Sunday, July 20, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium, with a few Huh?s

Theme: Across the (Chess) Board – six theme answers contain (in circles) the names of chess pieces, with the last containing CHESS itself.

Hey, SethG here, sitting in for vacationing Rex and trying to live up to the standards set by PuzzleGirl and Wade. But I know that’s unlikely, so instead of sitting home worrying about the puzzle and my write-up I took this show on the road.

As soon as the puzzle was released I printed out a few copies, and PuzzleMomToBe and I headed to the Metrodome, where we did some crosswork while watching the Twins play the Texas Rangers. Joining us in our mad adventure were John Chandler-Pepelnjak, JohnJohn, Weeky, and Kirby. My goal: finish the puzzle, don’t miss a pitch.

The events:
6:11: Sit down just as Livan Hernandez (watch out for his name!) delivered the first pitch of the game.

6:25: Joe Mauer hits a home run, and I have 7 answers scattered about.

6:35: Davis hits a 2-run shot for the Rangers to go up 2-1. I get LIMA, OHIO (72A: City 70 miles SSW of Toledo) from the H, and my first real traction in an area with ATM FEE (45D: Charge for cash) and NONET (46D: Large chamber group).

6:40: (102A: Egg roll topping, perhaps) is CHINESE something. So the last circle must be an S to spell [chess], and I’m thinking the circles will spell out board games.

I explain what the circles will mean to PuzzleMomToBe. Then I think maybe it’s just different kinds of boards—it wouldn’t surprise me to see circles spelling out Ouija, emery, school… Awesome!, I’ve got a sweet Ouija board story I can tell for my blog entry.

6:51: I move to the middle. And the traction I had gave me an FE in (59A: It’s quite different from the high-school variety). I know immediately that it’s gonna be PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, and the circles spell out [pawn]. Okay, it looks like a chess board after all, with the circled letters spelling out chess pieces, and if there’s one thing I know about chess it’s the names of the pieces.

Luckily, there’s one thing I know about chess. I can fill in the pieces in the rest of the theme clues, and this is one of those times when understanding the theme really helped make solving the puzzle much easier. Uh, constructors, pretend you never heard what I said about the other boards…

7:06: They play Hava Nagila over the loudspeaker, everyone’s favorite Hebrew folk song/stadium anthem. PMTB asks me if (14D: TV pooch) is ALF. I say “ALF was not a dog.” And I’d have laughed at her, but that had been my first thought too. It’s REN.

“What about the abbreviation for Bridge? For (35D: Abbr. after Cleveland or Brooklyn)?” she asks. I tell her I don’t have it yet, but that I’ve never heard of the Cleveland Bridge. It’s HTS. Morneau hits an RBI single and is thrown out by 8 feet trying to reach 2nd.

Friend Kirby is upset because they picked the one (51D: Mad magazine cartoonist [Dave]) he doesn’t know. I had BERG from the crosses.

7:11: Ashley Nelson will marry Ray! I feel comfortable sharing that information on the internets because (a) 1/3 of Minnesota is named Nelson and (b) they already provided those details to the near-sellout crowd of 35,085. Then a couple named Orval and Bernelle were congratulated for something, and Evan Wojtowicz, we all love you.

Denard Span hit a sharp bouncer to left for a single to move the runner over to third, and he snuck over to second when the throw was lazily lofted in to hold the lead runner there. There might be a name for that, but I’m actually not much of a baseball fan. Nice play, though.

(7A: Leader of Lesbos?) is LAMBDA, the first letter of the Greek Island, which means (10D: One desiring change) is BEGGAR. Too bad I can’t tell my Buddhist hot dog joke.

7:25: Intentionally walk Mauer to load the bases with two outs. To pitch to Morneau, who bats from the same side and has a better average and more power.

7:27: Morneau hits a 3-run double. 6-2, Twins. Kirby somehow has “oil” in place of KIM (23D: Kipling novel).

7:48: It’s 8-2, 1 out with runners at 2nd and 3rd, and I’ve got only Washington state and 56A to finish. For (1D: Lose strength) I have xAG, and it could be B or L or S, or maybe some form I don’t know of J or R or W or Z? It’s SAG, cause (1A: Demanded without reason) is SAID SO.

7:55: Morneau hits a 2-run HR to right. The Twins are up 12-2, and I’m verifiably angry at 56A and mildly annoyed at myself because I can’t think of 19A or 36A

8:07: Hernandez throws a 58mph pitch, followed by an 86mph pitch. We make eephus jokes.

8:11: No progress. Buscher hits a 2-run HR, 14-2. DEFACE (4D: Give bad marks) seems horribly wrong to me, as apparently I’m thinking of face removal rather than the common word “deface”. ACCEPT (19A: Honor) seems wrong to me, though somehow I know it’s right. “Like a credit card,” says everyone around me, all of whom filled that in a while ago. Oh, right.

8:30: Win, 14-2. I’m admitting defeat, and am thinking about texting Orange to find out what 56A is.

9:30: We adjourn to the wine bar across from the theater. They’re showing Goonies at midnight, and Weeky and I wouldn’t miss it. (I will admit to an ‘80s crush on Martha Plimpton...) Kirby’s gone home, but PMTB’s husband Pbo joins the rest of us for a snack. Weeky and PMTB start working the puzzle together, and they’re making real progress. I warn them away from my area of disaster, but otherwise they’re doing well. PMTB finally remembers everyone’s favorite Turkish pooh-bah, PASHA (87A: “Doctor Zhivago” role). Weeky’s coming up with stuff left and right, naming an answer, saying “that can’t be it”, and looking over to have me confirm that it is. “PUBLISHING COMPANY” [bishop], she blurts out (77A: Viking, for one). She comes up with the full (102A: Egg roll topping, perhaps), CHINESE MUSTARD.

PMTB blurts out “(55A: Alphabet quartet) is MNLO!” I’ll admit I JAPED. It’s MNOP.

I explain that (111A: Mrs. Woody Allen) is SOON YI, his step-daughter, but it turns out he was only her mom’s long-term partner, not her mom’s husband. Because that’s much less icky.

We talk about my favorite answer in the puzzle, RYE (107D: Manhattan part). The other parts: a DOLLOP (54D: Spoonful, say) of sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, a garnish.

2:30: Get home from Goonies, sit down to figure out what I had wrong.

The rest of the theme answers:

  • (22A: November 5 in Britain) is GUY FAWKES NIGHT.
  • (29A: Wild sheep of the western United States) is ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIGHORN [king].
  • (44A: Best Actor of 1991) is SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS [rook] for The Silence of the Lambs.
  • (91A: Army supply officer) is a QUARTERMASTER GENERAL [queen].

Some yucky crosses/huh? moments:
JAPES (36A: Mocks) crosses OPERE (30D: _____ citato) at the P. I figured that was a kind of opera in some language, but that’s the full version of the Latin “op. cit.”, which means “in the work quoted.”

I somehow forget studying OSTEND (113A: Belgian city with an 1854 manifesto) in my 19th century European History class, and it crossed the could-have-been-lots-of-stuff SID (105D: Half-brother of Tom Sawyer) at the D.

Turns out I had a wrong answer where BRAVA (81A: La Scala cheer) crosses ISOLA (62D: Capri, e.dg., to a Capriote). BRAVO has been clued the same way, and remind me why I’m supposed to know the gender of the Italian word for island? Is this fair? It is not.

Illinois. Lots of yuck for me in Illinois. I’m lucky I remembered that (67A: Eurasian ducks) is SMEWS, or I wouldn’t have had the S in ISOLA in the first place. I love the clue phrase “Eurasian ducks”. A discussion here back in the day taught me that (56D: Bygone blades) are SNEES. As in “snick and snee”, but I don’t remember what snick is.

I have medium-end skills, not enough to know the high-end crosswordese OBOLS (47D: Ancient Greek coins) even after visiting the Numismatic Museum of Athens last July.

And finally, I have NEVER heard of SKIRR (43D: Go rapidly). And I have NEVER heard of SPOOR (56A: Trail to follow). My guess was the SPOOL you use for Ariadne’s thread, and SKILR looks almost as plausible as SKIRR.

But still, unlike ISOLA these are at least English words, so I can’t say that it’s unfair, just that it hit a void in my knowledge. But I will say that there were six of us talking about this. I was the only regular crossword solver, but we’re all educated and fairly intelligent, especially John Chandler-Pepelnjak, and none of us had any idea. Unfortunately, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth from an otherwise fine puzzle.

Okay, PuzzleGirl will be mad at me if I don’t get some more sleep before today’s activities, so I’ll leave you here. Rex is back tomorrow, and I promise more PG and Wade in the near future!

Signed, SethG, Royal Vizier of CrossWorld


JannieB 9:41 AM  

Very nice job, SethG - glad the Twins won.

I definitely felt this was more medium than easy. I stumbled around for quite awhile looking for traction as if it were a Saturday. I knew Guy Fawkes but thought it was a whole Day so left the end blank. In typical fashion I then assumed that Across the Board meant overseas so was trying to think of foreign holidays. (Even I don't know why.)

When I got Chinese Mustard (with over half the puzzle still unsolved) and saw "Chess" in the circles I finally, finally had my AHA moment.

I agree - "skirr" was new to me. And I also had opera - so after staring forever at "toatoto_" I tried the "E" and was done.

Unknown 9:46 AM  

Thanks Seth...Twins win and didn't have to know SPOOR, SMEWS and SKIRR! Is that fair? Fun write up covering two of the nation's pastimes. Thanks for the fine pay-by-play.

I found the theme helped with the last two fills meaning I was oblivious prior to that. A good puzzle with some real challenges. I did like the fly over Africa clue and the shout out to the old Yankee Stadium.

miriam b 10:03 AM  

Fun writeup, Seth, even though sporting events are not my thing. The SOONYI situation, IMHO, is still icky no matter how you slice it. I thought the puzzle was pretty much easy-medium, as the circled letters revealed the theme to me early on.

I put in BRAV_ at first, not knowing whether I'd need O, A or I. ISOLA clinched it.

Barry G. 10:05 AM  

Morning, folks!

I may be alone in this, but I tend to approach the Sunday puzzles a bit differently than the rest of the week's offerings. Rather than stressing over trying to finish the entire puzzle unassisted, I look at it as basically a big research project. Half the joy is trying to figure out what the various clues are really asking for, and the other half is successfully locating the answer from a variety of sources (I have a shelf full of dictionaries and other references books, including the compact OED, just for use with the Sunday puzzle).

So, yeah, there were a lot of clues in this puzzle that I couldn't get on my own, but no complaints from me because (a) I eventually managed to get everything filled in and (b) I had fun doing it.

I will say, though, that 22A threw me for a loop at the beginning. I was so proud of myself for knowing that November 5th was Guy Fawkes Day, but then it wouldn't actually fit in the grid. It wasn't until I realized what the theme was that I was able to go back and make it Night. Whoever heard of Guy Fawkes NIGHT? Well, apart from umpteen million British citizens, I mean... ^_^

Oh -- and 52A was the last to fall for me, due to the fact that I had OTHOS instead of OTTOS for 40D and OPERA instead of OPERE for 30D. I knew that TOATOHOE wasn't right no matter how I parsed it, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize my mistake.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Seth, That was a fun account. I really enjoyed your calling she who blurted the alphabet quartet PMTB. And "Denard Span" -- you had to have made that up. Which one are you in the photo?

Wonderful Sunday puzzle by the way.

Leon 10:31 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle Mr. Silk.

Fine write-up Mr. G and helpers.

Shakespeare elected to have Hamlet and Laertes DUEL with the rapier and dagger (V, ii, 146-7) but now most of the stagings use EPEES.

Shakespeare search reveals the following:

Send out more horses; SKIRR the country round;
Macbeth: V, iii

And make them SKIRR away, as swift as stones
King Henry V: IV, vii

miriam b 10:31 AM  

@sethg: You really should tell the troops the Buddhist hot dog joke in your inimitable style. It's a close second to my favorite, the Descartes joke.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

VERY slow going for me and I succumbed to a google in the NW corner.

SPOOR is animal scat that is a trail for people hunting them. The one big advantage of living in the woods is knowing these paleolithic facts.

foodie 11:17 AM  

well, my 24 hours of brilliance is over. I got the theme early on, and it helped immensely, but still, that little area with SPOOR, SNEES, SMEWS, SKIRR AND OBLOS tumbling on top of each other.. that's easy??? Really?

For a moment, seeing CHINESE----, having CHES in circles but not coming up with MUSTARD (I wanted VINEGAR, which fits) I had the thought that some letters would have hopped "Across the Board" the way chess pieces can do. Luckily, this was not the case, but I did not wind up liking the inconsistency, that all the theme answers were Chess Pieces, and the clue for CHESS was not made special somehow to distinguish it..

I did have a few moments of joy. Lorna DOONE reminded me of discovering the shortbread cookies when I first came to the US and thinking they were the best. Liked TOETOTOE, the way that looks. I too wrote BRAVO and it made me smile. It reminded me of my son when he was three and we were in Italy (searching for peanut butter). We would go the little village and listen to open air music. People would applaud politely and he'd stand up and clap and yell BAVO, BAVO! and suddenly everyone else would follow suit. The musicians loved him!

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

I'm sad that my first answer for 49A (Sub) wasn't correct.
That really is a "treat, like a hero", to me....

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

I just realized that I'm dense (and please don't all jump in to agree with me)because when I see circles in the grid I always solve the entire puzzle before writing out the circled letters to see what they say. That's my end of puzzle "prize." Now I see that probably most of you use the circled letters as in 102A to help solve the rest of the puzzle.

Or maybe there's nothing wrong with my method of getting the theme at the end, I don't know.

Today's puzzle was fun and the only word I didn't know was skirr .. which sounds like "scurry."

Which I'll do right now ....

Orange 11:54 AM  

My phone is ensconced in my bag, unseen since yesterday afternoon. (The phone, not the bag.) I hope you weren't issuing a text-based cry for help, Seth! Do be sure to commit SNEE to memory as the old-time dagger. It's a solid bit of crosswordese. It's right up there with the SMEWS and OBOLS.

Jeff 11:58 AM  

I "finished" this one in normal (for me) Sunday time but, like SethG, was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. SPOOR, OBOLS, SKIRR... wot?!?! I guessed correctly at the cross of JAPES / OPERE (having never heard of either word) and LIMAOHIO / LGS (there could easily be a Rima, Ohio and RGs and LGs are both legit), and I guessed incorrectly at the crosses of OSTEND / SID (where? who?) and BRAVA / ISOLA (Whatever. You got me.). I found some of the clues and answers to be almost... Maleskan.

Although I figured out the theme pretty early on, I thought it was somewhat unfun. There was no discernible (to me) order in which the chess pieces appeared, and neither the theme clues or the larger answer had any relation to the pieces in the the answer.

In the end, I had a so-so solving experience that left me wanting more. I just looked through Rex's archives at some of Mr. Silk's other puzzles, and I remember feeling the same way about them at the time, too. I guess there's just not a good Jeff / Barry C. Silk synergie.

Bill D 12:19 PM  


I usually save Sunday puzzles for long airplane trips, but I wanted to support Seth G on his initial foray into babysitting Crossworld. Great, job, Seth G! I attended a minor league ball game last night for the first time in ages, so I was sort of on your wavelength.

As usual for a Sunday puzzle I worked through everything methodically. I put in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING right off, no crosses, and then felt like Wade did yesterday. Had partials at "...BIGHORN" and "CHINESE..."; once I put in "...MUSTARD" the theme was evident and QUEEN immediately yielded QUARTERMASTER GENERAL. Had the same troubles with the same sections of the puzzle as Seth, but although I knew SPOOR and was sure it was correct, SKIRR just didn't seem plausible. Ultimately, I left it. I, too, missed the "A" at the crossing of BRAVA and ISOLA.

A usual Sunday outing made unusual by Seth G's unique approach.

Bill from NJ 12:20 PM  

I caught on to the theme at 29A which helped a bunch for GUYFAWKESNIGHT which I wouldn't have had otherwise. I got TOETOTOE right away and avoided the OPERA trap on the West Coast.

This puzzle was fairly easy except for the Midlands where SMEWS and SKIRR lurked.

This was one time that knowing the theme really helped in solving.

It was a long slog but I finished without help but had big problems in the NE where I couldn't see anything for the longest time. I finally got the REPENT/DEIMOS cross and that corner fell grudgingly.

I ended in the Midlands where I finally saw PAW which gave me SPOOR and SKIRR fell at last

Ulrich 12:21 PM  

Enjoyment value for me: Average Sunday, I'd say. I like it when I discover the theme about 1/3 through (not earlier, though!) and then can use it to solve the rest easier. In the present case, got the QUEEN first, then filled in all the circles left unfilled (the crosses I had made it always clear which piece would go where), which helped solve the mystery, among others, why Guy Fawkes DAY would not work. Agree that a more plausible order of the pieces would have increased the charm of the puzzle.

Among the handful of words I encountered for the first time, OYER was the most startling one--is it so called b/c people say "oy" a lot during those hearings?

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Well, I knew SPOOR, although it took me a while to get that clue, and SMEWS might have been the tiniest bit familiar, although I wouldn't swear to it, but SNEE and OYER were entirely unbeknownst to me.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Well, I knew SPOOR, although it took me a while to get that clue, and SMEWS might have been the tiniest bit familiar, although I wouldn't swear to it, but SNEE and OYER were entirely unbeknownst to me.

Pythia 12:28 PM  

Was medium difficulty for me, enjoyable overall. I got the theme right away with GUY FAWKES NIGHT. Liked that answer a lot, also ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIG HORN, PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, QUARTERMASTER GENERAL, and CHINESE MUSTARD. PUBLISHING COMPANY is a little dull. SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS feels kind of bogus with the SIR stuck on to make the answer long enough, and I believe he wasn’t yet a SIR (1993) in 1991 when he won Best Actor at the OSCARS. Using CHESS in the last answer seems inconsistent, since all the others have pieces on the board, even though it was necessary to make up something to even out the symmetry of theme answers. Flaw.

The 4th grade boys are back with “Super Duper SUMOS,” stinky gym clothes, Mad magazine, and Leader of Lesbos. DAME = Broad. Hmm. Dictionary says

4. Slang: Sometimes Offensive. a woman; female.

18. Slang.
a. Usually Offensive. a woman.
b. a promiscuous woman.

Did their misogynistic older brother chime in?

The clue for LIMA OHIO seems not to be parallel. City/state answer deserves city/state format clue. (Google maps say it’s 78 miles from Lima to Toledo, not 70 miles.) City 138 miles SSW of Detroit, Michigan, e.g.

Fave clues were “One desiring change” = BEGGAR, “Flies over the Equator” = TSETSES, and “Manhattan part” = RYE.

Learned SKIRR and OTWAY (looks like the original spelling of the title was “Venice Preserv’d”).


JannieB 12:36 PM  

@Ulrich et al: I believe in the NY court system, and perhaps others, the bailiffs call the court to order by saying "Oyer Oyer" - meaning hear hear - It is also a short form of oyer and terminer - a court that hears certain types of criminal cases.

Ulrich 12:52 PM  

@sethg: I forgot to express my admiration for your bravery.

One question: I wonder how a bunch of crossword-toting somethings was received by the baseball crowd--you seem to have made it out of the stadium unscathed.

Michael Chibnik 12:53 PM  

Getting the theme about halfway through helped a lot. "Spoor" was easy for me, but I've never heard of "skirr."

The clue-answer combo I don't understand is honor-accept...I accept as unavoidable lots of things/people/events that I don't honor. Can someone explain this to me?

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

I too stalled at the intersection of "spoor" and "skirr".

I think we've discovered the "skirr" corollary to the Natick principle! That is: it also is unfair to cross a NON-proper noun no one's ever heard of with another that only one person knows!

Otherwise I enjoyed it, Mr. Silk. Thanks.

Doris 1:03 PM  

For a nanosecond, I was a little offended by "broad" except that it was O.K. for Frank Loesser in "Guys and Dolls" and for Oscar Hammerstein II in "South Pacific" (recently wonderfully revived):

"...When a bum buys wine that a bum can't afford/It's a cinch that the bum is under the thumb of some little broad...."
"Guys and Dolls"

"...and she's broad where a broad should be broad...."
"Honey Bun"

And, of course, "There is Nothing Like a Dame."

You can't take umbrage at everything and take all the fun out of life. Thank goodness that Mel Brooks made political incorrectness fashionable again in "The Producers."

JannieB 1:08 PM  

@Michael - think about honoring/accepting a credit card.

RodeoToad 1:15 PM  

I don't usually do Sundays (they're too much like soccer: the field's too big, you can't see all the players at the same time, and occasionally a Brazilian woman shows you her breasts). I stayed up last night to do this one since I knew about Seth's ambitious plan (baseball game followed by Goonies) and wanted to see how it came out. Very nice, Sethg. I had the same concerns as Ulrich for your safety. You left your pocket protector at home, I take it.

I can't remember any particular hangups with the puzzle. The theme pretty much finished it for me. I stumbled awhile with the NIGHT part of GUYFAWKES _______. I was thinking "DAY" for a long time.

My very first baseball game was a Twins/Rangers game. That was probably in about 1977. It was the only baseball game I'd see for another 20 years, as it turns out. I've been to a few Astros games since living in Houston, but never to any other pro sports game.

My dad and I have been to Home Depot again this morning. Coming back, we dropped our load of materials in the middle of the road--16 sheets of OCB, a window, a ceiling fan, and 6 rolls of insulation. It just slid right out the back of the pickup. It happened in the left hand turn lane of an intersection, providing mathematically incalculable ways of getting killed when we went to retrieve it. Luckily, my neighborhood is charactized by the presence of good Samaritans who see it as their life's mission to hang out at intersections all day, so one of those kind souls came to our aid. Then we gave him a ride to Tidwell and Antoine.

Oh, OCB? Sorry, I forget I'm talking to laymen here and not master craftsmen builders like my daddy says I am. It's a kind of heavy-duty particle board that comes in 4X8 foot sheets, kind of like plywood, used mostly in decking for roofing.

Unknown 1:23 PM  


Think about your local pub. They honor Visa and Master Card. Thus they accept payment by that method. For me, I think learning to Honor my Mother and Father required some mutual acceptance, but that's a different story.

mac 1:23 PM  

@sethg: great write-up, wish I had been in that group last night! Such fun to do a puzzle together.

This puzzle was pretty easy for me, the only Huh? moment was for skirr, but it fit and I left it in. Spoor I knew, oyer also is a known legal term, and I managed to work from top to bottom, a sure sign I wasn't having a hard time. The theme words really helped me this time (I often don't look at them until afterward), when I found knight and the title was Across the Board it was easy to figure it out. Filled in a lot of the circles right away.

Im also on the side of the Guy Fawkes Day team, actually thought we were going to have some sort of opposites theme when I filled that in.

@Jane doh: the 4th grade boys didn't notice "tush", I guess....

jae 1:24 PM  

Nice job sethg. This one seemed like work and more medium-challenging than medium-easy. Didn't believe SKIRR but left it, had a lot of trouble getting the NW corner (tried COY and SHY for 3d), and needed my multilingual bride to get ISOLA correct. Got the theme pretty early after filling in GUYFAWKES... and ROCKYMOUN... and it really helped. An overall enjoyable Sun. from Mr. Silk but the areas everyone has mentioned made it more of a chore than it should have been.

miriam b 1:46 PM  

Bonfires are part of the Guy Fawkes observance, along with the honoree being hanged in effigy; at least this is what I've read, regrettably never having been to England. Seems to me that the bonfire would be more exciting by night than by day.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

I plugged a this one for awhile with limited success. I finally got my first theme answer--CHINESEMUSTARD--and fell into the same trap as sethg as I looked for other types of boards. After staring at the half-filled grid for several minutes, I dozed off. I don't know if that is an indication of a so-so puzzle or of my personal fatigue.

When I woke form my nap, I got a little traction and made some good progress, but finally had to google for a few answers to finish (DAHLIA, OTWAY, LAURA, OPERE). Knew SPOOR, but never saw SKIRR, which came from crosses, lucky for me. For awhile, I tried GUYFAWKESESDAY (did find a reference to revelers as Guy Fawkeses) but figured out the problem on my own. I forgot about the theme and never realized I had it wrong till just now. My time, with nap, turned out to be just under an hour, which is 2-3 times normal (though usually it's sans nap).

Pythia 1:52 PM  

SethG: apologies for not complimenting you earlier on the great write-up. Lots of fun, and a tour de force of multi-tasking. You have met the challenge with aplomb and succeeded in maintaining the high standards set by your colleagues!

@mac: thanks, I never saw TUSH (or the neighboring NARY)

@doris: fortunately, lots has changed since 1949/1950 when those shows were first produced. I wouldn't have objected if there had been a reference to "South Pacific" for DAME, but I find the use of DAME and "broad" as synonyms to be retro in the attitude-toward-women department. I see it's been used by the NYT several times since 1998, but not by other publications in the same list. The wrong kind of nostalgia, for me at least.


SethG 2:02 PM  

Wow. To paraphrase Frank Bartles, I thank you all for your support.

re:@karma, the we are, in order, John Chandler-Pepelnjak, JohnJohn, Weeky, PuzzleMomToBe, SethG and Kirby. Sorry for the poor lighting on my pictures, and I'll maybe figure out how to size them better for next time.

re:@miriam b, not sure that this can take different styles, but I know how much Joon loves a good joke:

A Buddhist walks up to a hot dog vendor and says "Make me one with everything."
He gives the woman $10, and the she puts it in her cash register and closes the drawer.
"What about my change?" he asks.
She replies "True change comes from within."

@Ulrich, you're probably used to those Pittsburgh brutes; people here in Minnesota are all really nice. Or maybe just scared of a massively pregnant woman.

In summary, John Chandler-Pepelnjak.

HudsonHawk 2:06 PM  

@jane doh, I wasn't crazy about Lima, Ohio either (mainly because I wasn't thinking I'd need to parse it), but I'm guessing Silk wanted the ambiguity from the two Toledos that came to mind for me (Ohio and Spain).

Bill from NJ 2:12 PM  


There certainly was a whiff of old Eugene V in this puzzle. You can always tell when Restoration dramtists rear their ugly head in a puzzle. Lots of latin and latinesque words like OBVERT and stuff from the 17th Century like SKIRR and SNEES.

Since I broke in under Maleska and learned a lot of crosswordese from him, I tend not to notice much anymore unless it's really egregious.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Sethg, nothing to add, but wonderful write up. I'll be looking for you to drop into our locally owned and operated toy store to shower on that new baby when it joins your group.

grouchonyy 2:20 PM  

Anyone who is a fan of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series knows Isola as his name for the city otherwise known as New York. His geography is pretty close once you match his fictional names with the real ones ( ie, Riverhead is for the Bronx and Isola for Manhattan and the city, in general.)

alanrichard 2:36 PM  

I did the SE first, so I got Chinese Mustard and Chess immediately. Then I realized the theme and backtracked Bishop, Queen, and Knight - which made those answers very easy. Unfortunatlely I knew Anthony Hopkins but it never dawned on me to preface it with SIR - so I had 3 blank spaces at the beginning. The only "problem" with theme puzzles is that you get all the gimmies. I knew spoor but I never heard skirr - again its a good thing for contextural analysis. I was also unfamiliar with JAPES but I guessed oPere as a language variation of opera.
I enjoyed the writeup combined with the Twins game. I find doing the puzzle at some event,(concert, show, etc) is more enjoyable. Its even more enjoyable if the concert, show, etc is not especially enjoyable!!
I thought that Lorna Doone was a cookie - so I guess Blackmore is a competitor of Keebler.
I went to Mamma Mia yeaterday and I wish that I hadn't finished the puzzle before I went!!!!!
But I made my wife happy by going with her.

Bill from NJ 3:02 PM  

Mr Maleska's middle initial is T not V as I said in my post. My error

chefbea 3:03 PM  

a fun easy sunday puzzle and a fun write-up even tho I'm not a baseball fan. I got knight and king right away and figured the circles were all chessmen. But couldnt figure out what the 7th man was. Took forever to get chinese mustard and realize chess.

RodeoToad 3:09 PM  

Bill, obviously you were thinking of Eugene V. Debs. You damn pinko.

What this write-up really needs is a good photo of a beet salad. Wait a minute! . . .

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Hm, no puppy pix but a b*seball play-by-play. Win some, lose some (in that order ;-)

Chess, now that I like. For once I solved from the top down, and so noticed and used the theme but wondered why there were 7 theme entries when there are only 6 chess pieces. I liked the resolution of this quandary.

Yes, "broad" for 54A:DAME surprised me too. I've long wondered whether the "promiscuous woman" definition is related somehow with the Biblical prostitute Rahab (see the Book of Joshua, chapter 2), whose name literally means "broad" in Hebrew!


chefbea 3:23 PM  

@wade and anyone else who cares

mac 3:59 PM  

Feeling very good about my puzzle activity today I came down with a thud: I needed Wade's comment to take another look at that salad.....

P.S. I don't like my beets hiding in the greenery!

Will 4:52 PM  
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Will 4:55 PM  

I was able to get Ostend because I was at James Buchanan's house Wheatland in Lancaster, PA on Thursday. He was one of the three writers of it while he was minister to Britain.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Lorna Doone is the title character in a novel by *Somebody* Blackmore. I had to read it for Freshman year High school summer reading. Hated it.

I had such trouble with the crosses in that area that I started to think my answer was wrong, but that's about as close to a sure thing there is...

Rex Parker 5:24 PM  

This was not one of my favorite Sundays. Random letters in long phrases make up chess piece names? Huzzah? Then there's all the SPOOR (which is the word that should replace "crosswordese" - much more economical, and vivid).

Seth, that pic of you all at the game with your grids is priceless. Thanks so much for your original approach to xword blogging.

You all can expect your Monday write-up early (i.e. "tonight" your time). It's 9:20 am here. I'll probably blog the puzzle after second breakfast, if I can keep my wonderful in-laws from over-planning my day. Sun is out today, and so beautiful is it that I can barely keep my focus on the keyboard. 360 degree view of mountain landscapes in the morning sun. But you know that by now. Expect pics with Monday's write-up.

Aroha nui,

Pythia 6:30 PM  

@ hudsonhawk: interesting thought re Toledo Ohio and Spain. I assumed that it was Ohio because Spaniards don't measure distances in miles, but in kilometers, I think.

dk 6:39 PM  

Remember, remember the fifth of November, (The gun powder plot and V for Vendetta.

OK puzzle for me, All the @Sethg references to the twin cities including the last MTM one were... dorkey! (Note: I am a NYC transplant so whatever I say is crapola). But I did see the NY Dolls at the Minnesota State Fair.... way cool.

I want to do a x-word baby shower for our substitute (sssh, @sethg will never know we are talking about him) . Think of the gifts, the food items and I personally will ensure the child will become an unbalanced adult.

Just to be fair I think we should send @puzzlegirl all our great music and I have adjusted @wades West Law bill (well that one did go up).

I am off to Madeline Island for 5 days of camping fun. So you will have 5 days free of lame commentary.... or will you.


dk 6:48 PM  

one more thing now that I think about it... Strip clubs surround the Twins dome so I'm think-in this Goonies stuff is a bit suspicious.

ooops, ignore me it is just the fumes from the camp fuel.

An aside, I have a tiny espresso maker (fits on a backpack camp stove) that everyone I camp with makes fun of... until 7 AM... read the Little Red Hen for the results.

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

Not a pleasing puzzle for me today. I got all the relatively fun stuff right away, and then became obsessively stuck filling in the (for me) obscure bits. Finally managed it, with help, and breathed a sigh of relief that it was over.

@ Barry: You are not alone. My approach is basically the same as yours on the harder puzzles. I generally enjoy the research and the learning experience. But I don't like it at all when I have to google a map to find a city or town I've never heard of in some three-letter compass direction from a given point. I have no obvious use for the information gained thereby.


MommaJ 8:25 PM  

For me, this was a deadly combination of difficulty and boredom. Had "spoor" right away, couldn't cross it, erased it, finished the rest of the puzzle, cane back to that section, put "spoor" back in, gnashed teeth, got disgusted, came here. If I'm going to be challenged, I want to be rewarded with cleverness, humor, SOMETHING. This must have come from the back of Shortz's filing cabinet.

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

@jannieb The call to order is not "oyer" but "oyez", a Franco-Norman imperative plural

chefbea 8:48 PM  

@dk I agree we definitely should do a baby shower.
No beets - just baby food

Bill D 9:02 PM  

Creamed beets!

foodie 11:05 PM  
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Orange 12:29 AM  

You know what cheese makes for good nachos, Seth? Pepelnjak cheese.

fergus 1:10 AM  

This was a good puzzle to go with a baseball game. Good combination, as long as the puzzle is reasonably challenging and the game's not too one-sided. And I found this difficult, even with the theme helping. Must have expended too much mental power trying to figure out the Batman movie, so that when I got to the puzzle after the matinee, it was fits and starts. Finally, after reading some of the Clues a dozen times, with at least 10 spaces open, I figured it's Rex time. Never want to give up, but since I never much liked the cut of this puzzle's jib, I figured it was OK. Not that it wasn't a strong puzzle, I was just a bad solver.

SPOOR is a good new word for the Puzzler's Lexicon.

The Asian Badger 6:10 PM  

Very nice writeup, Seth. I never did like the Metrodome as a baseball venue, however. I'd leave more plaudits about the writeup but I've got to SKIRR to the NABE for "Batman".

embien 4:53 PM  

One week later, from Syndicationland:

Very nice writeup SethG! I can imagine the reaction from other fans in the stands when you all displayed your grids for the photo.

ISOLA was a gimme for me since I remembered "La Isola Bonita" by Madonna. Only to discover upon Googling after solving that it was really "La Isla Bonita" (different language). Is there a term for misremembering a factoid so badly that one actually gets the right answer?

I had a real problem with 75d: Open court hearing (OYER) since I knew for certain that the correct term was OYEZ. The cross (SAFER) forced me to put in the 'R' but I was convinced it was wrong.

And who knew from SKIRR, but I let it stand from the crosses (out here in hunting country we know our SPOOR).

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

What a day, the Twins and the Times.
I think you must get the NYC paper, as you know the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune are well behind the current blog. Thanks for your assessment of the puzzle.

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