SUNDAY, Feb. 22, 2009 - B Silk + D Peterson (Hedingham Castle locale / '70s small-screen role for Robert Young / Simmons competitor)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "The Cruciverbalist" - theme answers are 6 steps in the construction / publication of a crossword puzzle

Word of the Day: MNEME - the persistent or recurrent effect of past experience of the individual or of the race (m-w online); also, one of the three original muses; also, a retrograde irregular moon of Jupiter.

After finishing this puzzle, my first thought was: you left out some steps - i.e. all the hard work and frustration. Where is TRY TO JUSTIFY OBVIOUSLY HORRIBLE FILL? Or, RUN IFFY ENTRIES BY YOUR CONSTRUCTOR FRIENDS? Or, BANG HEAD ON KEYBOARD (all of which I've done)? My final thought, however, was so what? The theme entries are a bland description with no payoff. No punchline. No humor. No twist. Was "SEE BYLINE IN NEWSPAPER" supposed to be funny? I don't get it. The imagined quote / recipe goes nowhere. If the step-by-step instructions had been a soup recipe, at least I'd be left with something vaguely useful. I just don't understand how this puzzle got past the "cute idea" stage. Another problem with puzzles of this type is that the theme answers have to be symmetrical, so you get phrasing issues as constructors try to make the "steps" come out to a certain length. Step 2 is particularly awkward. DEVELOP BEST ENTRIES? It's not photography, and you don't send them to training camp. Maybe you DECIDE ON the best entries. I don't know. This one left me quite cold. There's nothing clever about the theme; further, there's very little of interest in the non-theme fill. The grid is very competently put together - hardly anything feels forced, and only MNEME (104A: Memory principle) made me screw up my face even a little. But mainly the puzzle was overly easy and predominantly bland. Perhaps not LAME (107D: Unconvincing), exactly, but not exciting either.

Theme answers:

  • 26A: Cruciverbalist's Step 1 (brainstorm theme ideas)
  • 39A: Step 2 (develop best entries)
  • 59A: Step 3 (construct suitable grid)
  • 66A: Step 4 (research and write clues)
  • 85A: Step 5 (send puzzle to editor)
  • 105A: Step 6 (the payoff) (see by-line in newspaper)
I learned some foreign locations today - never heard of Hedingham Castle before, though today I learned it's in ESSEX (67D: Hedingham Castle locale). What is it? It's a medieval castle with the best preserved Norman Keep in all of England. Never been to Germany, so HARZ Park was new to me (70D: Germany's _____ National Park). In fact, HARZ may be the only answer in the entire grid that was even vaguely unfamiliar to me. I've had Tuesday puzzles that threw me more curves than this one did. I have never been on the LEE Highway (62D: Virginia's historic _____ Highway), but at least I can guess whom it was named after.

I think my favorite entries of the day were EARTH WORM (112A: Night crawler) and DR. WELBY (86D: '70s small-screen role for Robert Young) - from "Marcus Welby, M.D."


  • 22A: "Hamlet" star, 1990 (Mel Gibson) - ooh, I also like this. I mean, the man himself appears to be a crazy anti-Semite, so boooo, but his full name looks good in the grid.
  • 25A: Belgian city in W.W. I fighting (Ypres) - an important crossword word. See also Milo O'SHEA (50D: Milo of "The Verdict," 1982) and SYD (75D: Barrett of Pink Floyd).
  • 35A: World's top-selling car model starting in 1997 (Corolla) - at least I get some trivia with my puzzle.
  • 63A: "I Saw _____ Again" (1966 hit for the Mamas & the Papas) ("Her") - didn't sound familiar until I added the words "Last Night" to the end of the title:

  • 80A: Fort Meade org. (NSA) - Hey, NSA, where were you Friday, when I wanted you?
  • 96A: 2003 Afghani film that won a Golden Globe (Osama) - nothing really to do with that OSAMA.
  • 110A: Product once pitched by Bill Cosby (Jell-o) - I remember the pudding pops commercials the best.
  • 116A: One edition of the Wall Street Journal (Asia) - really? That's your clue for ASIA? The one nutso clue on an otherwise right-over-the-plate cluing menu.
  • 4D: Twin-_____ aircraft (engined) - I winced a little here. The "D" ... it hurts.
  • 27D: Alphabetical foursome (MNOP) - goes nicely ... well, it goes, at any rate, with RRR (60D: Elementary school trio).
  • 28D: Desktop array (icons) - second day in a row that "array" has been in the clues. Also second day in a row for ... I won't give it away for syndicated Sunday solvers. But it's up in the NE and it's ... not the loveliest answer in the puzzle.
  • 37D: Pope after John X (Leo VI) - I need a "Better Know A Pope" segment for this blog.
  • 43D: "Annie" song with the lyric "Too busy / Too crazy / Too hot / Too cold / Too late / I'm sold" ("NYC") - as my wife said re: "Annie," "I know one song from 'Annie.' That song is 'Tomorrow.'" Here's a different song about NYC.

  • 72D: Modern advertising medium (taxi) - I was looking for something way more "modern" than this at first.
  • 90D: Setting for Melville's "Omoo" (Tahiti) - this should be a gimme. OMOO, TYPEE, South Seas, Melville. Crossword Solving 101.
  • 99D: "_____ Live," longtime Food Network show ("Emeril") - I wonder if this clue was changed to promote the Food Network in advance of next weekend's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament's Awards Banquet, which is apparently going to be a Food Network event of some sort. Details unclear. Maybe others know more.
  • 103D: Simmons competitor (Sealy) - had SERTA. Why not?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I got a signed 8x10 photo of "Cliff" from the old IHOP ads yesterday (actor = Cliff Bemis). Some nice reader put him up to it. That makes 3 signed 8x10 glossies for my Rex Parker Hall of Fame. Send more!


retired_chemist 9:40 PM  

I get to be first! Wife out of town and what better to do on a Sat. evening alone (actually with the dogs) than a NYT Sunday puzzle.

However, it was sort of disappointing after a socko Fri. and Sat. Pretty much all the answers I didn't know were gettable via crosses.

Like RP, I had 103D as Serta for a while. YPRES (25A), EDINA (29A) and ESSEX (67D) were all standard fare. Didn't know Hedingham castle either but with two crosses (_S__X) it HAD to be Essex. Is there any other Mpls suburb besides Edina with 5 letters?

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

Sethg might add more if they exist, but xwords have asked for Osseo, Eagan, Anoka and Texas. (sorry, Wade)


Jeffrey 10:21 PM  

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow...I'm back baby! Flew through this, MERCI bien! Had some JELLO today. EMERIL, Bam!

(It appears my puzzle solving ability is back but my coherent commenting is gone. Fair trade, IMHO.)

A self-referential puzzle. Kind of like I Write The Songs (which Barry Manilow didn't write). There must be a word for that; just ask a mathematician.

I will be bringing autographed Crosscan pictures to the ACPT; I might be Esai Morales' twin. Or Youppi's.

jae 10:59 PM  

Not much to say about this one. I liked it a little better than Rex (thought the theme idea was kinda cute) but agree it was pretty bland and very easy. Started with SEALY erased it, put in SERTA and then when back to SEALY on the EARTHWORM answer. I guess that's a reright?

A bit of a let down after the past 3 days.

flagger 11:42 PM  

After the last 2 puzzles, I needed this to get some semblance of self respect back.

No doubt it was easy, but I enjoyed the theme answers. Are they really any different than all the "quotation" puzzles we see. Sometimes there's a great payoff, sometimes not so great. Rex, I get where you are coming from, as a constructor. But this was a bit of insight into the mind of the constructor, so I thought it was fun.

chefwen 11:52 PM  

After the a** kicking I received in the last couple of days this was a well deserved respite. Agree that it was a little bland but overall enjoyed the smooth ride and I can finally put the asperin back on the shelf.

retired_chemist 11:57 PM  

@ Flagger - for a huge dose of that insight get Patrick Berry's book,"Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies." RP et al. recommended it and it is excellent.

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Yeah, the "theme" was meh (read tHEMe backwards, and there it is...) -- and 85A wasn't even "send puzzle to Shortz". Still there was enough clever cluing and subsidiary interest that I can't complain too much. I like in particular the clue for 18A:OVEN and the final Across and Down clues (for 120A:YELL and 110D:JCT), plus the fact that the misleading clues for 21A:AMASS and 102A:WASHER are both loaded. Also cute that 44D:BOO is clued to complement the crossing 43A:NBA.

At least three non-Panthéonic French words: 47A:ILS, 58D:ÉGALE, and (with the clue "_____ bien") 114A:MERCI.

To Rex's winces, add 41D:LINC and 87D:PEPBOYS. Hm, is it even allowed to have PEPBOYS and 13A:PEPUP in the same puzzle? 44D:BOO! Even worse are 35D and 40D in today's otherwise enjoyable Puns and Anagrams puzzle.

I don't recall seeing the abbr. 31A:CIR in geometry, only in addresses. Is "pussycat" really used as a pet [sic] name to mean 20A:HONEY?


P.S. 112:EARTHWORM is one word, not two -- ask any Swarthmorer.

edith b 12:37 AM  

I like to start on Sundays in the Puget Sound and sweep inevitably southeastward towards the Florida Keys.

I would describe this one as a palate cleanser after the big Bordeauxs of Friday and Saturday.

I will finish by saying that any man who called me pussycat as a synonym for HONEY would be itching for a slap.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

I wanted AWAITKINDLYREFUSALFROMSHORTZELF at 105 across but it didn't fit.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

Coming Monday --
Solver's steps:

Anonymous 1:39 AM  

Hee Hee, Lee!

But don't get me started about the BYLINE answer, which sadly isn't even true in half the papers the puzzle is syndicated in!

Hilarious missing steps!!!!!!
May I add one more?

but maybe they know how to use computers...

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

oops! (and FOR catching typos!)

Greene 1:41 AM  

This puzzle was something of a yawner. Even the Broadway cluing seemed bland.

I must admit to a certain fondness for the Mel Gibson Hamlet. He may not challenge the sensitivity of Olivier, or the swagger of Branagh, or the majesty of Jacobi or even the pathos of Kevin Kline, but Gibson brought a certain earthy sensuality to the role that oddly worked quite well. Surely the incest scene with Gertrude (Glenn Close being scarcely older than Gibson) has never generated more heat than here, at least not in any other production that I've seen. Even the soliloquies were well handled. Oh, and Ian Holm was a riot as Polonius.

Sure Zeffirelli chopped it up and sexed it up, but when all was said and done it played quite well. And people actually went to the movies to see this Hamlet. God, there were tumbleweeds blowing through that theatre where I sat through the 4-hour Branagh version.

OK, go ahead and shoot.

Anonymous 2:08 AM  

In the spirit of those hoping for an Oscar-themed puzzle today:

96A The 2003 Afghani film (the other) OSAMA is beautiful and poignant and well worth seeing.
It's based on a true story about a young girl who has to disguise herself as a boy in order to be able to defy the Taliban and support her starving family.

(Sort of like Yentl, but good!)

Rex Parker 5:28 AM  


Get working on that puzzle now. It's already better than this loser.


Rex Parker 7:31 AM  

Sorry, I retract "loser." That was unfair.


Anonymous 8:17 AM  

I agree with all the comments so far, the puzzle was too easy, too bland and too necessary after killer puzzles on Fri and Sat.

Since Will seems to go in cycles (tough weeks followed by easy weeks) maybe this is the beginning of a trend.

If so the timing is unfortunate with ACPT coming next week-end.

Megan P 8:36 AM  

Thursday puzzles are rarely my favorites, and Sundays are longer and thus even more boring. But I was amazed to realize that I never before saw the pun in Dr. Welby's name. A molecule of payoff near the end.

miguel 8:38 AM  

Did I just wake up to find my self in the world of Goldilocks?
It's too hard,too easy.
too clever, too boring
too familiar, too obscure
too _____, too _____

I like Crosscan's take. I enjoyed it and the part the crosswords have in my morning routine. Some days are better than others, but the big picture is excellent. Oh, and my glass is half full.

Barry S 8:39 AM  

I'm sorry that some solvers found this puzzle to be bland :(

I did make a comment to Doug yesterday that Saturday's Nothnagel/Walden puzzle would be a tough act to follow!

Barry Silk

Parshutr 8:48 AM  

Boring. Boring. Boring.
The theme. The fill. The blog.
And @greene...Gibson's film was "based on" Hamlet.
Like SPAM is based on food.
Bring on "Tomorrow"!!

JannieB 8:53 AM  

Given my very brief foray into constructing, I'd have appreciated the payoff fill to be back to the drawing board or some such phrase.

Barry, no need to apologize. You and Doug have given us some really great puzzles. And today's entry was a welcome respite after two grueling, frustrating days.


chefbea 8:56 AM  

I liked the puzzle. Thought it was very easy.

I probably have every kitchen gadget OXO has produced. Have An Emeril cook book.

One nit - In a hospital there are interns and there are residents. Residents aren't interns. Shamick?

allan 9:17 AM  

@Barry: No need to apologize. As JannieB said we needed this one.

I found it to be fun.

@Lee: Too bad you gave us those answers. Now we'll really have reason to whine when that one is published.

Rex Parker 9:32 AM  

It goes without saying (or at least it did, today) that Barry and Doug are accomplished constructors whose work I generally admire a lot.

I hope Doug doesn't unFacebook me.

I wonder why people call reasoned criticism "whining?" Seems like people call "whining" any criticism they don't happen to agree with.

This blog exists, in part, so that people *can* criticize the puzzle (in the broad sense of "analyze" as well as the narrower sense of "gripe," I suppose). If everyone wrote in every day and said "Yay, another glass half full day" ... yikes.


travis 9:42 AM  

Is typing speed stat/TYPE kosher? I was hesitant to put TYPE in the grid even though it seemed otherwise obvious.

I agree with Rex, the phrasing on the theme answers just really rubbed me the wrong way. Felt like it was missing a couple of the's.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

I liked having this puzzle to finish out the week. Not only my fastest Sunday time so far, the first week this year I've had zero errors on all seven puzzles. A nice boost before the ACPT. (Speaking of which, has anyone started making plans on congregating, or identifying folks by username?)

Belvoir 9:59 AM  

There's a fantastic, surreal picture of Hedingham Castle (ESSEX) by David LaChappelle. It's fashion designer Alexander McQueen (in a dress) and muse isabella Blow. He's hold ing a torch, and flames are shooting out of the castle, it's ablaze. Striking picture!

retired_chemist 10:01 AM  

@ Barry - I have said privately to others that you are one of my favorite constructors. I mean that. With Fri/Sat level clues it's often a thrill to solve your puzzles. Just didn't think this one was among your best....

I DO hope to see a different Mpls suburb in your next one... :-)

Jeffrey 10:01 AM  

@miguel - I didn't actually say whether I liked the puzzle or not (and still haven't). I liked the fact that my ability to solve puzzles returned.

Unknown 10:13 AM  

Just a comment for the editors about 96A: Afghani is the word for the currency of Afghanistan. The word for people and the adjective is Afghan. Of course, the film Osama did earn many afghanis for the Afghans and rightly so!

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

We had to check Rex's blog to make sure we didn't miss the theme. This is it? We expect the Sunday puzzle to be a challenge, but today's is lackluster, unexciting. I see three bylines on this thing. Quantity doesn't equal quality.

Greene 10:22 AM  

@chefbea: Perhaps I can clarify the somewhat confusing terms intern and resident. Physicians who graduate from an accredited American medical school possess an M.D. degree, but this is insufficient to obtain a license to practice medicine. In most states a year of postgraduate training is required (along with passage of the the USMLE Part 3 exam) for a physician to obtain a license to practice general medicine. In years past, this first year of postgraduate training was referred to as an internship.

Most physicians go on to obtain addition postgraduate training in their specialty and this takes between 2-7 years depending on the course of study. These years beyond internship were referred to as residency.

Interestingly, the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) which rigorously oversees all American training programs, dropped the term intern in 1975, although tradition is hard to break and the term is still heard in most hospitals. Modern parlance, however, now refers to all postgraduate training as residency with subdivisions based on year of training. Hence, a traditional intern is referred to as a PG-1, while a traditional resident is referred to as a PG-2, PG-3 and so on.

This is how the terms are used in the United States. I believe the term intern may have additional shades of meaning in foreign countries where training requirements may differ.

Greene 10:22 AM  
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Ulrich 10:24 AM  

Essex again--it's in the east of England and short for "Eastern Saxony", I believe. Similarly, we have Sussex in the S and Wessex in the W. We do not have No(s)sex AFAIK. Apparently, the old Anglo-Saxons did not want to go that far.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Part of the fun on this one was finishing it in less than an hour--no connoisseur here. Part was imagining theme answers that made me laugh but weren't there (SEND PUZZLE TO SHORTZ, for example, as noted above)--likewise RESEARCH AND TWIST CLUES, or SEE WRITEUP IN REX'S BLOG.

chefbea 10:44 AM  

@greene thanx for the explanation

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Ah, Sunday morning brunch with the crossword and the Pogues - What could be better?

DJG 10:45 AM  

The payoff for constructing a crossword puzzle is seeing the by-line in the newspaper? Not for me. My payoff is crashing that fat check -- straight cash, homey.

DJG 10:47 AM  

"Cashing" that fat check. That's what I meant to write. That's the payoff. Well, that and the women.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

@Miguel - clever response; I'm with you.

Frankly, I'm still too awed by these puzzles to be critical. Maybe next year.

Like Rex, I thought 72D "Modern advertising medium" was something way more "modern," particularly since "Modem" initially fit perfectly in 113A "Driver of a 72-Down." Discovered my mistake pretty quickly, though.

PlantieBea 10:54 AM  

Meh to the theme, but it was a smooth solve and a relief to me after the Fri/Sat challenge. I liked the blasts to the past in Marcus Welby and the Mamas and Papas links. The only stubborn entries were YOYOS, RATSO, and ENGINED. For the last, I thought these planes were called Twin Engine whatevers so I threw on an S rather than the D, which created a minor road block for the word DEVELOP.

I, too, expected an Oscar theme today but am glad it didn't appear since I haven't seen most of the nominated films yet. Osama, the film, is great.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

My wife and I considered attending the Brooklyn tournament, but if today's puzzle is an example of the quality of the tournament puzzles, no thanks. Historians (not puzzle editors) will decide whether this is the Golden Age of puzzles. This puzzle is whitebread, colorless

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

@Ulrich--There was a play that ran in the West End of London for a decade called "No Sex Please, We're British." It didn't translate well, however, on this side of the pond. Perhaps that explains why there's no Nossex.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

@Anonymous 10:54: Don't let this puzzle keep you from going to ACPT! It's not representative of the types of puzzle that they have for the tournament. In fact, the tournament puzzles tend to have more funny stuff going on than your typical _NYT_ fare. Give it a shot!

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Before I came to this blog, I sometimes wondered how the puzzles were conceived and I think there may be others out there who might learn something from this puzzle. It's certainly not for those deep in the minutiae of puzzledom but for casual solvers, I think it's good.

As others said, this was a smooth easy solve and I think it was perfect for Sunday morning. It had some clever clues and you had to have a degree of expertise to solve it. Sometimes experienced solvers forget what it was like in the beginning or even the middle.

Thoughts at large. When I was little, I used to catch nightcrawlers with my father and they seemed to be yuckier than simple earthworms. I was surprised to read about Corolla and pleased to be reminded of Ratso. Hoffman was so good in that movie. If Greenspan does the puzzle, he must cringe when he sees the name Ayn. I remember when I was so taken with Atlas Shrugged. My husband was a navigator on B-52's and I know way more about them than I want to know. Pepboys seems like a fine name but not for a car repair shop. Maybe a musical group. Hot tubs are overrated, IMHO.

So there. That's what happens when the puzzle is smooth. My brain functions after completing it.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Yes, this puzzle is self-referential, but I thought sort of negatively. I mean, the typical puzzle has some thematic way of selecting or constructing phrases, like adding a letter. The DEVELOP BEST ENTRIES step is then to look at the list of all the things where you added a letter and find the snappiest ones based on the best in-the-language phrases (that pair up in length) and use those. But here you're not really doing that. You're telling a particular story and phrasing the pieces of it. But you're not choosing the zippiest wacky constructions.

Still, I was solving so quickly (for me) that I didn't have time to complain to myself. And I can give a lot of leeway to the first _NYT_ Sunday puzzle I've ever broken 20:00 on! I certainly didn't yell RATSO after finishing!

EARTHWORM reminds me of enjoying reading _How_to_Eat_Fried_Worms_ as a kid. Mmmmm, earthworms!

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

I was hoping the last 6 letters of Step 5 would be SHORTZ.

allan 11:49 AM  

@Rex: With U of B making the front page of today's NYT Sports section, can we expect an opinion piece from you any time soon? Can SUNY NP be far behind?

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Re 110A JELLO, Cosby actually visited the funky Jell-O Museum in LeRoy, NY (just off the Thruway southwest of Rochester). See: More than you ever wanted to know about Jell-O, and a fun diversion when driving I-90.

jae 12:26 PM  

@PlantieBea -- I had exactly the same problem with ENGINED.

Leon 12:35 PM  

Merci beaucoup Mr. Silk and Mr. Peterson.

PEPUP BOYS ! Some OVERDO their PEEVEs to OUTDO others.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Sorry this puzzle wasn't a fun solve for many of you in Rex Nation. I think it may have been more satisfying for less experienced solvers. And at least it answers that age-old question, "Do you do the grid or the clues first?" Anyway, I appreciate the honest feedback.

Don't worry, Rex, I won't unFacebook you. I need all the friends I can get!

retired_chemist 12:43 PM  

@ PlantieB and JAE - twin-ENGINED is a construction as in "the Hydra, a many-HEADED serpent," or "double- BARRELED shotgun." Not uncommon, actually.

@ Victor - I'm having an image of a museum for funky Jell-O. There was a refrigerator in my college dorm....

@ allan - SUNY NEW PALTZ could out-Natick Natick IMO. Clue on Sat. as "Home of the Sojourner Truth Library."

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

After reading through all 50+ comments, I still don't really get the theme's joke. Or is it not supposed to be a joke? Especially when the last theme entry clue mentioned "payoff".

I was expecting something funny like, "puzzle ends up in bird cage" or some such irony. In other words, all the work involved in contructing a puzzle, and it is ultimately disposable.

xyz 1:45 PM  
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xyz 1:50 PM  

Of course it was easy, I finished it. (Newbies like that)

Must say -- funny how many medical clues having said degree can actually add confusion.

ITERS may somehow be standard crossword fill (Gooooglie-thingey post-fill as I never "during" - I found it in http://rex.09.06.07 and other crossword blogs and definition by Pediatrics citations but to a newbie as a stand alone medical clue it's just cr*p. I looked at it and kept thinking WTF? as it had to be right. I guess I'll always know it now.

I beginning to sense that if it has previously been in a crossword: HEY! - it's cool. ICK. I don't think ANATOMICAL is a legitimate way to clue this. They really aren't determined anatomically as I can see, unless there is another ITER.

OP-ED: So much medical research and acronym formation is counterproductive (as if having huge vocabularies from learning medicine isn't enough in itself) but at least PGY-5's will always have something new to pimp the PGY-1's and other specialists with.

I'm guess I'm just waiting for the puzzle with
to show up. Can anyone oblige? The sub-theme can be Ortho-pimp.


former PG-1 through PG-5 (ORS)


Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Since the last 2 days kicked my a$$, I was happy to whiz thru it.

But I have to concur w/the whitebread comment. And not being as clever as we have come to expect.

I was given an Oxo potato peeler many moons ago by my husband. Then I read in a culinary column that due to its grip it is good for 'older folks'. To husband:
No dinner for you!! (said in the Soup Nazi voice)

mac 2:25 PM  

@Nadir: I also looked for some fun, but I think it this case it is a little sarcasm hidden in the last line. Fully expected Will Shortz's and even Rex's name in the grid. Yesterday's puzzle really was a hard act to follow, and, like many of you, I only rarely love a Sunday puzzle, I'll take a themeless Friday or Saturday anytime. It was a nice confidence builder, though.

@Rex: It really is a very modern form of advertising: in the NY taxis there are screens in and on top of the car. The one inside can be shut off by the passenger, but I think it is sort of fun.

@Ulrich: very funny. Didn't know that about Essex, Sussex and Wessex.

Last night the town of Vestal, NY came up in Law and Order. Originally I thought Rex had made it up, just like his name.....

edith b 2:25 PM  

Every Sunday morning, My father would pick up doughnuts and the Sunday Times.

I would immediately go to the magazine and open it to the puzzle.
I started in the Maleska era when I was a young teenager and I am still at it.

I think the Sunday puzzle is there for people who only do the puzzle on Sundays and is, therefore, not real simple like Monday or difficult like Saturday, but is perfectly pegged to the casual solver.

I was about 16 when I solved one completely and was really proud.

Anne, I think you are on the right track that maybe some of us have forgotten how we got our start.

evil doug 2:26 PM  


I flew C-130's in a tenant wing on a SAC B-52 base. The stories those BUFF's could tell---and they're still flying. My wife and I just went to the National Museum of the Air Force up in Dayton and a B-52 sits prominently among hundreds of other airplanes and displays. Well worth the trip.

Your husband is my new hero. Not easy being a military wife, so you are, too.


retired_chemist 2:35 PM  

@ theredanman - iter (road, journey) is a word from Latin I. That makes sense as the origin of the medical term.

@ Anonymous Rhea - nice story. If I gave my wife a potato peeler I don't think it would take more than milliseconds for me to be in trouble....

imsdave 2:45 PM  

Here you go Lee

Turned around for solvers

Shamik 3:16 PM  

S&P have given us many excellent puzzles. So this one was a meh. So what. It was still 11:51 of time I wasn't studying, cleaning house, arguing with someone, brushing the cat, avoiding studying, dusting up my Facebook page with my latest not-to-be-missed status, packing my husband's suitcase....etc., etc., etc.

All in all, I'd rather do a meh puzzle than many of the above.

@Greene: Thank you for being far more eloquent than I ever would have been with the exact same resident/intern/PG1-? info.

Stan 3:33 PM  

@Swedish-sounding Doug: I didn't mind having something appropriate to the "less experienced solvers" like myself. You have permission to confound the elders of Rex Nation next time around.

Thanks @Rex for 'Fairytale of New York' (great antidote to 'Annie'). R.I.P. Kirsty MacColl...

xyz 3:44 PM  


Thanks. Now I get it. Had it been clued "Aqueducts of Sylvius" - THAT would have been crystal clear. Orthopaedics pretty much stops at the FORAMENMAGNUM 999A:Clue: opening at base of cranium (literally great hole - **don't flag the blog, people!!**)

Anyone know - Has regurgitation ever been used as a clue for CROSSWORDESE or just plain ROTE? Vice-versa?

LOL just funnin'

Not really sure how this kind of word is considered legitimate with some of the word-whining I see on here at times? Have to excuse me, I'm still a newbie ......

foodie 3:48 PM  

As someone who has gotten tired of the add-a-letter approach to themed puzzle (although it can be done brilliantly, as we saw with EXTRAEXTRA), I really appreciate constructors who experiment with new types of themes. And this was better than a quote puzzle (which I really don't like) in that each theme answer stood alone. I agree with mac that what I saw as the fun in the puzzle was the sarcasm of seeing your byline. Apparently only J.Z. Mugildny gets WADS of money and women (of the intellectual type!). So, I want to thank the constructors for a great change of pace on a Sunday.

@ mac, those little TV screens in NYC cabs are a big hit with my granddaughter. They don't watch TV at home, so for her this is an amazing thing. She loves to get in taxis because of them.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

i liked this theme. you have to remember that most people doing the puzzle don't know what a cruciverbalist is. the payoff for most solvers is realizing the puzzle is about making puzzles. very clever.

a personal best sunday time at 21:01. thanks doug and barry!

got tripped up a little by initially putting brainstorming SESSION, and MAIL puzzle to editor. but it was really nice to zip through a sunday for once.

joho 4:19 PM  

First off I want to thank Smooth-as-Silk Barry and Swedish Sounding Doug. You guys are good. Nevermind if this wasn't your most scintillating puzzle ... it was easy, breezy Sunday fun.

@Jae: changing SEALY to Serta to SEALY is definitely a reright.

@Noam D. Elkies: What's new, Pussycat? Sure, it can mean "honey."

I never get sick of seeing EDINA in a puzzle.

Best wishes,
Cake Eater,

mac 4:21 PM  

@kevin der: you are so right, I hadn't thought of it before. Because we know the word, know about the order in which a puzzle gets compiled, we could almost fill in the theme answers without crosses. Without this knowledge the puzzle must be much harder.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

@Rex: Thank you for the frank comments despite your knowing these fine constructors. This is exactly what I expect from your blog.

Agree with all that both these constructors have created terrific puzzles in the past, and I hope to see more from them!

I wonder if Mr. Shortz times the appearance of these puzzles from great constructors just before ACPT? (Starting Thursday, Der, Gamache, Walden, Nothnagel,Silk, Peterson ... they are all in my top 20 list). If my theory is right, I want to see a Blindaeur (Thursday?) and a Quigley (Friday?) next week.


Anonymous 4:41 PM  

I think the criticism is too harsh, it was enjoyable although it only took me 10 minutes. Sometimes Sundays take me ten hours off and on. I did this in bed Saturday morning. My son walked the dog early and brought me the paper in bed. I sat up, finished up quick before I even got out of bed and had coffee. BUT I should not be too proud of myself as I have NEVER even attempted the Saturday puzzle. I am a Monday to Friday plus Sunday... one of these days ...(although I have been doing these puzzles for over 15 years) Mike

joho 4:58 PM  

@evil doug: watch out, your showed your sweet side to Anne. Very nice.

I've heard from one of my clients in Queens that the National Museum of the Air Force is a place to see, and you just confirmed that. I saw a sign recently on my way to the Dayton airport ... I'm definitely going to try to make it there. Thank you for the tip.

flagger 5:11 PM  

@Foodie & mac: Hey you guys, isn't that what I kinda said at 11:42 PM Saturday?

C'mon, show a little love here. <:0)

allan 5:36 PM  

Hey, I just realized that today is George Washington's birthday. His real birthday, not some made up holiday.

I wonder if there is some way to combine the Oscars and the Father of our country in a themed puzzle? You know, sort of like combining Lincoln and Darwin.

George NYC 5:48 PM  

I liked this theme, seeing it as a kind of existential take on how, after a while, anything we do--even difficult stuff--becomes blase.


Anonymous 5:57 PM  

What's new, pussycat? Ooh...oh,oh!

foodie 6:26 PM  

@flagger, I did remember your post as friendly and appreciative of the constructors (which I really liked). I did not understand that we were on the same wavelength re what I saw as the tongue in cheek description of the "pay-off" for the cruciverbalist. If you were alluding to the same reaction, and I missed it, my apologies.

Actually, I'd be curious to hear from the constructors about whether the "is that all there?" chuckle is the accurate take on their puzzle. Or am I projecting this idea, because of previous discussions on this blog about whether all the wonderful constructors get what they deserve for all the pleasure they bring us.

BTW, I'm always happy to show love : ) Evil Doug is leading the way today. How cool is that!

nuzzle put 7:05 PM  

i am with you, Rex, on 72D - my pop had neon lit trunk mounted signs on his taxis during the late 1940s.

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

I must confess I watched the Marcus Welby clip just to get a look at the 60's James Brolin - I was about 14 and I LOVED Dr. Kiley!

Anonymous 7:11 PM  


I love your take on the "pay-off." We intended it as a legit pay-off, not a sarcastic comment, but I'm glad you were able to get a little extra oomph out of that entry.

And it's great to see that the issue of constructor compensation is on the minds of solvers. No doubt we have acme to thank for that!

retired_chemist 7:12 PM  

@Joho - If Edina is clued as something like "Neurotic AbFab PR bigwig Monsoon" I can go for it. As a city it is pretty much the automatic go-to for MN, just as Enid is for OK and Essen is for Germany. Don't like that predictability. Just my idiosyncrasy.

flagger 7:12 PM  

@Foodie: We are definitely on different wavelengths. My comment ended with a "<:0)". That's a little clown face, indicating me being a clown. No need to apologize. BTW what are those 2 stacked dots, followed by the close parenthesis symbol? <:0) Oops, MBACA!

@imsdave: Thanks for the link.

@Lee Glickstein: If you are still out there, that was a terrific puzzle. Even having seen the theme answers only hours ago, I found it original, fun and having a nice non theme fill.

@Rex: Sorry.

PlantieBea 7:25 PM  

@Swedish-sounding Doug,

My day would have a little less of that "je ne sais quoi" without the puzzles you all submit. I, a long-time, merely adequate, seriously addicted solver hope you are compensated enough for these puzzles!

Deborah 8:00 PM  

Rex: I'm going to the Tourney for the first time. V. nervous, but optimistic that friendliness will abound. Don't care how I do; have no illusions as to performance; just want to hang with similarly minded and accessible folk.
BTW, what's wrong with a puzzle that promotes the Tourney? Obvio that was the theme. I enjoyed it immensely and, thanks to a previous post, now understand the Food Network reference. Yum, and hope they provide bounteous (vegetarian) samples.

foodie 8:00 PM  

@Swedish-sounding Doug, thank you! I often see things as tongue in cheek when not intended as such... Sometimes, it can be embarrassing. Or I can choose to believe that I have insight into your subconscious.

@flagger, of course we're on the same wavelength. You just don't know it. <:0)

Bill from NJ 8:49 PM  


That puzzle was constructed by Commenter ims dave, based on the humorous aside provided by Lee Glickstein.

flagger 9:07 PM  

@ Bill from NJ: Doh

@imsdave: If you are still out there, that was a terrific puzzle. Even having seen the theme answers only hours ago, I found it original, fun and having a nice non theme fill. My bad on earlier post!!!

allan 9:12 PM  

@ retired_chemist: OK, you've got me. I have no idea what your earlier natick comment was about. It is so far over my head, I'm embarrassed.

If you have the inclination to explain, please email me. I'd appreciate it.

@ Bill From NJ: Good to see you about. Hope all is well.

Anonymous 9:30 PM  

I thought the puzzle was just fine. I remain impressed by the feat of construction.

Amy Reynaldo 10:51 PM  

@Deborah, in past years there have been three menu options for the Sunday luncheon. IIRC, it's usually beef, shrimp, or a vegetarian entree (typically pasta).

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