TONY PLAYER ON "NYPD BLUE" - THURSDAY, Sep. 25, 2008 - Victor Fleming (_____ Green, Scottish town famous for runaway weddings / Shoeboy's offering)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Draws" - that's the clue for eight different answers

Wow. This is one of those puzzles that is technically impressive - eight theme answers arranged as four symmetrical and intersecting pairs - but that shows signs of strain because of its high level of difficulty. Overall, though, I'm amazed that the grid's as smooth as it is, given the heavy constraints the theme answer imposes on it. As far as the theme answers, INFERS seems slightly off (you "draw" an inference, OK, but does "draw" = INFER?) and I don't understand RECEIPTS here. The rest of the answers make total sense. A box office draw might result in a good take (RECEIPTS), but ... clearly that's not the context here. So I'm missing something.

  • 11D: INFERS
  • 46D: CLOSES
  • 49A: PULLS A GUN
The most nightmarish area of the grid, from my perspective, was the NE, where the LEELA / ILENE crossing seemed freakishly wrong (10D: Female companion in "Doctor Who" + 22A: Actress Graff).

I can tell you that this Lady Problem was noted, but deemed unsolvable, and therefore, given ILENE Graff's reasonable fame (and crossword presence), the grid was allowed to stand as is. Note to aspiring constructors - you do not want to have two unusual and not-terribly-famous proper nouns intersecting in your grid, particularly at a low-value letter like "L." ILENE was especially painful because I'd had to endure her rhyming obscure actress counterpart just a few minutes earlier - IRENE (18D: Papas of "Zorba the Greek"). This reminds me of a racist joke that I obviously am not going to tell.

The other thorny part of this grid was the SE - oh my god I JUST realized why I'm E/W dyslexic! I want East and West to be in alphabetical order. Just like North and South. Oh, man, it's so simple now that I see it. Whew, I feel a lot better now.

OK, back to thorniness. The SE: the clue on 64A: What may ensure the show goes on? (TiVo) is really awkwardly phrased and thus loses its grip a bit on "the show must go on" frame of reference. The show "goes on" whether you have TiVo (or, in my case, TiFaux) or not. Whether you get to see it is a totally different matter. My TiFaux is constantly hiccuping and losing me some very important episode of, let's say, "Project Runway" or "Chuck." It's like a 4-year-old; I have to monitor it constantly to ensure that it's behaving. The clue on HIP (59D: Turning point?) seems arbitrary, and I'm pretty sure I had HUB in there at some point. I guess any ball joint is a [Turning point?]. This little corner may seem harmless in retrospect, but while I was solving, it snagged me good.

Thursday buffet:
  • 1A: Fifth stroke, often (putt) - good clue
  • 8A: Shoeboy's offering (polish) - "shoeboy!" What year is it? Here's a recommendation: Don't call the guy who polishes shoes at the Philadelphia airport "shoeboy." Not if you want to live out your life.
  • 14A: Tony player on "NYPD Blue" (Esai) - Crosswordese 101. Many such answers are hiding in the puzzle today, including SST (31A: Retired barrier breaker, for short), ABBÉ (37A: Sermonizer in France), U-BOAT (53A: W.W. II blockade enforcer), TACO (23A: Sonora snack), and OLAN (24D: "The Good Earth" mother). Hey, five of those clues have -ER words in them. Just sayin'...
  • 15A: Home of the Clearwater Mtns. (Ida.) - My family is (partly) from IDA., and I had No idea. In fact, it appears my mother's home town (and my grandma's current home) is somewhere near the northern end of this range. I really should pay more attention, in general.
  • 19A: Edberg who won two Wimbledons (Stefan) - total gimme (I played tennis when Edberg was at his peak). Many other convenient gimmes occupy the grid, including "GREASE" (20A: 1972 musical with the song "Summer Nights"), LUIS (41A: Tiant in the Red Sox Hall of Fame), and ARTERY (42A: Angiogram sight). I was a tennis-playing, "Grease"-listening, Red Sox-loving son of a radiologist who, as a 6-year-old, wrote up a "Doggy Angiogram" (complete with spurious stats like "heart bump") for one of my stuffed animals - so, yeah, this puzzle feels as if it were written expressly for me.
  • 44A: Pollen holder (sac) - goes on the DECOCT list (of ugly words)
  • 44D: Poinsettia's family (spurge) - intersecting SAC? Come on, I just ate. DECOCT!
  • 54A: Old Athenian ally against Persia (Sparta) - did you really need "Old?" I mean, "Persia" pretty much says it all.
  • 56A: What fools do, per an adage (rush in) - "Where Angels Fear to Tread" (E.M. Forster)
  • 62A: _____ Green, Scottish town famous for runaway weddings (Gretna) - if "Gretna Green" hadn't been in a recent, Scottish-oriented clue, I would never have known this. "Famous," indeed.
  • 29D: Villainess in "The Little Mermaid" (Ursula) - also writer Le Guin, sex kitten Andress, etc.
  • 43D: John _____, Doris Day's co-star in "The Pajama Game" (Raitt) - this clue has been Thursdayed, for your enjoyment/protection/pleasure. Sucks for you, Bonnie!
Oh, I almost forgot - today is the two-year anniversary of this blog [noisemakers, balloons dropping, confetti, etc.]. Here's the first entry I ever wrote - it's weird to me how little the blog has changed since then. Formula! Thanks to my constant and inconstant readers, and God bless you, grandpamike, wherever you are.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Pretty much sailed through everything except the Leela/Ilene area Rex spoke of. Only Dr. Who companion I could remember (ewww--can't believe I just admitted that) was Tegan.

janie 9:06 AM  

happy anniversary, rex! and bravo!

yep, there was OLAN, right on the heels of luise RAINER...



imsdave1 9:14 AM  

I can't believe how long it took me to get PUTT. Maybe if it had said 'fifth stroke on a par four, often' it would have been easier for me. Had to guess at the G in SPURGE/GRETNA, but liked the sound of SPURGE and put it in. That crossing seemed a bit Naticky to me. NE took me forever as I couldn't for the life of me think of POLISH (the unworkable shine is still pulsing in my head). Combine that with the other Natick (to me anyway) crossing of LEELA/ILENE and this one was challenging for me. I really wanted BRIBES for STANDS, and hate seeing the side by side clue of politician next to the answer of HONEST. John RAITT will always be the more famous one to me. Bonnie's great, but Broadway will never have another voice like his - a full-blooded baritone with a high B-flat - seek him out all.

Coop 9:29 AM  

Can't say why but this was the easiest Thursday puzzle I've seen in some time. It's often the other way around...Rex says its easy and I struggle mightily.

The ILENE, IRENE, LEELA triumvirate was a little out of the ordinary and TOGAE instead of TOGAS seemed a stretch. I must have been sleeping as I went past all those "draws" without realizing there was a theme. Maybe it's because I did the puzzle at the foggy time of 1:00 in the morning

ArtLvr 9:35 AM  

Congrats on your anniversary, Rex!

Grasping at straws with all those [Draws], I limped home as if having played a hard-fought game to a you-know-what... As usual, I filled in the bottom half and then the NE before returning to 1D to change "via" to PER and get 3D TAC [Middle X!] so I could finally see RECEIPTS. Duh. If that last doesn't mean the "gate" as at a show or game, maybe it has to do with some periodic payout from an account, if you are partly on commission?

The theme was confusion of nouns and verbs, where the second half of the clue often had to be supplied (Draws "as with curtains" for CLOSES, "Draws, as with conclusions" for INFERS), but at other times the second half was in the answer -- PULLSAGUN, GETSCARDS, TIEGAMES.

I did enjoy some of the fill -- SWATTER and SNAKED, for example. Overall, one could appreciate the breadth of ingenuity with this theme, but it wasn't such great fun somehow. Dare I say "back to the drawing board"?


Anonymous 9:48 AM  

In case you really care, in an ticket selling event Draw = Gate = RECEIPTS.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

This puzzle slayed me. Maybe I was just impatient, but I ended up here for hints pretty quickly because I just Could Not Get Started. Every section had sticky parts that just would not reveal themselves. Very discouraging.

SPURGE makes me think of surge, which makes me think of the recent "Get Your War On" cartoon about "The Surge". Good stuff.

Happy anniversary, Rex.

evil doug 9:50 AM  

I appreciate it when difficult answers cross. Toss out "Irene" since it was already played; grind through the alphabet for potential winners; and take your best shot. If you're wrong? Big deal. Learn from it, and better luck next time. The logic around here seems to be: "If I can't get a score of 100%, there's obviously something wrong with the puzzle." It's supposed to be a challenge....accept your imperfect humanity and move along.

If the clue just said "Edberg", what else could it be? Less is more. When clues offer limited info the problem becomes a twofer. First, what does the clue really mean? Then, what are the logical possibilities for answers?

This is a superior puzzle to what we saw last weekend. Lots of legitimate options for the theme answers that required grinding through the crosses. Quite satisfying.

If you're not going to tell the joke, why bring it up at all?


HudsonHawk 9:51 AM  

Happy Anniversary, Rex!

I had a similar solving experience today, finishing in the NE, with the ILENE/LEELA crossing falling last. Didn't help that I had RETINAL before OPTICAL. As a result, I wanted GETSN____ to be something along the lines of GETSNEAR but didn't have enough letters.

I also had RETRACTS before ATTRACTS, but it didn't hold me up for long. I liked the RIP/RIPE crossing.

And I was going to call out John RAITT as Bonnie's dad, but imsdave beat me to it (at least that's what I'm INFERring...

Orange 9:55 AM  

Happy bloggiversary, Rex. I let my third bloggiversary pass without notice back in June. Whoops.

You can't count "mother" as an -ER word unless your mom did a lot of mothing.

Rex, I don't buy your alphabetical explanation for east/west dyslexia, because this does nothing to explain why I mess up "left" and "right" in the car. To tell the driver which way to go, I have to point. Sometimes I point to the left while telling them to turn right, and I definitely mean left. Is there a neuroscientist in the house? I'd love to know why I do this.

travis 9:59 AM  

Even though I had a little trouble with it, at least I've seen Leela on television which is more than I can say for 95% of the other names that appear in the puzzle. Luckily I completely blanked on the current companion's name or I would have filled in Donna and had all sorts of problems. Never occurred to me to not spell 'Tegan' as 'Teegan' so didn't consider that as a 5 letter companion.

As for Naticks, GRETNA with any of SPURGE, LAHTI, NAN.

imsdave1 10:04 AM  

@Orange - I have to hold up my left hand (I know this only after I have done it), palms out, and spread my thumb 90 degrees to the rest of the fingers to figure out left. It forms a nice L.

And I forgot to congratulate Rex for the two year milestone. Thank you. Puzzling is much more fun with you here.

JannieB 10:14 AM  

I too spent forever in the NE - mainly because "A Shine" does fit where polish belongs - I knew Irene and Ilene, but Leela?? Who??

@artlvr, I too seem to end up solving the more difficult puzzles bottom to top - wonder why that is.

@Orange, I share your verbal dyslexia in the car, oddly, so does our GPS system - she always says our destination is on the wrong side of the street. Makes me feel vindicated!

Happy Anniversary Rex - your blog has brought together a wonderful webisphere of people and made puzzle solving a much less lonely avocation.

Jeffrey 10:16 AM  

Congratulations, Rex! Something has indeed changed since your first post - it has 0 comments.

What hasn't changed is that you are still interesting, educational, enlightening, a tad subversive, and always entertaining. Still fresh after over 730 days.

You have made me a better puzzler, and I've learned lots of stuff.

This puzzle was a retro feel, with LUIS Tiant, GREASE, EDBERG. (Although Grease is timeless, I guess, back on Broadway).

I had ANDERS and then ANDREI Edberg before a D'OH! STEFAN. I must have been thinking Anita Ekberg.

I have never invoked the Nantick principle since it was coined but... SPURGE/GRETNA??????

Twangster 10:29 AM  

To expand a little on Anon's comment, I've heard draw used in the context of music at clubs, e.g., if there are several acts, the owner might say that each act gets $50 plus 20% of the draw (money from the cover charge, which is kind of a form of receipts).

Ulrich 10:34 AM  

@rex: I add my congratulations!

For me, doing puzzles has a particular side-effect: As a non-native speaker, I picked up a major portion of my vocabulary from context, which often doesn't imply the exact definition. Case in point: Hightail--I didn't know until today that speed was involved; I had always the image of a cat prancing away with tail raised, and so I thought it meant "prance away". This is the umpteenth time that I picked up a more accurate defintion from a puzzle clue.

BTW the most memorable instance of this phenomenon, in my case, was "crap". I had used the word correctly for at least a decade w/o knowing what it literally meant--until some day I saw it used as a verb in a book, where the circumstances made the meaning clear.

Ah, the puzzle: I was held back by questionable(?) clues: How can a TIE GAME be a draw? A tied game, yes, but "tie". Or infer: You do not infer a conclusion--that would be a pleonasm--but you draw a conclusion. So, the last corners to fall were the SE and NW. Irene Pappas is a total gimmie for people growing up with European movies in the 50s and 60s.

But I really liked some of the stacks--so all in all, a good Thursday, with no googling needed.

jae 10:37 AM  

Really like themes like this. Always fun to figure out how many way to define a word. Plus, the fill was an interesting mixture of the obscure (e.g. LEELA, GRETNA,) and the crossword obvious (e.g. EYRE, OLAN). My big hiccup was GETSCLOSE for 26a which made NE take a while. Oh, and I needed my bride for SPURGE (I initially thought SPRUCE might work).

Also, today is my last 2 cents worth for a month or so. We will be cruising and I’m too cheap to pay around a $1 a minute for very slow internet. The good news is that the ship publishes a NYT news digest that includes the puzzle. I will truly miss the daily back and forth.

Congrats on the anniversary Rex.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Happy aniversary!

Rex: I also noticed that the first entry had "zero" comments. Was that actually the case, or did they get removed at some point. If the former, you really have come a long way!

Rex Parker 10:46 AM  


Believe it or not, I wasn't talking about you ... :)


foodie 10:50 AM  

Happy Anniversary Rex... I am in awe of so many things about this blog, but in particular your truly remarkable discipline. Other than mothering (or "mothing") I did nothing with such consistency in my life.

I went back and reread the original post, and two things are notable: a) You now have a general impression section at the beginning which I think is really important and b) you had 0 comments... So, things have changed. Actually, this blog keeps getting better.

@Orange, my hypothesis about your mini-micro-dyslexia is that some pretty fancy wiring had to take place to make you such a whiz, and some minor little circuit had to donate a little horsepower.

As to the puzzle, let's say I finished it and it was like pulling teeth. A struggle every-- step-- of--the--way. Since I got a foothold in the bottom and worked up, I did the NE before the NW. So, I had a semi malapop and stuck IRENE in there, which not only gave me LEERA as a cross (why not?) it also significantly inhibited my ability to figure out IRENE where it belonged, given that I also had TOGAS... What a mess.

More generally, this was one of those puzzles where I admired the idea but it did not bring me joy. This is more than how hard or easy it is. Truly. It has to do with whether you have moments where you feel that the effort was worth it, something that makes you smile, or do a double take, or appreciate the wit. In the end, I was happy to be done.

Back to work...

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Man, I can be such a bimbo at times. I left in LEERA (seems plausible enough for a "Doctor Who" name)/IRENE. Should have remembered ILENE but did not and therefore declare Natick!

I admire the 8 answer theme for draws and did enjoy this puzzle, but not at much as yesterday. It's a solid Thursday, though.

Congratulations, Rex! I haven't been here since the beginning but will definitely be here for the duration with hopefully no end in sight.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

I believe the expression is "draw and inference" which then devolves to draws=infers.
But then again, I also believe that all religions are delusions...

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Mis-typed "draw an inference" -- sorry about that.

Two Ponies 11:00 AM  

Tough grind for me today with the NE being the worst. Too many proper names for me but it is interesting to see so many answers for such a simple word as draws.
@ulrich - I am in awe of your grasp of our often crazy language.
Congrats on 2 years! My morning routine is coffee, cigarette, newspaper, pen, and then Rex. It's the only thing I miss when I'm on vacation. Thanks to you, Rex, and everyone else as well.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

I have suspended solving crosswords until the sudoku crisis is over. I would have my assistant do them, but she is busy with a couple of photo shoots. When it all gets easier, I will come back and show how fast I can solve a Monday puzzle. Doing more than one thing at a time doesn't work out for people my age.

This puzzle was difficult ...particularly if your are being told the sky is falling. How nice your blog started with a Lynn Limpel puzzle and two years later you had another one. The comparisons are interesting, but your contribution has been significant. Congratulations for two years of fun and thanks to Orange for three years of enlightening contributions, as well.


dk 11:04 AM  

Happy blog day! Great puzzle, excellent Thursday fare.

What do you call a piratess with a poorly made peg leg? Ilene.

@evil doug, I assume that is the racist joke Rex was thinking of and coming so close on the HEELs of talk like a pirate day he felt discretion was the better part of valor. I obviously do not.

SWATTER is my favorite clue of the day. And, I suppose because a HIP is a joint it is in some way a turning point.

I am happy to report that after decades of looking this up I now know OLAN is the Good Earth Mother. My next goal is remembering the Rubik Cube guys first name.

Having worked Rock concerts in the days before credit cards (yes it is true my children we used to use cash) we called the night's take receipts as we would note the cash taken in on receipts. Warning geezer story ahead:

I photographed a Doors concert that my then girlfriend was promoting. It was early and strange days for The Doors and we were unprepared for the size of the crowd. Girlfriend would stuff the cash in trash bags and throw them in the trunk of her car. Twice she had to drive to her house to empty the bags as we only had 10. After the show we had Mr. Morrison over for some tea (wink, wink, ya know what I mean, get it, get it). He walked into the bathroom and yelled WTF. Girlfriend had dumped all the bills into the tub and the bills flowed over covering the floor about a foot or 2 deep. The money shot for me was Morrison in the tub seemingly naked covered with cash and a beer in his hand.

Those were the days my friends.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Unlike Ulrich, I have no comprehension of the English language and apologize for 'your' / 'you're' error above.


Parshutr 11:15 AM shot? I too worked as a shooter [for a not-to-be-named newspaper], but money shot is an expression I associate with another kind of photographic enterprise.

Oh, and Rex...congratulations on two years. Keep it up!

dk 11:29 AM  

@parshutr, I was mostly freelance and was paid $35 to show up, reimbursed for my film, turned all negatives over to the promoter, and was paid $15 for any image used. Thus we referred to any good ones as the money shot. LOL at the thought of my work falling into the category of money shot you referenced.

dk 11:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dk 11:52 AM  

miguel! I think you made a snarky political comment in your @anon 11:01 post. Good Job. Please watch the following stories:

US auto industry wants to renege on a key provision of the its bailout: converting to producing energy efficient cars.

Law firms are working with executives to structure work arounds for any bailout provisions that effect pay. And, financial firms are attempting to structure the deals so they are paid for distressed assets as if they were whole.

Iraq is quietly rejecting "signed" no-bid contracts for energy (oil) exploration and refinery development in that country.

Lawmakers and treasury officials plead with candidates to stay out of the bailout discussions.

I am reminded of a line from a Simon and Garfunkel tune: "Just like a dog I was befriended."

Last post of the day, thank goodness


Your representative from the worlds largest news and information organization.

ps. See the David Lynch cartoon strip "The Angriest Dog in the World for a read on my current disposition...

Unknown 12:23 PM  

My solve was sporadic at first but as I got some fill I ended up going bottom to top. I had the most trouble in the NW, on account of putting in bigGAMES instead of TIEGAMES and just blanking on PUTT and the downs.

My husband is really into Doctor Who, so I knew too many 5 letter options (Vicki, Polly, Sarah, Donna, Tegan, Nyssa, Leela) without putting in a cross first, but STEFAN zeroed in on the correct one.

Regarding Draws/Receipts, in accounting, when a business owner receives money from the company, it is called a cash draw.

I enjoyed the challenge of this puzzle and all the potential senses of draw/s: a good brain stretcher.

Greene 12:36 PM  

Between John RAITT, URSULA, and GREASE, I thought we had a nice little Broadway Musicals theme going. Thus I confidently used RANDY Graff for 22A for the longest time. I saw her on Broadway in "City of Angels" in 1989 while on my honeymoon and I've pretty much loved her ever since. Maybe she's not famous enough for the NYT puzzle. Regretfully I pulled her out and the NE magically fell into place.

@imsdave1: I am with you about John Raitt. One of the greatest Broadway baritones ever (including the original company of the "Pajama Game"). Have seen him in film and television kinescopes from his glory days, but alas, never live. Saw Harry Connick do the Raitt part in the revival of "Pajama Game" -- extremely good, but not the same (not by a long shot).

Rex, congratulations on two great years. I love this blog and the crossword community who comes here to praise, joke, kvetch, and pontificate. I lurked for many months before posting and probably still read and enjoy more than share, but it's always a high point of my day to struggle through the puzzle and then come here to be informed and entertained. GOD SAVE THE KING! LONG MAY HE BLOG!

miriam b 12:37 PM  

IRENE in this context does not rhyme with ILENE; it's pronounced something like eye-REE-nee, à la Grecque.

Blown away by the techncal excellence of this puzzle. Must leave for appointment now - have a splendid day, everyone, and good for you, Rex.

archaeoprof 12:37 PM  

More happy anniversary wishes here, Rex.

Today I tried "rank" before RIPE, "hub" before HIP, and for 66A I tried "yds" before TDS.

Good tough Thursday, wasn't it.

Campesite 12:40 PM  

Congrats Rex!
Though I don't get a chance to contribute comments anymore, I still read your blog religiously and I believe it is better than ever. Keep up the great work!

Shamik 12:46 PM  

Congratulations on your anniversary Rex! My husband thinks we're up to no good together 'cause I tell him every day that I have to check with Rex.

However, this was the easiest Thursday puzzle I've ever done. Fastest correct time. Liked the theme. Well done!



Gretna, LA is on the west bank. It's latest claim to infamy is that its residents greeted Katrina refugees on the Mississippi bridge with guns. And we all think we're going to be noble when there's a crisis.

jeff in chicago 1:19 PM  

Nice, tough puzzle. It was a 1-Google for me. (To get the LEELA/ILENE cross.)

I'm a fan of Judge Vic and his puzzles. They're always a challenge. I have sold exactly one puzzle, and it was a collaboration with Mr. Fleming. We worked together on-line, and then I got to meet him at the Chicago premiere of "Wordplay." He was great to work with, and a gentleman in person.

@dk - That was a killer story! I now really want to share a beer (wink wink) with you some day!

And congrats, Rex, on the anniversary. Love the blog and the conversation.

Joon 1:50 PM  

there's a discussion of how RECEIPTS = draws in the comment box over at orange's blog. it's not related to box office revenue.

artlvr, there is indeed a mix of verbs and nouns here. a tie game is a draw; therefore [Draws] are TIEGAMES. draw can mean to pull a gun (even with no explicit direct object), so [Draws] can mean PULLSAGUN. likewise you can draw a curtain (close it) or a conclusion (infer it), so [Draws] can mean CLOSES or INFERS. you can also use draw with no explicit direct object to mean get more cards from the deck (in this case, "draw" is the opposite of "stand pat"), so [Draws] can mean GETSCARDS.

the only problem with this entry is that i don't think of GETSCARDS as being "in the language" in its own right. it's just two words put together. on the other hand, most puzzles with this kind of theme have many such answers. GUNSMOKEBARKEEP, anyone? POKERTABLEMONEY? ACTRESSCARLISLE? NICKNAMEFORACAT? none of those (all taken from victor fleming's previous puzzle, 6 weeks ago today) are "in the language" at all. so today's effort was certainly closer.

rex--2 years. that's cool. most of my pursuits do not last that long, although they tend to be very intense while they do last. we'll see how long i'm into crosswords. (8 months and counting.)

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Admirable puzzle, for all the reasons already blogged.

One other thing worth mentioning was the UnUsUal number of
U's in the grid. I'm sUre there are statistics on that sort of thing somewhere.

Only troubles were 17A, where I had RECEIVES; and 58A, which I thought was going to be TRENCHES, based on having ____CHES.


Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Oh, and congrats to Rex, and to all who contribute to the success of this blog. My favorite extracurricular vice while at work.


Bill from NJ 2:00 PM  


I thought was the only one who couldn't tell my left from my right. I was literally ashamed of having to scrawl my fingers along my left thigh because that was how I could tell my left (writing hand) from my right (non-writing hand).

Puzzles forced me to memorize ILENE and IRENE so would know the difference between GRAFF and PAPAS.

The NE fell rather quickly by way of crosses - that is how I got LEELA - but the NW was the most difficult for me. Couldn't see RECEIPTS for the longest time and had RAG at 5A.

The DRAW clues got progressively more difficult as I moved South to North

PuzzleGirl 2:05 PM  

I really enjoy this type of theme and thought this puzzle was really fun. Tough, but fun. My first entry was VIA for "By means of" at 1D so I wasn't off to a real good start. I guessed OTIS for LUIS off the IS at 41A (Tiant in the Red Sox Hall of Fame), but that worked itself out relatively easily. I inexplicably entered MARINE for ENSIGN at 65A (Annapolis graduate) -- d'oh!

I'm surprised to see that Grease came out in 1972. I recall seeing that movie 10 or 11 times in the theater -- and I was only seven? What the hell were my parents thinking?

Do you guys play that game where you pick out who would play you in a movie about your life? Not the game where all the guys get to be Pierce Brosnan and all the girls get to be Halle Barry -- the one where you really pick someone who would probably be right for the part? My sister's is Christine Lahti. (Or at least it used to be -- is that still accurate, AddieLoggins?)

Happy bloggiversary, Rex! It was fun going back to read your first post. I, too, really enjoy the community here and don't feel right on days where I don't get a chance to drop in. Thanks to you and to everyone else who participates!

Jeffrey 2:09 PM  

@Puzzlegirl, Grease the play opened in 1972. The movie version came out in 1978.

Crosscan, Hopelessly devoted to Crossworld.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

RE: Some of the DRAWS objections

Neither of the following sound particularly unusual to me:

"What were the DRAWS for Iron Man for the last 3 weekends?" [RECEIPTS]

"What Rex DRAWS from the NYT puzzle grid and clues, he shares with his readers." [INFERS]

Not the most obvious uses, but...

PuzzleGirl 2:17 PM  

@crosscan: Thank you! That makes me feel much better!


Anonymous 2:24 PM  

All this talk about Ilene Graff has me jonesing for some 'Mr. Belvedere' watching! Streaks on the china never mattered before... who cared?

I love the word ONUS.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

Happy second anniversary, Rex!!
It is thanks to this blog that now I feel confident enough to start any Thursday puzzle (and finish it, albeit with some help most of the time), and bold enough to attempt Fridays!
I'll never forget when you said to me: just keep doing them, every day, you'll get better at them with time.

Thanks for the advise and the laughs!

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

For all you directional dyslexics out there: take solace in that if you look at the star maps, which are published weekly (I think) in the NYT, east is to the left and west is to the right. To understand why, position yourself on the ground at a location where you know which way north is (if you do this early in the day or late in the afternoon, you can judge by the position of the sun.) Then, look at the sky, and north will be over your head, and south will be past your feet, but east will be on your left, and west will be on your right. BTW, you know you're really backwards if your nose is running and your feet are smelling (i.e. RIPE). Finally, happy anniversary, Rex.

DJG 2:53 PM  

This puzzle certainly did not "draw" me in. I thought it was pretty drab overall. As noted by many, the symmetry in the construction is quite nice, but the puzzle was just not very fun to solve. A big part of the problem is the reliance on obscure-ish proper nouns.

One great thing about this blog is that it helps me determine what fill is on the obscure side, and what isn't. If it's just me I have no objective frame of reference. It's like my friend who thinks any trivia question is super easy if he knows the answer, and super hard if he doesn't. (Playing Trivial Pursuit with him can definitely be annoying.)

Congrats on the two year mark, Rex. Keep on rockin'in the free world.

SethG 3:03 PM  

I'm tempted to say Seth G(reen) would play me in the movie, but he'd probably turn down the role and it would go to Joey Slotnick.

I had trouble in every section of this puzzle, but the piece that will stick with me most is the terrible clue for TIVO. That just makes no sense.

I also had receives for RECEIPTS, plaque for ARTERY, retinal for OPTICAL, arch for HEEL, een for EVE, gaia for OLAN. No idea what a BETA key is, and didn't know IRENE or ILENE or LEELA or LUIS or BRET or SPURGE or URSULA.

GREASE is the word, and STEFAN Edberg is the man.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

TAKES cards rather than GETS
sounds more correct for DRAWS.
The former implies the person taking, the latter implies being dealt.

imsdave1 3:17 PM  

@sethg - Phi Beta Kappa:

and I am so down with you on the TIVO clue.

MarkTrevorSmith 3:41 PM  

"For fools rush in where angels fear to tread" = iambic pentameter line from Alexander Pope's _Essay on Criticism_, which is one of the most quoted works of literature ever written.

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Happy Anniversary Rex! Here I was, toiling away in the obscurity of syndication land when I stumbled on your blog a little over a year ago.

Now I've subscribed to the NYT puzzle and I suspect many others have as well, mainly because of your blog. You should talk to Will, you deserve a cut.

Doc John 3:46 PM  

Happy Anniversary, Rex!

This one gave me a few fits. Of course, the fact that I was doing it while I was chatting with an online friend didn't help, either. Who knew that "draw" had so many definitions? I did find this puzzle to be enjoyable and all the theme fills were respectable and different from each other. GETS CARDS was the hardest for me to INFER but I did finally get it. In fact, the whole NE was just a big mess for me and I stared at a whole lot of blank squares (except STEFAN and SST) for some time. Finally, OPTICAL [scanner] appeared and then the rest fell easily enough. I did have to guess at the LEELA/ILENE cross but it did seem better than Leera. Speaking of guesses, I also had to guess at SPURGE/GRETNA (kept wanting "spruce" instead) but again, GRETNA seemed to be the logical choice.

Other random comments:
Nice to see Cheryl TIEGS in the puzzle. Ditto for Christine LAHTI.
Nice clue for SNAKED- all I kept coming up with was "zigged" or "zagged".
I can just hear Gerard Butler yelling "SPARTA!" over and over in my mind.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

I've read all the other comments about RECEIPTS = DRAWS and am still a bit perplexed. Perhaps Mr. Fleming would be kind enough to post an explanation here.

fikink 4:00 PM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle.
Thought the cluing for INFER was spot on, after long having tried to teach students the difference between infer and imply (as a matter of direction, Ulrich) - something which talking news heads are still "efforting" to conquer.
@dk, great story (nudge, nudge)
@imsdave1 I, too, liked seeing John Raitt and @greene, I thought of you immediately when I put his name in. So nice to have met you both on this blog.
@shamik, I too had RANK for RIPE for the longest time. (Like it better as an answer, actually, and when I settled on the "i" tried to spell "dicey", DICY, removing RIP!)
Was no one trying to draw WATER in some form?
a bath? (I still need a lady-in-waiting to do that for me.)

And to Rex, congratulations on a spectacular and successful offering. This blog has become my puzzler's salon where I am always sure to find something thought-provoking and worthy of further investigation. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you. I always look forward to your posts, conservative or liberal in their PsOV.

chefbea 4:02 PM  

Had to google a lot today especially in the north east. But a fun puzzle overall with all the different meanings for draws.

Congrats Rex on your 2 year anniversary. I feel I have made many new friends since coming here and hope to meet a lot of them at the ACPT next year.

fergus 4:56 PM  

This puzzle looked like it was going to be a snap, but it wasn't. Most problematic was having VIA for 1D and then thinking of engines instead of golf -- and perhaps VENT was the fifth stroke, after exhaust in some turbocharged scheme of things.

My coolest tennis shoes ever were the Stefan Edberg model, so that was nice little insignificant memory.

This seems, looking back at the grid, like a true puzzler's puzzle, with a great theme at the heart of the matter. I'm drawn to crosswords because it's entertaining to think of at least eight different meanings of the same word. I like how the stacks of squares multiply this effect as well.

Thanks, Rex for all your efforts. At our little gathering in Alameda, you got full glowing praise, spiced with a drop of acerbic wit.

green mantis 5:48 PM  

Speaking of Alameda, if this had been our Thursday puzzle, I would have been screwed. Come ON, Ilene. I thought I was in another dimension for at least five minutes. Fifth stroke...coma?

Raquel Welch for Andrea, Richard Gere for Fergus, Gina Gershon for Orange, Santa for Karma and, obviously, Don Johnson for Rex. The part of the mantis will be played by a resentful mosquito.

Happy Anniversary Rex.

Unknown 5:54 PM  

Re difficulty telling left from right when giving directions in a car. I've learned to say "driver's side" and "passenger side" and I hardly ever make mistakes any more.

Happy Blog Day Rex! And many many happy returns.


fergus 6:01 PM  

I have a little question about whether an ABBE, or Abbot, would ever really be a Sermonizer? Though I'm hardly conversant in religious ritual or practice, I don't think either the English or French versions are the equivalent of a minister or priest. They're monk supervisors as far I know, and perhaps they offer sage sermons to their charges? Seems like Will Shortz just threw two vaguely churchy things together on this one.

foodie 7:04 PM  

@fergus, I believe you are correct. I too was bothered by abbé... I think "prêtre" is more likely to preach...

@ Green Mantis, interesting casting! It it would be quite a leap for Gina Gershon---from playing Sarah Palin to playing Orange...(OK, teetering too close to politics, so I'll zip it and leave it to y'all to google if interested).

fergus 7:18 PM  

Pretre, with the little hat over the first e, was what came to mind when I saw the Clue. Isn't that also the verb to lend, or was that to borrow? My French has gotten as bad as the financial sector. Since we're casting around, how about a youthful Michelle Pfeiffer as the mantis, not some sorry mosquito?

green mantis 7:52 PM  


(That was Catwoman, not Howard Dean.)

chefbea 8:01 PM  

rachael ray can play chefbea!! Maybe she will be at the chili contest this weekend

Michael Chibnik 10:27 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle even though like many I struggle (even after explanations) to understand why draws = receipts.

leela/ilene was a guess but l seemed like the most likely letter.

mac 10:31 PM  

I am too late today! The good part is that I had a lot of great comments to read (dk: good story), but because there were so many to read I was even (hours) later....
I feel the way Andrea Carla must feel most days.

When I first looked at the puzzle around noon, I couldn't even get a toe-hold. I put it away, had a crazy-busy afternoon, then picked it up again and filled it all in. Not without a couple of bumps: via - per, etching - lasting, and I was looking for sketches the whole Norther hemisphere, didn't get it and then forgot about it in the South.... I also thought of "a shine" and I love swatter, spurge and snaked.
Bottom line, I had a very good time with this one, and it felt like a nice, smart Thursday.

@joon: you'll be amazed: your son is going to be your first priority for the rest of your life.

@chefbea: lots of luck at the chili cook-off! Let us know.

@rex: congratulations and many thanks for creating this blog. It has taught me a lot and gives me lots of pleasure every day. We should have a serious bash at the tournament next Feb.

miriam b 10:31 PM  

@fergus: You're thinking of the infinitive prêter, to lend. Here it is in the imperative:

Au clair de la lune,
Mon ami Pierrot,
Prête-moi ta plume
Pour êcrire un mot...

All sorts of hijinks ensue.

mac 10:44 PM  

@miriam b: I think there is a wrong accent on ecrire. I don't quite know where to find them myself, or how to place them on a letter without moving it......

miriam b 10:49 PM  

@mac: You're right. It should be écrire. I must have entered the wrong code from the character map. The code for ê is one digit higher. Thanks for noticing.

PuzzleGirl 10:51 PM  

Would someone please just shoot me in ma tête?

fergus 11:37 PM  

I will admit to French grammar geekery, but not quite this much. Maybe because I'm not a good typist, and can't find the accent marks. You will all realize how much entertainment this thread has brought, yet we've overdosed too publicly.

Unless accents and translations are not off-limit for the balance of the night, je pourrais dire le meme chose que je devrais avais dit, souvent en pensant des verbes irregulieres.

mac 11:37 PM  

@puzzlegirl: lol. Check out Rex's latest posting.....

mac 11:40 PM  

@fergus: think, thank, thunk, Orange says somewhere in her labyrinth of a site....

Orange 12:38 AM  

I forget what I wrote a few hours ago, but Blogger refused to load the comment. I think it was mostly pointing out that Gina Gershon is four years older than me, but that her Wikipedia write-up details all her naked Showgirls work and her butch lesbian sex scenes in Bound, so what the hell, she can certainly play me in the movie. What's the movie about, again?

foodie 12:47 AM  

@Orange, apparently hot sex with a left-right dyslexic

fergus 12:59 AM  

I would like to pass by the velvet ropes in to the Orange ballroom, yet be thwarted by a lack of imagination for a new on-line moniker.

fergus 1:14 AM  

Pelican dickhead is already claimed, by the way.

Anonymous 2:26 AM  

happy anniversary!!!

@ mac
yes, late to the party AGAIN
less of an excuse bec i'm in Mpls. Only one hour (and seven years) behind...
Will get to the bottom of the dk story in person on Monday!

Loved reading your first post and to see it was Lynn Lempel puzzle, toujours la meme...
(hey where is the little hat key? How DOES everyone else do this!?)

Resisted urge to add one retroactively
Here's to your terrible twos! Give 'em hell, sexy rexy!

JBelle 2:31 AM  

where, where, where in Idaho?

Rex Parker 7:27 AM  

St Maries, ID


miriam b 9:46 AM  

@andrea carla michaels: Here's the deal:

Go to Accessories => System Tools => Character Map. There you'll find more than you ever wanted to know about diacritical marks, etc. Check it out; it's fascinating. There's a numeric code for each character. I email my French cousin Béatrice (note the accent aigu) quite often, so I have generated a table of French characters for convenience's sake.

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

Happy anniversary, Rex! A great service is delivered by a blog of this high a quality!
Thanks to all for the valuable feedback. Thanks, especially to joon, who was right on with his analysis of the different uses of draw(s).
Merely to reveal that I did in fact research every theme answer, let me offer this: An acceptable answer-clue relationship is either synonymous or substitutional. That is, if the two are synonyms, they’re okay; if there is at least one legitimate context where the two can be interchanged, they’re okay. If we don’t agree on that, we have problems; if we do agree on that, then consider:
RECEIPTS – For many years I was either in sales or in law practice, in both of which professions the term “draw” means the receipt of money as an advance (against either commission or fees earned); moreover, my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1983) contains as a definition for draw “to take (money) from a place of deposit.” (The definition after that is “to take (cards) from a stack or from the dealer.”)
INFERS- See Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus (1992, Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ed.), page 279: “draw … deduce … gather, get, infer, judge …”
CLOSES – “Draw the curtains” / “Close the curtains.” (It was a Thursday: You don’t get the “Draws, as curtains” clue on Thursday!)
Also, FYI, the NE corner, as submitted, contained (across) ACTIVA, DARNIT, ARAFAT & ALENE and (down) ADA, CARACAS, TRALA, VIANDS & ATTEST. I think Will did not like my ACTIVA/VIANDS crossing. So, the corner, and its clues, were all Will’s (I liked it better than my original).


Rick 10:19 AM  

Is anyone else in syndication land now getting the puzzles 4 weeks later instead of 5 (or 6)? It's now Oct. 23 and I'm doing the Sept. 25 puzzle.

As far as the puzzle itself; no majors hold-ups, although it was a slower Thursday than normal because of the lack of gimmick. Too many names for my liking but at least I'd heard of them all expect Leela. Fortunately, Ilene Graff is a crossword star, and I'm old enough to remember Mr. Belvedere. Have no idea why I knew Gretna Green so easily

Rick 10:21 AM  

Sorry, I hadn't read Rex's new banner that says the puzzles are 4 weeks behind. My bad. Did this just change this week?

Anonymous 10:23 PM  

To Rick: yes, it just changed this week. Just as suddenly, it went from 6 to 5 sometime in mid-last summer. Makes me wonder if they're trying to get the syndicated puzzle up to one week after the "real" puzzle, like the Sunday is. It's all fine, of course, except you and I and all the other syndicationites miss all the puzzles for the week they "jumped"--what if that included the most fabulous puzzles in the history of the NYT? Alas.

Anonymous 1:41 AM  

Good puzzle. The SE had me flummoxed. I didn't know who Doris Day's co-star was (43D) but I had the RAI so I guessed RAINE and then RAINS and both of them totally messed up the corner. Fortunately, my husband worked on the puzzle at work (yeah, I know; *I* don't have to time to do crosswords at work) and he gave me "sketches" and that was all I needed.

Also, GRETNA (62A) is a gimme for those of us who were hooked on Regency romances in our formative years. Someone was always running off to Gretna Green to get married against her father's wishes.

L. L. Thrasher

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

thanks to rex for 18 months of enjoyable not to miss commentary. I,like so many others,visit everyday and have found it an invaluable tool both with solving and the delightful commentators in expanding my xword knowledge. wish I wasn't 5 (4?) weeks behind and could join in discussions as they occur. Thanks again Rex!cw in alaska

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