SATURDAY, Dec. 6, 2008 - A.V. and N.V. (Bat portrayer / Town on the IJsselmeer / Posthumous Pulitzer winner of 1958 / Relief pitcher Robb)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: TEN ORS (29D: Choir section ... and what are missing from the starred clues) - clues to ten answers have the letter string "OR" removed from them; resulting clue is still in recognizable English, and plausible as a clue in its own right, and thus Very misleading if you don't understand what the hell is going on

Weirdly, I got this theme very, very early - within the first minute or so of solving. And yet, it was still tough, partly because of the clever cluing, and partly because I am an idiot and Kept Forgetting what the "OR" was supposed to be removed from (I kept trying to take "OR" out of answers!). Ugh. Very very clever idea, and a very rare themed Saturday puzzle. This puzzle was constructed by Ashish Vengsarkar (a very nice man who has written great puzzles before) and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan, who may be making his debut, and who certainly has the longest name in the history of crossword constructing.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: *Panama (view) -> [PanORama]
  • 9A: *Popular rest area (Aspen) -> [Popular resORt area]
  • 17A: *Bat portrayer (Sacha Baron Cohen) -> [BORat portrayer] - this is my favorite, in that it had me thinking of an actor (right) who played Batman (wrong).
  • 54A: *Sty for youngsters ("Three Little Pigs") -> [StORy for youngsters]
  • 61A: *Deal (trial) -> [ORdeal]
  • 63A: *Cal _____ (reef) -> [CORal _____]
  • 10D: *Male booster (shot in the arm) -> [MORale booster]
  • 22D: *Words that come from clams (onomatopoeia) -> [Words that come from clamORs] - great, great clue; learned that I don't really know how to spell ONOMATOPOEIA. Ended up guessing on that first "A" - thought it might be an "O," but LADO felt wrong, even for a Russian car make I'd never heard of before (37A: Russian car make)
  • 26D: *Aid in tailing (needle) -> [Aid in tailORing]
  • 31D: *Famous son (Welles) -> [Famous ORson]

Parts of this puzzle were flat-out easy, particularly the middle - which is why I got the theme so early. TERI went in right away (41A: "Desperate Housewives" co-star of Eva and Felicity), and that terminal "I" meant that 23D: Career Golden Slam winner (Agassi) was a gimme. TGI (29A: _____ Friday's) was another no-brainer. The middle just filled itself in from there. There were a number of names that are very common crossword fill - perhaps not outright gimmes, given their cluing, but definitely gettable if you do puzzles with any regularity. These include AGEE (52D: Posthumous Pulitzer winner of 1958) and EERO (43A: Chair designer Aarnio) - the latter of whom I think I've never heard of, but EERO is in the puzzle all the time (or used to be) as the first name of architect Saarinen. I would not have thought of EDEL as easy two years ago, but having seen it several times now (and at least once clued precisely this way - 39A: Writer of the five-volume biography "Henry James"), it's approaching gimme status. Robb NEN was a gimme for me, and any other baseball fan, but maybe not for a lot of you (13D: Relief pitcher Robb). Oh, and ISAO should be a gimme for you all, if not today, then in the future (2D: Golfer Aoki). Like ROBB NEN, ISAO AOKI has first and last names that could (and do) easily show up in the grid.

There were definitely some potholes and dead ends and other hazards in this grid. I was virtually certain that 42D was REEKED. Seemed like a fine, even great, answer for 42D: Was apparently lit. I sat there and stared at EL-K as the answer for 50A: Its liners have stars on them forever. I put in every vowel - nothing. Finally convinced myself "K" must be wrong, and then right answer became obvious. Not ELAK, but the super duper common EL AL! Aargh. THALES (the "A" cross) is not familiar to me, clearly (45D: Pre-Socratic philosopher). I fell into another pit when I test-solved the puzzle, a pit which Will graciously filled in before the puzzle went live. The original clue for WINOS was not today's 31A: Red or white nuts?, but [Ones with red or white attachments?], which seems quite valid, but the vagueness of "attachments" made me think it was a word that was attached, in some way, to "red" and "white" - namely, the word "WINES." You know, red WINE, white WINE - red and white attachments = WINES! When you don't know how to spell ONOMATOPOEIA, having WINES for WINOS doesn't exactly set off any bells.


  • 20A: Belafonte song opener ("Day O!") - another surprisingly easy answer.

  • 34A: Town on the IJsselmeer (Edam) - dang: along with AGEE, EERO, and ELAL, yet another super-common answer hiding in a nutso-looking clue.
  • 44A: Job for un docteur (cas) - oooh, un docteur of loi. Tricky. [Although I guess medical doctors also have "cases"] This clue has the same structure / logic as 56D: Father of une princesse (roi). Two of this kind of clue is one too many.
  • 59A: Salad or sandwich request (no oil) - did anyone else have a brief moment of thinking, "... NOOIL? How do you pronounce that?")
  • 55D: Where the land meets the sky: Abbr. (hor.) - one of the few ugh-y entries in this lovely puzzle
  • 58D: Big name in water filters (Pur) - want to put a straight HOR. line atop the "u" but can't figure out how.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 1:11 AM  

your blog is very good

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

what ptenjoy said

Anonymous 3:03 AM  

your pal reminds of that great Letterman Oscar routine...

"Narayan Venkatasubramanyan, Uma...Uma, Narayan Venkatasubramanyan"

Well done, sir. I spent one hour and TEN OR So googles and still couldn't finish!

(ISAO, EDEL, AGEE NEN, EERO (tho I suspected),THALES (which I couldn't find along with LADA and CAL ----), USAF.
Never did get WELLES as I had PINAS and couldn't make an educated guess how you were abbreviating Horizon...I tried HZN first among other equally pathetic stabs.

But what do you care? ;)
Great job!

Shanti11 3:28 AM  

I have to say that this is the FIRST Saturday puzzle that I have completely solved in one sitting, with no looking up anything. And I've been doing these things for almost two years now. I even texted my daughter at God knows what hour of the evening to tell her, because I had to tell someone that I solved a Saturday puzzle!!

Then I saw that Rex had already posted and he rated the puzzle as "Medium-Challenging". I did a puzzle that Rex rated as Medium-Challenging!

Then I got to read the first four posts, the first two which were clearly non-crossword related, making them weirdly amusing in a late-at-night, surreal kind of way.

Then came the next weird post, and THEN Andrea knocked it out of the park. I laughed out loud and woke up my dog. Thank you, acme; that was a great late-night laugh!

A couple of comments on the puzzle (did I mention that I solved the whole thing?): Who orders a sandwich with NO OIL? "Yes, I'll have a turkey club on whole wheat, but can you hold the oil?" Mmm, peanut butter, jam and oil sandwiches...

I really liked 46A, New old man. Awesome clue! I had no idea what it could be until I had every letter but the "p".

I also got a kick out of the fact that 54A, "Sty for youngsters", was the Three Little Pigs. Get it? Pig sty?

I know, I need sleep. Victory sleep. Yea.

Campesite 4:25 AM  

I thought this was a superb puzzle. TEN theme answers, eleven if you include TENORS, on a Saturday is pretty fun. Once the theme was sniffed out, though, the grid seemed to fill in quickly.
On a ski trip through the Caucasus my buddy and I took a Lada, and we realized the car was so named when we'd struggle up a mountain pass thinking "not a Lada power."
MHOS for Anti-resistance units? Toughie, but the crosses were kind.
INKLESS for Dry was a clever answer, and even gave you a K in the grid.

Jeffrey 8:34 AM  

I love this kind of puzzle. It is all in getting the trick - before you get it, nothing makes sense; after the a-ha! moment, smooth sailing. Although it still takes time to figure out where the OR goes.

I've often wondered where the OR goes. I work on writing tax legislation and sometimes OR means AND and AND means OR. Really. Let me give an example - no maybe not.

What goes on Schedule A? Canadian tax schedules are numbered, not lettered. Schedule 1 is federal tax calculation, schedule 2 is transfers from your spouse...hey you got your beet receipes and Woody Allen stories, I got my tax forms.

Have I bed (bORed) everyone yet?

chefbea 9:03 AM  

@crosscan LOL

Never really got the theme til I came here. I was trying to put OR into the answers and made no sense.

Didn't know 34 across but I'm sure Mac did. I love Edam cheese.

Off to see my grand daughter perform in "one Hundred and one dalmations."

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Thanks, Rex, for another dose of fun. I think I have started looked forward even more to reading your blog than to solving the puzzles.

I think doctors of medicine deal with cases, too.

Can someone explain "mhos" to me? If this is just "ohm" backwards and pluralized--as I fear--this might be the most inelegant clue/answer ever in a NYT puzzle! A way out of this would have been "IST" (with the same clue!) crossed with "THOS" which is an old-fashioned abbreviation for Thomas.

This puzzle felt easy easy to me (I solved it without google in about 1/4 the time of an average Saturday puzzle)....the theme was cleverish, but once you figure out the secret, it makes it too simple to fill in the other theme entries. Given that the constructors of today's puzzle cleverly worded their clues so as to look plausible minus the ORs, this puzzle could have been made delightfully, fiendishly brutal if the theme clues had not been identified as such, leaving it up to the solver to figure out which clues needed the insertion of OR.

edith b 9:19 AM  

This is the first Saturday puzzle in three months I have failed to solve. I had RAFT at 1Down and never recovered.

Perhaps if I had come away from my wrong answer earlier, I would have seen the theme.

But, to paraphrase an old saying, perhaps doesn't feed the bulldog.

Orange 9:27 AM  

@Michael, the mho measures conductance and is the reciprocal of resistance in ohms. The word does indeed derive from ohm backwards.

Loved this puzzle! Cool theme/gimmick lurking in the clues, and smooth fill throughout.

Unknown 9:30 AM  

I am one of three people who have not seen Borat and know nothing about the actor. I write this to introduce two mistakes. MYA or MYO at 8D (chose the A) and ISM / IST at 57D tried both but went with IST. I worked through grad school doing electronic work and MHO was not known then. Furthermore, like LOL, MHO is text-speak in this case for My Honest Opinion.

Ashish and his friend are stars. Fun but hard puzzle for me.

JannieB 10:06 AM  

I have nothing but love and respect for this puzzle - from start to finish it was a pleasure to solve. This is the first time in my experience that the clues held the rebus fill, and they were brilliant.

I got my foothold in the center too, thanks Teri! My "AHA" moment came with "Three Little Pigs" - and I even had a malapop -- wanted "reeled in" for 24D - only to have "reeled" show up at 42D!

Edithb - I started with "raft" too - but quickly gave it up - just didn't feel right.

Congrats to Ashish and Narayan. Well done!

Bill from NJ 10:09 AM  


Nice to see you back again. I missed all your asides and illuminations.

Welcome home.

Debsanger 10:09 AM  

"Tenors" -- Oh 10 -ors. I got it!! Or so I thought -- but then when I counted the asterisked clues, I got TWELVE!!! (some of the teensy lil quote marks in Accross Lite deceived my aging eyes). I filled in the ENTIRE puzzle and was staring at it with that stupid feeling that everyone's laughing at the joke but me (what joke?!) when "bat" morphed into "Borat." Then I felt REALLY stupid.

Great puzzle.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

This one started slow for me: first answer was TGI (Friday's). Never eaten there but I must've seen the signs on a rare visit to a mall or something. Started getting concerned until reaching the gimme MHO, crossed with ISM, then the rest of the SE and next the entire South portion fell quickly.* With THREE LITTLE PIGS mostly filled in, I finally made my way back up to the theme clue in the center, which I hadn't noticed at first.

Agree with the commenter above: once the clue is figured, the puzzle fairly flew by. I had guessed ROPED IN, but only because I thought "choice that avoids choosing" was going to be BOTH. But I knewthat wasn't going to work with TPKE, so I had to work at it some more.

To me, NEN, TERI, EDEL, and ISAO were not gimmes at all, but only solved by crossing. Aarnio being a Finnish-sounding name, I figured the first was EERO, but I'd only heard of Saarinen previously.

I'd only encountered ONOMATOPOEIA as a singular, which it is of course, so "Words" puzzled me. After I'd finished the puzzle I looked it up, and sure enough it can be a group of words.

I've never heard of an "ESCAPE KEY" before.

*The only problem I had was Entering SCHEDULE C (being the one I have to spend the most time on), so assuming "Falcons" meant a sports team from somewhere in South Carolina that I wasn't familiar with, I missed the Air Force connection and finished the puzzle with an error.

Oh well, it was fun anyway.

Ulrich 10:39 AM  

I started with a big smile when I saw the name of the second constructor--and then stared for minutes at the grid that just wouldn't fill except for sporadic guesses. Then the peculiarly shaped area in the middle filled up through sheer will, and in a second round of staring, I looked at the hint and tried to make sense of it. When I saw the light, I tried to take the "or" out of any answers I could think of for the starred clues, i.e. I hit my third wall. The coin finally dropped with Pan[or]ama, and it was easy from then on (with the exception of the center North, where I hit a fourth mini-wall). What I'm saying is, I spend more time in this puzzle in front of walls than on solving anything.

But I really enjoyed it: Who could ask for more aha's in a single puzzle? And Narayan Venkatasubramanyan almost beats the most glorious name in all of Germany, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (who makes movies BTW, not xword puzzles).

@Sancho: Do you have a key marked ESC in the left upper corner of your keyboard? That would be the one.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

I, too filled in the center right off the bat, but it didn't really help, as I didn't get the "aha!" moment until the very end! I just couldn't figure out where to put the "or"s.

Being a former EE I'm always happy to see "ohms" and yes, I learned of "mhos" as well, so that was fun.

Had to give up on a couple answers - didn't know the relief pitcher, and thought the "cal" clue referred to calorees. Didn't quite make sense, but my head was pretty scrambled by this point. Plus two daughters fighting in the next room.

Fun puzzle! I love to be stumped!

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

OK, calorees isn't even spelled right! Really dumb.

I have a hard time remembering Aoki's first name. Isao, Isao, Isao. Maybe that will help.

ArtLvr 10:43 AM  

Hi to Bill from NJ -- hope you're doing okay!

I enjoyed this one very much, even if it took a little while to break up TENORS into TEN ORS. Finished in reasonable time for me, with a hang-up on pine nuts like Andrea before the light dawned on WELLES.

A good start to a Saturday is like a SHOT IN THE ARM! Thanks to AV and NV...


Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Thanks Ulrich, now I see. Guessing which programs it works on is mysterious though; in an emergency I usually invoke Task Manager and kill the process!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

coolest puzzle of the year so far. very literate cluing and clues within the clues-- what an original idea. I particularly like Sty for youngsters. that is truly amusing

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

@Catherine K--NOOIL (which does look rather weird without the space) on a sandwich probably refers to submarine sandwiches, which are typically made with oil and vinegar unless otherwise specified. Now I like tuna subs with vinegar, but not the other liquid, so actually, I frequently say NO OIL (now that looks better) when ordering.

And congratulations on your victory. I'm now at the point where there isn't much doubt that I will finish the puzzle--on a really hard one, I might have to walk away from it and come back--but I remember back when I was just getting the hang of late-week puzzling. When I was starting out, I took a puzzle anthology with me on vacation once, and couldn't understand why I could breeze through some and hit a wall with others. That was before I knew the puzzles grew harder through the week. And I still maintain that you have to know what day the puzzle is from before you start to do it.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Ick. Never heard of ordering a sandwich WITH oil, so I just had to accept that one from the crosses. Rex was thinking Batman for 17A; I was thinking Bat Masterson. Two nits. (53D) The Falcons are the team of the USAF "Academy" and not the Air Force (USFA), I believe, and (19A) I think most people just put the polish on their toenails and not the whole toe, but what the heck. Lovely puzzle. Didn't get the theme until 54A because I was looking for missing "tenors" and thinking, oh damn, am I going to have to find "domingo" in here somehwhere!?!

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Probably a fun puzzle once you got the theme....which I never did.

After getting three little pigs, I struggled with how TENORsty or styTENOR was supposed to mean anything.

Just a painful slog the rest of the way

Mr. Regen 11:21 AM  

This is the first Saturday puzzle I finished on my own in one sitting as well. I got the clue answers "Reef" and "Three Little Pigs" and even "Tenors" and then it took me 5 minutes to figure out that the clues were not missing "ten" or "s" (what a huge a-ha moment). Especially considering the connection between Three Little "Pigs" and "sty" for children, which had me really crossed up.

Anyhow, Rex, I got the Times puzzle subscription as a birthday present and now your blog is a must-read everyday. Thanks for the making the workweek go by a little faster.

SethG 11:24 AM  

Fun but relatively easy puzzle for me--I think the printers maybe just switched the Friday and the Saturday, because today's puzzle took me less than half as long as yesterday's did.

@Norm, the Predators are also operated by the air force.

I did have REEKED early, and until the very end. Last time the (non-)choice showed up I confidently entered NONE, and I think it took a while to tease out BOTH. This time I was be wrong again. Where will this clue lead next week‽

The Aarnio chair you pictured (the Pastil) appears to have been designed for shipping efficiencies--EERO was worried that "...a lot of empty, cushioned space is sent to the other side of the world inside the Ball Chair. A new round chair would fit in this space..." Its diameter matches the opening to the Ball Chair, and it's a relative bargain at only $1750 (as compared to the Ball Chair's $6500). In the chair one can float in the pool in the summer, or glide quickly down a small hill in the winter. The chair rocks.

If IJsselmeer is ever in a puzzle, I'll rely heavily on the crosses.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Missteps all around for me. Never got the theme...had raft for vest and salve for shave. Never heard of oil on a sandwich either until I read the explanations here. Oh well, there's always next Saturday.

AV 11:51 AM  

Rex and all:

Thanks for the comments. I can see how this puzzle can be ON or OFF, depending on your love for some level of crypticism.

Here are some comments [which you will see on other blogs as well (sorry about the cut and paste!)]

Will was great through the process, and not to speak on his behalf, but I believe his reasons for rejection were:

i) the theme was too difficult to figure out (we didn’t have any asterisks in the clues), and

ii) if this were indeed that difficult and tricky, then it would have to appear on an April 1 that fell on a Saturday (next year this happens? 2017); also, this was more of a Games puzzle than a crossword, very gimmicky.

Both valid objections, which slowly crumbled as he helped make the puzzle manageable with the asterisks and with some clue changes.*

Despite the asterisks, he felt that this would be a mean puzzle. After the final revisions, he felt that because of the asterisks, a larger section of the solvers would now enjoy it. He has an uncanny sense for the level of difficulty in a puzzle.

*Three key theme clue changes - we had “Sty sty?”, “Clam of the clanging bells, for one?”, and “Wry” as our original clues (Worry for needle, meh). So Will clearly polished them up, although I would have loved to keep the original clam clue for an inside joke.

What often goes unsaid is that many of the non-theme clues that folks like are also Will’s creations: Red or white nuts?, New old man?, e.g. He did the same with “Something about Mary?” (for halo) in my last puzzle. So credit for many of the HOF clues goes to him.

Thanks for all your comments - both positive and negative!


Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Looks like a really fun puzzle; too bad it coincides with this year's Putnam exam -- we'll find out later today whether the 2008 Putnam is also Medium-Challenging or what.

Yes, one might (and I do) ask for 59A:NO OIL on a subramayanan sandwich. (Sorry...)

The ridiculous looking "mho" is indeed "ohm" spelled backwards, because it means "the reciprocal of an ohm". MHO, and derived words such as MHOS and MHOMETER (which once showed up on a Spelling Bee segment on the Johnny Carson show), are apparently the only English words that begin with MH. But you might someday see MHZ in the puzzle, which can be the abberviation MHz (megahertz) or mHz (millihertz). According to Google Calculator, middle C is about 0.00026 megahertz and about 260 thousand millihertz. Now my head hertz.

The symbol for "ohm" is Ω (the Greek letter Omega, even though the ohm is named after a Georg Simon Ohm). The symbol for "mho" is ℧ (an upside-down Omega). If that showed up correctly on your screen then you'll also see the 55D:HOR lines Rex was hoping to put on the middle letter of 58D:PŪR or Pūr. If not then you might see the naked HTML gibberish that I typed to make these symbols appear, which is "&#" followed (without spaces) by a decimal Unicode number and ";". The numbers for mho, macron-U, and macron-u are respectively 8487, 362, 363. You can also use 937 for Omega, but it's more intuitive to write "&" followed by "Omega;" (and likewise for other capital and lower-case Greek letters, the former including letters like Zeta that look just like the corresponding English ones).

And with that I go back to the numbers and Greek letters appearing in the Putnam exam currently in progress,

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Challenging but fun. Took me forever to figure the theme, but rewarding when I did.

WINOS being "red and white nuts?"
At first I thought they were saying severe alcoholics were also crazy people- a little insensitive. But I saw they mean nut as "fan." Still a little odd..

poc 11:57 AM  

Excellent puzzle, though I did have to Google for NEN before the NW fell into place (I had BAH instead of PAH for 11D). The misdirection on the Rebus was great; I spent ages trying to fit OR into the answers rather than the clues.

I have a quibble about the cluing for ONOMATOPOEIA, which equates "clamor" with "sound", but it's minor. All in all, tough and very enjoyable.

Tony from Charm City 12:00 PM  

Like others, I initially misread the theme clue to lie in the answers rather than the clues. I finally figured it out when I saw that 26-D was NEEDLE. I then re-read the clue for 25-D and saw that it was tailORing and finally, it was off to the races.

evil doug 12:20 PM  

The Falcons, if it's the athletes of whom we speak, play not for USAF but rather the USAFA---the "Academy". But the USAF is indeed "home" to the F-16 Falcon fighter (also flown by the Thunderbirds), so maybe that was the intended meaning.

The Academy is also home to real falcons---trained birds that do some halftime entertaining. On two occasions I flew the Academy drum and bugle corps, the cheerleaders and the falcon and its handlers to football games in my C-130 (the team flew commercial). Free tickets to watch Cal Berkeley and later Notre Dame (in the Montana era). Good deal missions, both....


archaeoprof 12:25 PM  

Wow, what a great puzzle. IMOO, it's the best Saturday in a long, long time. Like Rex, I kept trying to take OR out of the answers. That didn't work too well.

Favorite clue: 12D.

Congratulations to the constructors, and to everyone who solved this one correctly.

@Bill in NJ: nice to hear from you again.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

@Noam--whoa! The great thing about this blog is the cool specialized stuff that you learn reading it. I'd never heard of MHO, but I knew the answer had to be either that or THO, which made no sense either; I guessed the former as my last square, but it was a coin toss.

jeff in chicago 1:46 PM  

Tough, fun puzzle. Googling happened. I also had no idea what was going on with the theme until I came here. Panama provides a great view. OK. Tenors like it? Huh? People rest in Aspen, right? It's popular with tenors? What? And on and on...

ESCAPEKEY grated a little, but not much to complain about elsewhere. Didn't know MOHS, but looked it up and learned something!

@acme: The Uma joke was F.U.N.N.Y!

@PhillySolver: Wow. Two of the three people who haven't seen Borat are reading this blog. What are the odds? (His style of comedy annoys me. But that's just me. And maybe you.)

RodeoToad 1:56 PM  

EDEL came to me immediately also, and the thought that there's a five-volume biography of Henry James out there is sort of terrifying. One time in between colleges--no idea what the context was--I stopped by my dad's place out in the middle of nowhere on a Saturday afternoon and there was some sort of variety show or stunt show on. A guy was juggling chainsaws. My dad and watched it for awhile, in that mesmerized but still bored way, and when the guy was done, my dad said, "People pick the damnedest stuff to get good at." That line always occurs to me when I hear about somebody doing something as intricate, time-consuming and narrowly focused as writing a FIVE-VOLUME BIOGRAPHY OF HENRY JAMES.

Or constructing crossword puzzles, I suppose.

I liked the puzzle very much also. My only objection is to MHOS. If you don't know it, you won't be assured of getting the M, as THOS would appear just as likely.

Hungry Bird 2:13 PM  

This was my favorite puzzle within memory. Loved the theme, loved many of the non-theme clues. My brain feels worked out.

Kudos to the constructors.

@Mac-I worked in Groningen for a summer. I would love to see "pindakaas" in a puzzle. Clue would be something like, "Nutty way to plug a dike."

JannieB 2:20 PM  

@jeff in Chi - I guess all members of the non-Borat triumvirate are here - I've never seen it either.

jae 2:32 PM  

This was easy-medium for me but when I saw the asterisk at 1a I spent the next few minutes looking for the theme clue and figuring out the trick (which I fortunately got right). Starting the puzzle knowing the trick made I go fairly quickly (although I spent a little time trying to fit an OR into Popular). That said, I had ESCAPEKIT, BAH, WRITE (for RAISE), ROOTING...? for 10d, and needed to play a little with the ONOMATOPOEIA spelling (same problem with the first A as Rex).

Subway shops often ask you if you want oil.

I'm with Jeff in Chi on Borat.

Oh, and this was a fantastic puzzle, definitely more fun than the typical Sat.

Mike the Wino 2:37 PM  

Great puzzle!

Once I got the theme and was able to put in WELLES at 31D, WINOS came easily to me.

Don't know why.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I don't notice anybody mentioning that this has 16 rows, which is totally gauche.

RodeoToad 3:17 PM  

I don't normally get offended by stuff that's intended to offend, but Borat was offensive. Decent people just don't do what that guy did in that movie. I'm thinking of the dinner party scene specifically. If it was set up, okay, joke's on me. If that was for real, though, the guy's a slimeball.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Well, I made the same mistakes as others. Had raft for VEST at first. Escapekit for ESCAPEKEY. I quickly filled in elders for PADRES as we just had that as an answer... I was all ready to complain about the repeat until I saw my error.

I absolutely loved the moment I got the trick. I, too, was trying to fit the OR into popular for the longest time. I was thinking the answer had to be ASPEN and that's when rest became resORt. After that all the answers came quickly except for two squares. I picked the O at LADA. Lado sounds better to me. So I misspelled ONOMATOPOEIA. I also choose IST for surreal ending leaving me with THOS.

Not perfect but a perfectly wonderful Saturday puzzle. I loved it!

Oh, and count me in as Borat no show.

And hello, Bill from NJ!

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

OK, I guess the Times must have been doing 16-row puzzles lately on days other than Saturday. Oh well. I'm just shocked.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

Dude - you totally didn't address my most vexing problems with this puzzle:

62A: MHOS - "Anti-resistance units?"
51A: TAU - "Cross Character"

What the HELL are these supposed to mean? I can't remember the last time a puzzle had a clue that, once solved, I still had no idea what it meant, let alone two of these!!

Shamik 3:43 PM  

The Harry Belafonte clip with the Muppets made my grumpiness over this puzzle disappear! Thank you!

Vega 3:46 PM  

Man, this was a fun puzzle. I finished, I thought, completely with no Googling, but I was wrong on two squares, nan for NEN (only because I didn't go back to fix "shava"), and thos for MHOS. Oh well. I'm not even upset because hell, they were guesses anyway, and the puzzle was just too fun. Agree with Crosscan that some of the greatest puzzling happens when it's "wtf?" before the a-ha moment, and then smooth sailing after. And oh, that a-ha moment is sweet.

WAH right above ONOMATOPOEIA. Nice.

Hand up, didn't watch Borat.

And I LOVE how many of us (including me) were looking for "or" in the answers when the clue so clearly said "...what are missing from the starred *clues*." Excellent, excellent.

And I love Ashish's original cluing for ONOMATOPOEIA (just wanted to write that word again).

Orange 3:47 PM  

@Ashish, thanks (to you and Narayan) for the terrific crossword, and thanks for divulging the behind-the-scenes stuff. It's cool to learn more about how Will works his magic on the puzzles, and usually that's invisible to the solvers—we can't tell what's the constructor's original work and what's Will's honing. You're a class act for giving credit where credit's due.

@Joho, you're a little bit nuts, aren't you? If another puzzle used the word ELDERS, you were gonna complain?? Might as well pick a more common word to target. "ARIA appeared in a puzzle in the first week of January. Now it's off limits for the rest of the year." Could make for some really hideous puzzles come December!

I saw Borat. The naked wrestling scene was memorable and, as a plus, didn't entail pranking people caught unawares. (Yes, they ran through the conference at the hotel afterwards, but weren't targeting an individual patsy. The rassling was in the hotel room.)

Unknown 3:59 PM  

Great puzzle. I filled in the center first. I got "three little pigs," but how did that fit with "tenors"? I got most of the rest through gruntwork; still had openings in the left center and bottom. Finally, a kibitzer said, "A deal is a trial," and I said, "No, a trial is an ORdeal," and slapped my head and went back and counted the asterisks. Well done! (Though I don't think "clamor" works for "onomatopoeia.")

Never saw "Borat."

fikink 3:59 PM  

Good afternoon, Everyone!
Nothing to add but kudos to the constructors. Very much fun and a fine challenge!
And thanks to so many for making me feel not so very odd: I, too, have never seen Borat.

chefbea 4:00 PM  

@phillysolver - guess there are 5 of us. Never saw Borat

green mantis 4:07 PM  

@anonymous: Wha?

Delicious puzzle, although I like Ashish's clam/or clue better. Tanked mhos, but never again after the thorough schooling in the comments. Only real crap was TPKE, which I would not have complained about in any less stellar, more average-quality grid.

Polish could be on the toe of a leather shoe instead of nail polish on toenails, if that helps whomever objected (mildly) to that pairing.

I'm so glad O.J. will now be able to search for the real killers in the much more promising locale of state prison. Golf courses tend only to harbor perpetrators of fashion crimes.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

Borat is definitely not for everybody.

I found it laugh-out-loud hilarious. The guy is a genius and deserves plaudits (and inclusion in quality crossword puzzles). Like "American Beauty" (which was touching, not funny, and also provoked sharply divergent opinion as to its worth), to appreciate this film it helps to be both tender-hearted and also possessed of a generally jaundiced view of humanity. So one can cringe and laugh at the same time.

mac 4:29 PM  

Never saw Borat. Am too busy catching up on Simpsons.

Congratulations to the compilers, Ashis and Narayan. I loved the puzzle. Mhos and pahs are new to me, but I did figure the reverse Ohm without really knowing that it was a scientific term. Thank you Noam (Nohm?).

I too tried to squeeze an extra OR into popular, and thought 26D needed another word for "radio"..... I got the theme from Welles, but as you can see that didn't help in all cases.

Ladas were a gimme, we lived in Hamburg when the wall came down, and the city was awash in Ladas and Trabants. The citizens covered the windshields in chocolate, flowers and bananas(?), very moving.

Anon 3.41: I think you are more likely to get a response when we know your name. Also, the mhos question had been answered a few times already, and tau is a Greek letter originally shaped as a cross.

@SCOTUS Addict: did you ever go to the IJsselmeer?

fergus 4:49 PM  

Oops, I left in AWL instead of OWL, figuring that an AWL could turn a screw head. Questionable, but there was enough of that going on. Yesterday's cluing was so good that today's felt a bit INKLESS in comparison. Super puzzle, nevertheless.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

@Orange: me nuts? You gotta be kidding!

mac 5:34 PM  

Forgot to say Hi to Bill and Barbara. Great that you are back!

@SCOTUS Addict: it's an odd thing about pindakaas. For decades it was only popular as a bread spread in the U.S. and Holland. Even now it is not as popular in other European countries. I guess it is because of the availability of the peanuts, in the case of the Dutch maybe Indonesia? Don't like it much myself, only in sateh sauce.

alanrichard 5:41 PM  

This was a cool puzzle. I did it this morning while I was waiting for my mom at the beauty parlor. I got Teri and Agassi and aspirin and nosiree and TGI immediately. Then I was just looking at the starred clues when I read the 29D clue. Once I got tenors this turned into a medium Wednesday puzzle.
I really liked this because it was a different twist. I got panoramas and Borat and then all the other starred clues just fell into place.
My only "gripe" with a Saturday puzzle having a theme is that once the theme is solved the puzzle becomes much easier.
Actually, the most challenging theme was trying to pronounce the names of the constructors - who, by the way, kudos for a really fun puzzle!!!

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

@SethG--I doubt, if spelled correctly, that IJsselmeer will ever be found in a puzzle due to the lack of crosses. I found out when I was in Amsterdam last summer that IJ is a single letter (or at the least, treated as such) in Dutch, and when at the beginning of a word, both letters (sorry, both parts of the letter) are capitalized. (A lot like when people occasionally write OEdipus or AEsop, but using the ligatures instead of the two letters; Noam help me with the html tags here.) I don't think we could put them into a box and find another such cross.

Wow, that was confusing to write!

alanrichard 5:46 PM  

MHO's is OHMs in reverse and TAU is a letter like a "t" - so its crossed.

poc 5:46 PM  

@Anonymous: MHO is a unit of electrical conductance, which can be thought of as the inverse of resistance (the name is just OHM in reverse). It's also called a Siemens apparently. Not to be confused with mohs, a unit of hardness.

TAU because it's a Greek character that looks like a (headless) cross.

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

Thanks, Orange. I can't believe "mho" is an established term! (I shoulda googled.) I figured it was something made up for this puzzle.

I think the upside-down ohm symbol for it is fun!

Apparently, "mho" is an outdated term; we are supposed to use "Siemens" now instead. Is there anyone out there who will be affected by this decision?

chefbea 6:08 PM  

@ Steve1 and confusing to read

@Michael I have a Siemens dishwasher. Did it use to be called mho??

fergus 6:09 PM  

Evil Doug, You got to see Montana play while he was at Notre Dame. Cool. His final game was the only college performance I saw. I have only a few true sports heroes, but Joe Montana is definitely one. (49ers in the 80s turned football into an art.) Joe, or his team, didn't always come through, but whatever the situation, he showed a lot of poise and grace. Even more than the revered DiMaggio. Or DIMAG, who was the icon in "The Old Man and the Sea."

Michael Chibnik 6:52 PM  

I did this slowly while watching a football game and ended up four wrong letters. A really clever theme by surely the largest number of letters for constructors ever (unless there has been a large group construction).

Can someone explain how onomatopoeia comes from "clamor"? (My apologies if someone has already done this.)

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

@ Rex: Enjoyed your writeup; had many of the same experiences, including REEKED vs REELED. On starting the puzzle, I had circled the ten asterisks, so when I got to TENORS, I realized it could be TEN-ORs to match the ten clues.
Congrats to Ashish and Narayan, super puzzle!

Ulrich 7:09 PM  

Someone complained above about the fact that the puzzle had an extra no. of rows, calling it "gauche". I respectfully disagree: The central phrase "TEN ORS" has an even number of letters, and if the constructors wanted to put it smack in the center (which is one of the many charms of the puzzle), they needed an even number or squares in the center column (created by an even number of rows)--an odd number of squares would have given them a center square, and they needed a break or gap there. For the same reason, they had to stick with an odd number of columns: They needed squares in the center, not gaps. So, it all makes perfect sense

To an architect, this is old hat: Classical temple or church facades always have an odd number of gaps (or bays) between columns b/c a gap has to be in the center, not a column.

Hungry Bird 7:23 PM  


One of my favorite memories from that summer is my spreading jelly on my breakfast pindakaas while my friend's kids shook chocolate flocken (?sp)on theirs and we had a mutual freak out. Jelly!!! Chcocolate!!!

The same friends took me for a drive along the top of the afsluitdijk, so yes, technically I did see the IJsselmeer. I had the most wonderful herrings that day.

I loved Groningen. When the sun peeped out for even 20 minutes everyone I was working with would rush outside and peel down to their undershirts to enjoy the moment.

Unknown 7:24 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. Same problem with thos for mhos. I had to guess and guessed wrong. No matter, the rest was awesome.

It did fall relatively quickly for a Saturday after I got the theme, but it was difficult enough prior to that to balance it out.

I started late Friday night and had sporadic sparse fill all over but not too much I was sure of. Picked it up again this afternoon, twigged to the theme and finished it off.

However, I don't understand TPKE.

Hungry Bird 7:27 PM  

Mac, one more first (and only) poem in Dutch I memorized:

Pinda liep langs spoorwegbaan.
Daar kwam toen een treintje aan.
Pinda keek niet uit helaas.
Tuut tuut tuut pindakaas.

fergus 7:29 PM  

Ulrich, your plug for the young German director reminded me of how may times I've recommended "The Lives of Others." That and John Sayles' "Lone Star" are the best films I've seen in past dozen years. I wish there were a better translation for the German flick, however. When I saw it first in the theatre, I had such a strong emotional response that I'm reluctant to describe.

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

steve l @5:44 -- the mnemonic names for those Latin ligatures Œ,œ,Æ,æ are respectively


in each case prefaced by "&" and followed by ";". Some years ago there was a NYTimes Sunday puzzle with a dozen or so squares that could be filled either with an æ/œ or with a simple e (there are enough English words like (a)ether and am(o)eba that can be spelled either way, including longer one like encyclop(a)edia for nice theme entries).


JannieB 7:37 PM  

@Cheryl - tpke = turnpike - They take more than their fair share of tolls!

edith b 8:01 PM  

I read in Bill from NJ's blog about what he called the Theater of Humiliation and how he detested the idea of humor based on debasement of other human beings.

Borat is only the latest in a long line of "entertainers" whose idea of humor is other peolple's humiliation.

Anybody remember the Gong Show?

I remember the guys at school who used to make dress bets where the loser of some bet had to wear a dress or underwear on their head or some such.

I hated it then and I hate it now.
I don't understand finding humor in other people's misfortune and debasement.

PlantieBea 8:21 PM  

Another fun puzzle. I can finally complete Saturday puzzles, yay, a huge plus in the enjoyment puzzle. The center of this one filled in right away with the ten or theme, although I was trying to fit the whole work tenor into the oddball clues. Hmph. I also had Coral Bean in for 63 across for a while, although my eighth grade son assured me that coral bean (native Fl plant) would never be the answer to even the NYT crossword. I also took forever to solve the NW corner--couldn't get a handle on Sanctions and okays...

On to Sunday...

Unknown 8:23 PM  

@JannieB, Thank you. It's not a term we use in Ontario but now I know.

p.s. No Borat for me either.

Ulrich 8:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 8:27 PM  

No Borat for me either--we seem to be close to a majority! In addition, I had Sasha for a while, which delayed me in the NW--what kind of spelling/name is this anyway?

@fergus: I totally agree w.r.t. the translation. I remember sitting in a packed theater in New York and, as a joke was being told in the movie, whispering to my wife "nobody's getting this from the titles", and sure enough, I was one of the few people who laughed (I forget the joke--it wasn't THAT funny, but still...).

chefbea 8:30 PM  

@edithb I remember seeing the gong show - tho don't remember what it was about

@ plantiebea welcome to another bea...what is plantie??

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

(And I'm sorry for waking the dog...)

ok, I admit it. I never did the puzzle, I spent the whole time trying to figure out what VENKATASUBRAMANYAN was a secret anagram of.

Maybe instead of "MEH" we can start saying "MHO" (with a little shrug).

RodeoToad 8:53 PM  

I think there's a distinction to be made between what's intellectually or morally offensive and what's viscerally offensive. There's a whole lot of stuff in the first category--just turn on the TV or look in my kitchen pantry. That's stuff we'd all like to change and are all complicit in and can't help it. "The Gong Show" is people willingly showing up to make asses of themselves for an audience that will pay to see it. It's sad that the world is that way, but you can still wisecrack about it and even watch it without much guilt. Borat is a whole different category. Somebody earlier mentioned "tender-hearted" in reference to Borat. I missed that part. To let people knowingly make fools of themselves ("The Gong Show," "Jackass") is one thing. To let people unknowingly make fools of themselves is closer to the line but may be acceptable if it isn't done maliciously and is toward some larger theme or purpose (Jay-walking segments and Michael Moore documentaries are arguable). But to take advantage of kind and hospitable people just to make a gross-out joke is indefensible. The Ali G show is funny--pompous people are brought gloriously down. Borat has no such redeeming characteristics. It's nihilistic and offensive.

That movie really ticked me off.

fergus 8:59 PM  

Ulrich, it's a trivial matter but I can only offer refined criticism when the subtitles are in French. I simply wanted the title of the heart-rendering Deutsche movie to be more enticing to an English-speaking audience.

mac 9:11 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict: I have had the same reaction in Holland when I've just told people about peanut butter and jelly together. My stepmother's eyes lit up; she has a sweet tooth and I'm sure has tried them already. I've never heard of the PB and chocoladevlokken combination, but it sounds like Reese's Pieces!

I love you little poem! I think it needs another Tuut! We must be really into poems and rhymes, I wrote a Sinterklaas one and heard about 15 other ones yesterday, some not so good.... I also found that there are several Dutch rhyming websites; I just googled Sinterklaasrijm, nl and got a slew of them!

When we lived in Hamburg I noticed the same thing you did in Groningen: as soon as the sun came out the terraces would open and people would sit outside working on their tans.

Steve l: It's interesting what you wrote about the IJ, and the fact we treat it as one letter. It's basically what Y would be here, just pronounced differently. IJsselmeer sounds like Icelmear. It is not the case with the other combinations of letters which create a sound/letter: oe, ei, eu and ui (the last two almost impossible to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers); when they appear at the beginning of a word, only the first letter is capitalized.

santafe 9:12 PM  

The blog comments are great follow up for this "try and cry and try again for fun" puzzle.
Thanks to Ashish for his better "clam" clue.
Question: can anyone tell me why the "words that come from clams" is onomotopoeia?

PlantieBea 9:38 PM  

Hello Chefbea,

PlantieBea because I'm a native plant lover. I also like to cook, although I'm not good enough to claim the name chef.

Borat viewers here--but mostly out of curiosity because we knew somebody who was spoofed in the film--although not in a terrible way.

edith b 9:38 PM  


The people who go on The Gong show and American Idol are not complicit in making fools of themselves - they are delusional and think they are truly talented. They are being taken advantage of and being humiliated for sport.

They are simple-minded and the people who put them in front of an audience are despicable.

I certainly agree with you about Borat but humiliation for sport, regardless of motive, is indefensible.

Unknown 9:39 PM  

INRE: 31 down-Orson Welles did not have a famous dad therefore he could not have been a famous son. Obvious bad clue.

green mantis 9:48 PM  

@santafe: I guess because when a word is born of the clamor/sound it makes, that's onomatopoeia. Splat.

fergus 9:48 PM  

Wade, we disagree. Borat so gave away his lack of sophistication to anyone he encountered. Check out the scene with Atlanta homies and then the luxury hotel. Despite all the crassness I give him a pass.

Rex Parker 9:49 PM  


Do you even read the write-up before you comment. It appears not.


Rex Parker 9:50 PM  

Haven't seen Borat yet, but want to, though I tend to wince and look away when awkward situations happen on screen. I heard SBC interviewed by Terry Gross and thought he was really smart and interesting. Hers was one of the few Borat interviews (if I remember correctly) that he did as himself and not Borat.


Anonymous 9:55 PM  

Well, my first time to get to comment, on one of my favorite Saturday puzzles in recent memory. And one which was a struggle for me.

I usually solve in syndication, and jumped ahead only because of my success at today's syndicated puzzle (five weeks ago's STEERTS-YAW-OWT). Having quickly cracked the theme on that one, leading to only my second or third ever sub 10-minute Saturday, I thought I'd jump ahead.

What a fall back to earth! I got TEN-ORS relatively quickly, but like others, tried forever to take OR out of the answers rather than the clues, so remained stumped on the theme.

I finally capitulated, completely stuck in the middle-western portion of the puzzle (central OR State?), where I had ON A LARK for ON A DARE, which unfortunately corresponded to OSLO for 34-across which I'd mistakenly filled in at 37-across (D'oh!), given that I don't know how to spell ONOMA(O)TOPOEIA.

But, having just done the syndicated puzzle, with its reversals, MHOS fell quickly, though I thought it inelegant (should have been SMHO) until I came here and learned it's an actual word?!?

Still, today's was a solid challenge, and the theme doubly satisfying for first stumping with the -OR removal, and then the clue vs solution stage. That was as satisfying an 'Aha!' moment as I've had in a long while.

fergus 9:56 PM  

... and the reason why I didn't love this puzzle was that ONOMATAPOEIA, one of my favorite of all the faculties available to descendant apes, was not featured more centrally nor Clued very effectively.

dk 10:21 PM  

Hello all, I am thinkin I have to tune into the late show here.

I was cheesed off as I never ever heard of asking for nodil and I had no idea what an rdi was. Then I figured out I was wrong. Wasting 20 minutes of grumbling and composing what I might say or think of saying when I got here.

I am of the clan NOBorAT.

I did know MHOS.

I had YUGO but remembered seeing a picture of an armored LADA somewhere. Maybe a James Bond movie.

This one did take forever.

@bill from NJ welcome home.

@Noam D thanks for your post.

88+ post very good score for the puz-o-meter (think Queen for a Day and the applause-o-meter)

Good night all

RodeoToad 10:25 PM  

Fergus, what's the point of Borat? It's not social commentary, not satire, not parody. The target isn't pomposity, hypocrisy, small-mindedness, and it isn't silliness for silliness's sake. Its targets are only the particular people humiliated. Maybe you can make a case that the rodeo scene is meant to spoof the narrow-mindedness of red-state folks, but (a) the rodeo people show themselves to be genuinely warm and welcoming people and (b) even if that were the point, it's pretty old hat. Exposing three racist frat guys as three racist frat guys is pretty small game. I disagree that he tipped people off to the ruse. His treatment of his hosts at the dinner party in Atlanta or Charleston, I can't remember where, was despicable. The only way the movie could be defended as being anything but trash is as a case-study in SBC's masochism. For somebody to go into those situations (again, assuming it's not set up), risking real bodily harm, is very disturbing. Otherwise it's just nihilism. I've watched some pretty rauncy stuff, and there's only one other movie I can think of that I cringed all the way through and felt utterly disgusted by on a very visceral level, and that was some porn-exploitation flick somebody rented at a party I went to in high school called "I Spit On Your Grave."

Rex is right that SBC is a funny, smart, astute guy--Ali G, or the little I saw of it, was brilliant. That made Borat even more disappointing, and also the fact that there was no vehement outcry against the movie except from the country he ridiculed, which was the mildest of its offenses.

chefbea 10:32 PM  

@plantiebea e-mail me and we can discuss plants and food

fergus 10:46 PM  

Well Wade, you're a Texan and I'm more accultured to a British sense of humour. As I said, we disagree, yet I find most of your points quite valid. When I watched it for a second time at home on DVD, I didn't laugh so much.

In your last sentence, I at first thought you were referring to the USA, not Khazakstan, however it's spelled, which amuses me and I hope does you.

fergus 11:14 PM  

A most amusing scene was when Borat discovers a lot of love at some DC gay festival. Is this not 'social commentary, satire, or parody?'

Orange 11:25 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict: You wrote "The same friends took me for a drive along the top of the afsluitdijk, so yes, technically I did see the IJsselmeer. I had the most wonderful herrings that day." I read that one word as the "asdfghjkl" row of the keyboard.

mac 11:36 PM  

@Orange: too bad that such an interesting-looking word only means: the dike that closes off....
It closed off the Zuiderzee, made it into the IJsselmeer (IJssel lake, fed by the river IJssel).

@Rex: Terry Gross spoke at our son's graduation from Columbia Journalism School this June. To my (and many others') delight she completely forgot or ignored there were little kids in the house. And, yes, she spoke of the Bill O'Reilly interview.

Doc John 12:19 AM  

This was a lot easier than yesterday's. A lot. I did it on my iPhone on a plane, for heaven's sake. Interesting theme and some interesting fill (ONOMATOPOEIA) but also some clunkers, too, like TOE polish and PAH. Pah? Bah, maybe, but pah?

@ Noam: if you had a Mac, you could do this: Ω and this: Ū and even this:  with a simple keystroke. (insert smug mac face here)

Hungry Bird 2:32 AM  


And that, in essence, is the beauty of Dutch. You could have been right!

My experience is that Dutch words are either over-voweled or over-consonanted.

@Mac, maybe the pindakaas/chocolate combo is Groningen specialty? Although I think that I saw people doing that in Amsterdam. Perhaps they were visiting from the north.

It may be that diving for sunshine is found in all cloudy climates. I frequently saw the same thing during an extended stay in Scotland. I was there in the March-April. Whenever the temperature broke 50 degrees people would peel off all their layers. I'd still be bundled in all of my sweaters.

Anonymous 2:39 AM  

-Mis-spelled ONOMATOPOEIA, ended up with LADO and AWL (which I confused with a screwdriver re: head turning).

-South-central kicked my behind (or my REAR, if you prefer). The L in the cross of 54A and 45D led me to EUCLID , and I was led farther astray witht he clue to 50A. I kept trying to think of record companies that had a star motif on their album sleeves and liner notes, and I wasted quite a bit of time with that. Not having heard of THALES or MHOS didn't help.

-For some reason EDAM was almost a gimme. I guess my brain connects strangely-spelled rivers and cheese.

-I kept trying to fit "Georgia Dome" or "Atlanta" in 53D. They didn't cooperate.

All-told: I loved it. The theme was fun, the answers were common but the clues were tough (the best combo, I think), and seeing a 15x16 grid was fun.

Anonymous 4:22 AM  

if VENKATASUBRAMANYAN was Dutch, He would would probably spell it

(I'm obsessed! I wonder if he's single and there's still a chance to become Andrea Carla VENKATASUBRAMANYAN)

Shanti11 5:50 AM  

acme, you Kill me! we'd have to call you Acmev.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Having gotten Mr. Welles, I became convinced that 63 Across was (Carol) Reed, the director of 'The Third Man',
and it took all day before I realized I was adding 'RO', not 'OR'.

santafe 7:07 PM  

Thanks to Green Mantis for the "buzz" about clamORs

poc 8:45 PM  

@Alan: you're missing the point. After inserting OR, the clue becomes "Famous ORson".

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Like Rex and probably many others, I got TENORS almost instantly. I then lost most of my time trying to parse TENORS as TEN or S. It wasn't until I had bruted my way to the THREE LITTLE PIGS and SACHA BARON COHEN answers that I figured it was TEN "or"s.
@@Andrea Carla Michaels

your pal reminds of that great Letterman Oscar routine...

"Narayan Venkatasubramanyan, Uma...Uma, Narayan Venkatasubramanyan"
Letterman's routine was actually based on a New Yorker short story, "Yma Dream" by Thomas Meehan, involving increasingly long first name introductions between Yma Sumac, Ava Gardner, Abba Eban, Oona O'Neill, Ugo Betti, Ona Munson, Ida Lupino, Aga Khan, Ira Wolfert, Ilya Ehrenburg, Eva Gabor, and Uta Hagen. The famously fastidious editor William Shawn obtained permission from everyone named.

The Health Sensei 12:56 PM  

this was the easiest saturday i've ever done in my life...less than 15 minutes!

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

From syndication land: If there's one thing I've learned from reading Rex's blog, it is to recognize the effort and style of the constructors (and today's certainly deserve kudos). The paper I use for the puzzle (Anchorage Daily News) has just started naming the constructors for weekday puzzles.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

FYI - EDAM is on the IJmeer NOT the IJsselmeer.

Rex Parker 11:43 AM  

Please check your facts before you go indignantly proclaiming that the puzzle was in error:

"The city of Edam was founded around a dam crossing the river E or IJe close by the Zuiderzee now known as the IJsselmeer." (Wikipedia)


Mary 10:04 AM  

I put "botox" in where "shave" should have gone and really messed up the Northeast Corner. The center filled in easily, so I started looking for missing choir sections in the clues. My husband suggested that the Falcons were in Palo Alto, and we wondered if one of the other clues had something to do with the Sopranos TV show. It wasn't until the puzzle was entirely filled in that the hint finally made sense.

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