German, if only from osmosis.
  • 17D: Connecticut town where "The Stepford Wives" was filmed (Darien) - OK, this is how NATICK should have gone down. Had no idea about DARIEN, but pieced it together from reasonably gettable crosses.
  • 21D: Sen. McCaskill of Missouri (Claire) - I think she's adorable. I hope that doesn't sound patronizing and disrespectful. I just really really like her. If someone asked me "Which senator do you have the biggest crush on?," I would not hesitate to say "CLAIRE McCaskill."
  • 31D: Clergy attire (vestments) - not sure why, but I like this word this morning.
  • 49D: Slogan holder, often (tee) - great clue. Infuriated me for a while (thought the "H" from the theme answer went in that second slot, and so had THE ...!?)
  • 54D: 1887 Chekhov play ("Ivanov") - no idea. Still got it. From crosses. That's the idea. Here, the NATICK Principle is in full effect.
  • 60D: 1973 Helen Reddy #1 hit ("Delta Dawn") - I wish this were in every puzzle. Here's Tanya Tucker (it was the title song on her debut album - she was 13!)

  • 67D: Ray, e.g., in brief (AL'er) - the kind of stuff you just have to put up with, esp. in a Sunday.
  • 71D: Phnom Penh money (Riel) - I gave a lesson in the RIAL/RIEL distinction not too long ago, and Still spelled this wrong, initially.
  • 73D: Bygone station (Mir) - tripped me. "Station" could have been many things. Space station did not occur to me for a while.
  • 91D: Pourer's comment ("say when") - greatness. Very nice colloquial expression.
  • 109D: Fen-_____ (banned diet aid) (Phen) - Do they sell Fen-PHEN in Phnom Penh?
  • 116D: Season for les vacances (été) - I like my clues all-foreign, or all-English. This hybrid stuff is for les oiseaux.
  • 118D: Third-century dynasty (Wei) - thought maybe WEN, but that's a cyst (ew), then thought WII, but that's a video game console.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Re DO SI DO: I think it was originally "dos-a-dos," which eventually changed to the current version.

And while I've never heard of Diana NYAD, that is a phenomenal name for a swimmer. Like the sprinter named Bolt who broke the world record in the hundred meters in a lightning storm.

Also, is it kosher to use "Abbr." in clues (14D, 74D, probably others I can't find right now) and then have it as an answer (67A: Etc. and ibid., e.g., ABBRS)?

JannieB 9:40 AM  

Sorry to spoil your rant, but N C Wyeth and J Carrol Naish were the first things I filled in! It took me awhile to make sense of the themed fill, had to say "wheeled authority" out loud a few times before I got it. Loved the editorial whee! The NE was the last to fall- took me forever to get "whirled record" then the rest fell into place. Didn't much like "itemed" or "sneery" either. Guess I was on the BEQ wave-length today - no googles, no errors. Nice medium Sunday for me.

Jeffrey 9:51 AM  

Rant away.

NC WYETH/NATICK/CARROL = google for me. I got the Wyeth part and tryed to figure out how to put Andrew in 2 letters. Andy? AN? Hey, An, buddy, draw me something.

NATICK goes in the obscure location I hope we never see again pile. (In a puzzle, I'm sure its a lovely place with lots of nice Natickians.)

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

I stumbled mightily on 64A -- "stir"

"The can"??? Is this some sort of slang for jail? Or am I missing a word that I should know. "Polly tried the batter, but it was too thin. She found she needed to thecan it some more...."


And as someone who grew up in Mass., Natick was easy. NC Wyeth, I will agree, is dickish, though.

Ulrich 9:57 AM  

First of all, I want to endorse the Natick principle, wholeheartedly. (I can see, though, that its application may be difficult at times: Who's to judge if less than 1/4 of the population knows a word or not?)

Strangely enough, the current puzzle's "Naticks" didn't bother me too much (solved everything w/o googling), with me having been a grad. student in the Boston area and passing through Darien every time I take the train to New York. Which isn't to say that I really liked the puzzle, but that may have to do with me not being too fond of forced puns, except when they are good exactly b/c they are so bad, like "the editorial whee".

Unknown 9:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Parker 10:02 AM  

If you live in Boston, then of course something like NATICK is going to be a gimme for you. ENDWELL would be a gimme for me, but you all would suffer mightily trying to come up with it. Maybe I should use ENDICOTT, because that one I could actually clue via someone famous: [Birthplace of comedian Amy Sedaris]; childhood home of her brother David as well.

NATICK appears once in the cruciverb.com database. There (a New York Sun Thursday puzzle), the NATICK Principle is followed to a T. Crosses are: PINE NUT, AGATES, RUT, RAIN DATE, ONCE OVER, and TAKE HEED.


Will 10:04 AM  

The only reason I was able to actually get Natick was because of Family Guy. The episode where the world ends has Peter taking the family from Quahog, RI to Natick to a Twinkie factory. Peter figures Twinkies are the perfect food because it would be the only food to survive a nuclear holocaust. :) Once I had some of the crosses, I thought "Is that Natick? From Family Guy?"

Leon 10:06 AM  

Nice puzzle BEQ.

I was hoping for pinhead rather than AIRHEAD.

Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO on Jocko Homo.

Dr. Moreau: What is the law?
Sayer of the Law (Bela Lugosi): Not to eat meat, that is the law. Are we not men?
Beasts (in unison): Are we not men?

Island of Lost Souls, based on H. G. Wells' novel The Island of Dr Moreau.

miriam b 10:11 AM  

When daughter Connie turned 41 several months ago, another daughter and I phoned her and sang DELTADAWN TO her. Connie is happily married to a not very mysterious brown-haired man, so she was not affronted by our greeting. Still, I'm not sure whether all the folks 'round Moorpark say she's crazy.

NCWYETH was a gimme, as I was able to visualize an old copy of Treasure Island I'd seen somewhere in the distant past. NC's style is unmistakable.

J. CARROL Naish? Easy, if you're long in the tooth.

Way too many "adults" are still saying GOES.

All in all, a fun puzzle, but then I rarely carp.


Barry G. 10:15 AM  


This puzzle absolutely killed me, no two ways about it. Lots of frustratingly obscure clues, and I don't recall when I've had to Google so much for a single puzzle. And yet, I have to laugh because I just knew that 1A was going to engender plenty of comments on this blog (which I read daily, btw).

I mean, who knew that my little hometown would someday appear in the great NYT puzzle? w00t! Go Redmen! ^_^

chefbea 10:27 AM  

being from St. louis I knew anheuser.

Have been on many auto stradas in Italy when visiting my daughter and family in Rome .They are here now and she is going to make lunch for us today - 2 pastas and a salad. I'll report on that later.

I live very close to Darien of Stepford wives fame and close to greenwich of roundabout (rotary fame)

@bill from NJ I also want to meet all my crossword puzzle friends at the next tournament

ArtLvr 10:32 AM  

This was a whiled puzzle, in that it was a wild one and it took a while to get going -- let alone finish. A mind-bender. Some of the theme answers came along whole, like ISLE OF WHITE, WEATHER WHYS, TALES OF WHOA, and WHALING WALL.

Others required a double-take: WHACKS MUSEUM - uh, wax? WHEELED AUTHOURITY -- uh, wield? WHIRLED RECORD -- uh, world? My mind is still areel... I knew some of the fill,, like LIRR, MIR, TEE, SWM,and HAUT for high, but thought HAUS might be "heim" for a moment. Also wondered if A__H___ might be something unmentionable, but it was AIRHEAD. And after seeing EEE, I wanted "kisses" to be XXX -- but that would be nigh impossible!

I liked TROT OUT, thinking "trump up" at first, and it went nicely with the "stories of halting horses". And the EGBDF (lines on a musical staff) must have been a first? Wow, that was more of a stumper than the square-dancers call, DOSIDO. All in all, a tour de farce (sic) worthy of THE EDITORIAL WHEE or being AAHED AT!

Congrats to Mr. Quigley... and to Rex for not calling it punny!


JC66 10:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:53 AM  

This one's on my list of candidates for All-Time Worst Sunday Puzzle, but that's because of a vulgar prejudice (that I freely confess) against BEQ's puzzles. I Just Hate Them. The curveballs don't quite curve right (ISLEOFWHITE, for example; Iceland isn't particularly noted for being white in the appearance of its landscape, anyway -- Greenland, maybe, but not Iceland), and the Natick Principle (nice appellation, Rex) applies in spades to the NJ area. No way in the world one could guess 60A, DEVO, and the crosses include Chekhov's least-known play, an achingly obscure popcult item (Helen Reddy? 1973????), and a concealed plural (BONES). De gustibus non est, of course, but I don't find this sort of thing fun, particularly on a Sunday. Grrrrr!!!! Well, Crosscan, you did say "rant away."

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Yuk! This was irksome.

And I've watched the Boston marathoners run through Natick for many years!

NC Wyeth, I got. Aahed at? Please.

"whirled record?" No. Too obscure.

The Sundy puzzles have not been fun lately. Too ideosyncrantic.

That is my tale of woe.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Yuk! This was irksome.

And I've watched the Boston marathoners run through Natick for many years!

NC Wyeth, I got. Aahed at? Please.

"whirled record?" No. Too obscure.

The Sundy puzzles have not been fun lately. Too ideosyncrantic.

That is my tale of woe.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

"the stir" = prison. Probably I first encountered this in Bob Dylan's "Hurricane":

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, "I'm really not sure."
Cops said, "A poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello
Now you don't wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
You'll be doin' society a favor.
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin' braver.
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim."


Anonymous 11:14 AM  

One man's gimme is another man's Natick. I grew up with the Scribner's Illustrated Classics (Kidnapped, The Black Arrow, etc.), so NC Wyeth was the former for me. Great illustrations by the way.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I actually liked this puzzle - hard but doable with a lots of AHA moments (and some WTH's)

I royally botched the area around WEATHERWHYS, giving me WHATTERWHYS .....but wth, it was a fun Sunday.

Unknown 11:37 AM  

Sorry, jc66.

It was not my intent to ruin anyone's acrostic experience. I'll also apologize to anyone who was stuck and hoping for a clue somewhere, anywhere.

I wonder if there is an understanding on this blog that the acrostic not be discusssed, because now that I think of it, I haven't seen any, at least recently.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

In my rant about today's BEQ, I forgot to ask if someone can explain 81A, "Fully or partially: Abbr.", for which I get ADV. Huh?

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Blue stater - they are both adverbs
hence the abbr.
I personally hated this puzzle.
had whirled record then I changed
the can to the pen and fouled myself up.
oh well, most Sundays have been too easy lately so I was due a thorny one.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I got NATICK, because I've run the Boston Marathon and I lived in Boston for 3 years, but I could have sworn Natick was at around mile 10. I doubt that it's 18 miles from Natick to downtown Boston. The rest of the NE came with guesses and crosses.

Personally, I thought THE CAN was something other than prison, as in the old joke, "I last saw you in Paris at the Can-Can." "Really? I thought it was in the lobby-lobby." Terrible, I know, but an illustration of usage.

Overall, I really liked this one, even though the cluing might have been a bit unfair in spots. A little unfairness is the price for BEQ's hip, off-center approach to construction.

jubjub 12:17 PM  

As I don't know much about Iceland, and the only Icelandic movie I've seen is called "Noi the Albino", my mind's incorrigible image of Iceland is of a desolate, snowy land, filled with albinos, hence ISLEOFWHITE seemed to fit to me. Yay, I am spreading my uninformed stereotypes :).

Rex & Stewie from the Family Guy have the same opinion of Matthew McConnaughey: Trying to tell Matthew McConnaughey how much he sucks.

@anonymous 9:56a
I did not understand THECAN=stir either, but you are right, it is a prison thing. I'm pretty sure I've heard things like "put him in stir" (on TV, of course, not in real life). Apparently, there is a relationship with the term "stir-crazy".

Perhaps teenspeak has changed since I was a teen, but I was trying to fit some variant of "was all" instead of GOES. GOES does not strike me as childish at all, just a little informal.

I've been to NATICK before, and still couldn't come up with it. That is (a) because I spelled KLEPTO with a C and had ooHED (b) did not know most of the crossing downs. I had IRE. Not a lot to go on. There are a lot of towns around Boston with six letters. I think because I've mainly traveled around Boston on the T, I feel like things are much farther apart than they are in reality. It seems like more than 8 miles from Boston to Natick. I was thinking more like Newton, Milton, Dedham. None of those go -o---c, of course, but neither does NATICK :).

Ray=ALER: I did not understand that answer at all. I thought it had something to do with beer.

Never seen Emirs spelled AMEERS. I guess you can spell it any way you like (aamir is also allowed...).

I found the northwest also hard. DARIEN crossing LIRR... SOLARIA is also new to me. I had the SOLAR, but thought it must be something like SOLARas.

While I found this puzzle hard and required much googling to complete it, here are some answers I liked about it:
TALESOFWHOA: This would make a good real phrase. Not about halting horses, but about weird stuff. You could name a "News of the Weird"-knockoff "Tales of Whoa!" and I would read it.
BEWARE=Start of a sign on a gate.
CLAWERS=Cat fight participants. I don't know why I like this. But I do.

Pythia 12:23 PM  

@blue stater -- ADV = adverb. Fully and partially are both adverbs. Clever, no?

Cheesy puns -- yum.

I loved the theme answers, except for merely liking WHEELED AUTHORITY, which doesn't make so much sense, and WEATHER WHYS, which has a blah base. Overall the discovery process was lots of fun.

Agree with blue stater that ISLE OF WHITE should have been Greenland, not Iceland. Didn't care for the SNEERY CLAWERS or the AMEERS, either. Can't figure out how "stir" and THE CAN substitute. Thought the top-left corner was kind of unfair, too, but once I saw ????CK I recognized NATICK and the rest of the stodge fell into place. (Just lucky to know Beantown geography.)

Lots of fun clues today and good nontheme answers.

STRADA -- grazie Fellini.

--Happy Camper

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Amazingly, I finished this puzzle with no help from Rex. The only stumper for me was THECAN for "stir". Never heard of that. I was able to get everything in the NW (though it was the last part of the puzzle that I completed), but not without pain. CARROL was a guess. NC WYETH sounded reasonable, but I had no reason to believe I was correct.

I didn't like the clue for 22A V.I.P. in a limo? (WHEELED
AUTHORITY). I don't see why someone in a limo is an authority. A better clue would be "Cop on a motorcycle." Or something like that.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

I enjoyed this one -- an impressive variety of W/WH near-homophones, all changing the spelling at least a bit besides adding the H, some quite radically (Wight/white, wise/whys, wax/whacks, world/whirled). To be sure, I'm in the Boston area, so was able to fill in 1A:NATICK from a few crosses and use it to complete the otherwise unfamiliar 1D:NCWYETH. Even so, yes, rather difficult for a Sunday. But "dickish" -- is that even a word? Urban Dictionary confirms, but only using the taboo meaning of the base word, as in "See Dick smoke/choke/croak; don't be a Dick". Way to set off the Cuss-o-meter ;-)

27A:AMY Winehouse has been in the news recently, which is the only reason I knew the name. Didn't recognize the other pop-music references that Rex featured, though at least the 60A:DEVO one is interesting -- not many pop songs in 7-beat time, on top of all the humorous sound effects. The 1954 date made 42A:HTEST easy: post WWII so must be a hydrogen bomb as opposed to a merely atomic one. 43A:ARNE Tiselius goes well beyond my scientific knowledge; I wonder how many chemists could give his first name. I second Rex's appreciation of the clue for 83A:BEWARE (ditto 91D:SAYWHEN). As for 102A:DOSIDO, I see Markus already explained it in the day's inaugural comment; the clue might better have said "originally" rather than "literally".

67D:AL'ER -- glad to see that Rex now regards this kind of entry as a necessary evil rather than a cause for pop-culture celebration. 71D:RIEL was indeed amusing coming so soon after Rex's sermon on the mint. Note that (as with Phuket) the first sound in "Phnom Penh" is P, not F, unlike Phen-Fen. Didn't know any of 17D:DARIEN, 21D:CLAIRE, 54D:IVANOV, or 60D:DELTADAWN, but there were enough crosses in each case. Dunno what's so great about the last of these; the chorus is basically a foursquare variation on the New Britain tune, a.k.a. Amazing Grace (naturally Google reports that this similarity has been noted before). Now if those 60A:DEVO people had released a 7/4 or 7/8 cover of Amazing Grace...


P.S. Any news about yesterday's Emmy vs. Tony crisis?

alanrichard 12:37 PM  

I didn't even look at today's puzzle yet. I plan on doing it while I'm at the MOMA but I'm just hoping that JERBOA "POPS UP" again so I have an opportunity to use something I just learned!!!!

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

jubjub - Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Joon 12:40 PM  

i found this puzzle quite challenging pretty much all over. for a long time i had nothing in the grid at all other than 25A (YES). eventually it did yield, but it helped that i knew both NATICK and NCWYETH. objectively, only NATICK seems intrinsically obscure; both wyeths were quite famous, the father more so than the son during their lifetimes.

IVANOV isn't chekhov's least-known play. it's just his least-known five-act play (behind the cherry orchard, the three sisters, uncle vanya, and the seagull). all five are pretty famous, i think, although i admit that right now, 9 years after having read them all, IVANOV is the one i can remember the least about. DELTADAWN was a bigger problem for me; the N at the NYAD crossing was my last letter in the grid.

looks like the rain at wimbledon is letting up, so i'm going to disappear again. (the puzzle was a nice way to spend the rain delay.) go roger!

Joon 12:43 PM  

jubjub--actually, "devil" no more. they're just the rays now, hence the lack of "devil" in the clue.

one of my earliest puzzles included ALER with the clue [Brewer before 1997, e.g.]. everybody who solved it said 1) ugh, ALER; and 2) what's the 1997 doing in there? they thought i was using ALER to mean one who makes ale.

JC66 12:48 PM  


I think it's standard protocol to limit specific comments to the NYT crossword only, thereby eliminating the possibility of giving away anything to solvers of other puzzles. Can anyone clarify?

JannieB 12:51 PM  

Rex has posted several requests that we not comment on any of the NYT second Sunday puzzles, just the main event.

Bill from NJ 12:54 PM  

As much as I find myself on Karen Tracey's wavelength, BEQ is just the opposite. He is my personal bete noire when it comes to constructors.

I remember NC Wyeth from Illustrated Classics and I agree you have to be of a certain age to know who J Carrol Naish is both from Charlie Chan and The Lone Ranger. I found NATICK to be obscure but eminently fair.

God, this was a long slog, an .
overnighter. I didn't fully understand the theme, some of the fill was so difficult for me but eventually gettable. It took forever for the AHA moments to arrive on, like, GOES HAS ADV DOSIDO ITEMED

Orange 1:20 PM  

Margaret—Try Googling the acrostic clue(s) you're stuck on. You may well find a site that has your answers (but it will probably list all of the answers, so you may run into more help than you want).

PuzzleGirl 1:25 PM  

Am I the only one who confidently entered ANGIE BABY for DELTA DAWN? They have the same number of letters. I have to believe BEQ did that on purpose, but I'm still feeling a little pathetic.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

I liked it more than most, and managed to do it all without Rex's help (for once!) and a minimum of Googling (Viselius!). I kn0w enough about sports (at least swimming and running) to know Nyad and Natick, and caught on to the theme early on. Didn't understand THECAN til I read the blog (head slap).
Still don't understand 49D Slogan holder= TEE. Is Slogan possibly a brand of golf balls or is there some double meaning that I'm missing?

jeff in chicago 1:31 PM  

This started horribly for me, until I hit VASCO and the SW fell fairly easily, including WHALINGWALL, which gave me the theme.

Loved TALESOFWHOA, and WHACKSMUSEUM made me smile, but I'm kinda sick that way.

I'm not a baseball guy, so there were a bunch of problems for me, including ERROR, which, in fact, I just figured out as I typed this.

I recently read IVANOV (and I'm an actor) so that was a gimme.

SNEERY, ITEMED and ARISTO? ugh. I also spent a few moments trying to remember if I had ever seen a slogan on a golf TEE. HA!

This one took me a while, but mainly because I was watching Wimbeldon as well. Go Nadal!!

miriam b 1:38 PM  

@anonymous 1;29: TEE = TEE shirt.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

Do-si-do is from the French - appealed to my square dancing heart. Natick was agiven for me as well. And as for the can - got it - but then I'm a generation or two older and saw lots of 40s gangster movies. :->. Really disliked weather whys!

Jeff 1:52 PM  

I like the idea of a Natick Principle. SomenameIdon'tknow crossing with SomeothernameIdon'tknow really takes a lot of the fun out of a puzzle. It would be one thing if I SHOULD know one or both of the names, but some obscure poet crossing some random scientist seems unfair. I lived in Boston for 10 years and closely tracked my boss's progress in his first Boston Marathon this year, and it still took me the longest time to crack NATICK. Even with __TI__C-or-K, I just couldn't see it. Remembering that the USAF Acad. is in COLOrado fixed that.

In my college and post-college days in the early 90's, I spent many a beer-soaked afternoon/evening/night at Father's Too (now P.J. Kilroy's Pub), 17.7 miles from Natick. "Mongoloid" from Devo's Q: ARE WE NOT MEN? A: WE ARE DEVO! album was frequently on the jukebox, usually played by me. Enjoy!

Also, for some reason, I liked the way HAUS looked sitting on top of HAUT. I was kinda hoping a HAUU was some sort of abbreviation for a cosmic ray. :)

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Never been to Natick, never watched the Boston Marathon (it's a work day for everyone else), but I have heard of the place. Given a couple of letters, I didn't think it was that hard. Didn't think NC Wyeth was that hard, either, even though I am not a big fan of him or that familiar with American artists and illustrators, beyond Nast and Rockwell. But I am aware of the Wyeth family, including son Andrew and grandson Jamie, who are all quite famous, as well as several other offspring (see wikipedia), one of whom is a musician rather than an artist. I didn't find much problem with that cross; didn't even give it a second thought.

mac 2:32 PM  

This was a tough one for me - I finally started googling a little, then visiting Rex for answers when I had a ridiculous number of H's in 58A..... Of course it didn't help that I had picked the wrong language for 38D: hoch.
Lots of holes in the NW and the East around the can, and I tried to fit "The Idiot" (I know, it was by Dosto) into 54D.
Didn't like aahed and tehees much, or 58A "weather whys", but there were plenty of good and fun clues, just too many outside my knowledge...
Back to Wimbledon! Go Roger!

Doug 3:00 PM  

Typing with one eye on the Wimbledon "gentlemen's" final. Nadal almost took the whole thing in a tie break over Federer...okay, back to important things.

After getting shut out two Sundays in a row I was pleased to finally finish the thing, except for the big blank space at 1A. Under the Natick rules it's a free spot!

After some lame-o puns recently this one was welcomed. No problem with Iceland = White. The constructor could have pulled a Natick (again) and tossed in some goofy polar or tropical, white sand island, so it's pretty obvious. Hey, how about Vuanutu? It's made of pure white phosphorous! Natick, Natick!

SNEERY had my vote as most awful answer to date, but in retrospect I concede that it's somewhat in use. Sounds like a Harry Potter adjective: "Snape lustily regarded Bellatrix Black and murmured, 'I've seen you ogling my handsome, semi-erect wand, Bella. You do know what a large wand means...don't you Bella?' He turned back to Hermione and with a sneery look said, 'Come back and see me when your unibrow is a bit bushier, child. You're an opened blossom and she's a lady.'"

Fifth set, Nadal gave up a two set lead so it's tied 2-2 and in a rain delay.

Michael 3:03 PM  

I liked Weather Whys, because by then I got the theme, but wasn't sure if the WH would be in weather/whether.

Ulrich 3:16 PM  

@jeff: I also noticed HAUS sitting on top of HAUT, but regretted that the latter was clued as French "high" instead of German "skin", which would have made the coincidence more memorable, for me, at least.

Actually, has HAUT ever been clued as "Siegfried's skin" or such?

CinEdina 3:21 PM  

I agree with the assessment of the difficulty level of this puzzle. I worked through 3/4 of the puzzle last night, but could not finish today without help. The theme fill was difficult for me - I had WHALINGWALL first and tried to fit WHEE into the beginning of THEEDITORIALWHEE thinking the all of the WHs would be in the front end.

The music entries were also difficult, but thank goodness my go-to guy for craptastic 70's to 80's pop music was home. He gleefully shouted out DEVO(!) before I even finished reading the clue. I mean no insult by craptastic-- to me, 1978 means Darkness on the Edge of Town and three years after Born to Run (the best rock album ever recorded, IMHO). I just have different late 70's music preferences.

I also had BARBIES in for DRESSUP for a while. Glad to see DRESSUP was correct and not the other. Don't like Barbies, but daughter does and parents must pick their battles- I do say no(!!!) to Bratz, though.

Agree too with the NATICK comments- I lived in Boston for two years while my husband was in business school and still could not remember NATICK (I wanted NEWTON).

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Oh, and for a while I too had TRUMPUP for 47A:TROTOUT (as with artlvr@10:32); with three matching letters it took a while to notice the alternative... NDE

Margaret 5:00 PM  

Can finally get to the blog now that Wimbledon is over. Wow, what an amazing/heartbreaking match -- whew.

This was an OK puzzle for me. I didn't have that much trouble solving it, being a long time NC Wyeth fan and getting Tales of Whoa off the clue. But i thought too many of the other theme answers were forced. Also I *hated* AAHED AT. But my biggest beef was that 29D LOAMY, clued "Like some good soil," crossed 35A SOILED.

(Thanks to Chef Bea I just discovered I had ANHEUSER spelled wrong. Ouch. Also speaking of chefs and beefs, hubby and I are in the process of making beef demi-glace from scratch!)

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

I saw some Wyeth art in a museum in Rockland, Maine and also at the Brandywine museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. I remembered it was the father who did Treasure Island illustrations.

As my husband likes to correct my grammar, i noticed ulrich@9:57 a.m. probably meant "with MY having been a grad" and "with MY not being too fond of" instead of using the word "me" -- although I cannot recall what it is about the "ing" words that take the possessive pronoun: could Rex or someone explain 'cause learning from this Comments section helps embed these sorts of passing info.

chefbea 5:16 PM  

Back from lunch at my daughter's where my daughter from Italy made a fabulous meal - fritatta with fresh herbs from the garden, two delicious pastas, salad with tomatoes from the garden. And her good friend Melissa Clark of new york times food section fame brought home-made shortbread with berries and cream. Yummm.
Too busy eating so we missed tennis.

mac 5:31 PM  

@margaret: good for you making your own demiglace. It takes forever, though...... Don't ruin your stove, I once did that making chutney, which also took all day.
A good idea, when the glace has the right concistency, is to pour it icecube trays and freeze them. That way you can take small quantities for gravies and sauces, without defrosting the whole batch.

Ulrich 5:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:44 PM  

I wasn't crazy about this puzzle but I'm sure my facination with Wimbledon didn't help. As it has come up in past comments, contructing a puzzle is no easy task. I'm always waiting for a big surprise. I was rooting for Federer today and think somebody should come up with an "ERER" puzzle. Could theme it what a rooster says ...

Ulrich 5:53 PM  

@scriberpat: An explanation will appear here in a few hrs.

Rex Parker 6:38 PM  

I was going to write "What Ulrich said," but Ulrich took down the pertinent comment for some reason.

This is not a grammar site. Occasionally issues of grammar are of interest, but not when they arise in the form of anyone's correcting my or other's (others's's's) grammar. Nobody but nobody but Nobody likes that, and we (editorial we!) generally find unsolicited grammar correction to be in poor taste. Some might suggest we think this largely because our grammar has been known to suck on occasion. That may be so. Be that as it may. Nevertheless. Insofar as. Hereunto. Etc.


PS I'm getting a puppy tomorrow, and I'm going to NZ on the 14th, so my life (and this blog) may be a bit of a madhouse for at least a week. Then you'll get guest bloggers (puzzlegirl, sethg, wade). Then you'll get me blogging from NZ.

Luckily for us, our dogsitters are also the proud new owners of a puppy (Baxter) from the same litter as our puppy, so Gabby (our puppy) will be well taken care of.

Pictures (obviously) to follow...

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

Jeez, don't leave us hanging, what kind of a puppy?

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

I think NC Wyeth pretty much is WC Fields--it's the only way he is known. He's least as famous as Andrew, but since you don't see his work in museums, less accessible. I just want to formally announce that this is the first Sunday puzzle denominated by Rex as harder than "medium" that I have completed with no Googling. This triumph is tempered by the fact that I thought it was pretty much a "medium"--but who am to disagree with Rex?

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

too much obscurity for me today... aside from the NW that Rex has already canvassed, HAUT / ARNE, LIRR / DARIEN... NYAD... DELTA DAWN and DEVO i guess are things that old people would know...

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

What a coincidence! I and wife just got a puppy yesterday, which (along with TV tennis) kept me from the puzzle last night and all day. I finally came in to solve it and was chipping away at it nicely, gradually eliminating the stuck places until I only lacked NATICK and CARROLL, couldn't decide between oohed and AAHED, plus hadn't figured out that "feeds" was a bad answer for OPEDS, so KLEPTO eluded me and I was baffled by what obscure COLO town ended in __LF (and why it was obscure to me if it was home to a military academy).

I gave up, tried to open a new tab for google, and somehow reloaded the puzzle tab--only to find myself working Monday's puzzle! A bit disorienting, which may have contributed to my (more-than-usually) less-than-stellar time. I guess it's a bit of applet karma coming to haunt me.

In spite of that, I liked the puzzle. I thought the theme answers were fun. I liked how I kept getting stuck, but managed to unravel every problem area except that NW corner. I especially liked WHIRLEDRECORDS--had to stare at it for some time even having WHIRLEDRE_OR_ (couldn't give up on the inexplicable "whirled/world report"). Plus, my name appeared in this one!

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

Since inquiring minds apparently want to know (in some cases, at least) our puppy is a lab/collie shelter rescue. Camera is at work, so no photos now.

alanrichard 7:57 PM  

I got Natick right away, good thing I have a racing background. But I agree that crossing Natick with NC(?) Wyeth is rediculous. Not even a reasonable guess when its initials. I got Shes A Lady although I was looking for Why Why Why Delilah. For Some reason I was thinking Richards & Moon as members of the Stones. Undoing putting Stones where Keith was supposed to be, made this puzzle way more difficult in this area. This reminds me of when I used to go to my mother in law's house and work on the puzzle that she had many incorrct answers in. It's much harder to do a puzzle that has wrong answers in than one that is blank. The first long answer I got was Whacks Museaum - so I nderstood the clue early on; but substituting Stones for Keiths really turned this into a much more difficult puzzle for me.

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

I know Rex is legitimately touchy about grammar pedantry, but I do think grammatical precision is an integral part of crossword-solving, and I find it most interesting and helpful when somebody illustrates a finer point. I can't recall any instance of anyone being condescending about grammar or usage at this site, though maybe there have been some borderline cases.

I sorta liked how "Mongoloid" thumbed its nose at political correctness just as the term was finding its way into common use.

Though a Chekhov fan, I didn't know IVANOV. His short stories are truly great, as well as his more famous plays.

VECTOR must be a military term, because it sort of conflicts with the mathematical concept, unless it managed to travel in a straight line, I guess.

Also, the OPEDS seem to conflict with the NYTimes' general practice. Aren't David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, etc. on the staff of the paper?

My teenspeak says was LIKE, which I thought was more close to current than GOES.

Rob 8:38 PM  

RE: do-si-do

It might be Creole French, but I think it's more likely to be a natural variation of dos a dos given the oral heritage of square dancing.

But even so, I'm not sure the evolution of the spelling makes it any less "literal".

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

I could be wrong about this but when I read the Comments section, what I see a lot of is comments having to do with why the Puzzle Constructor used a particular ending on a word; used "re" as a prefix or "er" as a suffix; questions about why the Constructor did what s/he did. if we're learning from this scrutinizing of the minutia, and we are learning from it, aren't we, why can't we have questions about what we as Commenters do with words, as well? Questions certainly are not meant to attack anyone's intelligence level -- I know Rex does not mean to do that when he writes his Blog, so why can't I ask a question about the use of "me" or "my" when another Commenter modifies a gerund? I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings. I'm interested in learning as are also other Commenters, I believe. I like the comments about recipes and weddings and puppies as much as nobody/anybody but after all, the Rex blog is all about words so wouldn't you think grammar is a legitimate topic? I will check Ulrich's blogspot later as I really do appreciate someone taking my question seriously. It seems inconsistent to care so much about what a Constructor does with words but not care about what we Commenters do with them. My husband says to tell you he corrects me because he knows I enjoy words and welcome all comments but that people whom he doesn't know might not be interested in words that much. I think it an exaggeration to say that Nobody welcomes discussion about word forms. Especially since this Blog site is about word forms. Thank you.

green mantis 10:04 PM  

I think the point is not that people don't welcome discussion about word forms, but that calling out errors in a particular person's speech is generally considered impolite.

God knows I held my tongue a million times with a certain ex-boyfriend. I preferred to simmer silently and lament his unbearable ignorance and profound unsuitability instead.

Just kidding (not at all), but it's an interesting issue. I mean, I don't want to speak or write in error, so I guess I might want correction, but that's only because I'm sort of a perfection freak. And correction only wins by the slimmest of margins over leaving me alone when I misspeak, because it just kind of feels weird to be corrected. Others, for whom perfect grammar and usage is not a reason for being, would probably not find much value in having their errors pointed out.

And still others might know perfectly well how to use proper, formal speech but may just have a more colloquial jacket on at a given moment.

Conclusion: when it doubt, simmer silently.

Rex Parker 10:04 PM  

scriberpat, I have no idea why you are so (apparently) upset. You seem to have taken my comments in ways they were not intended (i.e. personally).

I hate grammar correcting, and don't like to see it on my site. I think it's in bad taste. If you like it, you don't have to explain yourself to me. To each his/her own. I'm just asking people not to make a habit of correcting other folks' grammar on my site.

If an issue of grammar is of puzzle-related interest (as I said, clearly, in my last message), then great, fair enough, let's talk about it; but unrelated grammar questions, like non-NYT puzzles, have no place in *this* comments section, only because that's not what this blog is about. I generally let people go on about food and recipes and god knows what else because, really, what's the harm? But sometimes I do wish my dear readers (and I say that w/o an ounce of sarcasm in my voice - many of you are quite dear to me, esp scriberpat) would keep in mind that in addition to caring about what *you* want out of my blog, I have to consider what 10K other people want. Your lives and your idiosyncrasies light up this blog in wonderful ways. I just want people to respect the center of gravity that is the puzzle.

Chat away, but know when to say when. Because being the off-topic police / cat herder is my Least favorite part of this gig. By a mile.


Jeffrey 11:17 PM  

I agree with you Rex about keeping the comments about, at least tangentially, the day's puzzle.

You are, of course, exempt from this rule, because, as some seem to forget occasionally, IT IS REX'S BLOG!!! He is kind enough to let us in his house to play; we should play by the rules, of which there are few.

I stopped reading the "official" NYT crossword site because it seemed to simply be a chat room for a select few who rarely discussed the puzzle. Let's not go there.


Orange 12:54 AM  

Green Mantis, I love your "colloquial jacket" concept! Yes, one can indeed don a colloquial jacket when the mood strikes.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

Hey! My first time leaving a comment the day after the puzzle. Wonder if anyone's around....

Still, I though I could add one thing. The connection between WHACKS and "Ax" is more than just grotesque. Indeed, it's far more direct than the forestry or golfing options:


In fact, it's the only common and memorable use of the plural "WHACKS," to my mind. (Did "whack" even come up pluralized in the Sopranos?) Perfect pairing.

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

Oh yeah... and who spells TE(E)-HEE with only three E's?!? Especially then the "T" of "T-Shirt" gets two that it doesn't need, and EEE and ÉTÉ are just flaunting theirs.

No, really. TE-HEE? C'mon. Onomatopoetically, it doesn't even make sense.

Ladel 7:53 AM  

@peter s.

it's a very big world and someone is always around. I always check the comments the next day to catch a late tid bit or to perhaps help someone who just checked in late.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

...Sinatra, "Come Fly with Me"....."weatherwise it's such a lovely day..you just say the word and we'll beat the birds.......

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Could someone please explain to me what egbdf means? I found this on your Blog, Rex, but have no idea what it means. What I have also not been able to solve is the National League East Player (96 across) which seems to heave been no problem for anyone else, but I am German and not sportive!

Overall, I found this puzzle quite difficult and it took a lot of Googling. That'ts when I discovered this wonderful blog with its lively comments which I really enjoyed.

If I may ask a personal question: what is a Steeple Jack? (Never heard of it.)

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Anonymous 1:22 Musical terminology. EGBDF are the notes corresponding to the lines in the Trebble Clef, reading up from the bottom.

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Natick and N.C. Wyeth filled in pretty easily, but Devo and Ivanov. Now's there's the pair that should not cross.


Michael Chibnik 11:25 PM  

I came back from Mexico on Sunday and just got around to this today (Tuesday). I thought a Sunday wouldn't be too taxing (I had done some of Oranges "hard" puzzles without problems while on my trip), but then saw the name of the dreaded constructor BEQ. It did take me longer than usual to finish the puzzle, but unlike many of you I really enjoyed the puzzle (perhaps partly because I eventually got all of it without googling. I knew both Natick and NC Wyeth, but couldn't tell you why...

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

The answer egbdf took me back 70 years to my music lessons as a child when I was taught that the way to remember the lines on a musical staff was to think: Every Good Boy Deserves Fun!

WikiWidow 12:17 AM  

As one of those running a week behind, I get the Sunday crossword the Saturday following, so please bear with...
67D: Ray, e.g., in brief = ALER ?
Which one assumes is an acronym, but what's it stand for? Googling came up with several options but none seem to fit.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  


AL = American League (baseball). A Tampa Bay Ray would be an American Leaguer (ALER).

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Anonymous @ 4:52PM
Thank you for 'EGBDF'. I KNEW it but somewhere along the line, it got pushed into my brain closet and I couldn't pull it out.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

Although I got DOSIDO immediately, because dos is French for back, I had always been told that do-si-do came from doe see doe (girl see girl), so the connection with the French was confusing.

Unknown 10:45 PM  

Do Si Do is a square dance maneuver whereby you go around your partner back to back.

Daniel 2:56 AM  

Thank you so much for the post.

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