WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6, 2008 - Caleb Madison (River of Irkutsk/ Setting of many a Monet painting / "Santa Baby" singer, 1953)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Relative difficulty: 180/181 Easy, 1/181 Impossible

THEME: KIDS, as explained by (46A: Word that's missing from 20-, 26-, 48- and 59-Across and 9- and 39-Down (KID).

I'm just the right age to remember seeing The Flamingo Kid with my family in the theater in 1984. So that was my first thought for 9D, but it clearly didn't fit and Matt Dillon was in other movies of that era. But then I came to 26A, the 1984 Ralph Macchio film, and I had no doubt it was (The) Karate Kid. It didn't occur to me that both had Kid, but I figured it must be a rebus or something and I continued on. Finally, not much later, I got to the 46A explanation, filled it in immediately, and went back to clean up.

Theme answers:

  • 46A: Word that's missing from 20-, 26-, 48- and 59-Across and 9- and 39-Down (KID)
  • 20A: 1972 Charles Grodin film, with "The" (HEARTBREAK)
  • 26A: 1984 Ralph Macchio film, with "The" (KARATE)
  • 48A: Willie Mays's sobriquet (SAY HEY)
  • 59A: 1965 Steve McQueen title role (CINCINNATI)
  • 9D: 1984 Matt Dillon title role (FLAMINGO)
  • 39D: Nickname for Harry Longabaugh (SUNDANCE)

A coupla notes about the theme. First, when I see a list like "20-, 26-, 48- and 59-Across and 9- and 39-Down", you might as well say "some across and down answers". I get (mildly) annoyed when I need to keep referring back to the list, and often I wind up just assuming it's the long ones and never referring back. It's similar with other cross-referenced clues (either the "A: See b. B: What a did" or "A: See b. B: With a, this two word answer".)--sometimes I like them, but only if their relationship is tight and they're (nearly) adjacent--I hate when they're something like 4A and 38D, and if they're the latter type I easily get confused about which part goes in which space.

Second, the symmetry seems off. Two films, two title roles and two nicknames seems okay. But one of the nicknames is known from a movie character and one is not. Two of the movies involved are from 1984, the others from different eras. (Though if you were born in the '90, like I think the constructor was, they're all from Way Back Then.)

And the nicknames seem off too. Maybe it was different with Longabaugh, but in the movie from which I know the character he's always called Sundance (no-Kid) or referred to as The Sundance Kid.

Last night Loki's grandma came over and brought Chinese. And since I've been trying to follow everyone else's advice, I might as well follow my cookie's too. But here's some stuff I noticed.

It's déjà vu all over again:
I talked about KIDS all day in yesterday's write-up, then that's the theme today. I discussed how to spell 59A: 1965 Steve McQueen title role (CINCINNATI), and someone even provided a helpful mnemonic. (More helpful is that I had the double-N in place before I saw the clue.) We talked about prepositionful phrases the other day, and here we had 63A: Have too much of, briefly (OD ON). And I was sitting on my 56A: TV viewer's vantage point (SOFA) while I solved this.

They can't do that, can they?:
Quick, name every John you can think of from dramas. Er, sorry, make that 60D: Charles of mysteries (NORA). Ridiculous.

I can't claim never to have heard of her because I think we've seen her before. PuzzleGirl looked it up and reports that she's of Nick and Nora Charles, and, as Wade pointed out, "[t]hey're the ones with that damn dog." Well, okay, I guess I'll accept it since the crosses were fair.

What's that you say? You'd never heard of 70A: Chinese weight (TAEL)? Oh yeah, No One Has.

I guess we need to know every weight and measure in the world now, so I'll start feeding you a few every day until Rex is back. For today, try to remember that there are approximately 4370 tael in each berkovet (437 per pood). Or, if you prefer, 1600 tael per picul. And, wait for it, 53 obols per tael.

Stuff from my past:
  • Some friends and I dressed up and went to the Mall of America for the premier of Spice World, a movie featuring 24A: Spice Girl Halliwell (GERI). I was Mutton Chop Spice.
  • My first car was a 1989 silver Dodge Shadow named 5D: Long-range German gun of W.W. I (BIG BERTHA).

Weird association that actually makes total sense if Wade thinks about it:
  • 37A: San ___, Tex. (ANGELO). This is pretty much smack-dab in the center of Tex.

Trying too hard, Words or clues I don't care about, or Ugly cluing:

  • Needlessly wordy: 53A: They all lead to Rome, in a saying (ROADS).
  • Random pope: 64A: Sainted ninth-century pope (LEO IV).
  • Plural you would never use: 65A: Rio and Sedona (KIAS).
  • Obscure foreign mountain: 27D: Japan's largest active volcano (ASO).
  • Common name clued as an obscure river: 33D: River of Irkutsk (LENA).
  • Generic fill-in-the-blank: 3D: ___ chart (NATAL). (It's astrology.)
  • Random word no one ever uses for a common religious item: 32D: Crucifix (ROOD).
Solving misdirections:
  • 66A: Setting of many a Monet painting (PARC). I was trying to think of museums.
  • 37D: Malfoy, to Harry Potter (ARCHRIVAL). I had archenemy.
I'll leave you with good stuff:
  • 17A: "Santa Baby" singer, 1953 (KITT).

Possibly one more day of me, but we'll have King Rex back soon, I promise!


Anonymous 9:14 AM  

The title should be "Leave the Kids at Home"

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I liked the theme OK, but the Monet "parc" clue seemed kind of bogus to me.

Jeffrey 9:30 AM  

Koo-roo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo! Good day, eh. I'm Bob McKenzie and this is my brother Doug.
How's it going, eh?
Today's topic is Crossword puzzles.
And beer, eh.
You HOSER, take off, eh. SAY HEY did you know a HOSER is a Canadian LOUT?
Take off! What's a LOUT?
LOUT is a lummox, it says so at 16 Across.
Across what?
Across your head, you HOSER.
What's a lummox?
A LOUT you LOUT. Why don't you read the FAQS? FAQS you. Pass the beer.
You can't say FAQS on TV, eh. KIDS may be watching.
This isn't TV, its a blog, eh.
What do you call an American LOUT?
That's all the time we have. Good day, eh.
Good day. Want a TOKE?

Barry G. 9:40 AM  

Morning, folks!

Overall a pretty straightforward puzzle for me -- challenging but doable. I didn't know TAEL or ASO, but was able to get them via the crosses easily enough. I really wanted to put KARATE KID in for 26A, but it obviously didn't fit and I was getting a bit frustrated until I saw 9D and realized that the word "kid" was omitted there as well.

The one really hard section for me was the NW corner. At the end I had _A_A for 1A, _I_H for 1D, _I_T for 17A, and _A_AL for 3D and just had a complete cerebral meltdown. All I knew about "Punjabi" was that it had something to do with India, and the only thing I could think of for 1A was GAZA which I knew just couldn't possibly be right. I couldn't think of any type of chart other than PIE, and could think of any one-named singer from the 50s.

Finally, in desperation, I started playing the alphabet game with 1D. As soon as I got to "S" I had the AHA! moment and realized that it had to be SIKH. With that in place, I was able to dredge SANA from the deep recesses of my brain and realize that the singer in 17A had to be Eartha KITT. I still have no idea what a NATAL chart is, but at least NATAL is a word and I know it involves infants, so I can accept that there is some sort of NATAL chart out there somewhere.

So, all in all, an enjoyable experience, albeit a bit frustrating there at the very end. Great puzzle, and great write-up!

Mimi 9:42 AM  

Hello Good People:
Hmmm.. I was sorry to read SethG sounding a bit grumpy about this one. I rather liked it, though I am a relative newbie and perhaps not so well tuned to the subtleties of what makes a good puzzle. After all, I'm still sometimes grateful for the infamous fill that is often derided on this blog.

In particular I thought PARC was rather clever, and I loved the challenging sneakiness of NORA.

NATAL did seem poorly clued, but finally arrived for me when I tumbled to KITT. Wonderful clip there, thanks SethG.


Unknown 9:43 AM  

You're kidding me! I liked the passel of men child all playing around in my living room. My mom would have trouble remembering the 20 or so kids growing up on our block and would make up names like "the pretty kid, the sweet kid, the skinny kid, etc. Seems like someone thought a few of the kids were louts as it appears clued for those North of the border and up in New England in the puzzle. Our constructor is a nice kid though.

Bill form NJ will likely remember TAEL and I should have from years ago, but the Antarctic area of the puzzle froze my brain. I had to fix archenemy, nick Charles, and cily for CIDE. Still, I liked the puzzle and the memories.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

no idea what's going on in crosscan's comment but loved it. Have been v out of sorts with the puzzles this week, but really because i trod on my laptop and have been struggling with a borrowed one the size of a bed. Not the puzzles' fault. Wasn't content today either, didn't love the theme. Did know the japanese volcano and the chinese weight, but became fogged by SAYHEY. Liked yesterday's much more (did it again today in a better humour).

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

I don't get 63across "have too much of, briefly"=odon. What is that?

ArtLvr 9:53 AM  

Ah, TAEL -- I remembered this from puzzles of yore! ROOD too, as in the rood screen in Anglican churches, together with giving us our DAILY bread. And Henry HYDE of the House Judiciary Committee, no BORE, good old stuff. Very old LEO IV, with the cross at ARCHRIVAL. Monet in his own waterlily PARC, the ultimate do-it-yourself project. Wow, I even saw Eartha KITT on stage years ago doing Santa Baby -- how can she still be so svelte?

Even the KID stuff came smoothly -- except for SAY HEY! I blanked on making that into two words and seeing the second Y, made worse by not having the K of KIAS. Mantle and Maris saved me in the end... but my great time was by then so-so.

Lovely to see a 15-year-old KID with A-ONE skill in our playground.


Mimi 9:54 AM  

@peri: That would be OverDose ON.

Unknown 9:56 AM  


O(over) D(dose) ON....think drugs

Ulrich 10:22 AM  

I'd like to know, from our Canadina friends, where HOSER comes from, now that we know what it means. It sticks to my mind b/c it shared the o with another unkown to me, ASO. Normally, my first guesses in these situations are wrong, but not this time.

Other than that, I had no serious problems and liked the puzzle OK.

@phillysolver: Any idea what your mother would have called you had she not known you?

dk 10:27 AM  

My challenge today was time and nostalgia. In the late sixties and early seventies (I guess that is an era) I went to movies all the time, sometimes 4x a week. Bergman et. al, were my equivalent of you dear puzzle friends (how is the puzzle dog btw).

All this is a way to say the KID theme took awhile except for CINCINNATI and SUNDANCE (I had sundasky first) and then I got the KID thing. The others like FLAMINGO i have not seen. No comment on the film its just "I don't get around much anymore" (cue the strings).

Of course you all know sethg really paid to have this one constructed on this day to ensure we had our USRDA of kid stuff for this week.

Always happy to see LEOIV. I think I will go for a theology degree and do my dissertation on what is becoming the whack-a-mole of puzzle popes.

@wade, add some andouille to those rice and beans with a side salad that contains some citrus (e.g., grapefruit) . Pair it with a Rioja or a longneck and you will have a meal fit for a king.

@crosscan, good one eh.

This puzzle was just fine, its only misfortune is following Joons masterwork.

sethg, great job....puzzlegodfather.

Alex S. 10:31 AM  

I'd have preferred that the theme entries each be clued as "With 46A, ..." and then just have the clue at 46A be blank. I too really don't like the long list of other spaces.

Didn't matter much since I knew each movie title from the clues so it was just a matter of determining whether KID had been left off of each or if KID was rebused so I had it all figured out long before I'd seen 46A.

Didn't like the ODON/ODAY crossing. I ran through the alphabet for three times before I finally figured out ODON could be a sensible phrase.

Shamik 10:35 AM do sound grumpy today. Baby keeping you up?

The Thin Man series of movies were huge in their time. HUGE! Think Brangelina. That kind of huge. SO my dad used to tell me.

Jeffrey 10:42 AM  

@malechicken: Bob & Doug McKenzie were characters originating on SCTV, a Canadian 1970s Saturday Night Live type show that made fun of other (mostly American) TV shows. When the show was picked up by the CBC, which had two extra minutes to fill due to less commercials, they were asked to make the extra 2 minutes clearly "Canadian". It was a dumb request because the entire cast, crew, etc. was Canadian, so Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis decided to use every canadian stereotype they could in creating the ultimate HOSERS Bob and Doug McKenzie. They were shocked Bob and Doug became the most popular part of the show, spawning a funny album and a bad movie ("Strange Brew").

@Ulrich, don't really know where "hoser" came from. We used to call other KIDS "hosebags", and it likely came from that. Where hosebags came from, I couldn't say, eh.

Unknown 10:48 AM  

Mom had a nickname for me. She called me Kreuzworträtsellöser.

Joon 11:04 AM  

i always want to spell it SLYEST and not SLIEST. that still looks wrong to me. i also had ARCHENEMY (briefly) and was mystified by TAEL and ASO, but other than that this was a relative breeze.

alex, if the theme answers had been clued with [With 46A...], this would have been a very straightforward puzzle. as it was, many solvers had the "why won't this fit?" moment followed by the "aha!" moment, making this worthy of a mid-week placement. it's a gimmick, but a very gentle one as gimmicks go.

ROOD is a word i knew prior to crosswords, but not from being christian or anything. (i've certainly never heard it used in church.) i did play a squaresoft video game called "vagrant story" which has various power-up items including roods. there's also the old english poem "the dream of the rood," attributed to... cynewulf? but i haven't read that and hadn't the foggiest idea what a ROOD was until playing the video game.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Ok Seth, Why 181?

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

@male chicken

There was acomedy skit on SNL way back in the day, called the McKenzie Brothers, played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas as a couple of beer-guzzling Canadians. They were kind of a mix of Siskel & Ebert and Wayne & Garth. Every other line ended with 'Have another beer, eh?'

It also is another of the SNL skits that became a movie (Strange Brew - 1983), although it's level among that fraternity is closer to 'Night at the Roxbury' than 'The Blues Brothers'.

I wish my blogging skills included the ability to post a link, but hopefully someone will oblige.

Good puzzle overall. 'Say Hey' was Willie nickname because we never remembered names and would enthusiatically greet everyone he knew that way.


Anonymous 11:14 AM  

SCTV, not SNL, i should have said.


Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I do not like the way we are given the "the" in the clues for 20A and 26A and then not in 9D (no the)FLAMINGO KID and 59A (no the) CINCINNATI KID. I realize, i suppose, the slight distinction that two are films and two are roles. But they are title roles. And the "The" definitely goes with the name, as Seth G also suggests with (the) SUNDANCE KID. No one would ever say "Steve McQueen played Cincinnati Kid" without putting in "the."

Like many others, was WTF'ed at TAEL. Also thought LENA/NERUDA cross was borderline Natick.


Pythia 11:25 AM  

Seth, your grumpiness about the theme is vintage Rex. I'm kind of on the same page about this, sorry to say. I do like the theme, and it's nice to have six theme answers, but SAY HEY feels like the odd-man-out, to me. The other five are film titles, either complete (4) or in part (1), as well as title roles. Every one of these six KIDS is properly known as "The ____ Kid," yet, oddly, two of the theme clues have "with 'The'" and in the other four, "The" isn't mentioned.

Close to a record number (for no thematic reason) of black squares -- 44. A potpourri of ugh-ly/crosswordy stuff to trudge through -- SANA, IMAM, A NOD, ETES, LEO IV, ELIE, TAEL, EYRE, AMIES, A-ONE, STDS, ASO, EL-HI, ROOD, LENA, TERI, EON, O'DAY. LOUT in the answers and in a clue. The clue for ROADS is painful.

I adore "Santa Baby." Loved seeing "Jezebel of Jazz."
BIG BERTHA (also a golf club), HOSER, YANKEE, and ARCHRIVAL were fun fill.

@ crosscan -- hilarious comment!


Two Ponies 11:28 AM  

Thanks crosscan for the skit. As soon as I got hoser and toke my mind went directly to Bob and Doug.
This puzzle made me grumpy too. Theme clues were very easy but the fill was strained and poorly clued.
I did chuckle at our new mnemonic being used to soon.
Maybe Joon's puzzle was just a hard act to follow.

mac 11:33 AM  

the O of aso and hoser was the last to be filled in, a complete guess; that was a.... what did we call it again? (Natick?) for me.

This was a fairly easy Wednesday, I thought. Sana came up a few days ago, I tried amir instead of imam, pond for parc, and the gimmick, as Joon said, was gentle and Wednesday worthy.

Wsup, Seth? Not enough sleep last night? Thanks for the good work.

I'm packing, boarding the ship this afternoon!

Luke 11:37 AM  

Hey I was actually able to do it today! I found myself getting answers quite quickly and correcting myself which I am bad at. This means I'm getting better or the puzzle was easy.

Firstly three days in a row there have been ELI(E) (okay there is an E!) answers in the puzzle. I also had no idea what a LOUT is which made 40A annoying because I had HURON originally but got TOSCA and was staring at it for a while and looked up LOUT but then got HOSER instantly. I don't think I've ever used the word before and I'm a Canadian. Hmm.

Lots of Americana stuff today with ANGELO, AMTRAK, CINCINNATI, HYDE (as if I'm going to remember House Judiciary Committee members), YANKEE, and USRDA (which I got on the downs).

I got TAEL on the downs and hate any form of measurement that isn't metric.

33A "Three sheets to the wind" means drunkenness but don't get the answer LIT unless it means very drunk which I think I've heard before but am not sure.

Also 10D is AONE = A one? That sounds a bit awkward to me and doesn't sound like phrase at all.

Overall a very easy Wednesday.

Luke 11:40 AM  

Also what's up with ELHI? I got the theme of the clue but wtf?

El-Hi? Elementary-High School? I've never seen it that and it seems way too forced.

HudsonHawk 11:48 AM  


Butch and Sundance has been on my cable a lot lately ("Who are those guys?"). There is a scene where they contemplate joining the Army and reveal that their real names are Robert Parker and Harry Longabaugh. Not terribly noteworthy, but it is in there. And occasionally, he is just referred to as KID.

I thought the puzzle was OK. I got SAY HEY first, not thinking about the fact that KID wasn't there. Then got the TE at the end of 26A and realized something was up.

The NORA/TAEL crossing gave me a moment of doubt, but otherwise it was a pretty straigtforward Wednesday.

Bill from NJ 12:02 PM  


I think we are both of an age when we can come up with things from the distant past but tend to blank on things closer to us. I hope the experts are right about puzzles being able to fend off Alzheimers.

I was prepared to say: "Why, back in my day . . " when I saw the word TAEL but decided against it.

I finished the NW right away and saw the Charles Grodin clue and thought "Heartbreak Kid", but as others have said, there weren't enough spaces for that, so I went cherry-picking and found what I was looking for at 46A KID, and it was Game Over at that point.

There was something Monday-ish about this one. I think we are finally catching up to normal.

HudsonHawk 12:04 PM  

"straightforward". Duh.

@joon, I agree on SLYEST vs. SLIEST. My dictionary says both are correct, but the first spelling makes more sense to me.

@omnie, yep, LIT is synonymous with "hammered". And EL-HI for K-12 indeed refers to elementary through high school here in the States. I generally only see the term in crosswords, so you should probably get used to it.

jeff in chicago 12:13 PM  

Woo hoo! My first (albeit third-person) reference in a write up. I'm the "somebody" who suggested the 1-2-1 device for remembering ciNciNNaTi. Thanks, Seth. I feel like a real member of the club now.

Also thanks for "...try to remember that there are approximately 4370 tael in each berkovet (437 per pood). Or, if you prefer, 1600 tael per picul. And, wait for it, 53 obols per tael." I literally LOLed.

Got the "Kid" theme pretty quickly, with "FLAMINGO." But it took a moment to get SUNDANCE since I had PARK in already and did not know NERUDA (one of just 2 Googles). Considered briefly that there might be a SAN DANKE kid I had never heard of.

ELHI is one of my least favorite fills, but I've seen it so much now that I at least get it easily.

Got KITT quickly, but I always flash back on her as one of the three - and the best! - Catwomen in the old Batman TV series. The way she rolled her R's. Purrrrrrfect.

My mom had a nickname for me, too. It was Gary. My brother's name. What's up with that?

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

@Anonymous 11:06 -- I count 44 black squares in the 15x15 grid (when was the last time we saw that many?), ergo 225-44=181 letters. So 180/181 means there was one mystery crossing, probably ASo/HoSER.


Doug 12:37 PM  

I was the marketing director for a supermarket chain in Hong Kong and we regularly gave away TAELs of gold in shopping promotions.

As a true Canadian HOSER I also got Molson to ship beer to us. I wanted to get Molson Export ale instead of the Molson Canadian lager, but they said, and I quote: "We don't export Export."

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Does leaving off arbitrary words count as a theme now? The clue for KID didn't even tie anything together or give some reason why it was left out. Completely arbitrary. Honestly, some of the themes have been dreadful lately (this one, the one on crossword puzzle memory doesn't go any further back than that). I think Shortz just likes to be able to say "look at how young these constructors are!" and lets crap puzzles skate by.

Joon 12:49 PM  

a guy, let's not be mean. this is a perfectly reasonable theme. it's a variant on the "these phrases all end with the same word" theme, except the common word has been excised and only appears in the grid once instead of in every single theme answer. the only way i can think of this theme being significantly improved is if there had been a 0-letter theme answer clued as [2000 Disney film starring Bruce Willis, with "The"].

noam: the answer to your parenthetical question is monday, march 3. the last time we saw more than 44 was september 2, 2004.

Unknown 12:55 PM  

Argh! I have seen ELHI but forgot, and was thinking k-12 was mountainclimber code for some obscure foreign peak. Even once I had the answer from crosses I was thinking it was strange I'd never even heard of this Mt. Elhi before.
But then we were expected to know the rivers of Irkutsk. I work in a travel agency and have never even heard of Irkutsk.
Thank you, @crosscan, for your Bob & Doug sketch. It made it worth getting through this puzzle.

dk 1:02 PM  

@omnie, toke and lit have an obvious connection. Lit is a back in the day term for trashed.

Caleb (as in our constructor) do I recall correctly that you are younger than young?

@a guy, crap puzzles! I surly don't think so!

Thanks for all the TAEL info, can we do Stones next.

jae 1:04 PM  

I thought this was pretty good. Count me among those who tried ENEMY and NICK but other than that a smooth solve. One of the advantages of doing this on paper is that as soon as I saw I needed KID at the end of HEARTBREAK I went looking for the explanation clue. Then it was easy to fill in the rest of the theme answers. Nice write up Sethg and thanks to Jeff in Chi for my correct spelling of CINCINNATI on the first try.

Michael Chibnik 1:15 PM  

perhaos more than you wanted to know about "hoser"

Michael Chibnik 1:16 PM  

well, I don't seem to know how to post a link

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

I agree with you, "guy". The theme was okay as far as themes go, but there didn't seem to be any reason to leave the "Kids" at home.

Maybe if the theme had been tied to a "kid-napping" clue? Then it might have been funny. Not that kidnapping is funny. Oh, shut up. You know what I'm trying to say.

I also agree with two ponies; the fill was pretty ugly. i can deal with a so-so theme as long as the fill isn't terrible, but this puzzle failed that litmus test as far i'm concerned.

I therefore rate this puzzle a BORE.

Ronathan :-)

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Sethg, did you eat General TSO's chicken!

I don't know if anyone mentioned this before, but it's Beet Week on the New York Times nutrition blogs, with a new recipe each day.

Loose Dirt Laura

mac 1:32 PM  

@doug: the first "landmark" we saw driving to Vancouver from the airport was the hugue Molson factory!

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

I'm shocked...I thought this puzzle was great!
It is SO hard to get four themes in, much less six...and to have a the here and not there seems nothing compared to having all these great evocative names!

The only thing that would have made it better for me is if, instead of "KiD", there had been the phrase "IKIDYOUNOT"... that's what I immediately went looking for.

I think the weird NATAL chart answer was a nod to the KID theme.

My only thing is I hate when there are answers longer than the theme answers tho I think BIGBERTHA was rather fun...and ARCHRIVAL seems more awkward than ARCHENEMY, but I guess I'll have to read Harry Potter now that there is a daily reference.

Speaking of daily reference, we did have ISEE yesterday, so my theory that there is at least one repeat entry a day holds true.
(And I feel like I just learned SANA thru the puzzle a few days ago).

TAEL is known to any Scrabble player who has studied their four letter words...tho ridiculously obscure for a crossword, esp when you also have LENA and ASO.

And, Seth, surely you could have given Minnesota a shout out re: THE HEARTBREAK KID! Half of it was even filmed in the Pillsbury mansion when I was in highschool.

(But you were probably still in the pre-natal chart-form then)

ELHI: ick...or as we said in MN: "ish"

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@mac That's not a landmark, it's a National Shrine to the 'nucks

Rex Parker 1:44 PM  

TAEL / USRDA = puzzle ruined. I can't even remember the theme.

Having ARCHENEMY didn't help, as Seth has already demonstrated.

Just got home a couple hours ago. Wicked tired. Still, likely to blog tomorrow's puzzle...


Anonymous 1:49 PM  

NORA Charles as in "Death Rides the Surf" and "Hurricane Homocide", not Nick and Nora Charles of "The Thin Man". But I never heard of her before either...

Two Ponies 1:54 PM  

Welcome back Rex. It's been very interesting while you were gone but still making guest appearances. I think all of us kids behaved very well while you were away. We didn't even break anything!

miriam b 2:01 PM  

I think we were unanimous on ARCHenemy. And SLIEST bothered me too. Posting late, just came home after being treated to lunch by old friends, in food coma.

JC66 2:02 PM  

For me, LENA crossing NERUDA equals NATICK!!!

Pythia 2:07 PM  

@ a guy: your comments are rather harsh. One point to draw from them, though, is that solvers (including me) don't care -- and probably don't know -- who constructed the puzzles they solve. The age, gender, and experience level of the constructor are anecdotal bits of information. The quality of a puzzle either meets an expected standard or does not. If it doesn't, solvers will be disappointed, regardless of how young the boy (any girls ever seen here?) who constructed it is.


Doc John 2:11 PM  

@ crosscan- GREAT commentary! It covered both the Doug & Bob aspect as well as the clue/answer "supposed no-no" of LOUT. (Even more unforgivable is that the lout in the clue could have been many other words.)
@ tintin- I second your almost-Natick on LENA/NERUDA. This is all that that word brings to mind. (For what it's worth, I had a D there.)

For some reason, links don't seem to be working so here it is:

For what it's worth, I didn't hate the puzzle but there did seem to be a lot of forced fill (OD ON, USRDA, TAEL, QUOD (what's with the D?), ELHI).

TOKE almost made it all worthwhile, though!
What's that ODOR? It smells like ROPE.
I was ENRAGEd, so I had a TOKE.

Bill from NJ 2:34 PM  

We seem to be seeing a lot of blasts from the past of late, perhaps some species of nostalgie de la boue, for refugees from the Weng/Maleska era.

I, for one, enjoy seeing old crosswordese, at least in small doses. It takes me back to when I first started solving what I like to call "adult" puzzles, when I graduated from puzzles designed for children to those found in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times on Sunday. I made that step when I was about 13 years old.

I keep waiting to see ELA, clued as Guido's High Note

mac 2:44 PM  

Welcome home, Rex! I'm just on my way to a cruise ship to Alaska. Packing is a pain in the neck. Also, I may not have brought enough "woolens", the weather forecast is pretty cold and wet.

We were just looking at a map of this area, and we will probably be back to see Seattle, San Juan Islands and Victoria one day.

Hope I can get the puzzle and the blog on the ship, I don't think I will enjoy my vacation much without.....

Jerry 2:47 PM  

Sorry Mr. Shortz. The Lena runs through Yakutsk and is nowhere near Irkutsk!!

HudsonHawk 2:47 PM  

@jeff in chicago, I have to respectfully disagree. For me, Julie Newmar was the bomb. First time I can recall ever rooting for the villain.

@doug, mmmm, Molson Export!

Bill from NJ 2:59 PM  


Just saw the comment that you were home at last!

Welcome back. You left the blogging in capable and diverse hands. Angela, Wade and Seth did a great job.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Welcome back, Rex! While Puzzle Girl, Wade and SethG did a great job they just aren't ... well: you. Is "wicked" a Kiwi word right now. I wonder if you're also saying "Byes" and "Good on you!"

Joon 3:08 PM  

this natick thing has gotten out of hand. the original natick principle referred to a small suburb that is in no way famous and had never before appeared in the puzzle, crossing a moderately-but-not-excessively famous illustrator who had only ever been in the puzzle once (and then as a theme answer). now people want to apply it to LENA, one of the world's 10 longest rivers, with 22 appearances in the NYT database (and another 53 as horne or olin), crossing pablo NERUDA, arguably the world's greatest 20th-century poet and subject of a hit motion picture? it's not even in the same ballpark.

now the criticism that the LENA flows through yakutsk but not irkutsk--that is a valid complaint. who can keep these __kutsk siberian cities straight? i wouldn't call it "nowhere near" (irkutsk is near lake baikal, which is the source of the LENA), but this is a genuine mistake nevertheless.

jeff in chicago 3:08 PM  

@ hudsonhawk: Let's play "Name That Sitcom"! It stars Julie Newmar, as a robot, with Bob Cummings. )This is my earliest TV memory.)

@ bill from nj: My favorite Maleska-era clue, when Lorraine and I were solving the NYT puzzle together during college, was -- "Bitter vetch" = ERS

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

Welcome back Rex!

Did you manage to throw the One Ring back into the fires of Mt. Doom from whence it came? Or did you succumb to its evil?

More importantly, after having been exposed to the Kiwi's and their odd foodstuff named Vegemite, did you bring a jar home that you now refer to as "your Precious"?

-ronathan :-p

dooberdan 3:14 PM  

@puzzlemensch: no WONDER I couldn't find it on a map of Irkutsk!!! Thanks!

HudsonHawk 3:22 PM  

@jeff, My Living Doll? Slightly before my time, but my older brothers remember it...

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Enough "kidding" around, please bring back the adults.

I am with "a guy", Ronathan and Rex and not happy.

@acme: Six theme entries at the expense of bad fill and 44 blocks? Surely you jest!

And did anyone mention the use of "LOUT" in a clue, when it is in the grid as well?

Oh well. Where's that NYS brilliancy?


Twangster 3:41 PM  

Sorry if I missed this somewhere, but what do these numbers mean (at the top of the write-up)?

Relative difficulty: 180/181 Easy, 1/181 Impossible

chefbea 3:43 PM  

@sethg thanks for the chinese weight table. How much does the baby weigh in taels or obels?

@crosscan LOL very funny

@lose diet Laura thanks for the beet info.

Thought todays puzzle was fine for a wednesday. Figured the theme out right away although there were several words I never heard of

Welcome home rex!

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

@Twangster NDE explained it above. There are 181 squares, 180 of which were easily filled in, 1 which was impossible.

Billy Belman 3:59 PM  

I would have loved to have seen THE clued as "1921 Chaplin Film."

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

I thought it was an ok puzzle. Rood you only hear in xwords, Monet clue was vague for me. I answered a few too quickly without checking my crosses and got into trouble- enemy for Malfoy. Nick/Nora/Asta, The Thin Man Series, old B&W, high society crime sleuths who drank constantly, and I'm not that old.
I like hoser, must find a wayto incorporate that into my vocab.

@billfronNJ, I hate to burst your bubble but I think they retracted - that xwords would help stave off Alzheimers, but it can't hurt right.

Rex Parker 4:11 PM  


Hands off my "Natick Principle," man. It's not out of hand, per se; it's simply being applied too liberally by some, as in the case of the LENA / NERUDA crossing, which was thoroughly gettable (I thought).

As Bart Simpson once said: "I am familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda."


Unknown 4:18 PM  

chefbea/loose dirt (love that name, hope you get an avatar soon and we learn the origin of the moniker)

Orange is going to be unhappy to learn that the NYT has eschewed her other suggestions and has gone with a BEET theme. Having said that, yesterday's related article calling beets the new spinach may be something she can sink her teeth into.

fergus 4:30 PM  

Pleased to finally learn what ROOD means, having long been acquainted with Holyrood, which turns up a lot in Edinburgh. I have to admit that it took me a while to figure out that Santa Cruz also means the same thing. Living in California you get used to all sorts of Spanish placenames, and if your Spanish is crap, you just the name stand since it usually sounds nice enough. One day, I made it a little project to learn what they all mean: Corte Madera = chopped lumber; Paso Robles = Oak Pass; Atascasdero = the place people left behind; etc. I still need to find out what the Boulevards Sepulveda and Cahuenga mean, though I did learn from a native the distinction between Santa Monica and Sunset.

I digress, and for reasons already covered. Jane Doh's comment about the intrinsic artistic merit of the crossword puzzle could start a debate in an English Department, pitting those favoring the work itself against those leaning on the author. Kind of a classic criticism fracas, no? I wonder what Rex and other English professors might say, or whether they could not care less?

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

I just posted this on yesterday's comments, but then realized maybe Naom and Mac aren't reading yesterday's comments today, so...

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!


Anonymous 4:39 PM  

@crosscan and @anonymous thank you, great stuff to learn as one brought up in the land of LOUTS rather than HOSERS. ROOD was a gimme for me. There's a Holyrood House at the foot of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Think my house is about to fall down. I panic a bit when the monsoon hits at night.

Barry G. 4:39 PM  

the original natick principle referred to a small suburb that is in no way famous and had never before appeared in the puzzle

Well, I wouldn't say that Natick is "in no way famous." After all, I'm from there, and that certainly lends it an air of infamy if not notoriety.

Oh -- and Natick is actually more an exurb of Boston than a true suburb. ^_^

fergus 4:40 PM  

Just checking my Atlas, and there is an Irkutsk Oblast (love that word for district or province), where indeed the source of the LENA can be found. Apparently, another tributary from Lake Baikal, the Angara, joins the LENA (which seems to rise in the mountains west of the lake), and this all seems to take place in this fine oblast.

Ulrich 4:44 PM  

@joon: I totally agree that the Natick principle does not apply to LENA/NERUDA for exactly the reasons you mention. If the principle would apply to anything somebody doesn't know, it would apply to practically everything. Come on guys: the fact that you don't know something does not make it automatically obscure (I would like to see this word banned from xword blogs).

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

really joon?
you want to dictate the use of the "natick principle"?
one day as a published puzzle constructor and now you're monitoring blog discussion?
i went to art school in new england so the nc wyeth / natick cross was gettable. but i don't know all the moderately but not excessively long rivers or a poet featured on the simpsons.
it's a game, get over yourself.
where is doug when we need him?
btw: i loved your puzzle on tues.

chefbea 4:49 PM  

@phillysolver it was LOSE DIET LAURA who gave us the link to the beet info in the nyt. not loose dirt

RodeoToad 4:58 PM  

I kind of worked myself into a frenzy about this puzzle last night, so much did I not like it. I was also trying and failing to get my Blackberry set up with another email account, which wasn't helping my mood. I'm glad Seth drew this one. His write-up elevated the puzzle.

Glad Rex is back, too. It's been a crazy enough summer on my own homefront. Now everything will be getting back to normal, and I like normal.

JC66 5:17 PM  


I thought the NATICK principal defined two crossing words whose definition or cluing made them "almost" unknowable.

As you pointed out the cluing for LENA was inaccurate and, it seems to me that IL Postino, a movie that grossed only $21,848,932 (even though it won an Academy Award for Best Music) is pretty obscure.

But. as I said in my original comment, "For me, it was a NATICK crossing.

Falling in bill from nj's demographic, TAEL was a blast from the past and the only Charles mystery was NICK or NORA.

PuzzleGirl 5:24 PM  

I did not love this puzzle. I wouldn't dream of calling Natick on the LENA/NERUDA cross. But NORA/TAEL? That's another story. An anonymouse up-thread mentioned that the Nora Charles referred to here isn't, in fact, the Nora Charles from The Thin Man. Instead, it is the nom de plume of a mystery writer whose real name is Noreen Wald. Ya know what? If it had been clued as Charles from The Thin Man I wouldn't have hated it. I wouldn't have gotten it, but I wouldn't have hated it either. But this I hate. (In addition to her mysteries, Nora Charles/Noreen Wald has written "Foxy Forever, How to be Foxy at Fifty, Sexy at Sixty and Fabulous Forever." Ugh.)

I was vexed by the inconsistency in the theme. And the only fill I found remotely interesting was ARCHRIVAL (I had ARCHENEMY at first -- both good words), TOKE (because it was so unexpected), HOSER (because it made me laugh, eh), and YANKEE (because Roger Maris is in the clue).

Sorry, but this one is a clunker in my book.

I would also like to apologize to everyone who thinks PuzzleHusband and I have a dog. We do not. (Personally, I have never understood the whole animals-living-in-the-house-with-people thing although I know a lot of people enjoy it.) We were just riffing on Wade's recent post in which he claimed to be a German Shepherd. Sorry for the confusion.

And finally, welcome home, Rex! I'm pretty sure I speak for Seth and Wade when I say it was a blast filling in for you but we're really, really glad you're back!

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

Pablo NERUDA is simply megafamous. He was not just some otherwise obscure third world poet who happened to win the Nobel Prize. He was one of the giants of 20th century South American literature who was also highly active in left wing politics, both as a serving diplomat and an outspoken opponent.

And as for the LENA River, it is one of the biggest in the world, and at four letters, is seen in crosswords often enough.

For what it's worth, TAEL is also common crosswordese. So is ELHI.

ROOD is a poetic word for cross. When Rex recovers, I'm sure he'll start quoting a famous Donne sonnet he teaches every year to prove this.

How can anyone consider filling in H-SER a guess? Only one letter makes sense. And we have seen ASO a few months back. I think it's time to memorize it.

I thought this was an Easy Wednesday, until I got stuck in the SW. I fortunately remembered Henry HYDE out of nowhere, although looking him up revealed I should really have known who he was, and not the vague memory of former Senator and Minority Leader Hugh Scott it turned out I was proudly glad I could recall. Other than that, I had POND for Monet setting, and did not get unstuck until I discovered I'd actually written in NERADA, so I was looking for The SAND--DE Kid.

PuzzleGirl 5:41 PM  

I don't know william e emba, the data base shows TAEL coming up six times between April 1998 and December 2007. Only twice in the NYT (in 2000 and 2003). I'm not sure that meets the test for crosswordese.

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

Ertha Kitt with drag queens. Creepy choice. But funny.

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

uh oh, this is getting nasty,
forgodsakes, rest "Il postino" you'll see a beautiful film, learn who Neruda is, and maybe even fall in love with his poetry!

@ sd "grouchy"
You wrote "acme, surely you est"!
(when do I not?) but since I don't think you meant it joshingly, let me say

I just don't think 44 blocks is such a horrible thing...
there have been, like, 50 puzzles with 44 blocks (yes, full disclosure, I am one of them, for my favorite Gilligan's Island cast puzzle) but they've been every day of the week, by 50 different to me, that's legitimate.
and yes, six themes, to me, way makes up for all sorts of stuff!

I didn't even KNOW there was a word limit or a black square count till these blogs started.
(I guess bec I'm still a solver at heart who occasionally has an idea for a puzzle).

Each of us nerds has an imaginary cut off point where we look at others and go, "PHew, at least I'm not THAT nerdy!"
so for me,it's the counting blacksquares! :)
but if one is into that, and all these baseball-esque stats about crosswords, then by all means, go to JimH's blog and you'll be in hog heaven!

Yes, the fill was far from stellar today, but re: blocks?
Hold the puzzle at arm's length, does it really look that different?
At least it's not in the shape of a swastika!

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

I'm not sure I get how obscure something needs to be to qualify for the so-called Natick principle, since I got that cross a few weeks ago without even thinking about it too hard (and I'm not from New England). But ASO, in my opinion, crossing with HOSER (--this was one crossing where I said, "Must be an O, couldn't be anything else...I think..." and moved on. Now, I concede it couldn't be much else, but I never watched SCTV, so it was meaningless to me)I did a post-Google to double check, but I thought those two clues were a pretty obscure pair. (Maybe a better clue would have been something about Vanna claiming to like A, E, I and U as much AS O??) Add to that the fact that several Canadians attested on this forum to never having heard of "hoser," coupled with the fact that it seems to be a very juvenile word (based on "hosebag" from a vacuum or the loser who hoses down the hockey rink after a game).

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

oh course that should have read: "surely you Jest" and "reNt il postino"...damn, I even proofread it, or so I thought!

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

I'm positive it was the NORA Charles from the Hardy Boy's adventure, Where in the World is LANA, not the Nora Charles from the Thin Man, nor Nora Charles/Noreen Wald.

Absolutely Positive.

Mimi 6:42 PM  

@Joe Hardy: How is it that you are absolutely positive about the true identity of Mystery NORA? Do tell, please!
Curiously yours,

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

Well thanks for the criticism, guys. TAEL was the only thing I was unhappy with, but I figured it had been used before. Also, I was thinking of Nora Charles of "The Thin Man," not the writer who I've never heard of. She's no Philip Marlowe, but she's pretty big in the world of mysteries. As for NERUDA/LENA, I thought it was gettable. I'm a big Neruda fan, though, so maybe I'm biased.

Thanks for the write-up, and sorry to everyone who was so unhappy about it :-!

Caleb M.

green mantis 6:57 PM  

Good thing papa bear is coming back. Things are getting a little rough around the edges in these parts.

My only complaint is ROOD, because that is clearly not a word; otherwise, an okay puzzle. Oh and count me in with the anti-elhis. A quick survey of the Random Conviction portion of my brain reveals that this "abbreviation" was manufactured expressly for use in crossword puzzles, and as such does not constitute fair fill. I know there are other examples of this, but this one seems particularly egregious. Desperate and rood.

Barry G. 6:59 PM  

@steve l

I'm not sure I get how obscure something needs to be to qualify for the so-called Natick principle

Rex himself, in the post in question, defined it as follows:

"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."

Personally, I wouldn't put NERUDA/LENA in the Natick category since, although I've never heard of the Lena river, Pablo Neruda is famous enough that (a) probably well over 1/4 of the solving public have heard of him and (b) if you don't know who he is, you should.

The problem is, of course, it's very hard to know what words qualify as obscure enough. As I said, I've never heard of LENA the river, but others insist it is a famous river and has shown up in the crossword puzzle before. Natick, on the other hand, isn't particularly famous (despite having some famous people be born or otherwise live there) and is not normal crossword fill.

Jeffrey 7:09 PM  

I'm amazed any canadian doesn't know the term "hoser". Perhaps it is any canadian of a certain age, sigh.

The killer crossing for me was LENA/NERUDA but I don't think it was NATICK worthy.

Lout/Lout was clearly an editing error but I thought I would have fun with it.

I never saw TAEL when solving as I got all of the crosses. Nick and Nora Charles are regular puzzle vistors, usually as ASTA's owner.

Glad you liked the appearance of the McKenzies.

Caleb, keep em coming. It may not be the perfect puzzle, but it has some nice elements, eh.

Welcome back, Rex. Just in time I'd say. I'd better vacuum the living room.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

Is LENA Olin less obscure? SHe is one of those actresses whose appearance in crosswords probably exceeds her appearances in movies. My guess is the river ref was Will/Caleb's thought as a fresher (or Wednesday) way of cluing.

My other guess is the writer Nora Charles took her pen name as a nod to the Nick and Nora Nora Charles, so ultimately same deal.

And anyone who thinks 44 black squares is too many is an ASO!

(Oops, I've exceeded by daily 44 post limit. Welcome back, Rex!)

RodeoToad 7:49 PM  

Caleb, nobody's really unhappy about the puzzle. Puzzles are just an excuse for us to yak on this board, and yours fulfilled its purpose. Everything on here is hyperbolic. We're pretty pathetic really. I'm mainly talking about PuzzleGirl.

PuzzleGirl 8:08 PM  

Caleb, I really hate to tell you this, but I think you have a right to know. Wade is a German Shepherd.

Barry G. 8:15 PM  

I thought he was an Alsatian...

alanrichard 8:43 PM  

The thing that made this puzzle more difficult for me was that I had the first two letters and the last letter for San Antonio; I also thought of Nick Charles as opposed to Nora - duh!!!Cincinnati and Say Hey opened up the theme for me and under gave me deck as compared to dock and the misdirections were gone.
Now we have one great Ex-Giant crossing paths with 3 late Yankees.
I liked the puzzle but as everyone seems to agree its hard to follow yesterdays real fun puzzle!
And everyone should know what a tael is - its an anagram for late - hich ties in to the 3 Yankees.
I also felt at home after finishing the SW, since I live in New Hyde Park - and 2/3 of the neighborhood is there.

Daryl 10:43 PM  

I guess it's a question of perspective as to whether TAEL is crosswordese. If you've watched enough Hong Kong films or kung fu movies and had to follow them via subtitles, TAEL is an eminently normal word, rather than truly obscure or used only in crosswords. I'm pretty sure it's used in Jet Li and Jackie Chan period films. Not quite sure how much overlap there is between kung fu and crossword fans, but I'll stick up for TAEL.

Plus, I do like the use of non-French/German/Spanish references (even if I do speak German) - think it makes for some nice variety.

And LENA is the river that Lenin got his name from, or so the story goes at least. Plus as others have said it's one of the longest rivers in the world. To me, that's a lot less obscure than the many random tributaries in Europe that serve as fill.

In any case, not knowing NERUDA in a clue that has to do with poetry is like not knowing who Dan Marino is in a clue on (American) football, say - it reflects not knowing a particular field rather than any Natick principle.

Orange 11:23 PM  

PuzzleGirl, from my perspective, true crosswordese includes all those words that clutter the darker recesses of my brain because they used to show up in plenty of crosswords (and I've been doing crosswords for nearly 30 years). The editors and constructors have largely excised the worst of these—when's the last ANOA on the loose? TAEL is one of those words that's old-school crosswordese (well, except for kung-fu movies).

Modern crosswordese includes the answers that still run riot in the grid more often than TAEL— your UTA and your ERNE, for example.

Pythia 12:35 AM  

@ acme: re 44 black squares being excessive and exceptional, here's some food for thought, and the best part is, you can look it up.

Chronicle of Higher Education --

"The standard grid rules apply: Normal crossword symmetry, no unchecked letters or two-letter words, and a maximum of 78 entries and 38 black squares. Exceptions to these totals may be made if the theme is ambitious enough to warrant them."

New York Sun --

There is no maximum number of words in the grid or maximum number of black squares, but 78 words and 38 black squares are good guidelines."

LA Times --

"Maximum word counts: 78 for 15x15, 72 for Saturday 15x15 themeless, 144 for 21x21.
Maximum black-square count for 15x15 puzzles is 43."

Even the lowest of the low, USA Today --

"The puzzles are 15X15, 78 clues or less, 38 black squares or less. (Exceeded slightly at editor’s discretion)

The cagey Times editor limits the word count to 78, but doesn't name a black square limit. If you can make the leap of faith to say that there is no editor more demanding than El Exigente, then you can, perhaps, intuit that 44 is off the charts. If it's allowed, there's either a thematic reason or a free pass involved.



Bill from NJ 12:36 AM  

Orange, I agree. There is a distinction to be made between old crosswordese, of which TAEL and AMAH (sometimes clued as Oriental nurse) and modern crosswordese of which ERNE is a perfect example.

If you haven't been doing puzzle for the last 30 years, old crosswordese may be totally foreign to you. There are those of us,however, who do remember.

Hello phillysolver, artlvr, jc66 and many, many others

Anonymous 2:50 AM  

44 Blocks is a lot. Only 14 Will Shortz puzzles have been published with more. shows the list. The thumbnails views for fewest and most blocks are both very interesting.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Barry - don't you mean your "Ah so!" moment? (I'm Chinese and Charlie Chan references are not an anathema to me! It's funny in that non-pc way of the past.)

I didn't see any question with this but LOUT was both a clue and an answer?

I thought xwords tried to steer clear of ever giving something away for free?!

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

@Mimi - If others can argue about whether it was the Thin Man Nora Charles vs the Author Nora Charles, why can't I just make up a non-existent Nora Charles and insist upon it?

Seems equally fair to me.

Anonymous 10:18 PM  

I still feel sad that this constructor gets into the puzzle
beautiful words, that are themed as well like HEARTBREAK, SUNDANCE, CINCINNATI (for christsake!) FLAMINGO, KARATE, and the bonus SAYHEY and people can do nothing but count black squares. :(

One bad cross TAEL/USRDA (which was admittedly awful), to then say the puzzle is ruined and you can't even remember the theme, that would have killed me!

I really think people have no idea, and they should by now how wildly hard this is.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

@Crosscan: Brilliant sketch.....just brilliant!!!

@ everybody else: When I don't show up, you can take jae's comments as coming from me.

@jae: Do you ever get to Squamish?

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