SUNDAY, Sep. 14, 2008 - Jeremy Newton (Native tongue of R&B singer Rihanna / Symptom of catarrh / Genre explored by Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Year-Round" - rebus puzzle featuring the three-letter abbrevs. of each month of the year, arranged in a circular pattern around the grid

This puzzle is a good example of how quality of architectural construction can be quite divorced from solving enjoyment level. I recognize that this is a wonderful, creative design, and yet once I cottoned to the theme, I knew that the remainder of my time would involve no surprises, would involve simply slogging through to find all the months, and would likely involve my encountering multiple awkward entries - sacrifices to the Demanding Theme gods. In fact, the "Challenging" part of the "Medium-Challenging" rating relates only to the first 5 or so minutes of solving, when I felt like I was getting nowhere, and nothing seemed to be fitting properly. Even after my brain went "It's a rebus, dummy," it took me a little bit longer to figure out the nature of it. And then ... trudging dutifully onward to the finish line.

Twenty-four answers are involved in the rebus theme. Some of them wonderful, but most of them ... not. Here we go:

  • 25A: Native tongue of R&B singer Rihanna (Ba JAN) - never heard of this language ever. Ever. That's my problem, I realize. So, fine answer, I suppose.
  • 6D: Paris was part of it (Tro JAN army) - great answer.
  • 22A: Possible punishment for steroid use (li FEB an) - didn't like it. Ear wants "lifetime ban."
  • 9D: It's darn likely (sa FEB et) - thought this would involve sewing. It's OK.
  • 27A: Wise guy (s MAR ty) - meh.
  • 19D: Mustang rival (Ca MAR os) - good.
  • 43A: Genre explored by Run-D.M.C. (r APR ock) - great.
  • 34D: Lucratively (at APR ofit) - ugly, and slightly off. Not all profits are lucrative.
  • 66A: Cancun resident, once (ancient MAY an) - the "ancient" part seems arbitrary.
  • 54D: "Quite possibly" ("it MAY be") - blah.
  • 85A: Thrill seeker (adrenaline JUN kie) - fantastic.
  • 77D: Like some professors (ad JUN ct) - ugh, this is a bad word in my profession at the moment.
  • 103A: Samuel L. Jackson's character in "Pulp Fiction" (JUL es) - yay!
  • 80D: Drinks in frosted glasses (mint JUL eps) - pretty good.
  • 109A: Filled (with) (fr AUG ht)
  • 97D: Beer serving in a pub (dr AUG ht)
  • 101A: Nativity figure (Jo SEP h) - best job of hiding the rebus.
  • 93D: Wages, before overtime (ba SEP ay) - OK.
  • 82A: Boils down (dec OCT s) - one of the worst words ever invented by man.
  • 65D: Professional with many contacts? (eye d OCT or) - what am I, a child? The EYE DOCTOR has a professional, specific name. Try the same trick with OB/GYN or proctologist or urologist, and you'll see what I mean.
  • 64A: Cry at sea ("Ma NOV erboard!") - nice.
  • 50D: Pop singer who appeared in the movie "St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (Do NOV an) - hurray, NOVember.
  • 40A: Experts at exports (tra DEC ommissions) - zzzzzz ... wha? I'm sorry, did you say something?
  • 30D: Biker's add-on (si DEC ar) - also, a fantastically named drink.
So, hits and misses. About as good a job as one could do with so much rebus action, I suppose. But it's just ... around the puzzle, twelve months, rotational symmetry in place, there you are, sir, thanks for going Greyhound. No pop. It needed another element - maybe something in the middle ... actually, it had a nice middle, just not a theme-related one. The long Downs are scrumptious. They're both (sort of) card terms. Well, GOING ALL IN (38D: Last resort in poker, often) certainly is. And I can almost make a Blackjack argument for STANDS FIRM (41D: Doesn't waver).

The Left Behind:
  • 1A: Portraitist of George Washington (Stuart) - no idea. STUART is a name, so that's what I ended up putting there.
  • 7A: Robot maid on "The Jetsons" (Rosie) - true enough. Also a riveter and that lady who tells you you're soaking in Palmolive ... right? Or, wait, no ... is ROSIE the Bounty lady? It's Bounty:

  • 19A: Spreader of holiday cheer (caroler) - "I'm a spreader!"
  • 21A: Singer who said "At least I had that, one guy understood me" (Yoko Ono) - took me an embarrassingly long time to get this, even with the "K" in place.
  • 46A: Mexican mouse chaser (gato) - goes Spanishly with AHORA (92D: Now, in Nogales).
  • 51A: Proust title character (Swann) - hmmm, do people generally know the component parts of "Remembrance ..."?
  • 69A: Hall's partner in pop (Oates) - oh yes. Let's see, what to choose ...

  • 76A: Actors Max and Max Jr. (Baers) - the dad was a boxer.
  • 79A: _____ Taylor, co-host of "Make Me a Supermodel" (Niki) - no idea. Had NIKO for a while.
  • 96A: Symptom of catarrh (hack) - "Symptom of Catarrh" sounds like a Death Metal band.
  • 113A: It's usually said with the eyes closed (achoo) - ingenious. All sneezes involve closed eyes, but I guess one could simply say "achoo" with one's eyes open. Yes, that works.
  • 1D: Weightlifter's helper (spotter) - first thing in the grid, oddly, given that I lift weights almost never.
  • 2D: Have a break at 4:00, say (take tea) - when I first learned what "zeugma" was, this was the example:
Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flow'rs,
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising tow'rs,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which from the neighb'ring Hampton takes its name.
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom
Of foreign tyrants and of nymphs at home;
Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take--and sometimes tea.
Apparently this type of "zeugma" (yes, there are many types) is called "syllepsis."
  • 4D: Basic travel path (a to b) - rough. Because of the unknown BAJAN, I had real trouble putting that "B" down in the end, though I figured it was safer than "Z." I had ITER here for a bit.
  • 12D: Unlikely event for puritans (orgy) - well, let's be honest: unlikely event for most people.
  • 14D: Foe of Spider-Man (Electro) - I read comics, but not this one. ELECTRO was a total guess.
  • 15D: Like some modern maps (genomic) - nice.
  • 33D: Admit defeat, in a way (punt) - if you punt in football, you have not been defeated. Metaphor, shmetaphor.
  • 46D: Bottle opener's surprise (genie) - [in fiction] - SHEESH.
  • 60D: White wine from Verona (soave) - many many wine names I have learned from xwords.
  • 82D: Hit Sony product introduced in 1984 (Discman) - I'm gonna challenge "hit." The Walkman was a Huge hit. I didn't know anyone in H.S. with a DISCMAN.
  • 85D: Design feature of many a viaduct (arch) - how is "viaduct" different from "aqueduct"? I'm serious. Aha, the former term is derived from the latter, and describes bridges.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS gratuitous dog pictures...


Jeffrey 9:18 AM  

I liked this a lot more than Rex.
It was a bit of a struggle and I hate doing rebus puzzles in the applet as I needed to use a separate cheat sheet to list the months remaining and to spell out the months.

I didn't notice the pattern until after which increased the difficulty but still completed this perfectly in half an hour.

TRA[DEC]OMMISSIONS is a great answer. Accountants rule!

Lots of fun aha moments when getting the theme answers.

ION/SWANN was my last letter and a lucky guess.

Madge was the Palmolive lady.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Here in Franklin we serve our juleps in silver cups made expressly for this drink. Preferably sterling. Preferably monogrammed. No frosted glasses, please. :)

miriam b 9:21 AM  

I agree, Rex. Once one catches on to the rebus, the thrill is gone.

Bajan = Barbadian, a Creole patois of Barbados. I haven't heard that spoken, but I did hear a loong conversation in Papiamento while visiting CuraƧao. Fascinating.

@green mantis: Have you used your psychic powers to visualize any of the rest of us?

Joon 9:23 AM  

i liked this puzzle a lot. but then i'm also a bit of a literature junkie, so neither SWANN nor ION held any mystery for me. and i was thinking iliad as soon as i saw [Paris was part of it], so i started looking for the rebus right away. one look at the title told me JAN was called for (and i figured BAJAN looked better than BA_ with any one letter for a language i did not know).

but it was still tough going. i thought the clues were hard even after getting the rebus. a very enjoyable sunday workout.

i had a DISCMAN in high school. i got it (and weezer's blue album) as a christmas present when i was a freshman. sadly, i can no longer find the weezer--one of the best albums ever.

gilbert STUART was the painter famous for ... well, those portraits of george washington. and other founding fathers, i guess.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

I agree and disagree with Rex. Disagree in that once you got the theme this puzzle was easy medium. Agree in that this puzzle was medium challenging to my eyes. I almost went blind fitting the months in those tiny spaces. I liked 23 A. augment and 109 A and 97 D:draught and fraught. All in all an enjoyable and very doable. puzzle.

Orange 9:30 AM  

Rex, did you use "cottoned to" because its recent appearance in a puzzle reminded you how useful the phrase is? I think I used it in my post too.

"Medium-challenging"? I thought this one was all-the-way challenging. I will agree with Rex that it wasn't an entertaining puzzle. I think it was unnecessarily made harder than it needed to be, but if push came to shove and you asked me if I'd like a crossword to be easier or harder, I would ask for more challenge because the world has enough easy crosswords already.

I'm fine with EYE DOCTOR. It subsumes both ophthalmologists—M.D.'s with a hard-to-spell name—and optometrists with a D.O. degree.

Ulrich 9:40 AM  

I'm with those who really liked the puzzle. I got the theme, expanding from the gimmie SWANN, and realizing the rebus from the MAYAN. It then held my attention b/c I solved it counter-clockwise exactly in the order of the months. So, I take my hat off to JN.

"decoct" is an ugly word, which I learned against my will throug the puzzle. But I loved the clue for GENIE. BTW The difference between an aquaduct and a viaduct ("why a duck" in Marxese) is that the former carries water (aqua) and the latter human traffic (via--road). The greatest aquaduct I've ever seen is the amazingly well-preserved Pont du Gard near Nimes in S France.

dk 9:51 AM  

Order a Mint Julip from Chris the bartender at the Ritz Carlton Library Bar in NOLA and you will come full circle. HIs presentation is literary, philosophical and wonderful.

@hereinfranklin, I raise my Derby Cup to you (frosted mug - cretins).

PERUKE is my word for the day and in honor of the hour I shall say not another...

Some of the funnier Jetsons are when Rosie ran amok, fell in love or got fired.

This one was wallow in the mud for me. Much as Rex wrote, a lot of trail and error, heavy on the error.

@p-mantis, so - I have to laugh as every blogger who I think is male turns out to be female including you (@acme, @joho, etc. are also in the mix) I am thinking I have the anti-mantis. Maybe a ride in the Large Hadron Collider will help?

JannieB 9:53 AM  

I agree - stumbled all over the place until I re-read the title and figured out it was rebus day. Once I got over that hurdle, the puzzle came into focus. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun - but it was fair and a good workout. Clever construction - I didn't solve the puzzle clockwise, so the pattern of the themed fill didn't hit me until I was done. I agree with Orange - I'd rather the puzzles be more challenging.

Rex Parker 9:56 AM  

It's AQUEDUCT, with an "E". It's OK, Ulrich. I had to look it up myself when I spelled it with an "A" and the computer flagged it.


PS David Foster Wallace is dead. Killed himself yesterday at his home in Claremont, CA, the tiny college town where I went to school and where Wallace taught. I was never a big fan of his stuff, but he is generally thought of as a super big deal in contemporary literature. He wrote one of the best essays I've ever read on the subject of playing tennis. R.I.P.

JannieB 10:12 AM  

Just finished reading the recaps from the Alameda puzzle tournament. Congrats to Green Mantis, Fergus and all the other Rexites who did so well. Sounds like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing - and I hope to see your pictures posted soon.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

I thought it was a fun sunday puzzle. Med/challening until you got the theme, then EZ

The one stickler was where I put YAHOO for WAHOO and neither a,e,i,or u could make sense out of DY_LT

WHo says WAHOO? Isn't it WOOHOO?

Doug 10:29 AM  

Couldn't get a lot of traction in this puzzle. Got the rebus finally on CA(mar)OS after IROCS was no-go. Did about 2/3 then just got RP's help this morning when the love was gone. Ambitious puzzle though, with some double take moments: DECOCTS, BAJAN, RAPROCK, PERUKE, etc. Lots of classic lit, too. I googled Sgt Pepper, and was surprised to see how many cameos were in the film, so I guess that being 16 years old at the time left me clueless.

Lots of nice fill though, balanced by some (IMHO) loose clues. Sorority chapter OMEGA? Chapters are sometimes identified by state and then alphabetical order of establishment--I was in the Wisconsin Alpha of Phi Delta Theta. (3-0, Go Badgers.) But there are other methods and OMEGA chapters do exist. So while OMEGA is one of 24 choices and gettable, wouldn't "James Bond's Watch" or something like that.

ORGY unlikely for most people? I SAY old chap, speak for yourself! Canada was settled by the French, and the US by the Puritans, so go figure!

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Rex, you left "aug" out of your blog--that was the toughest for me.

Look up "Millau Viaduct" in Wikipedia: it's the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, inaugurated several years ago in southern France.

SethG 10:41 AM  

Played Cranium the other night with the PuzzleParents and JohnJohn and Weeky and John Chandler Pepelnjak--Jill spelled aqueduct correctly, and I mis-defined 'abrogate'.

Joon, try Or Target. Or Best Buy. I'd think finding a Discman would be harder.

Rex, I've always loved zeugma.

Yeah, I'm talking about this stuff instead of the puzzle because it was really slogful for me.

One problem was that I jumped around so much I never saw the rebus symmetry. (To the extent that I was upset that it wasn't there.) In the end, it took me embarrassingly long to figure out Texas and how to fit (AUG) in there--finally got rid of draft, still don't like the whole area. (Though I'm glad people (well, Wade) in the actual Texas are okay.)

The clue for BAJAN seems meaninglessly obscure--"language of Barbados" seems tricky enough. I had no idea Rihanna was Barbadian.

And DECOCT is one of the ugliest words I've ever heard.

Margaret 10:47 AM  

Good morning, all. This was slow going for me as well. I figured out fairly quickly that it was a rebus but couldn't find a point of entry until finally, MAN OVERBOARD hit me.

But I'm not firing on all synapses today as we are taking care of our god-dog for out-of-town friends. Said pooch (a very old yellow lab) is much more mellow with our 2 cats than the cats are with him. It was an interesting night. (Rex, you have my canine sympathies.) And an interesting morning, too. Vestiges of Hurricane Ike snapped off a huge oak branch across the street from where I was walking the dog this morning!

Anyway, I really admired the construction of the puzzle and I did appreciate the help once I realized that 1) the rebus squares were rotationally symmetrical and 2) that they went in clockwise order. TRADECOMMISSIONS reminds me of why The Phantom Menace was such a muddle. How can a Trade Federation ever compete with a Death Star for evilness??

@Ulrich -- The best vacation my hubby and I ever took was a bicycle trip through Provence where, after a long hot day of cycling, we swam in the Gard river just below the Pont.

Shamik 11:04 AM  

I didn't care for this one, but i do like DECOCT. And I'm sorry, but somewhere there must be a Rihanna who speaks the exotic language of ZAJAN. As soon as I finish my coffee, I'm going out to look for her.

My friends think of me as a literary snob, but my peg was lowered on SWANN and ION.

YOKOONO is always better seen than heard. IMHO

@sethg: I agree. I challenge all to go to a local dive and find where DRAUGHTs are on sale during happy hour vs DRAFTs.

When I first worked as a nurse, there were two M.D.'s married to each other who were both ophthalmologists whose last name was Doctor. It was always a pleasure to hear them paged overhead: "Doctor Doctor! Doctor (first name) Doctor!" I always wanted the person doing the paging to follow up with "Give me the news....."

New word of the day: zeugma. (Sounds like a nasty infection.)

Sunny day in Houston.

chefbea 11:26 AM  

very difficult sunday puzzle for me. I had the -eps and new it was mint juleps but wouldnt fit. Than had the aha moment. never realized the months went in a circle til I came here. When I boil down a sauce I reduce it - I don't decoct it!!!

Thank you all for Alameda writeups. Cant wait for Feb. and meet everyone.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I liked stand firm and going all in as vertical axes of this earthly puzzle. Man overboard and ancient Mayan are good along the equator too.

PuzzleGirl 11:56 AM  

I was frustrated because it seemed to me the months weren't in any particular order. When I finally got that they were in a circle clockwise, it helped a lot.

Love seeing my boys, Aerosmith, in the puzzle. It took me way too long to get N DAK (Sask. neighbor). In Fargo, we're actually more like a Man. neighbor. (Is that the abbrev. for Manitoba?) Don't like the clue for GOING ALL IN. Sure, for people like me who suck at poker it's often a last resort. But for people who actually play poker on any sort of regular basis, going all in is part of a defined strategy just like every other bet (or non-bet). (AddieLoggins: Where the heck you been? Correct me if I'm wrong here.)

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Figured it was a rebus early had sidecar but not how it fit and was looking for trojan war(s) so thought it was an ar thing and was trying to work that out with (ye)ar. After safe bet and life ban it was all down hill I'm with the Mint Julep in a silver cup was looking for Tom Collins and cocktails of that ilk Mind Eraser was going in there at one point somehow I remember drinking one out of a frosted glass I think, I guess it worked. Saw Swann in Love with Jeremy Irons never read Proust.

Bill from NJ 12:16 PM  

When I lived in Louisville KY, I was exposed to those fancy Sterling-silver cups on my first Dereby Day. I enjoy traditional things and those cups were beautiful

I didn't see the rebus until DO{NOV}AN/MA{NOV}ERBOARD and missed the symmetry of the layout.

This was an old-fashioned style of puzzle where there really wasn't much there that had to be looked up. It took me back to the 80s when I sat on my couch with the neatly folded Lifestyle section on a leather portfolio, Cross pen in hand, and matched wits with the puzzle.

It was a long and satisfying slog, with the pen and portfolio replaced with computer and cursor.

plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Quick correction. 12D isn't "unlikely even for Puritans". It is "unlikely event for Puritans". I think that makes it a stronger clue.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

I thought the puzzle was medium-easy, in that I started last night and meandered a bit, then found a toehold in the SE with PERUKE, EPISODE, SEEDER -- and promptly fell asleep. This morning I woke with MINTJULEPS in my head. Eureka! Rebus revealed and the rest was a romp...

Not much here for foodies other than CHEESES, COB, DATE, DRAUGHT, SOAVE and the juleps, unless you throw in JAWS, ATEAWAY and MOLD (yuk).

Lots of food for thought, however, from the ancients -- MAYAN, TROJAN, WEI, JOSEPH and STUART to medical modernity in GENOMIC, BONESCANS, and the EYEDOCTOR (not to mention Madd's MOM and the ADRENALINEJUNKIE). As with "chez SWANN", Time indeed circles on, and I found the puzzle a real tour de force! Kudos to Jeremy Newton on this opus.


p.s. Reading about author David Foster Wallace, a suicide at age 46, was FRAUGHT with gloom; R.I.P.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

I got all the way to the East central, couldn't see the cross of ITOO and TOAIR, and guessed wrong. But it was worth, because I got to read that poem:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

Ulrich 12:36 PM  

@rex: Thanks for the correction--it never occurred to me that I should look up the spelling.

I think a reason why I liked the puzzle more than most of you is that its tight symmetry and formal consistency strongly spoke to the architect in me--we are known to value form more than function:-)

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. Would have an easier time if I seen how perfectly symmetrical the rebus entries are. I think Jeremy should get manys kudos for that. If any of the theme answers were klunky (and I liked them more than Rex), cut him some slack since he was restricted by where the rebus entries had to go. And, EYEDOCTOR was fine by me; that's actually what I put down on my calendat for my annual visit to the optometrist.

PuzzleGirl 1:00 PM  

@norm: Did we read the same blog post? My paraphrase of Rex's whole point would be "Some of it was clunky, but I'll cut it some slack because the theme was beautifully constructed." Or maybe you were you actually agreeing with Rex while sounding argumentative?

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

loved this puzzle -- after too many easy sundays this one was a blast. i was looking and looking for months after seeing the title, but didn't start to get them until ADJUNCT.

then the rest came fairly easily except for AUG, which was beautifully hidden in two words where there was no hard G. that was the last to fall, and it provided that awesome "aha!" moment of all the really fun puzzles.

bravo to the constructor!

Anonymous 1:19 PM  


Orange 3:02 PM  

Shamik, I'm sure "pub" was in the clue for DRAUGHT to point towards the British spelling. Alas, we do have plenty of pubs in the States, too. That little section of the puzzle was gnarly.

Zeugma's clean. It's smegma you've got to watch out for.

DECOCT sounds like a past-tense verb having to do with John Bobbitt.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

My aha was ADJUNCT/ADRENALINEJUNKIE, I exclaimed aloud when I got it, and had fun for the rest of the puzzle.

My least favourite theme clue was BAJAN, although RAPROCK was up there. BAJAN was just obscure, but RAPROCK?!? Come on.

As a Canadian, DRAUGHT tugged at my heartstrings....

chefbea 4:12 PM  

@orange re: decoct that was good lol

fikink 4:26 PM  

@Orange, you sure are on the ball today! LOL
fav cross: fraught and draught
and what a timely citing of Langston Hughes' poem. Thanks, Bill.

mac 5:09 PM  

It would have made a big difference if I had figured out the months were in order.....

I, too, had a hard time getting a toe-hold, and finally "it may be" and "ancient Mayan" showed me what sort of rebus it was. Definitely a d'oh situation since I just knew mint juleps, man overboard and something profit had to go in there somehow. I have got to remember to look at the bigger picture, and the title!

Liked some of the crossings, though: fraught/draught, man-overboard/Donovan (good to hear him in several tv-ads these days), base pay/Joseph. Looooved "peruke", not so much decoct, agree with ChefBea on that. For some reason I got A to B and 55d "to air" almost immediately.

I admire the puzzle, and all the clues were gettable without google or other help, but it was a slog, thankfully interrupted by a nice lunch and several phonecalls.

@Orange, LOL. Good thing it's afternoon.

@dk: our mantis is green, and as far as I know not "praying".

mac 5:18 PM  

P.S. @shamik: In Norwalk, CT, is an eyedoctor (don't know which kind) married couple who now also have a son in the practice. Their name? Doctor.

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

It kind of bothered me that January wasn't at the top of the circle.

Sad to hear about DFW. I've never read his fiction, but his essays were always enjoyable.

mac 5:48 PM  

P.P.S. It always puzzles me when a submarine is in a puzzle, gets clued as something German, and then is spelled "boat" instead of "Boot". @Ulrich, any comment?

Ulrich 6:23 PM  

@mac: I've learned to live with these hybrid words--"liverwurst" is another one.

@orange: This reminds me: My favorite Rolling Stones song is Honky Tonk Woman--I loved to dance to it and sing along lustily. The line "She blew my nose and then she blew my mind" seems to be a zeugma, but not a syllepsis, right?

Barbara Bolsen 6:32 PM  

Is that a chocolate lab puppy in the gratuitous dog pix? My chocolate lab Gretchen, age almost 10, the one who feeds from the mysterious hand under the fence, sends greetings.

fergus 6:33 PM  

I think it was Madge who got ladies to soak their hands in Palmolive. She could be a good first name in gossip.

Wow, I just realized how long this took me since I started it sometime in the first quarter of the 49er-Seahawk game, and now it's half way through the third. I didn't see or really expect symmetry in the month abbreviations, which left me looking for rebus squares everywhere.

I don't think I've ever done five crosswords in one day (the Saturday puzzle wasn't that satisfying -- I have a picture of Green Mantis finishing it off while we were awaiting the results), but even if I were to make it a regular practice I doubt it would lead to much improvement. Watching Tyler mark up our grids, I saw him go into muscle car processing mode, which I'm sure gets supercharged when actually solving. That is a gear I simply don't have, but it is impressive to observe.

DFW suicide was a real shock. I wouldn't have pegged him as likely to do himself in.

green mantis 6:45 PM  

Yuck about this puzzle. Some of the fill seems really good, and I just wanted to enjoy it, but the schmebus got in the way for me. Drag.

My psychic powers apparently end with Fergus, because I forgot Mac was a woman yesterday and had to be corrected.

My best friend is a short, mixed race woman with a bit of an afro, while I am the tall, lanky, extremely Caucasian one. We refer to ourselves as Hall and Oates.

I have not read Infinite Jest, but I was very upset by the news of DFW's death. Depression and suicide among smart creative people is so tragic and confusing. (Tragic in anyone, of course, but...) I guess it acts as a haunting reminder that no matter how brilliant you are, no matter how many people you have touched, it might not be enough. Sorry to get all Eeyore, but why do all these bright lights have to go?

green mantis 6:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
green mantis 6:58 PM  

@PG: I had similar thoughts about "going all in." If you have suddenly, somehow, lost a great deal of your chip stack, then yes, there would be very few remaining plays at your disposal other than going all in. But going all in is mostly a tool specific to No Limit that provides a unique means of control at any stage of a tournament or ring game.

You use it to change the odds on a given hand so that it becomes mathematically incorrect for inferior starting hands to enter the pot or for drawing hands to continue (and possibly develop the winning hand) after each street (betting round). And if one's opponents are prone to loose, aggressive, risky play, it's often the most important tool in the arsenal.

mac 8:17 PM  

Wow, another aspect of Green Mantis: cardsharp!
I haven't read Infinite Jest yet either, but am looking for it. I'll start with the tennis article that several people referred to. So sad to hear about a talented person's death, and so much harder to understand when he actually had recognition. I know too many smart, productive, talented young people who have a tough time making it. In this environment the arts are the first to be ignored.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

Hubby and I are just now at the level where we can (sometimes) do the Sunday NY Times crosswords, and we found this one way too tricky. Frustrating, even now that we know the answers. Not much fun today.

chefbea 8:46 PM  

Did everyone see Andy Rooney on 60 minutes?? All about kitchen mention of ricers, dicers, or icers

Michael Chibnik 9:59 PM  

I got this, but slowly. I thought it was a clever theme and was glad to add obiri to my crossword collection of five-letter African animals such as okapi and eland.

Did anyone else want to write in "steroid" for weightlifter's helper? I couldn't believe that would be the answer, though, and it wasn't.

Really sorry to hear about David Foster Wallace...

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

Kudos to Jeremy on this construction feat. The 3-letter month abbreviations don't all lend themselves to inclusion in longer entries. Not only did Jeremy have to find two examples of each, but you'll notice that some of those entries intersect the ones for other months. Getting the black squares just right must have been a real nightmare. Perhaps some of the theme entries are lesser known as a consequence, but there is plenty of fresh new material in this puzzle. So... two thumbs up from a fellow constructor's point of view. -Joe

Anonymous 11:14 PM  

I also liked this one. I caught on to the rebus early and gleened the circle from the title so I filled in the rebus squares in the South of the puzzle before reading any clues. I always like it when getting the theme helps the solving process. I too like clever construction so clunky never crossed my mind. My only guess was the N in the ION/SWANN crossing which I guess makes me not very literary, although I have read Infinite Jest (over 1000 pages with footnotes that have footnotes). DFW suicide is just sad. There was a thread about suicide in IJ involving a microwave oven. I highly recommend taking the time to read it, it is just amazing!

Joon 12:10 AM  

yeah, all-in isn't necessarily a last resort. in fact, for a player who is weaker relative to the rest of the table, it can often be a devastating preemptive strategy. (an even better strategy would involving picking up your chips and finding another table.)

i had similar thoughts to joe about the construction. it gets a little more amazing every time i look at it.

i'm bummed by the DFW (which still looks like dallas ft worth) suicide, too. i haven't even read anything he wrote. and as irreverent as it is, the one thing i am forcibly reminded of is this onion article from 2003.


I don't think I've ever done five crosswords in one day

i almost spit my coffee out onto the monitor when i read that. (good thing i'm not actually drinking coffee.) from personal experience, i can say that doing five crosswords a day for some time now really has made me much better at it. (whether that's a worthwhile achievement is another question.)

fergus 12:48 AM  


To get a good flavor of DFW, find the long Folio article he wrote for Harper's about being a passenger on a cruise ship, maybe five or six years ago. And while you're at Harper's there was something else he wrote more recently with brilliantly nested footnotes, but I can't even remember what the ostensible subject was. His longer stuff didn't work for me, but then I didn't much care for Pynchon's books either.

And perhaps you're right about improvement from practice, at least with respect to solving time. My point was that I doubt my speed would get anything more than marginally faster. Same goes for recognition of all the common fill and the other tricks of the trade. If one were a relatively recent convert though, I imagine the progress would be notably more than marginal.

As another tournament participant and I concluded yesterday, we were quite content to be fairly confident and adept solvers, while recognizing that we would never reach the higher echelons, and were content to leave it at that.

Anonymous 1:11 AM  

I gotta disagree with Rex about this puzzle. (I got the sense of "I acknowledge that the puzzle is well-made, but didn't like it and thought many of the clues were lame.") Other than BAJAN (which crossed the very clever TROJAN ARMY and A TO B), I thought this was a fabulous puzzle. I really liked that it skewed young--no 60's TV and a lot of pretty recent pop culture references. I wasn't crazy about the rebus until I discovered the symmetry and that the months went in order. I also thought there were a lot of really answers.

My comments:
STUART - Totally fair. I couldn't remember the name either, but I did remember he was someone I probably should have known.
ETE (When Cannes heats up) - Pretty standard clue, but I really like the wording. This Newton kid really has a way with words.
RAP-ROCK - This was where I got the symmetry. I passed by this earlier, and knew, as everyone should, that Run DMC was a hip-hop group, Aerosmith is a rock band, and they collaborated on "Walk this Way," one of the first song to mix the two genres. But I couldn't figure out what the answer could possibly be until I guessed that the months might be in order and penciled in "APR."
RELOADS ("Equips with new clips") - This is really clever too, and has a nice ring to it. And as a 20-something male, I got it immediately.
ELECTRO - Semi-obscure Spider-Man villains in the crossword? !!!!!
PUNT - I liked this. I'd say punting is admitting defeat "in a way," at least of not being able to score on the current drive.
ACHOO, GENIE, YEAST - These ones made me giggle. ARE and WAS are cute too.
NDAK - I thought at first this might be a trick, but forgot about it when I came back to it for the longest time. It doesn't help that I can never remember the Canadian provinces.
DRAUGHT - The fact that DRAFT fits in there is toooooo clever.

Anonymous 1:14 AM  

Er, that's "a lot of really hilarious answers." Sorry for such a long comment, also.

Daryl 2:19 AM  

I'm with the group that likes this puzzle, not just the construction.
ATARI games seem in vogue these days. Liked PERUKE, SWANN. Only tried out a few test puzzles in AcrossLite - how do people fit in rebus answers into the square? And does that make it more obvious where the rebus answers are?

Anonymous 3:09 AM  

Am pretty content about most puzzles, but didn't enjoy this one too much, found it arduous and not all that exciting when solving it, although I send kudos to the constructor for his cleverness and originality.

Kathy D.

Anonymous 5:23 AM  

@shamik, @ pinky: you are not alone with ZAJAN and DY_ELT, respectively. Me too.
I do like rebuses. I was amazed that after drawing an arc from SEP through DEC and JAN, was able to decipher where OCT and NOV would fit despite little in the way of surrounding fill.
I think the puzzle was quite a feat. Congrats to the constructor!

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

I had the O from "Abettor" and *so* wanted "marco" for "it's usually said with the eyes closed"...

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Word freaks of all stripes want to at least read the April 2001 Harper's article by DFW. I've never actually read any of his fiction, simply from not getting around to it yet.

becky from hatch 1:25 PM  

UGH, I never even saw the circular pattern, and I kept waiting for them to be in some sort of order. I couldn't see the forest for the trees, or is it through the trees, I can't remember. Even knowing the answer JULES, I was all screwed up because I had MARTINI where MINT JULEP was supposed to go. I'm w/ Franklin, for me it was at UVA drinking out of a sterling silver Jefferson cup. Incidentally, this was a place where we all said WAHOO a lot.

I liked that a lot of these clues were gimmees for my generation, though I had REMIX for the Run DMC/Aerosmith answer before I got the whole rebus thing going.

FERGUS, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" described cruises exactly as I have imagined them in my nightmares and is my all-time favorite DFW essay. It's funny, I either loved or hated his work, no in-betweens. I also loved his description of the state fair (Illinois? I can't remember the state). I hated "Consider the Lobster," but maybe that's because I love Rockland Maine and felt sorry for it after he skewered their lobster festival.

SALLY, I love that French viaduct. A lovely feat of engineering that recalls the amazing aqueducts of the Roman Empire and apparently alleviates what used to be hours of endless traffic.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Agree with those who say - once figured out, the puzzle went pretty quickly. I like this one thousand times more than those horrible turn right/turn left puzzles (which I was afraid this was). I thought maybe the word YEAR was going to twist around somehow. Our power went out just before I started this puzzle, so I took my sweet old time, it was fun and I had no way to look anything up Yikes! I guess I could have used a dictionary. :(

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Agree with those who say - once figured out, the puzzle went pretty quickly. I like this one thousand times more than those horrible turn right/turn left puzzles (which I was afraid this was). I thought maybe the word YEAR was going to twist around somehow. Our power went out just before I started this puzzle, so I took my sweet old time, it was fun and I had no way to look anything up Yikes! I guess I could have used a dictionary. :(

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

Two words - MINT JULEPS.

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