Saturday, August 2, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

Hi, everyone. PuzzleGirl and Seth here with your Sunday puzzle. I was on the schedule for this puzzle, but two things happened. First, Wade blew everyone away with yesterday's post and there was no way I was coming out here all by myself and (2) PuzzleMomToBe is in labor (!!!) and went to the hospital so Seth is hanging out at home all by himself tonight. He kept whining to me about how much he was missing his friends and I finally told him to shut up and start writing. Sunday puzzles are big, so we've got a lot to cover. Let's get right to it.

Theme: Off With Their Heads! Theme answers start with a word followed by the same word with its first letter (i.e., head) removed. The resulting words are clued as parts of ... something a random person might say.

Theme Answers:

  • 23A: "Will the long-winded REVEREND EVER END his sermon?"
  • 32A: "The majority of British HISTORY IS TORY policy coming to fruition"
  • 48A: "I noticed you use the SPOTLESS POT LESS often the tarnished one"
  • 57A: "The driver's crew decided to make the PITSTOP ITS TOP priority"
  • 67A: "The parishioners ignored the MANDATE AND ATE meat on Friday"
  • 81A: "The judges put the name of each FINALIST IN A LIST for the M.C. to read"
  • 94A: "As one member of the crew LABORED A BORED co-worker leaned on his shovel"
  • 110A: "You won't find any SONATINA ON A TINA Turner album"
We like this theme. The puzzle was very easy, but the theme was tricky enough to keep it interesting. And this is one of those themes where you really have to wonder how in the hell someone ever thought of it. Can you imagine the conversation?
Peter: Hi, Joe. I was wondering if you have any interest in collaborating on a Sunday puzzle.

Joe: Sure, Peter, I'd love to. Do you have any ideas for a theme?

Peter: Well I was thinking about using a word like MANDATE and then doing something tricky with it.

Joe: What if we repeat the word only the second time we take the first letter off of it. So we end up with MANDATE AND ATE.

Peter: Wow! How'd you do that? That's awesome! Hey, hey, I've got one ... FINALIST IN A LIST.

Joe: Awesome! But we still have to figure out how to clue them.

Peter: Let's just make up some random sentences to put them in.

Joe: Whoa -- slow down there, big fella. That's a great idea! I'm writing it down!
We're pretty sure it happened Just. Like. That.

Stuff you hate to see but it's Sunday and you know there's only so much a puzzle constructor can do:
  • 10A: 11th-century year (MLIX). The random Roman numeral.
  • 55A: Alphabet quartet (RSTU). The random alphabet string.
  • 60A: "Life _____ beach" (is a). The phrase is "Life's a beach." Can't blame you for trying though.
  • 92A: Teacher: Var. (pedagog). It can't be helped.
  • 113A: Wash. neighbor (Oreg.). What can you do?
  • 11D: Deceive (lie to). One of a couple of prepositional(?) to's, along with 16D: ___-ground missile (air-to) and 37A: Took care of (saw to). And the similar 9D: Take up wholeheartedly (dive into) and 57D: Attach, as to a lapel (pin on). And it seemed like more while SethG was solving.
Other stuff:
  • 20A: One of the Four Seasons (Valli). PuzzleGirl's favorite song in sixth grade was "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)." (Just thinking about it takes me back to roller-skating at Bud's Roller Rink in Moorhead, Minnesota. (That was back in the old days before the big fancy Skateland was built.) I went poking around YouTube looking for a video of it and found out about the musical "Jersey Boys." Have you seen it? It looks awesome.)
  • 30A: Mark, Anthony and others: Abbr. (Sts.). This clue did exactly what PuzzleGirl suspects it was intended to do. She didn't read it closely enough to realize it wasn't about Mark Antony.
  • 40A: Washington State airport (Sea-Tac). Short for Seattle-Tacoma. Sea-Tac's airport code is SEA.
  • 43A: Amaze (awe) / 39D: Amaze (wow). PuzzleGirl had AWE for both of them at first, knowing only one of them would be right, but waiting to see which one.
  • 44A: One of five Norwegian kings (Olav). Let's see there was Olav I, Olav II, Olav III, Olav IV, and ... what was the last one again? Oh yeah, Olav V. SethG wants to remind you once again that this could have been Olaf, just like 3D: Dwellers in Middle-earth (elves) has an F/V switch depending on the form of the word.
  • 52A: Ties a second knot (reweds). Somehow this reminds PuzzleGirl of the "recarve" conversation we had a while back. To her, the answer only works if the person is marrying someone they have been married to previously. And then the clue doesn't work because that would really be more like tying the same old knot again after it's been untied, and not tying a second knot. Or maybe nobody cares.
  • 54A: Human _____ Project (Genome). If you like music and you like to listen to it on your computer, you owe it to yourself to check out Pandora (The Music Genome Project). PuzzleGirl just signed up for it a couple days ago and (a) she totally loves it and (b) when she saw this clue she somehow knew that Pandora's tag-line was a take-off on this, even though she doesn't really know what it is.
  • 63A: Welcome at the door (ask in). PuzzleGirl had SEE IN at first. SethG might have, but does remember now that this is the other answer that included the preposition.
  • 65A: Crossed one's i's and dotted one's t's? (erred). Again, this devious clue did exactly what it was supposed to do. PuzzleGirl's eye skimmed right over it and thought it said "dotted one's i's and crossed one's t's" so confidently entered WROTE. For a brief moment she knew it couldn't be right because of the question mark, but she just kept moving on anyway in that foolish way she sometimes does.
  • 66A: Promgoers: Abbr. (srs.). At PuzzleGirl's high school, jrs. could go to the prom too. Of course that was a hundred years ago. Maybe things are different now.
  • 80A: It might lead to a cloud formation, for short (a-test).
  • 86A: Pusher catcher, for short (narc). Love this clue.
  • 90A: Baloney (jive). The best thing about this clue is that it doesn't say "agree." Because you know what? That's not JIVE, it's JIBE. Go ahead and look it up. You know we're right.
  • 107A: Box-and-one alternative (man-to-man). This is a type of defense used in basketball, sort of a cross between man-to-man and zone.
  • 112A: Wilder and Hackman (Genes). The first movie PuzzleGirl ever went to on a date was "Silver Streak" with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. (Oh my god. I was 11 when this movie came out. Well, it wasn't a Real date. There were four couples and we had parents dropping us off. There was definitely kissing involved though. Remind me in a couple years not to let my daughter do anything like that.)
  • 114A: Potato pancake (latke). Do you know if there's a difference between latke and lefse? Of course you do. Explain it to us in the comments!
  • 5D: Park in New York, say (Avenue). It's also a Buick, which was part of General Motors, which also owned Oldsmobile, the company founded by 7D: Automotive Pioneer ([Ransom] Olds).
  • 14D: Franciscan home (Assisi). SethG used to have trouble with this like he does with Cincinnati, which he has not once in his life spelled correctly at first, always doubling the t instead of the n. (Including this time—so now I guess I know how to spell it, I just think I don’t and wind up switching. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. Anyway, I don’t have that problem with Assisi any more, but I do think of Andre Agassi every time I see the word.)
  • 15D: Relics of the Wild West (ghost towns). Actually, we hear North Dakota is like that now. Maybe.
  • 38D: Ursine : bear :: pithecan : ___ (ape). Oh, right, as in Australopithecus, the first bipedal hominids, which may well be our common ancestor--they're trying to figure that out at the Chimpanzee Genome Project. SethG was right by the Oldupai Gorge last year, but didn’t stop in.
  • 41D: Al's is almost 27 (at. wt.). Al is aluminum, at. wt. is atomic weight, almost 27 is approximately 26.981540.
  • 46D: Mail for a knight (armor). Chain mail.
  • 47D: Johnson and Johnson, e.g. (veeps). What, did they forget about Johnson?
  • SethG knew a man with a wooden leg named Smith. 60D: "That is to say ..." (I mean), 59D: Many a pirate's appendage (peg).
  • SethG is noticing that as he goes through these he's not coming across any missteps he took that he can point out to you. He thinks that's 'cause he really had just one: 68D: Record holder (disc jockey). (That's just a bit too cute. Or not cute enough. That is to say, I don't think that really works, and I don’t think it's creative enough to get away with that. I bet you most disc jockeys, today especially, never actually touch a record. I had the DISC all along, but I tried, or at least thought about, SLEEVE and JACKET before settling on JOCKEY.)
  • 82D: Compromises (imperils). The second 'i' was SethG's last fill. (I was thinking that the clue was a little off--I think of imperil as implying much more danger than compromise. But I looked it up, and ... I’m not sure. The definition of compromise in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary ("to expose to ... mischief"; "to reveal or expose to ... an enemy"; "to cause the impairment of") feels weaker than the definition of compromise in Merriam-Webster’s online thesaurus ("to place in danger").) (PuzzleGirl wonders what the hell SethG thinks happens after one is "exposed to an enemy." Dinner and a movie?)
  • Every once in a while we see either the first or last name of 85D: Japanese-born Hall of Fame golfer (Isao Aoki), but this might be a first appearance for his full name. And he’s joined by 109A: Mushroom variety (enoki) and 119A: Tom Joad, e.g. (Okie), the protagonist in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. AO AO OKI OKI OKI. Very nice.
  • 96D: Fess Parker TV role (Boone). Is Fess a man's name or a woman's? We assume this is from the famous family, and F. Parker must have portrayed Pat or Debbie Boone; we're just not sure which one. But we're pretty sure there are no other Boones worthy of inclusion. Man! If only Wade were here to help us with this one.
  • 103D: Red River city (Hanoi). SethG loves Vietnamese food, probably even more than 58D: Cuisine choice (Indian), but he's including this so we can talk about math all day instead of root vegetables. SethG loves combinatorics, and the Towers of Hanoi problem is even related to perfect numbers! PuzzleGirl just wants to say that every time the answer is a five-letter word for Red River city, she wants it to be FARGO and it never is.
  • 104D: Related on the mother's side (enate). Learned it from crosswords, guarantee we'll never use it elsewhere.
94D: "Hasta ___" (luego) ("So long"), PuzzleGirl & SethG


Anonymous 9:09 AM  

DANIEL Boone, I'm surprised at you!

miriam b 9:20 AM  

Fess Parker played Daniel Boone on TV, way back when. He also played Davy Crockett. He now runs a winery in the Santa Ynez valley.

Sending positive vibes to Mrs. Seth. And of course to Seth.

Orange 9:20 AM  

Agnate means "related on the father's side." A crosswordy friend of mine blogged about visiting his agnate grandparents, and I wonder if any of his readers thought Agnate was their last name.

Yes, PuzzleGirl, Fargo's on the Red River too. Manny Nosowsky's 4/1/08 puzzle had FARGO as the [Red River City], and the only other Red River/FARGO combo in Cruciverb's database was a 2005 NYT.

Anonymous, I'm pretty sure they were kidding about the Boones.

I have a gay friend who has rewed his husband twice, meaning they've had three weddings in various places with broader marriage rights.

Orange 9:20 AM  

Miriam, PuzzleMomToBe is not Mrs. Seth! She's just a housemate.

Orange 9:22 AM  

...because omigod! If that were Seth's wife, gone to the hospital in labor, what would Seth be doing home alone? Planning his post-divorce life, that's what.

miriam b 9:24 AM  

@orange: OOPS. Thanks for the info. Still sending positive vibes.

Never mentioned my take on the puzzle. Very cute, but easy for a Sunday once the theme became apparent.

RodeoToad 9:25 AM  

Fess Parker is from Tex---!

Ohhhhh, I see. I see what you're trying to get me to do. Well, I'm not going to fall for it. I'm not going to tell you that lefse is a traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made out of potato, milk or cream and flour, and cooked on a griddle. Special tools are available for lefse baking, including long wooden turning sticks and special rolling pins with deep grooves, many of which come from trees from Texas, the state one of which is the pecan. There are significant regional variations in the way lefse is made and eaten, but it generally resembles a flatbread, although in many parts of Norway, especially Valdres, it is far thinner, not unlike the svelte vixens who populate the Lone Star State. In some parts of the United States (such as North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, northern and central Iowa, Wisconsin, and Washington), lefse is available in grocery stores; one Minnesota tortilla factory makes a run of lefse once a month on its tortilla equipment, much to the delight of vacationing Texans, who gawk and say, "What the hay-ell is that? Yaw'l eat that stuff?" and sometimes gleefully shoot their pistols into the air.

Barry G. 9:42 AM  

Morning, folks!

Absolutely brilliant theme, I thought. I wonder how long it took to get it all put together?

Overall a fairly easy puzzle for me, and I did managed to get it finished unassisted. I had USHER instead of ASK IN for 63A for awhile, which messed me up a bit. And then I had DEMAGOG instead of PEDAGOG for 92A, which kept me from finishing the puzzle for something like 10 minutes while I furiously tried to figure out where I had gone wrong. I just could not get any letter combination to work for 82D, but just couldn't figure out which word or words were wrong. Until, of course, the light went off above my head with a nearly audible *ding* and I fixed my mistake.

Did I mention how impressed I was with the theme?

Unknown 9:59 AM  

Looks like minor Japanese sports figures could solve many constructors problems, but so could New Zealand geographical sites. Not being a very good speller and having VAR after a clue meant I was left to pick a vowel. My first choice was pedigog. Nevertheless, I liked the puzzle despite wondering what a feep might be. I also tried SEN for Mark and Anthony as the spelling was off, but I thought of the Roman Senate. Still got it all correctly and under a half an hour. Think I'll pull out my ENOKI and b--- risotto recipe.

I used to tell Texas jokes to my working colleagues in Nottingham England. While on a mountain bike trek we came across a contraption for lifting an engine out of a car for repairs. I said, I see you have Texas tomato pickers. They fell off of their bikes.

alanrichard 10:12 AM  

Puzzles that have repitition in the answers, like this, are very easy once you get the theme. With all the long answers from the 8x repeated repeated theme, the balance is a given contexturally. The puzzle was clever and I appreciate the construction. The only one that threw me a bit was pitstop itstop. I got it right away but then i realized it was pitstop its top.
As you do more and more puzzles, the clues that are "outside the lines" become somethings that you recognize quickly. I have no trouble with any Times puzzle because there is a consistency in the clues. On Friday & Saturday I just try to be aware of the wider range of more obscure answers.

JannieB 10:22 AM  

I liked the puzzle and found the theme to be ingenious. But once it's discovered, all falls into place very quickly. As I was working the NW corner, I first had "PREACHEREVEREND" (hey - it worked with quite a few of the downs) and thought it was a two-words-smooshed -together gimmick. Then it sort of fell apart, but I pieced it back together and was on my way. Only theme entry that gave pause was "sonatina..." since that form of music was unknown to me. I agree we went to the prepositional phrase well a bit too often, but I'll let it slide since the theme was so fresh and clever.

Bill from NJ 10:47 AM  

As usual on a Sunday, I cherry-Picked until I got the theme figured out which was at MANDATEANDATE and the puzzle was half done at that point. LABOREDABORED confirmed the theme and I went to work on the theme answers and got all but one straight away - the Tina Turner one hid from me because I didn't recognize the word sontina.

The NW gave me the worst time and I stared at empty space for a long time having only the theme answer filled in and nothing else. When TARPS dawned on me I quickly finished.

This was a typical Sunday puzzle for me. I slogged through a lot of clues ending in TO and IN and FOR, a random Roman numeral year, an alphabet run, and, of course, the obligatory ATEST. (I wonder if alphabet runs are limited to four letters by tradition or what?)I saw alot of spoor like YUM, EMIT,GET, OIL and SHE and a couple of abbreviations.

Beyond the theme, there wasn't much to recommend this one

Ulrich 10:56 AM  

I, too, find the theme ingenious, to say the least. Once found, it helped in cutting wide swaths into every section of the grid, if you had a few crosses, which then made the puzzle overall easy--agree on all of this.

Had to ask puzzlewife for help with the Fess person, and she not only knew the answer, but confessed that in her childhood, the show was so popular that kids wore coonskin hats, and this included her. If you knew her in her present incarnation, you would know how utterly ludicrous this sounds.

ArtLvr 11:03 AM  

I loved this too -- double-take on [crossed the i's], etc. UTTER fun...

Who's the VALLI in 20A [one of the Four Seasons]? Okay, I looked it up: Frankie Valli (born Francis Castellucio) of a group originally called the Four Lovers, with the name of the latter later changed to Four Seasons after a bowling alley where they performed in NJ. Who knew?

As for the GENES and REWEDS, I don't know about Wilder and Hackman, but Gene Krupa did rewed Ethel McGuire --; they were hitched 1934-1942 and also 1946-1955, until her death. (He was remarried in 1959 to Patty Bowler.) Oddly, none of this marital history is shown in the otherwise great 1959 movie "The Gene Krupa Story", only some scenes of Gene's friendship with Ethel in their earlier years!

Orange, if your friend has rewed his partner in three states without benefit of divorce in between, are they trimonogamists, bigamists or ?

Many thanks to the blogging team, and Kudos to Collins and Krozel, and Shortz as well, I'm sure.

Bill from NJ 11:13 AM  


I think the whole Davy Crockett coonskin cap was one of the first TV based fads that opened the door to modern marketing as we know it today. We can thank Fess Parker for all the Star Wars and Batman merchandising campaigns we are seeing.

I think the year was 1959 that all this coonskin cap stuff happened and I, too, was just the right age for it. As a young boy , I also fell into "The Rifleman" campaign which was happening at roughly the same time

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

We loved the puzzle, and it was very fun to figure out the theme answers. We had "Boots" for 45D "sacks", and the seldom known "Obav" as the just as plausable name for a Norweigan king as Olav.....

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Davey Crockett was on Disneyland around 1955. I had a coon skin hat and a gun too. In 1959, I would have been too old for such childish things! I loved that series, Fess Parker, Buddy Ebsen and whoever played Big Mike Fink, king of the river.
We all loved to play Davey Crockett and we were GIRLS too.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

My post re Davey should have been attributed to Hobbyist.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Thanks for a fun puzzle! My favorite theme entry was the final one (110A -- maybe Tina Turner will record a sonatina on her next album just to confuse future solvers). Silver and bronze to the two churchly theme entries, 23A:(N)EVEREND and 67A:(M)ANDATE. The latter was the first one I got; knowing the theme made solving easier because any letter in a theme answer (other than the first) could be duplicated later on even before the full phrase had been put together.

I did notice that i and t were switched in the clue for 65A:ERRED, since I (intentionally) use that order myself on occasion. Alas only the "crossing my eyes" part of the resulting phrase makes sense, unless I'm making polka-dot tie-dye. What caught me was 13D which I misread as "like some boxes or ballots" and couldn't fit any of the candidates IED, VED or XED into that box. That X was my last letter, after re-reading the clue.

Other notes:

20A:VALLI means nothing to me. 35A: I wonder if this was clued for WON'T before Shortz's editing. 54A:GENOME -- a missed opportunity for a minitheme with 112A:GENES and 117A:BASE, which instead get gratuitous pop-cult and b*seball clues (though at least those clues are easy). 55A:RSTU -- on the bright side, any one of the four letters gimmes the other three (and then produces the conundrum "milk"="U??"). 88A: before reading the clue I thought NYM??? would be NYMETS. NYMPHS is much nicer.

5D: neat clue for PARK. 10D/11D: nice to clue these with single words both matching DE???VE. 14D:ASSISI -- that's St.Francis's home; is it also a Franciscan home? 24D:REYNOLDS -- didn't know that one either, but at least it's a standard name, unlike 20A:VALLI. 33D:YEWS -- I knew about yews in archers' bows and a Taxol source, but not this association. Curiously the French word for the tree, "if", seems to be cognate with "yew" despite the lack of common letters. Apropos French, 35D:TES -- I would have expected that such a letter combination would be much more common. 41D: Once I figured out Al=aluminum I wondered why the atomic number would be given as "almost 27". Then I remembered that aluminum is nor 25 or 26 but #13, which is almost *half* of 27, so it had to be ATWT. 57D:PINON -- also PIÑON, "any of various small pines [...] of western North America with edible seeds". 78D:SSE -- were the clue cities (Beijing, Shanghai) chosen in honor of the coming Olympic Games? 84D:THD -- nice to see this rarer relative of PHD once in a while. 93D:GINNED -- I suppose the derivation of this kind of "gin" from 74A:ENGINE is too obscure to stop the two words from appearing in the same puzzle. 110D:SOB -- minitheme with... I won't go there :-)


P.S. Almost forgot: 69D:ANT -- the proverb is much better known (and pithier) in Hebrew, where ants are grammatically feminine. It's literally a Proverb: chapter 6, verse 6. To full verse is usually rendered something like "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider [lit. "see"] her ways, and become wise". In this online selection of translations of the verse I also find, from "GOD'S WORD (c) Translation ((c) 1995)": "Consider the ant, you lazy bum. Watch its ways, and become wise."!

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Being near St. Olaf College I went right for olaf instead of OLAV.

Ya sure, lefse is a food you can get in the grocery in Iowa.

It is part of the 'white foods' category that includes other potato dishes, cauliflower and of course, lutefisk.

This has nothing to do with the color of the folks who eat it but only with the color of the food itself.

Being in fly over country, I put in boeing for SEATAC initially.

Also put in sylph for NYMPH for a while.

Leon 12:56 PM  

Great Sunday puzzle Mr. Collins and Mr. Krozel.

Enjoyable write-up PG and SG.

OXEYE daisy is an invasive weed. Remember that when you play "She/He loves me, loves me not."

The Queen of Hearts only says "Off with Their Heads" once. She adds his/her afterwards.

Off with their Heads at the

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Guess you guys are too young to remember the TV show in the 60's, the coonskin caps every kid had, and, the unforgettable theme song: "Danl Boone was a man, yes a BIIIIG man ..."

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

I think that the coon skin cap goes with the Davey Crocket persona, but reference here is to Fess Parker in his Daniel Boone role

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

You should learn about the Human Genome Project.

jeff in chicago 2:24 PM  

Jeff's spelling tip o' the day"

For Cincinnati, think 1-2-1 -- 1 n, 2 n's, 1 t

Aside: for Caribbean, think chocolate, sorta....carob bean -- 1 r, 2 b's

Tomorrow we will tackle "ophthamologist"

JannieB 2:38 PM  

@noam d. elkies - someone (Michelle??) posted a few questions for you on yesterday's puzzle blog.

@ACME - just wanted to share that my puzzle husband did his first ever xword today - your "words of consolation" entry of June 23. He loved it! When I told him he could turn his Blackberry into a beta site for that new software Rex mentioned, he was on it in a flash. Thanks!

ClueLass 2:51 PM  

I thought lefse was a latke for jewish Norweigans.....but I guess that is only if you live in Texas.

miriam b 2:55 PM  

@noam: Thanks for a witty and informative post, as usual.

Here's an excerpt from Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard":

Beneath those rugged elms, that YEW-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

I will also bet you a PENNY that some of the trees in Edward Gorey's wonderful lugubrious images are YEWS.

I suppose the name of the Château d'If has something to do with YEWS.

I tried for a while to think of the Italian names for the four seasons and finally gave up, eventually getting VALLI via crosses. OK, I'm enlightened now.

I have to ask what milk = U could possibly refer to. Sounds like something out of Lewis Carroll.

Orange 3:01 PM  

Jeff in Chicago, you mean "ophthalmologist," of course, with that other L. (I'm in medical editing, and wow, a lot of people in medical publishing have trouble with that word. Nobody wants the first H or L.) I am keen on seeing what sort of mnemonic you might have for that one!

jae 3:22 PM  

I agree, easy and ingenious. Like Iowa Tom I briefly had SYLPHS but that was pretty much my only misstep. I also balked at SONATINA having not heard of that form. VALLI, however, was a gimmie as I was/am a big fan and I highly recommend Jersey Boys if it comes to your town.

And, to echo Orange, I'm pretty sure PG and Sethg were kidding about the BOONE thing.

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

I loved the writeup -- and got a good laugh out of the imagined dialogue between Peter and me. It's actually pretty close to the way collaboration conversations go.

In the present instance, the theme concept was Peter's ...and I thought it was brilliant (which I can say in all modesty because the concept wasn't mine at all). Peter has contributed material for Will's Sunday morning puzzle program on NPR before, and this theme was quite true to that form. As for my part, I scoured my wordlist and generated three theme items, but the really hilarious material was Peter's. Also, we were very careful to clue the theme entries so that each half of each entry had its own context within the clue.

On the (non-theme) clue side, Peter generated the one for ERRED, and I generated the one for ATWT. But, alas, I don't want to say too much.

Overall, Peter and I had a lot of fun collaborating on this puzzle and were very hopeful that you would all like it. So, thank you all for your feedback.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

@Miriam B: You're welcome, and thanks for the further Yew info. Yes, I'd imagine the If of the Château d'If is a tree (and not the Kipling poem), though I don't know how such a name came about.

I wrote not "milk=U" (or "milk=yew") but "milk=U??": the last letter of the alphabet quartet at 55A is U, and that's also the first letter of 56D, a three-letter word clued "Milk". So "Milk" must clue a word mtching the pattern "U??". Sorry for the unintended mystification.

@Jannieb: Thanks, I didn't see this in yesterday's blog (I hadn't even attempted to solve the puzzle, which apparently was just as well...). It's actually "fussy" at 4:28, not Michelle. In case "fussy" is reading this:

1) I can't think of a canonical example of a two-holed torus. A standard pretzel is three-holed, so you can bite off one arm and get a two-holed one. There are also two-handled coffee cups, and the occasional one-handled cup with a fancy handle (e.g. ask for "coffee cup dp3").

2) Yes, I expect Goldbach to be proved before 2100, if only because of the general rapid pace of development of mathemtics in recent times.


miriam b 4:14 PM  

Thanks, Noam. All would have been abundantly clear if I'd had the puzzle in front of me as I read your post!

crackup 4:36 PM  

"Jersey Boys" is a fun play to see, especially if you know the music.
Daniel wore a coonskin cap as well, porbably skinned the critter hisself.
Fess parker owns a hotel in Santa Barbara, too.
Great write up, missed yesterday's, felt a hole in my day.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

@joe krozel -- it's great that you and other constructors come to Rex's site. As you know, we live for what you do and are so appreciative of your talent -- it's special for us to know you listen to our comments. I think the back and forth between creators and solvers can only mean better and more interesting puzzle adventures for all of us.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Actually it was me who said that about joe krozel.

CY 5:26 PM  

anonymous wrote:
We had "Boots" for 45D "sacks", and the seldom known "Obav" as the just as plausable name for a Norweigan king as Olav.....,,

Same here. I did have a moment's pause as I wondered if there were actually five Norwegian King Obavs, but I put it out of mind and went on with the crossword. Now I'm kicking myself.

fergus 7:13 PM  

Solving in the shade at a little music festival took three distinct stages: gentle woodwind introduction, lively brass band, and vigorous mind-rattling (in a good way) taiko drumming. I guess the theme was easy enough since I was entering the correct ANSWERS while often reading the wrong Clues. Not to say that this wasn't a good and pleasing puzzle, though. Early theme apprehension does offer a whole bunch of automatic entries, as was noted above, and sort of took away some of the appreciation of the Clue cleverness.

I may have read through too quickly but didn't see any explanation for MAN TO MAN from Box-and-one alternative. I've got a wrestling match co-existing with a small horse buggy image, but that's not exactly clearing things up. Having PINON without the Clue I had a rush of heady New Mexican vapors wafting around, so PIN ON was sort of deflating.

I don't see SMIRK as a Smarmy smile, since the former comes from a cheap conceit while the latter seems rather obsequious. Maybe I've never understood either the smirk or the smarm properly? (I think the English do use smarm as a noun.)

Anonymous 8:00 PM  

Thanks for the input Joho. I actually visit five or six crossword blogs to see what I can learn from bloggers and commenters alike. Bill from NJ, for instance, has a keen sense to a puzzle's overall construction; He noticed a high degree of phrasal verbs (LIE TO, SAW TO, DIVE INTO, GO FOR etc.)-- so perhaps we'll tone those down in the future in favor of more colorful multi-word entries. At any rate, I very much appreciate when a blogger has a section header like this: "Stuff you hate to see but it's Sunday and you know there's only so much a puzzle constructor can do:" ...because it's so close to the truth.

alanrichard 8:01 PM  

I liked the puzzle. It was a clever construction. The problem with repitition in the answers is that when you get half or more of the answer the rest is a gimmie. For example: if the theme clue is MODERN INSULTS and every answer begins with DIS, such as DISappear, (to criticize someones looks), DISfunction, (To criticize the useage), DISmay, (to criticizt the 5th month), etc. There is nothing to figure out once you get the theme.
In this puzzle, 15 word answers have half as a gimmie - which makes it very easy!!!

jeff in chicago 8:11 PM  


i actually DO know how to spell "ophthalmology," and I cannot believe I mis-typed it!

apparently I need tomorrow's lesson more than others.

Michael Chibnik 10:08 PM  

Fess Parker is a clue that's easy if you're a certain age (mine); hard if you're younger or (perhaps) older. Frankie Valli is easy if you're same age and went to high school in New Jersey (like me), but probably hard otherwise.

jae 11:04 PM  

The only iffy thing about the Four Seasons clue for me (being of a certain age) was that GAUIDO and DEVITO could also have fit. OLDS, however, made it a gimmie.

Jeffrey 11:54 PM  

I'm very late due to computer issues. Sunday was a breezy, easy fun puzzle.

AV 12:50 AM  

Brilliant puzzle - as a constructor, one of the best compliments you can give to a puzzle is to say "Oh, I wish I had thought of this theme!".

And I say so to Messrs. Collins and Krozel.

This IS the new age of puzzle-making with so many brilliant ideas being introduced to the crossword community!


Rex Parker 1:22 AM  

Good puzzle. Easy puzzle. I am exhausted from walking around downtown Auckland all day. I am hoping that my natural eloquence and humor will get rebooted, somehow, when I cross the Int'l Date Line (again).

Loved [Box-and-one alternative]. Great, imaginative sports clue.

I have no idea how many people are visiting my site anymore, since I've temporarily had to put sitemeter in a time-out.

Bought my guest bloggers their gifts today. Everything is distinctively NZ. It's good to know that there are competent people I can turn to when I need a day (or 20) off. I kind of like the co-writing thing that my surrogates have thrown down a few times in my absence. I may get them to do that (with me) off-and-on in the future. And I hope to bring in new blood (maybe even well known blood) every once in a while, in the future.

Doing Monday puzzle now.

aroha nui


mac 12:32 PM  

Greetings from Vancouver! I did yesterday's puzzle on the plane, and had a lot of fun with it! Ingenious theme clues, just all around crisp and good.

@noam: fussy = Michelle

@fussy: Michelle, I'm enjoying your book immensely! It's funny how Noam talks about pretzels and you/Lila about donuts.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

Naom: Thank you for answering my questions! I hate those two-handled coffee cups--I mean, who drinks coffee with two hands--so I'm none too pleased that I'm going to have to keep one around to demonstrate the double torus to houseguests who might show a sudden and inexplicable curiosity on the subject. Very cool that you think the Goldbach Conjecture will be proved by 2100. I'm putting it on my blog just so I can say, "My good friend Naom Elkies says that the Goldbach Conjecture will be proved by 2100," thus getting some serious street cred from all the math profs whose classes I barely scraped by in.

Mac: So glad you're enjoying the book!

Michael 8:47 AM  

The theme clues all contain 2 lines for the missing words...even when the answers contain more than 2 words. What's with the sloppy preparation and editing?

kas 7:34 PM  

fun puzzle.

Mike the Wino 8:31 PM  

Had fun with this!

Just an observation: I really thought that the answer to 110A was meant to imply that "no son of tina" would be found on one of her albums.

One week behind so nobody will see this, right?

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

I also, connect the Red River to Fargo.

This was not easy for me and now I peeked because I could not get the beginning of the Turner clue figured out.

Fun to finally reveal the theme and solve the rest.

Thanks for the assessment of today's puzzle.
Anyone remember the orange-colored 78 rpm wax with the Boone theme. Fun stuff.

Bryan Parker 6:34 AM  

It amazes me, that none of the famous Jewish Nazi hunters (or anyone else), went after the Nazis’ finaciers – most of whom were American companies, like Chase Manhattan Bank, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, Ford
Life Experience Degree

Bryan Parker 7:38 AM  

I liked the puzzle. It was a clever construction. The problem with repitition in the answers is that when you get half or more of the answer the rest is a gimmie. For example: if the theme clue is MODERN INSULTS and every answer begins with DIS
Life Experience Degree

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