WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2008 - Tim Wescott (Letters after two slashes / Support with stone, as an embankment / One of a seasonal octet)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: URL suffixes - circled squares in four theme answers spell out common web address suffixes; first letters of theme answers are H, T, T, and P (respectively) (the letters at the beginning of all web addresses) - bonus theme answer of WWW (40A: Letters after two slashes)

It's the final puzzle of 2008 - I really wish I liked it more. I wanted to end the year on a high note, but there is a messiness about this theme that I find somewhat off-putting. My gut feeling is that the puzzle is trying to do too much. When I first test-solved the puzzle, the initial letters of the theme answers were Not circled, and when I finished, I could not understand the rationale for accepting the puzzle - the circled square coverage is thin and (contrary to the highest standards of puzzle-writing) the circled squares don't touch every word in each theme answer. Only PLAYING OVERTIME seemed legit, and as a stand-alone phrase, even that wasn't that strong. Taking COM from the first three letters of COMMITMENT seemed so cheap and easy that I was surprised the puzzle hadn't been rejected out of hand. Now that I see the H, T, T, P thing, I understand what the constructor was trying to do, and I like the puzzle better, but I'd still rather have the suffixes breaking across both words of two-word phrases in every theme answer. AVIATOR GOGGLES would have been awesome. Which brings me to my second, more minor criticism - where is ORG? It's conspicuously absent, the only common URL suffix missing from the puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Feel like quarreling about something (have a boNE To pick)
  • 23A: No halfway effort (total COMmitment)
  • 49A: Basis of a false arrest, perhaps (trumpED-Up charge)
  • 51A: Going past the fourth quarter, say (playinG OVertime)

REVET (3D: Support with stone, as an embankment) is a giant clunker in an otherwise beautifully filled grid. OK, maybe ONE PM (8D: Common lunch hr.) and US ONE (53D: Auto route from Me. to Fla.) don't belong in the same grid, but they're far enough apart, spatially, for anyone to be too bothered by the word repetition. Meanwhile, we get the seasonal DASHER (41D: One of a seasonal octet), the sassy SKORTS (9D: Women's hybrid clothing), the tasty GUMBO (56D: Okra stew), and the intriguing intersection of SEXY (68A: Like the Beatles' Sadie) and SCREWY (48D: Off the wall).

Carmel (by-the-Sea) is lovely, by the way; but if you've ever been here, you know that. Ooh, I think I had a celebrity sighting earlier today. I was walking on one of these little roads near the beach where cars have to drive very slowly because of narrowness and pedestrians and what not, and this red convertible sports car drives by with a fat fortyish blond guy behind the wheel, ostentatiously smoking a cigarette and chatting to his lady friend in the front seat. I could've sworn the guy driving the car was John Daly. The fact that I could see Pebble Beach from where I was standing when his car drove by only deepens my belief that that's who it was. He looked very happy.


  • 5A: Meal-in-a-can brand (Alpo) - did anyone else have SPAM? I had SPAM. Both times I solved this, I had SPAM. I still want it to be SPAM.
  • 20A: Gangster's code of silence (omerta) - one of the fancier, more exotic-sounding terms I've learned from crosswords.
  • 28A: Writer's guidelines (specs) - short for "specifications." I like this. Surprised I don't see it more.
  • 41A: Grounds for a good night's sleep? (decaf) - I did Not have DECAF after dinner tonight. Hence my boundless energy and laser-like focus at this late hour. Did you know DECAF backwards is FACED? See - laser-like!
  • 58A: Suffix with hotel (-ier) - HOTELIER is ugly enough without you comically cleaving it in two like this.
  • 59A: Richard and Jane in court (Roes) - Here are the rules (such as they are) on Roe and Doe in legal cases. Mildly confusing.
  • 66A: Hamburg's river (Elbe) - I would love to see a puzzle with a bunch of 4-letter European rivers embedded in it - or better yet, winding through it. Yes, I am serious.
  • 69A: U.K. military medals (DSOs)- the Brits give out so many damned awards that I have no hope in hell of ever learning them all, let alone telling them apart from one another.
  • 5D: Monastic jurisdiction (abbacy) - oddly, we saw this answer not too long ago. It is otherwise unusual.

  • 6D: "Bus 9 to Paradise" author Buscaglia (Leo) - a gimme, though I have no idea why I know this guy.
  • 10D: Steal, slangily (cop) - a word invented because the phrase "steal a feel" just sounded too silly
  • 13D: Native of NE Siberia (Yakut) - Excellent REVETters, the YAKUTs.
  • 24D: When a ball may be hiked (on two) - a daring and (to my mind) admirable answer
  • 38D: "How _____ Has the Banshee Cried" (Thomas Moore poem) ("Oft") - now if I only knew who Thomas Moore was...
  • 46D: "Obey your thirst" sloganeer, once (Sprite) - feels fairly recent ... yes, here's an example:

  • 51D: Range extending south from the Kara Sea (Urals) - when in doubt, this should be your go-to mountain range.
  • 52D: "At the Milliner's" painter (Degas) - hmmm, a non-ballet-related DEGAS clue. Interesting. Coincidentally, I used the word "milliner" just today. Not normal conversational fare for me.
  • 57D: They're guarded at the Olympics (epees) - even more common than the URALS. I'm assuming that "guarded" means they can't do you any real harm [no - refers to the bell guard that covers competitors' hands]

I have to say that I was grateful to notice the "HTTP" portion of this puzzle when I solved it tonight, because the thought of finishing the year with a wholly negative review was depressing me. Seriously. Sitting on the beach watching the sunset with my wife earlier this evening, I was thinking about this write-up, and wondering how I was going to manage to be honest, but also strike the right kind of tone for a year-end write-up - one that was hopeful, even grateful.

[See Rex wonder ...]

I have no interest in writing a blog wherein I do anything but give you my candid, largely uncensored reaction to the puzzles - but writing from the gut and under the gun results at times in what one might reasonably call a lack of sensitivity on my part. If I worry too much about hurting someone's (i.e. a constructor's) feelings, then the natural energy that drives me to write this thing every day gets ... well, MUTED (25D: No longer bright, as colors). So in case it's not completely clear, let me say: I'm genuinely grateful for every puzzle I get to do. The criticism I offer, even the harsh stuff, is meant as a sign of respect (as in "I respect the endeavor you're engaged in enough not to blow sunshine up your skort when your work strikes me as less than adequate"). So, as 2008 ends, I offer genuine thanks to every constructor whose work I've had the pleasure and displeasure of solving this year. Your work provides the basis for a wonderful, lively, ongoing conversation that I feel privileged to reinitiate every morning, rain or shine (when I don't pawn the job off on unpaid lackeys, that is).

That said, I'd like to make a few suggestions. First, if you aren't reading the Comments section, consider starting. Lots of interesting conversations tend to develop throughout any given day, and if you have additional questions about the puzzle, the Comments section is the place to look first (you know, before you email me directly). Second, if you haven't commented on a blog write-up before, consider starting. We can always use fresh voices. The commenters might seem like a group that's known each other for a long time, but actually most people "know" each other only from this site. Their skill levels are widely divergent and they're mostly really nice folks, so there's no need to be intimidated, even if you're a relative beginner. Lastly, to current commenters - consider writing somewhat fewer and more concise comments, at least for the next month or so, as I try to encourage participation from a greater cross-section of my reading audience. Thanks for your support and understanding.

O man, that's about as much earnestness as I can handle for one day. Back to my more typical snarky blather tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Hungry Bird 3:09 AM  


Anonymous 3:31 AM  

um...I'll try!

I never knew ROE was a stand-in name for Roe vs Wade, that is fascinating.

Playing Fernando for Abbacy is why no one can hold a candle to you.

The Beatles video made me cry.

Thank you for a great year. You have made a tremendous difference in my life.

Shanti11 3:57 AM  

The way I took the EPEE clue was that when the fight starts, the opponents are "on guard" and raise their swords. Or have I just been watching too much TV?

Thank you, Rex, for the amazing work you do on this blog. I love to come here every day (often to learn the solutions to my WTFs!) and tremendously enjoy your humourous and insightful write-ups. And to all the commenters - what a privilege it is to be in such wonderful company.

I certainly have no BONE TO PICK and am in TOTAL COMMITMENT to visit this fantastic site every day in 2009.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!


Anonymous 4:42 AM  

I think the construction is deceptively good. True, no .ORG but you can sort of count the URALS as UR-LS.

Jeffrey 5:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey 5:42 AM  

Happy New Year and thank you to our gracious host. I can tell those of you who are reluctant to comment that I never intended to be a "regular", but I have beeen truly inspired by this blog to express my opinions about our mutual love. It is a community of strangers.

I would like to be the first to post a Best of 2008.

One and out.

Anonymous 5:53 AM  

Happy new year from Cambodia, or suosdey ch'nam thmei! Internet has not been so good this year but i have always enjoyed following the blog and comments. After a year i can now do a saturday puzzle and know a lot more about yank stuff than i used to. Keep it up all and happy 2009!

Greene 7:42 AM  

Ah, to be brief.

Rex: I love you, man. Happy New Year.

Crosscan: Your awards are awesome.

ACME: Never be brief. You are too funny.

FIKINK: Away from you, there is no music.

BILL FROM NJ: Live long and prosper.

FOODIE: Where in the world are you?

IMSDAVE: All the world's a critic. Forgive me.

ALL THE REST: Many happy returns!

Hungry Mother 7:49 AM  

Thanks for a year of your insight. I always head over to this blog after finishing the puzzle, to see if I was right and to see what I missed of interest.

JoefromMtVernon 7:53 AM  

@Rex - Thanks for the opportunity to let us all (ok, ME!) gush or gripe...Happy New Year! WifefromMtVernon liked that I found something to look forward to every day. She also likes that the dog is my photo.

Was able to beat the average for every day of the week (except Friday) in 2008 over 2007. Not quite world record times, but still better.

Only leap of faith was the omerta/revet cross. Otherwise, typically Wednesday.

Happy New Year All!


Anonymous 8:03 AM  

The way I took the EPEE clue was that the hand holding the sword is guarded by the bell guard. Although I remember watching the Olympic fencing in 2004, and one guy did get stabbed in the hand to the point of bleeding. He continued fencing after a short medic break, and I can't remember now who won.

Rex, thanks for your beautiful thoughts on the past year. That's what New Years Eve is for.

mmorowitz 9:00 AM  

I'm not sure SPAM is a good answer for 5A, as SPAM is not a "meal" like ALPO is. SPAM is an ingredient. My first thought was HASH.

Thank you very much for your hard work, Rex. I discovered your blog early this year and it has made me a better puzzler. I don't keep times and I can only occasionally finish a Friday puzzle, but I'm a lot better than I used to be.

All the best for a happy and healthy 2009!

imsdave 9:07 AM  

The puzzle briefly:

PLAYINGOVERTIME does not sing to me.

Super fill, nice theme and very enjoyable.

Year end messages (not as brief as requested, but...)

Rex - I cannot fathom how you do this everyday (and when you can't, have such amazing subs).

Andrea, Amy, Michael, Doug (the Swedish sounding one) - I have learned so much from all of you about constructing - you all have amazing patience and exceptional insight.

Marion, Deb, Barbara, Geoff, and Jeff - such a treat to make such great friends via this site.

Greene - Forgive you for being so honest and helpful? Never!!

Fikink and Greene - May we continue to harass Rex and Orange throughout the new year with Broadway commentary.

To all those not cited, you help make every day more fun with all your great commentary and I love your occasional emails.

Two words to all of the above:

Thank you.


Michael Hanko 9:25 AM  

Thank you, Rex, for inviting us formerly silent readers to chime in and for hosting this community where I--unlike in most places--never feel like the geeky outsider. Your witty and smart commentary are like the grain of sand around which a pearl of stimulating discourse develops daily.

OK, maybe that analogy doesn't hold up to close analysis, but I hope you can feel my appreciation.

I knew I was hooked--my partner would say obsessed--when I started recently to read the blog/comments for puzzles I wasn't even solving. (I normally do only Fri/Sat puzzles, but I have come to need a daily dose of Rex & Co.!)

Thanks also to all the regular contributors who enrich the life here. I hope to join in with you on a regular basis in 2009.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Thanks for an interesting blog. As someone who just started doing NYT puzzles this year, this has been a great learning experience. Goal for this year is to actually be able to do the late-week puzzles. I rarely get past Wednesday, but finally Monday and Tuesday come easily.

PuzzleGirl 9:34 AM  

Reading your post this morning I commented to PuzzleHusband, "Hey! Rex saw John Daly!" PH responded, "What was Rex doing in jail?" Heh.

Thank you for continuing to make this place available for us. This is a big part of my daily life, which in a way, I suppose, is sad, but I'm having too much fun to dwell on that particular aspect of it.

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope to see you in Brooklyn.

Tony from Charm City 9:38 AM  

Happy New Year to all. As one of the newbies on this blog, I find if fascinating to read all the comments here. Thanks, Rex.

ArtLvr 9:38 AM  

REx, Happy Recapping of 2008's enjoyment here, and best to all for lots more in 2009!

Your hidden ORG is in the SE, dogleg like those recent planets in orbit -- RG beginning each of 55D and 56D, with O immediately below the R. Now you'll feel better, I hope, since it wasn't a TOTAL omission?

HAVE A BONE TO PICK is actually a very nice reminder of the added fun we have here, thanks to you... after you explain the SPECS, ALERT us to the unique talents of the constructors, and sound off on the aspects which strike you as SCREWY!

xxxxxooooo ∑;)

nanpilla 9:41 AM  

My husband has finally accepted that even on vacation I NEED to check out "what Rex has to say" every day.
It can either make me feel incredibly stupid or vindicated or a little of both. Where else can you get that?
To all of you, it's great to have a place to commune with other puzzle lovers!
Keep up the great dialogue, and I hope to meet some of you in Brooklyn in February.

Campesite 9:42 AM  

Dear Rex, Orange, and frequent and occasional commenters,
As a longtime reader of this blog, and the only person I know other than my mother who does the crossword on a daily basis, I really appreciate being a part of this happy little community. In the past, I was able to comment much more, but I actually do most of the puzzles on my iPhone now due to a ridiculous travel schedule. I find myself solving the puzzle as fast as possible to get to this blog and the associated comments.
Happy New Year to all.

Orange 9:43 AM  

Happy New Year, all.

Rex and I need to settle in with our cluttered files of great puzzles and choose this year's Oryx winners. Next week looks doable for me. (Thanks to Andrea for the terrific award name!)

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Happy New Year everyone, and many thanks to Rex (and his team of subs) for this site every day. I think I'll go REVET the local embankments today to work up an appetite for dinner.

Unknown 9:53 AM  

Happy New Year imaginary friends!

Thanks to all who shared their knowledge, asked questions, reported missteps and questioned the whole thing. I am thankful for an outlet for all of the Trivia I learned. Hope to see many of you in Brooklyn. Oh, and thank you Rex for this outlet and the cast of contributors.

SoWal Beach Bum 9:54 AM  

Folks: tho I mostly only lurk, have been following this blog--and a small suite of others, i.e., Orange, Ryan & Bryan, Jim Horne-- now for 6 months and it has made a world of difference in my experience as a solver, not to mention setting the tone for my days. All ya'll (Andrea! PuzzleGirl! PuzzleHusband!) crack me up--and have inspired me to stop googling my way out of puzzle trouble. Thanks and may you get all you want in the new year and then some, xo

treedweller 10:02 AM  

Also missing: BIZ
I know that hasn't caught on much yet, but I think it should have been there, along with ORG. DOT would have been a nice touch.

I was frowning internally at the obscure "Bus 9 to Paradise" until I saw "Buscaglia". Instant gimme. I, like Rex, can't explain why I know his name, but it is automatic. Are there any other Buscaglias out there? Surely he has a family, but I never heard of them.

I was a little annoyed by all the RE-s, but now I see one in each corner. Somehow, that makes it okay.

It may not qualify as Naticking, but I thought OMERTA crossing REVET was foul. I have seen OMERTA before (SAD, but true), so no real defense there, but REVET? Anyway, I submitted with an 'A' at the junction. I also know nothing of YAKUT, but that came easily from crosses.

Spam would have been a great answer for "meal in a can," especially in this puzzle. I guess we can't have everything.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 10:21 AM  

This blog is really addictive. Thank you Rex!! What a great group of friends - the one's I have personally met and the ones I hope to meet in Brooklyn, and all the rest of you who I will just know from the blog

As I type the Hoppin John is simmering on the stove to bring everyone good luck in 2009

Happy New Year to all

archaeoprof 10:26 AM  

REVET can refer not only to support for an embankment, but also to reinforcement of a wall. Ancient archaeological sites often feature "revetments" for defensive purposes.

Happy New Year to one and all, and most especially to Rex, our noble host.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Also a daily solver and lurker on this blog, I usually feel too intimidated by the sparkling comments to join in. I have learned much from reading the blog, and absolutely check the comments - that's half the fun! I've even been known to solve the puzzle early in the day, read the few comments, then come back to read more comments. Anyway, thank you Rex for your blog, and thank you, regular commenters, for your insight and humor. Happy 2009!

evil doug 10:32 AM  

Even if you don't do the Quigley thrice-weekly puzzles---and why aren't you?---you should read his commentaries.

Two from earlier this week---on puns/riddles and on easy vs. hard puzzles---are shack! on target. His work is rendering the Times puzzles into "best of the rest".

Brief for "Evil"

Glitch 10:34 AM  

Re: Leo Buscaglia PhD
An *inspirational* speaker, Love & Life, several NYT bestseller. Did one of several PBS specials with him in the '70s. Nice guy, since replaced by the commecial Drs Phil & Laura "tough love" ilk.

Best New Year wishes to all the regulars, irregulars, and newbies.

And thanks to Rex (and his friends Homer, Bart, Lisa and Moe) for letting us give him a chance to often reiterate it HIS blog.


Bill from NJ 10:36 AM  


Thanx for hosting a moveable feast for this community of solvers and for delivering an honest appraisal daily of our mutual obsession.

Happy New year to you and your family.

Every time I point out individual members of this family to thank for their support, I feel bad about those I leave out so a simple God Bless them One and All will have to suffice.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Congrats on your blogging success, Rex. You have fostered a place for puzzle junkies, nit-pickers, and everyone in-between.

Happy Nude Year, everyone!

Patrick Blindauer

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

I thought this puzzle was "a long run for a short slide." A little disappointing for the last puzzle of the year. Didn't know Leo but with a last name like Buscaglia what else would it be?
Everyone has already spoken my sentiments about this blog. I haven't Googled in ages and always look forward to this part of my day. As for tomorrow, Rex, snark on!

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

I stumbled upon this site one day when googling a tough answer and have been riveted ever since. This is the first blog on which I've commented and the only blog I do. Until here I never knew such a community of puzzle lovers existed. And certainly would never have guessed there is a Puzzle King. Rex, you are the best. You bring out the best (and worst) in your subjects and have created a spirited, unique site for all of us to vent, discover, amuse and be amused.

Thank you and everybody here! Happy New Year!

PS -- I wish I could make it to Brooklyn, please somebody take lots of pictures. @Orange: thank you for mentioning Andrea's incredible name, Oryx ... I truly hope it sticks.

PPS -- sorry, Rex, I'll revert to short blogs in the new year, promise!

Ulrich 10:48 AM  

It's the last day of the year, when everybody is expected/allowed to say the same, which includes me: Best wishes for 2009 to all and heartfelt thanks to our host.

I've booked my room for the upcoming yet-to-be-named event, and my biggest wish for 2009 is that I'll do better this time around (which isn't unrealistic as the only way I have is up). See you there!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:50 AM  

Happy New Year to all!

Thanks to Rex for hosting this daily conversation, extra special thanks to all constructors without whom there would be no puzzles, thanks to all commenters for their insights and humor.

Special thanks also to Jim Horne for leading me to this blog, and I'm sorry I spend so much time here and so little time at Wordplay these days.

My sincere apologies to anyone who might have followed the link in my previous post, which I have deleted, and been offended. Somehow I had never been looking at the screen at the very end!

Kurt 10:55 AM  


I'll be brief. Thanks for all that you do. You and your "Commentators" have become an interesting and stimulating part of my day. Every day!

Best wishes for 2009!

Kurt Krauss

P.S. I want it to be spam too!

miamichris 10:57 AM  

OK, I'm going to follow Rex's suggestion, read the cooments, and not be too intimidated to post. Like many, I discovered this site this year when googling an answer to the puzzle. Now, I too am addicted, and can't wait to finish the puzzle to see the comments. I am a Thursday guy, meaning I can typically and reliably finish that days puzzle. Friday is hit or miss, having only completed my first Friday puzzle a little more than a year ago. Last month I finished my first Saturday puzzle (still a rarity) and first error-free Sunday puzzle. So thanks to Rex, I am much improved.

emrad 11:07 AM  

Rex, thanks for your suggestion- I never read the comments before, but have been doing the crossword for years and reading your blog daily since I found out about it in June. Thanks for giving me a new perspective on crosswords- a few weeks after I started reading your blog, I finished my first (and only) Sunday. Coincidence? I think not. Happy new year! I will speaking to you (all) in 2009

edith b 11:08 AM  


As a relatively new Commenter, I just wanted to say I appreciate this spot I use daily to leave my impressions of the daily puzzle.

Happy New Year, Rex, and to all members of this extended family.

Chorister 11:13 AM  

Easy puzzle but I didn't like REVET/OMERTA either.

In overtime, yes. Went into overtime, yes. Playing overtime, no. Unless there is a game actually called Overtime.

Totally ignored & forgot about the circles early on. Came here and was reminded there was a theme. One of the reasons I come here.

Last week my son wanted to do something or other and I, tapping away, said, "just a minute, I have to finish my blog post." And he remarked incredulously, "you post to a blog?" in the same voice he used when he discovered my Facebook page. So, thanks to His Rexness for bringing me a little further into the 21st century, in allowing vent to my previously silent and solitary musings on one of my favorite pastimes. And thanks everybody else for their input and insight as well.

I don't think it was John Daly. I think it was my brother in a rented car. Which would explain why he didn't get here from that part of the world for Christmas. Flu, my *$$!

fikink 11:25 AM  

And I thought when I quit work to care for my FIL out here in the fields of Iowa, I would miss the intellectual stimulation of debating a "turn of phrase," as his faculties fail him. All of you have been a special gift to me from the music of the spheres.

Thanks, Rex, for all you do and I wish you all a wonderful New Year. Like Bill, if I start mentioning names, I will regret an oversight. You know who you are!

This community daily proves the (yes, Rex, Orange - Broadway) sentiment, "There is more to us than surgeons can remove."

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

First timer, husband laughs every Sunday when I say, must go see what Rex Parker says. I only do the Sunday on the actual page of the magazine, went to 5 different places in New Orleans before a Bell Caption found me one for a $7.00 tip. Love this site.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Rex - Thanks for being so constant - Happy New Year to you. May this year bring you yet closer to a single digit puzzle master ranking!

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Rex: good luck in the new year. It's a pretty good blog.

RodeoToad 12:16 PM  

If there were a day between Tuesday and Wednesday, which there ought to be, and it ought to be called Wadesday, this puzzle would fit nicely. In college I took a class on Icelandic and Norse sagas, and I think I remember learning that Iceland is or was on a different calendar from the rest of the world--something about a ten-day week--and it was set up that way so (somehow) they got to party all summer. I think the theory was they would have a longer week and get out in front of the rest of the world and then they'd screw around and let the rest of the world catch up in the summer. You gotta admire the continuing efforts of humanity to screw around with time ("Let's set our clocks back an hour! That'll . . . do something. . . .") The ten-day Icelandic week would allow for greater variation in puzzle difficulty. And then we could be done and party all summer. But now Iceland's broke and probably can't afjord those extra days.

Happy Hogmanay! May the first person who crosses your doorstep in the new year be tall and dark-haired. That's some Scottish hooey.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Rex - Thanks for all you do on this blog. I am a daily visitor and an infrequent poster but maybe 2009 will change that.
I think SPAM would have been a much better fit with the computer theme.

jae 12:18 PM  

Thanks Rex for another year of great commentary, and thanks to all of you who share my addiction for having something interesting to say on pretty much a daily basis.

OK puzzle, not great but not bad, and easy for a Wed. Liked SCARY, SCREWY, and SEXY together, good memories.

JannieB 12:19 PM  

Happy new year to Rex and all my virtual friends -- new and old. So nice to see so many lurkers voicing their thoughts today - hope it continues.

Reading this blog has definitely improved my solving skills. And i've actually tried my hand at constructing - and learning how to accept rejection gracefully.

This community has taken what was once a very solitary pursuit and made it a social activity in the very best sense. Thanks to all who contribute to it!

All the best to all of you in 2009!

jeff in chicago 12:29 PM  

The first word that popped into my brain for "meal in a can" was SOUP! I did not write it in.

Happy New Year to everyone! Those who only see my name here. Those who I've some extended contact with. Those who don't know me from Adam! I've never met a one of you, but maybe that will change in 2009.

A year ago I was doing just the NYT and not even every day. Now I read four -- FOUR! -- blogs (Rex, Orange, BEQ and Wordplay) and sometimes do four or five puzzles a day. I pretty much only comment here (and apologies if I've gotten too close to the gutter on occasion!), with an occasional post on Orange's site. I had given up on the blog-o-sphere, but here people remain civil and on-topic. A splendid diversion.

My hope is that in 2009 all of you will be commenting on one of MY puzzles. (OK...this is too long. Time to wrap up.)

Be safe. Be well. Be HAPPY!

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Obviously almost no one is working today, given the amount of posts by 12:30.

I echo everyone's wishes for a happy new year, and many thanks to Rex et al for all the wonderful commentary.

ps - I agree it should have been SPAM.

miguel 12:47 PM  

Feliz Año Nuevo

I have learned a few things about puzzles and rivers of the world, but I really come here for the recipes and the BEET discussions.

santafefran 1:02 PM  

To Rex,,
This is my first blog post anywhere so I'm hoping that I can make this work.

Thanks to Rex for hosting and to all of the posters who feel like a community to me even though I have never commented-- been a lurker for about 6 months after googling an answer and making this glorious discovery.
Now I come every day and am delighted and enriched by what I find. As I write, I am listening to about the 5th Abba song following the links from Fernando. You "Lay All Your Love On Me!"

Happy New Year All!

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

@Campesite (or anyone who knows)

How do you do the puzzle on your iPhone? Email me if you don't want to congest this blog with your answer.

Many thanks.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Let's start a New Years Revolution!

As someone pointed out a few days ago everyone at the Times is zzzzzzzzz. Lets stage a coup. If enough of us are behind this idea, we can force through the biggest and bestest change in the history of puzzles. That's right, shout it with me: REX PARKER FOR EDITOR!

If Rex was in charge we'd have great puzzles EVERY DAY instead of only once or twice a week. Imagine, no more ugly words, no more bad crossings, no more of anything Rex doesn't like or already know about.

Ya with me? Lets go storm the gates!

Chip Hilton 1:17 PM  

Last puzzle of the year ...went out with a whimper. Not much to say about it, really. Ho-hum stuff.

Happy New Year to everyone who makes this a must-visit-daily site. Rex, sincere thanks for your insights, humor, and generally understandable irritation at construction errors.

Ladel 1:18 PM  


The beauty of your cathartic year-end summary is that it sings because it is dripping with honesty, the same raw honesty that fills your blog. Happy New Year.

Mr. Regen 1:21 PM  

Forgive me if this has been mentioned already, but it appears Rex put the hex on John Daly.

santafefran 1:23 PM  

Just added an avatar and posting to see if it appears. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Every day I do the puzzle, and then head over here to find out what the theme was, because
i can't be bothered trying to figure it out. If it's so obscure you need a headlamp and a pickaxe to find it, is it really a theme? Or just a fart in a windstorm?

I will now start reading the comments with more regularity - it looks like they're as much fun as the blog.

Michael Hanko 2:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Long time lurker, first time poster. EVER. ANYWHERE.

Love the blog and get teased mercilessly by my husband about crossword blogs now. And thanks for the BEQ site heads-up. His puzzles are so much fun. I guess I should comment there too now that I've done it here!

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Long time lurker, first time poster. EVER. ANYWHERE.

Love the blog and get teased mercilessly by my husband about crossword blogs now. And thanks for the BEQ site heads-up. His puzzles are so much fun. I guess I should comment there too now that I've done it here!

Mike the Wino 2:34 PM  

I'm jumping in to echo the sentiments of all the previous posters regarding this blog and Rex in particular. What a daily joy to read, and occasionally comment.

I used to Google a lot, especially around Fri/Sat puzzles. Not so much anymore, but when I do I try to find some really weird way to phrase the search. It's not a justification; more like seeking an alternative path to learning. (That makes sense to me, sort of!)

I guess what I'm trying to say is, this blog and all the comments have made me a much better solver, and I thank all of you for it.


Doc John 3:04 PM  

Kind of a clunky (but interesting) puzzle marred even further by the fact that I wrote in DOES and never bothered to check the cross. (Not a great way to end the year.) Usually I run the acrosses and downs for accuracy but I was in such a hurry to get here and check to see if OMERTA was right that I didn't bother with the rest. D'oh!

My cousin and her family from Brooklyn were visiting this past weekend and we all had a great time reconnecting. So now I have two reasons to come to ACPT (unfortunately not this year, though).

Happy New Year to everyone! I have real hope that this one will be a real turnaround. The other day I saw this billboard and was filled with hope.

Rex- HNY and thanks for all you do!

Erica Kain 3:11 PM  

There was a lot of SPAMing and SOUPing around here, and I agree that PLAYING OVERTIME was grammatically incorrect, I think.

I'm glad I wasn't the only person for whom REVET was new.

Happy New Year, all!

chefwen 3:13 PM  

Thanks Rex & Company for making my days just that much more enjoyable. Love the blog, love the comments, love the company.
@chefbea, what the heck is hoppin john.
Where I live Spam is King. Yuck!
Happy New Year All.

Doc John 3:19 PM  

Oops, I forgot to put this in my earlier post- for those who have played the game Risk, there is a region of the game board called Yakutsk, so YAKUT was almost a gimme.

Doc John 3:19 PM  

Oops, I forgot to put this in my earlier post- for those who have played the game Risk, there is a region of the game board called Yakutsk, so YAKUT was almost a gimme.

chefbea 3:48 PM  

@chefwen - since we really arent discussing food today you can e-mail me and I'll explain what it is. I will say that by eating it you will have good luck for the new year.

mac 3:57 PM  

Thank you Rex, for describing so perfectly the blog, the puzzle, the commenters and yourself. I like the teacher's analogy: we are the NACRE! Even though I've only met a few of you, I feel I know many more, and I look forward to our discussion every day.
Thank you all, Orange especially, for the explanations of clues and answers I knew nothing about. And aren't we lucky with our High Priestess of Puzzle Comedy and the ever-helpful Puzzle Family.

The puzzle? I've had more fun with Rex's blog (sunshine ..... skort made me LOL) and the comments today. I found the ORG as well, and Nobody should just have Spam as a meal, you coulda hadda V8!

I wish you a happy, healthy and fun 2009, and hope to meet you across the Brooklyn Bridge.

edith b 4:02 PM  

This puzzle seemed scattershot to me and I didn't care much for the theme. This thing is chock-a-bloc full of tired fill.

Except for OMERTA, the entire North was full of stale words. Don't get me started on the weakness of the theme.

I did like TRUMPEDCUPCHARGE but PLAYINGOVERTIME was weak - one is in overtime or is going into overtime. That's the only way I've heard overtime expressed.

PlantieBea 4:05 PM  

Thanks for the fantastic blog, Rex. And I'm so glad I decided to click on the comments a few weeks ago. Where else could I have found a group like this! I've been doing the puzzles for years, and I've never had anyone to share with.

Happy New Year to all. Off to cook the fresh pasta we made while humming Sexy Sadie for the second time in a week...

fergus 4:13 PM  

... and to further the year-end appreciation, I'd love to see some bygone names reappear. There was some fascinating and amiable commentary from people who no longer contribute directly. I guess that's just like in any social circle.

This seemed like a totally solid puzzle to me -- the only real let-down was the lack of New Year's Eve flourish. But that shouldn't be too hard to find elsewhere.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

I've been reading your blog for about 6 months and love it. I'm a relative beginner at crosswords, but I love reading your blog every day (except fridays and saturdays, since I plan to go back and do all the ones I've missed, then read your archived entry for them, once I become competent enough to complete them).

Keep up the good work!

Mike the Wino 4:18 PM  

Forgot to mention earlier: I got REVET from the crosses (never saw the clue) and the first thing I thought was that the parties do VET their political candidates, but I wonder if they can REVET them? Or if my dog needs to have his ear infection looked at again by the local animal doctor, is he being REVETted? Nah.......

Two and out!

fergus 4:19 PM  

Oh, and I wonder who else now has "Helter Skelter" playing in your mind after finishing "Sexy Sadie"?

Anonymous 4:22 PM  

I'm another seldom-poster, jumping in to make a minor geekish point. Yes they might be described as "URL suffixes" but more precisely they are Top Level Domains (TLDs). And I agree that .org was a glaring omission -- but not .biz, which was added later. (along with .info, .name, etc.) The other overlooked TLD was .mil.

I have learned a great deal here as a newbie to the puzzle world, altho I have yet to solve a Saturday without wikipedia or google visit(s). So I only hope that I'm not being too chutzpadic by correcting King Rex on my 3rd or so post ever.

Happy New Year everybody!

-----> Joe in NYC

Shamik 4:25 PM  

Happy New Year to Rex and all of my word pals here. And if you didn't're ALL my word pals.

Don't want Rex to be editor, 'cause I prefer his acerbic comments here. Just call me selfish.

Hard to be brief. Off to make scones.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

i'll make a comment since you asked

that was a good puzzle, i did better than i usually do on wednesdays but i couldnt get any of the theme answers so i couldn't crack the theme. i got about 65% coverage on it so i'm happy.

peace out rex

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

I had "revet" but thought that couldn't be right and changed it to "reset." I should have gone with my first thought.

Other than that, an easy unremarkable puzzle.

Leon 5:27 PM  

Nice Puzzle Mr. Wescott.

Thanks again RP for this site, it is always instructive and amusing.

As usual, the print version HTTP in shade beats the across lite circles.

Happy New Year to all !
Don't forget to "Dance in the body you have." -Agnes DeMille

green mantis 5:47 PM  

Love to everybody, and thanks to Rex for being the seed.

I can't do much more sincerity without blowing my cover as a smirky navel-gazer, but many of you have made me feel really happy, many times. Thanks.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

I thought the puzzle was easy for a Wednesday and that the theme, if you could even call it that, was exceedingly lame for the last puzzle of the year. Pretty lame for any day, actually. And why wasn't WWW circled? Why is there no DOT? Not that I really care.

Best fill: OMERTA. Got it after two crosses; have no idea why I know that. Liked the clue for DECAF. Otherwise, pretty ho-hum fill.

Looking forward to Jan 20th! See you in DC?

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

On the omission of ORG:

Someone above (hard to recap on my iPhone) mentioned BIZ. That's a recent addition to the net. But like ORG, MIL has been around since Al Gore invented the thing. (Yes, I know that's a canard.). To be fair, mil is more important than org, since the military really invented the Internet.

As others have said, thanks to Rex and the community for the fun.

Anonymous 6:14 PM  



I love you Rex.


Rex Parker 6:26 PM  

You people are funny, and, from the effusive quality of many of your comments, possibly slightly drunk already. Thanks for all the kind words.

I'm off to "First Night" in Monterey with the Whole Family ... I count 12 people, total. Lots of kids = few if any drunk grown-ups = puzzle write-up for the New Year should be right on time.


Anonymous 6:37 PM  

@Jim H
(surely not THAT Jim H?) Just as someone found the ORG in orbit, You can find MIL in 52D "At the MILliner"s" painter. He was just being sneaky.

Speaking of sneaky, Rex, someone has made off with the Sexy Sadie video :(
(I can't be sure, but I blame Yoko)

Doug 7:20 PM  

Good puzzle except for ROE, ALPO, and EPEE -- all with lousy clues. Thought it was DOE, SPAM, and whatever?

Have a Happy NY to all...

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

@ Bob Kerfuffle 10:50 am: That was an LOL for me. Happy New Year!

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

Rex: Thanks
- for the great blog
- for the reflective comments
- for the suggestion for more concise comments
- for solving my problem of what to do for my anniversary (Jan 1): Think we'll drive down to Carmel and walk around and look for celebrities. Maybe I'll spot REX PARKER!

Vega 11:20 PM  

Rex, you rock. Orange, you're my hero (I know, I should go say that on your blog, which I'm going over to in a minute).

Crosscan, I heartily approve of your list. You must do this every year. And I can't wait for the Oryx award announcements.

Hey Doc, thanks for the link to the church sign. It does give one hope.

Just generally thanks to everyone here for the company and entertainment and like-mindedness and for making me feel like I'm not the dorkiest person in the universe.

Happy New Year!


sillygoose 11:58 PM  

Thanks Rex for this blog and the Comments section. I love coming here to discover I am not the only person walking around thinking things like ALPO? Really? Not Spam? Its nice to know I'm not alone.

Happy New Year everybody!


Anonymous 4:07 PM  


Enjoy your work immensely, Rex. Thanks for hosting the party. I have also gotten to know the cast and like to hear from them all. Thanks to all of you ! No one tops Wade. Puzzling mostly at work - I have gotten better but have room to improve a bunch. May even try a couple of the books. Happy New Year (and belated Groundhog day too).

- - Robert

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

This syndicated solver would like to offer his kudos. Like many of the commenters, my day is not complete until I have solved the puzzle and come here to read the comments. One of these days I need to subscribe to the NYT puzzle and become a real time participant. Best of luck on '09.

Deborah Boschert 8:40 PM  

I do the dead-tree version and I've been reading the blog and the comments for several weeks. I credit Rex for my increased puzzle skill, not to mention the entertainment value. This is my first comment. I'll comment more in the future.

Is there anyway to tell where the live comments end and the syndicated comments begin?

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Your blog has made me a bit of a pest in my circle. I can just see the eyes glaze over when I say, "That was in the puzzle today, and in the blog ..."

Read somewhere you started this thing to get daily writing practice. Dread the day you decide to use the time to write the Great American Novel.

Heartfelt thanks.

ps. I now do Mon/Tue/Wed in ink (but not in Starbucks.)

embien 12:10 AM  

Another post from syndicationland.

I just want to thank Rex and the rest of the "community" for enhancing my puzzling experience immensely.

Prior to reading this blog I hardly ever tried the NY Times puzzle syndicated in my local paper. Now, it's the first thing I do when sitting down to breakfast (well, I scan the front page to make sure we're not in danger of being obliterated by an asteroid or something). I can't express how much this blog has improved my puzzling skill and my general state of well-being.

Thanks, Rex, and anyone who happens to stumble on this post five weeks after the fact.

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