Conductor noted for wearing turtlenecks: THURSDAY, Feb. 19, 2009 - K Der (Marshalls competitor / Bond villain in "Moonraker" / Boomer's kid)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: EXTRA, EXTRA (57A: Old street cry, or what's in 18-, 23-, 34-, 42- and 51-Across?) - theme answers are familiar phrases with one EXTRA letter added to the beginning, creating wacky phrases, which are clued, "?"-style; the added letters are, in order, E, X, T, R, and A.

Word of the Day: AVULSE - To separate or tear away a body part, as from an accident or surgery. (

I loved this puzzle. That is, I loved it until the SE, where my love was seriously compromised by a horrendous crossing of ugliness. I wanted to AVULSE that corner from the puzzle. In fact, I did. Or, rather, I quickly rewrote it to make the ugliness go away.

I admit it's a bit bland. ARE isn't great and ITER is a bit too xwordy, but ULNA and AS IS aren't exactly winners either. Besides, I did this version in about two minutes with just pencil and paper. A little effort and surely even better fill would emerge. I'll take NuGrid over the current grid if only because my way = no AVULSE (47D: Tear off forcefully) / A.M.E. (47A: Letters on some churches) crossing, which, though I guessed the "A" correctly, is a "Natick Principle" violation in my book (despite its involving only one proper noun). It especially bugs me when a crossing of not terribly common terms happens a. at a vowel, and b. at an initial, or part of an abbreviation. Since AVULSE is a fantastically uncommon word, I'd expect that "A" cross to be something gettable, or at least something that would make "E" impossible, because I really, really wanted "E," and Latin-wise, the "E" prefix makes total sense. EVERT, EGEST, EJECT. The only reason I guessed "A" was that "A.M.E." rang a very faint bell, and I could imagine that the "A" stood for something common like "American." Turns out it stands for "African," as in "African Methodist Episcopal." In retrospect, I'm sure I've seen "A.M.E." before. But ... wow, that corner is just painful. OK, I'm done. On to the awesomeness.

I love when the theme answers don't just work (i.e. pass muster) - they snap. They sizzle. AWES CRAVEN (51A: Amazes a horror film director?) is very clever, as is RADIOS AMIGOS (42A: Transmits a message to Pancho and pals?), despite the vowel sound change both entail. I'm not exactly sure what kind of "WINDOW" is being referred to in the clue for EBAY WINDOW (18A: What might have the heading "Collectibles" or "Toys & Hobbies"). I'm guessing it's just a web browser window, but does the "WINDOW" have the "heading?" Maybe so. XRAY OF HOPE (23A: Optimistic scan at the dentist's?) and TURBAN LEGEND (34A: Story of Ali Baba?) round out the long and impressive list of theme answers. Going six deep, all Acrosses, is a very impressive feat.

In typical KDer-esque fashion, this puzzle crackles with inventive fill and Scrabbly letters. In fact, I think it was probably excessive fondness for the "Q" that got this puzzle into trouble in the SE (56A: Starters and more -> SQUAD / 54D: Water colors -> AQUAS). Sometimes you have to know when to say when. But the X's today are phenomenal - and they're everywhere. Two answers with two X's in them - the last theme answer, as well as the dramatic TJ MAXX (1D: Marshalls competitor) - and then a fifth "X" at the end of DRAX (55A: Bond villain in "Moonraker"). I had DR. NO where DRAX was supposed to be at first, though I knew he was the eponymous villain in "DR. NO," not "Moonraker." Then there are the ZEES (50A: Scrabble 10-pointers). Penelope CRUZ (37D: "Volver" actress, 2006) does not interest me, despite her beautiful first name, but OZAWA ... OZAWA I like, especially dressed up in this sartorial clue - 67A: Conductor noted for wearing turtlenecks. If you are going to do a Google Image search of [Ozawa] and have an aversion to Japanese/Canadian porn stars, I suggest you turn the SafeSearch function "ON" before you begin. Or just search [Ozawa conductor]. That seemed to do the trick.

Lastly, I love the scifi mini-theme up in the N and NW. JERI (14A: Ryan of "Star Trek: Voyager") followed immediately by YODA (15A: Film character who says "Named must your fear be before banish it you can") ... and intersected by NIMOY (4D: "I Am Spock" autobiographer)!? The nerd factor in that nexus is so high that I don't think it can be accurately measured. Very daring, Mr. Der.


  • 30A: Boomer's kid (X'er) - my parents are a tad too old to be boomers, but I am right in the XER sweet spot. Both my parents were born *during* the war. Don' t know what that makes them.
  • 68A: Unfortunate date ending (slap) - I love this clue, but I sure hope it's a girl slapping a guy and not the other way around. The latter scenario would make "unfortunate" a horrible euphemism.
  • 69A: Dickens's Mr. Pecksniff (Seth) - I really should read more Dickens. To me, SETH is a fantastic comics artist and illustrator.
  • 3D: Amount of debt, old-style (arrear) - singular!? Wow, how "old" are we talking? Both the definitions in my Webster's Third International Dictionary that are marked "archaic" are not debt-related. Guess I need to crack out my OED. Ugh. It's downstairs. Too lazy.
  • 7D: Home of the City of Rocks National Reserve (Idaho) - been to the state many times, but never heard of this "city". It's eerie-looking. Its "inhabitants" are all rocks that look like strange, ghost-like creatures.
  • 10D: Ancient pillager (Hun) - poor Huns. Known for only one thing.
  • 12D: "Wedding Album" recording artist (Ono) - Oh, Yoko. You can't stay away for long, can you?

  • 19D: Prop on "The Price is Right" (wheel) - this took me way longer than it should have. I forgot about that damned gigantic wheel.
  • 36D: Dortmund denials (neins) - the Dortmunder novels of the late Donald Westlake are worth checking out. Speaking of speaking German, here is one of my favorite German-speakers - Rainier Wolfcastle!

  • 55D: Precursor to Surrealism (Dada) - Dada I generally like, but Surrealism, not so much. Melting watches and bird-headed ladies only do so much for me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Daryl 2:01 AM  

First comment, yay. I did like the theme answers - I actually especially liked the ones where the vowel sounds changed (RADIOS AMIGOS, AWES CRAVEN). I do think the WINDOW on your browser has a heading; that's the part in blue (in most colour schemes).

I agree that AVULSE/AME is a terrible cross. But I was saved by baseball news, specifically the AVULSION that Josh Beckett had a couple of years back.

And finally, I dispute that X-ERs are generally boomers' kids, although of course the kids of the earliest boomers could be XERs. There's a whole range of business writing (not the greatest of literature, but reasonably demographically correct) focused on the plight of Generation X being sandwiched between boomers and boomers' kids - Generation Y or whatever you want to call it.

Jeffrey 2:04 AM  

Completely with you today. Wonderful pangram puzzle. Last letter was that dreaded A - somewhere deep within me AME seemed familiar. Wasn't 100% sure of the T in TJMAXX but it had to be TMAN - not getting me on a TAX man entry two days in a row.

Hey, add BA you get BATMAN; here's a theme. Advanced degrees. Anyone got a PHD entry? Reason 243 why I'm not a contructor.

retired_chemist 2:25 AM  

re 11D:I had thought it was "Jeb" Bartlet, from his initials (Josiah E. Bartlet) but 18A was surely not "EBayWinbow." Live and learn....

@Crosscan: I missed the J in TJMAXX. Definitely a Natick moment for a shopping-impaired non-Trekkie.

figured 47A was either IHS or AME and the crosses quickly led to the latter.

Anonymous 3:47 AM  

First off, awesome puzzle Kevin. Second, since Rex opened the flood gates, here's another possible take on the SE:

E * D J S
* E R I C
* R A M A
* S K A T

Let's see some more...

Anonymous 4:16 AM  

YAY Kevin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Loved this...and a perfect write-up to match!

Personally I think that corner should be left alone. (Altho I love your DVORAK/JEMIMA thing going on!)

In the meantime, maybe let folks learn AME and AVULSE (I just did!)

I'm guessing AME is more or less familiar depending on your community (which we learned 2 weeks ago is not necessarily the demographic of many NYT solvers and a mere mention of that devolves into discussions where people end up calling each other "racist")!

Plus if you are going to have people rewrite that corner, you still need that Q for a perfect pangram (which I know some of you profess not to care about, but I thought this made this puzzqxxle 86.3x better!)

I started with NESS (hate getting 1A wrong) so thought the store was going to be NJ---- (some MALL in New Jersey?) but NIMOY quickly righted things.

I too had DRNO and even after I fixed THAT, I didn't know if it was DRAX or Dr. AX, which seemed more apropos for a slasher film than Bond.

@retired chemist
I also didn't know JED, PLUS had ENO and OOW. Initially gave me OH-EO?!? Lots of alphabet scrolling there. I'm not even sure I got OH JOY when I got it.

That ENO (as in Brian) for ONO, was despite having a total John Lennon fetish...Still can't bear her, but loved that clip Rex posted... so many images in it I've never seen.

Had an epiphany midway thru the "Oh Yoko" clip that I've spent my life searching for MY John... someone who would feel about me as he did Yoko (and vice versa, tho I could live without the tragic ending) :(

jae 4:39 AM  

In the words of Evil Doug "I agree with you" in that I liked this one mucho AMIGO! I disagree about SE, however. I don't think AME is that obscure. AVULSE, however, sent me to my dictionary for confirmation (even though I was pretty confident about the crosses). IMOO a medium Thurs. should have me looking at least one thing up so, this one passes muster. The weakest part for me was NW where two odd variations (2d, 3d) seemed a bit forced. That said, nice puzzle Kevin and a pangram to boot.

Oh, and missteps, like andrea I started off with NESS plus NEIMAN for 1d, put in DRNO, tried OOW and also was iffy about OHJOY.

sillygoose 5:22 AM  

Ah. I love Kevin Der puzzles. This one had so many satisfying layers. I loved the EXTRA EXTRA.

I also had EME/EVULSE and I have heard of avulse but not A.M.E. Maybe its that weird chimpanzee incident, otherwise I don't know why it rings a bell.

Dad (b.1927) will get a kick out of being called a Boomer.

If it wasn't for Jeri Ryan my husband wouldn't have his extensive knowledge of Star Trek: Voyager.

Anonymous 6:48 AM  

I got stuck in the SE when I thought that "Starters and more" at 56A in the clue referred to appetizers. SQUID works perfectly well, and doesn't help solve the problem.

Rex Parker 7:29 AM  

@Crosscan - the advanced degree puzzle has actually been done. Forget where and when, but I've solved it. Maybe the Chronicle of Higher Ed. published it. That sounds right. Ish.

@jae - you are probably right that AME isn't "so obscure." I didn't call it that, exactly. I think that long-time solvers (why am I not in that group!?) probably didn't blink at it. And some people will just know A.M.E. But I don't think it's terribly well known by the general population (I'd bet TJ MAXX is far better known, for instance), and I think it will be the site of many a wipeout (or near wipeout) today.

And then again, I could be colossally wrong. Or I could be taking out frustration at my own ignorance on the puzzle. Both possible.

I think either AVULSE or AME is totally fair game - just not intersecting at the "A," for the reasons I stated in the write-up.


deerfencer 7:35 AM  

Wow--amazing puzzle; so much going on. I'm not even going to agree with Rex's nitpicking today, even though he has some valid points; too many ingenious buried treasures here to whine over a single difficult cross.


dk 8:12 AM  

@crosscan, EXTRAEXTRA could be a clue for PhD, (reason number 74 for why I am not a constructer)

Fell victim to the SE only it was SQUAD. I wanted starters to be a food item (go figure) and the aforementioned AVULSE was new to me. Last but not not least, to the unfettered delight of my 13 year old step sons I asked: Is emu a rock genre? MYBAD

I liked CB and RADIO together. Thank you Mr. Der.

BUENOS dias puzzle amigos

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Fun puzzle (except for AVULSE). My only other nit is that TJ Maxx and Marshalls are actually owned by the same company (since 1995!). If you actually go into them as I did in December you'll see that they are really the same store, just with two different names. So they aren't really "competitors". Fortunately there wasn't an alternative possible answer.

jubjub 8:19 AM  

I had trouble with JERI, both the R and the I (couldn't remember if it was NIMOY or NeMOY).

I'm reminded that I know who JERI Ryan is -- she is the wife of the guy who was running against Obama for Illinois senator and had a crazy sex scandal and had to drop out.

After I had XRAY??... and EBAY??..., I thought the theme might be some pig latin thing. XRAY is Rex in pig latin.

I wish the Price is Right answer had something to do with Plinko. Plinko is so cool.

joho 8:21 AM  

Exxxxxcellent puzzle! When I saw Kevin Der's name at the top I got excited and wasn't disappointed. I wish all puzzles could be this interesting.

I do agree with the AVULSE/AME cross being a Natick. I wanted LDS at first. Eventually got it right but it was a total guess.

@rex ... loved your writeup. And thank you for the John & Yoko clip. Fascinating. When I met John he was with May Pang ... wish it had been Yoko.

@acme: I hope you find your "John!"

joho 8:24 AM  

@acme: Well, not a john! You know what I mean.

evil doug 8:29 AM  


So: Anything interesting happen the last couple days?

To pilots, A.M.E. is Aviation Medical Examiner---those fun folks who hold our licenses in their very hands as they check us over every six months.

15 minutes of good fun. Glad I invested my buck-fittty.


Unknown 8:31 AM  

Great, lovely puzzle.
I put in eVULSE/eME. 'Evulse' just seemed so right, and not knowing the cross, I didn't question it.

That southwest corner is such a lovely mix of cultural references all tucked in together: art, conductor, rock, colloquialism, extra,extra!

Laura 8:42 AM  

Just FYI, the reference in ebay window is to bay window -- the big kind in the front of the house.

I thought this was a fun one--loved it, and although avulse is a strange word, I do know what AME is.

Kurisu 8:55 AM  

Part of my trouble with the SE corner was that I confidently wrote in EMDASH very early on in the puzzle, and could never get the horror director's name because of that (somehow). I've heard of Wes Craven certainly.

SoWal Beach Bum 8:59 AM  

AME is a total gimme for those of us south of the Mason-Dixon line.

chefbea 9:06 AM  

Had the same problems as everyone else...avulse, squad,ame. Also didn't know if it was Nimoy or Nemoy. But it was a great fun puzzle

Parshutr 9:13 AM  

Loved this one, record Thursday time for me. My only [brief] misfil was Geri intead of Jeri...and you don't have to be south of the M-D line or African-American for AME to be a GIMME.
So, I'll vote with the "leave it alone" chorus on the SE.

HudsonHawk 9:19 AM  

To add to Comment2's comment, TJX, the owner and operator of TJMAXX and Marshall's is based in Natick, MA. Just kidding, but it is right across Lake Cochituate in Framingham.

I solved this North to South, so at first I thought the pig latin thing jubjub mentioned was coming into play and was disappointed by the TURBAN LEGEND entry. But once I got down to the EXTRA EXTRA, I had a new appreciation. And yep, I had EVULSE.

JannieB 9:25 AM  

I agree w/@SoWal - AME is very well known in the south. I wrote it in immediately, TJMaxx took longer because I also started with Ness at 1A.

I loved this puzzle but would quibble that the theme was inconsistent - the first two answers had the extra letters as add-on syllables to existing phrases; in others they formed a new word. Seemed awkward to me.

Otherwise, a great mix of clues/fill -- something for everyone.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

I never watched West Wing so I guessed 11-down was either TED or NED. Went with NED, which made 9-across OHNOW and 13-down WOW, both of which kind of worked.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle... UNLIL I hit that SE corner. I generally just chalk up such mishaps to my lesser knowledge, I tend to give the crossword constructor the benefit of the doubt. I had *VULSE and the only letter there that made any sort of sense was an "A"... so whatever, I got through it. Something like 10:30ish for me, which I will take for a Thursday!

Very cool theme, the theme entries were funny (I think I laughed out loud in my school computer lab at "Radios Amigos"), good puzzle.

John L. Welch 9:40 AM  

As one commenter said, TJMAXX and MARSHALLS are owned by the same company. So how are they competitors?

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Great stuff. One of those: wished I thought of it themes. Future's looking mighty bright with KD. I'm telling ya, that kid's going places.

RodeoToad 9:59 AM  

10-4 on the write-up and puzzle, good buddy. (We need a full CB-talk puzzle. I'd ace that one.)

That Generation X thing got way out of hand. People started naming generations right and left after that, even dead generations and generations that happened yet. What the hell is a "generation" anyway? People who listen to the same songs I do at the same time I do? I felt mighty alienated when I was told, in a weird congratulatory kind of way by my TV, that I was a member of Generation X. I knew it just wanted me to buy some stuff, but I still felt left out because I didn't really like Pearl Jam, and it was taken as a given that I would.

Ozawa was pretty impressive in "Bend Over, Beethoven."

Kurt 10:00 AM  

The puzzle was indeed awesome. And Rex was definitely on his game. But also thought that all of the comments and commentators that have preceded me were particularly sharp as well.

It's starting out to be a wonderful day in the neighborhood...

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I confidently wrote in TurbanNights, which is why I didn't finish the puzzle. Made sense to me.

Doug 10:08 AM  

Looks like B.C. is almost as far as one can get from the AME in N. America except for Alaska. I think I recall it now from a puzzle long ago, but it's new to me. I thought EME and EVULSE were going to be my words of the day, but alas no. I must avulse myself of this page and go take a shower...

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I find it strange that AME/AVULSE is even considered for a Natick. -VULSE admits only A or E for the cross. -ATICK/-CWYETH admitted perhaps half the alphabet.

More tellingly, the AME church is a major US denomination, and it is hard to be an informed American and not to have seen it in the news several times over the years. Perhaps my view is a bit biased, because I've lived most of my life in and around Philadelphia, and I certainly remember various city placards honoring Richard Allen, the church's founder. (And I admit, I only remember that name because it matches the only Philly I knew by name way back when.)

That is, when all is said and done, I felt zero concern about my self-image as an educated fellow when I missed Natick, and what is more, I was quite certain that feeling was near universal. I felt the tiniest of tiniest of concerns at missing N. C. Wyeth. Both are now burned in my memory, of course.

But while I knew AME, and I expect a lot of people to have missed it, I don't expect to find a lot of people who live in a place where their local AME church never made the news for anything whatsoever.

In contrast to this bit of personal knowingness, I admit to starting the Untouchable 1A with NESS, and thus almost wrote in SPOCK for 4D "I Am Spock" autobiographer before I thought, "way too easy for Thursday", not noticing the more obvious reason why SPOCK wasn't the fill.

And I had to think for a moment when I crossed the direction NNE with GNC. N or E? I know I've seen GNC stores around, yet I have no idea where.

My only other false start was TIPIN instead of LAYUP for an easy two points.

PS to Gramatrick: Rex knows what a "Bay Window" is. The question was what the heck is an "eBay Window" supposed to be? Specifically, one with a heading like "Collectibles", as in the clue. Not having ever used eBay, I couldn't say or care. Does a window pop up on your computer, complete with header that says "Collectibles"? My guess is Rex has used eBay, and has not seen that interface, hence his question.

AV 10:13 AM  

This is a delightful gem - extra extra brilliant. Loved the theme and the entries and the fill. Very few constructors can get away with TJMAXX, the Z's, and a double pangram (almost) on a smooth Thursday. Keep them coming, Kevin!

My conjecture why AME and AVULSE intersect in this puzzle? ACPT, Puzzle 5. ;-)

Orange 10:29 AM  

Hey, the Chicago Tribune article about Rex's penis...I mean John Lennon's penis and Rex's posted today.

Vega 10:29 AM  

Just joining the choir. I loved this puzzle, and it's been a couple weeks since I could say that. And the funny thing is that I didn't even get the EXTRA extra until I came here (i.e., I didn't notice that the additional letters spelled out "extra"). And I too laughed out loud at RADIOSAMIGOS. Write-up was just right.

For 9A I ended up with OHpoo, which made President Bartlet's first name ped and someone saying oow when that hurt. Whatever. I just could not find JOY up there.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

@jubjub: I thought about the pig Latin thing too--that would have been fun.

I understand the Natick attention to SE, but for me AME was easy enough.

Silly me, didn't "see" the extra EXTRA till I checked in here! Nice puzzle.

hazel 10:30 AM  

Perfect puzzle. wouldn't change a thing.

I'm south of the Mason-Dixon line, but did not find AME to be a total gimme, although admittedly I'm not much of a church person - in the sense that there is one pretty much on every corner and i don't really notice the particulars.

it sounds from JannieB and SoWal that African Methodist Episcopal churches are quite common here, though. So, although I can't place a one of them, it does seem likely that I'm aware of them, at least subconsciously and to williambembas point, maybe they've been on the news for something.

Also, NYT Crossword database also shows a cluing trend for the term - AME used to alwaysish be clued as some variation of French soul, but since 1999 (w/ one exception) the clue has been linked to churches.

Go Kevin Der!! Fantastic puzzle!!

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

Kevin Der Oh Joy!
Loved the theme answers and got them before most of the fill. Didn't know the meaning of ulna but knew avulse although usually seen as a noun, avulsion. Didn't know our old friend Brian Eno had his own rock genre?
@ Evil Doug, you didn't miss a thing! Ha!

foodie 10:51 AM  

I was certain about EVULSE because that word does exist. When I was working on developing a new treatment for chronic intractable pain, we had a patient suffering from "brachial plexus evulsion". May be if the church clue had been a bit more informative, I would have reconsidered. But "letters on some churches" brought to mind engravings on cornerstones, rather than type of church-- and well, anything seemed possible...

I totally love the rest! The puzzle was fun to solve and to savor when complete, and I learned stuff along the way. A great Thursday (my EVULSION aside)

@andrea carla, to me John exemplified the idea that there are men who can fall for women who are interesting, even when the pressure is to go elsewhere. John, who had millions of fawning fans, picked someone who was not a classical beauty and did not seem particularly pliant, but was her own person. Good for them, tragic as the ending was.

DJG 10:57 AM  

I didn't like that the familiar phrase and the extra-letter wacky phrase for AWESCRAVEN refer to the same person (Is there another famous Craven? Probably not.), but I'm picking nits. Overall, fantastic puzzle. I really enjoyed it.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

I almost threw the paper out when I saw the mini sci-fi theme, but once I got past that, absolutely loved the puzzle, probably to an unprecidented extent.

I do puzzles as my morning IQ test, just to see how the synapses are firing today. I tend not to care when I hit a snag as I did today in the SE - I just try to figure out whether they were things that I should have known but am having a bad day, or if they were things were outside my ken. Today's puzzle was so exceptional that I couldn't admit defeat in the SE. Well, not at first.

Just could not give up EVULSE. No way, no how. In the back of my mind I recalled the (quasi ugly) AME discussion here about a year ago, but just couldn't change the E to an A.

And how the hell is endash not a co-word of the day? What the hell is an endash?

Shamik 11:05 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Excellent write-up. Excellent comments.

Since I'm studying this RN refresher course, I'd just seen avulsion, so the SE was easy.

Like acme, however, the NE kicked me. I don't watch "West Wing." And you can say anything when something hurts: YOW, OOW, WOW and a bunch of four letter words that wouldn't fit. So, did a Mr. Bill and said OHNOO and OOW and guessed at NED.

Only other mis-starts that I don't recall being mentioned are:

I didn't want to watch ONO, but a couple of you have made positive comments and I feel compelled to look. Won't google OZAWA, however.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Everything has been said by this time and I agreed with most everything. This theme seemed fresh to me with clever, interesting clues. I will probably notice Kevin Der puzzles in the future because this is one of the best in a long time.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

No, Anne, not everything has been said. Humorlesstwit's question has not been answered, and I shall proceed to do so.

An en-dash is a typesetter's term (back in the days of movable type) for a piece of type containing a dash approximately the size of the lower-case n. Seriously. A longer dash was called an em-dash. The dashes (actually, hyphens) I have used in this paragraph were, more or less, en-dashes, when originally typed in the "Leave your comment" box. (They're somewhat shorter in the actual post.)

And that's what I call a comment with dash.

SethG 11:24 AM  

So I became an EMT in college because I had crush on a woman in the class. The primary reason I never worked as an EMT: avulsion injuries. Our books were full of pictures of them. I shudder every time someone says AVULSE today, and in the end I was too shy to ask her out anyway.

I'm guessing Greene didn't fly through this puzzle. Because I did--my second fastest Thursday ever, less than half as long as yesterday--and we learned recently that his knowledge seems to exactly complement mine. Greene, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did anyway...

Rex, no one should read more Dickens. To me, SETH is a clockmaker. And to Jane Roberts, SETH was entirely something else...

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Foodie: the word evulsion does exist but what your patient suffered was a brachial plexus avulsion. I think you were led astray by someone else's misspelling.

fikink 11:33 AM  

Pretty breezy experience given my history with Kevin Der Kluge. I, too, wanted an E to begin AVULSE, Rex - the same thinking but a different impetus; the cat was EXpelling that hairball.

"Dada I generally like, but Surrealism, not so much. Melting watches and bird-headed ladies only do so much for me."


Anonymous 11:34 AM  

It seems like the pangram can be preserved while getting rid of the AVULSE/AME crossing:


The AQABA/ALLA crossing might be a problem, but cluing ALLA as "...and to ___ good night" makes it gettable.

Bill Lisleman 11:44 AM  

first time to this very popular blog. very interesting and I don't even do crossword puzzles. I like a little sudoku but that logic type of puzzle would not yield these interesting background stories.

Jeffrey 11:48 AM  

Welcome lisleman. Don't underestimate the fascination of a 3 in the far upper left box. And I still I remember the day when we first saw 312674589 in the bottom row for the first time; you should have seen the back and forth comments...

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I loved the puzzle, loved seeing the theme develop, and love that this was my fastest Thursday time all year. I was really expecting people to think this was an easy Thursday puzzle. The sf touchstones certainly helped me out, and I've finally learned OZAWA's name. And I've watched both West Wing and Price is Right. I grew up in the South and AME was somewhere in my vocabulary, and I've seen AVULSED bones and fingernails.

santafefran 11:53 AM  

What a clever and fun puzzle.

Never encountered AVULSE or ENDASH until today even though I knew AME.
Wanted EASEL for "The Price is Right" prop until I got XRAYOFHOPE and saw that wouldn't work.

Being an Ebay addict, I can tell you that "Collectibles" and "Toys & Hobbies" are major search categories; hence when you click on them they open a new window. Still took me a while to get to the right answer.

Naturally, I loved the mini Sci-Fi theme. Thanks Kevin Der!

Radios Amigos.

PlantieBea 12:06 PM  

Yet another take on the SE: I had ABI (American Bible Institue)for the church letters, BE IN IT for be serious, AVULSE, SQUID for the starters and more, and INDASH which I convinced myself had to be correct for the double dash=hyphen. I came ready to complain about the rotten clue for SQUID, but I guess the tizzy was of only my making.

Kelly 12:07 PM  

@twangster: i had the exact same stuff in the NE for the exact same reason. that's one tv president's name i won't forget again!

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Crosscan, it was 321674589, not 312674589, and it was on June 18, 2007. A simple search would save you from embarrassing yourself like this.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

I had SWAP instead of SLAP and couldn't help wondering if some people might think it was a good ending to a date.

jeff in chicago 12:27 PM  

A-1. Top drawer. Huzzah! I do likes me my Der puzzles. This one was great. When you want NESS and it's TMAN, that's just great. When it's always DRNO and we get DRAX, it's fabulous.

@jubjub: Rex in pig latin = XRAY. Funny. Do I smell a theme? Names/words that are real names/words once pig-latinned?

***sexism alert*** I'm not a big Star Trek fan (OK...I liked Deep Space Nine) but Jeri Ryan in that outfit? C'mon! Her character was Seven of Nine, but to me she was Ten of Ten ***alert off***

sorry...Isn't it interesting, though, that had her husband not been gettin' his freak on, Obama might still be a state senator and McCain might be prez.

Greg 12:28 PM  

Am I the only one who confidently wrote in JAWS for the Bond villain? I figured the number of 4-letter villains in a single movie wouldn't be bigger than one, but apparently I was wrong!

Chip Hilton 12:30 PM  

Terrific theme puzzle by the great K. Der. After getting EXTRAEXTRA, I started looking for Xes in all the clue words and loved it when the EXTRA sequence of initial letters hit me.

I was with @humorlesstwit on ENDASH so thanks to @stevel for the explanation. My church letters were EMI...a total guess and looking a lot more like something to do with the recording industry.

mac 12:39 PM  

Now that sounds interesting, crucidocu! What a great puzzle day, puzzle, write-up and comments!
I somehow dug up this "avulse" and a good thing that was because I didn't know about A.M.E. Thanks for the tip, Ashis!
I also thought Ness, and Jeb (liked the West Wing, and Commander in Chief as well) but that resolved itself. I figured the theme with Radios Amigos, very funny, since I more or less started out in the middle. I lived in Idaho for 2 years but can't remember hearing about the City of Rocks.

@steve l: thank you for the explanation of en-dash.

A "Home Goods" store recently opened in our area, and when I went to check it out I noticed that there were signs there for T.J. Maxx and Marshalls as well. One big happy family.

@rex: now you really have arrived, when non-puzzlers read your blog as well! Welcome, Lisleman!

foodie 12:51 PM  

@ruth, You are right. EVULSION does exist but it means pulling or extraction (e.g. of a tooth) as opposed to a less purposeful tearing away. Thank you! Never learn to spell from a neurosurgeon (otherwise, I love you guys : )

Re the John & Yoko Fiasco: Blogger could make their warning system more sophisticated-- How many viewers decide not to proceed and look at the site? And of those who go on, how many agree with the warning? Otherwise, they're only attending to the those with the lowest threshold.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

TJ Maxx and Marshall's are part of the same company (THX), so don't think they're competitors.

Bill from NJ 1:05 PM  

This past June AME was in the puzzle and it provoked a minor theme in the Comments section then.

I know because I was part of it and was pleased when Orange weighed in on the "Having-Heard-Of-It" side.

I was relatively new to the Blog at the time and was sensitive to the holes in my body of knowledge and soon realized that everybody had them and that it was no big deal.

jeff in chicago 1:07 PM  

Just read the Chicago Tribune story about Penisgate. It seems to get the facts right, but the bigger topic sure could use more reporting. Oh well...

The funny thing to me is at the bottom of the article. There is an "If you liked this, you might like..." feature. Apparently, because I like crosswords, blogs and/or nudity, I might also like "25 songs for your Christmas playlist." Thanks, Trib!!

chefbea 1:22 PM  

welcome Lisleman. Love your avatar and am sure Rex does as well

Bob Kerfuffle 1:26 PM  

Loved this puzzle from the consonant-rich NW to the somewhat head-scratching SE, but somehow got it all.

The discussion of AVULSE reminds me of a mnemonic learned in Boy Scout first aid: For wounds to the skin, PAIL, puncture, avulsion, incision, laceration. Or was it PAILS? Is there a doctor in the house?

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Nimoy's first autobiography was titled "A Am Not Spock". I recall a Simpsons where Comic Book guy was buying it ...

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Rex, you can probably get OED online access at home by logging into your school's VPN (, I binghamton vpn if that doesn't work). It's pretty awesome; I use my school's VPN all the time to get online journal access off campus.

Great puzzle from KGD. For whatever reason math/CS geeks construct really fantastic puzzles.

Glitch 1:49 PM  

[File this under more than you want to know and/or nitpicking]

Technically, in modern typography, there is no such thing as a "long hyphen".

A hyphen is used to separate syllables and to join words.

A dash is a separate animal. There are 3 kinds:

Figure Dash, width of a number character, used within numbers (e.g. 555-1212).

En-dash, width of lower case n, used to denote a range, read as "to" as in 11:00 -- 12:30.

Em-dash, originally the width of Capital M, often used to set off a parenthetical phrase --- like this one --- or when a sentence is unfinished.

From here, it gets technical ;)


jubjub 1:50 PM  

@jet city gambler,

"CBG bought 3 Spock books in the library book sale.
"I am not a SPOCK" by Leonard Mimor
"I am SPOCK" by Leonard Mimor
"I am also Scotty" by Leonard Mimor"

@jeff in chicago, I'm pretty sure this means we can attribute Obama's presidency to Jeri Ryan's hottitude :).

allan 1:58 PM  

Great puzzle made greater by the "extra" extra. Same mistakes as others w/ evulse, and jeb. Radiosamigos actually sticks with the same vowel sound, as radios is the spanish word for radios (google it).

The 2 clips that Rex included today were awesome, but
a well deserved shout out to lilyan, who seems to be the creator of the Lennon/Ono clip. Great work. I never realized how many different looks John had in his all too short life.

@ Crosscan: Reason # 3 why you are not a constructor: you can't spell your job title. HA HA (because LOL is just wrong I learned).

Unknown 2:16 PM  

Could someone please explain 54 across-mybad. Did not get jeri or jed because of lax T.V. watching. Spelled Nimoy with an E. Other wise an easy puzzle.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

AVULSE is almost always AVULSION, especially in Orthopedics.

Medical stuff always trips me up (insert endash?) too precise?

Shamik 2:31 PM  

@Alan: "mybad"--young person's term for "oops"

PuzzleGirl 2:32 PM  

Good stuff today. Super-easy for me. I'm SO hoping for a puzzle like this at the tournament — Thursday level but right on my wavelength. (That was an em-dash, by the way.) I was a big fan of The West Wing from the beginning, but can never remember if his name is JEB or JED. Also, I'm pretty sure the first time I ever heard anyone say "My bad," to mean "Sorry, my fault" (which I think is a better clue than "Sorry, I did it"), it was Sam Seaborn possibly on the pilot episode.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

"My Bad" (which someone told me first started on inner-city basketball courts), was one of those expressions I HATED when I first heard it, gave ENDLESS grief to my young "hip" 20-years-younger-than-I friends who were using it (who were Chinese-American and trying to be all hip-hop) and now, to my horror, years later, I find I'm using it myself!

That said, I will NEVER say "No worries"! Every time I hear that, I think (as a Minnesota jewess) "YES worries!"

fergus 3:02 PM  

Oops, left in EM DASH, for my fifth mistake. Had GG MAXY for the Marshalls (no apostrophe?, and was even thinking about Stratego) competitor. I've read enough TJ MAXX today to think that I've always known it but it definitely wasn't there for the solve. I almost kept the MAIGRE (Fr.), which would have really knocked me out of a tournament.

While I can see a little region where OH JOY and its Clue could intersect, the tone and mood EVOKED seem too dissimilar.

Must be because I finished off in confusion and disarray, but I found this puzzle rather Ho-hum, though I did appreciate the EXTRAs. Not confused by the general high esteem, however.

dk 3:18 PM  

Inquiring minds (with tongue in cheek) want to know:

@Orange, Who is this M. Sharp guy in the Trib story?

@glitch, Wasn't Long Hyphen a porn star?

@sethg, we covered AVULSE in ski patrol school. One digit not so bad, a limb=rapid transport. We also had a class on delivering babies, ya know cause when your preggers it helps keep ones weight over the front of the ski so we get all kinds of women on the hill in the third trimester.

Back to painting my house.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

People, People. Ok, only you people who were so kind as to try to enlighten me about ENDASH, which was new to me. Dictionary .com gives this. Hence, my joke:
co-word of the day? What the hell is an ENDASH?

Jeffrey 3:33 PM  

I am so humiliated. First I misspell constructor and then 321674589. I promise to do better.

Thwree ind owt.

edith b 4:06 PM  

When I was in high school I read all the James Bond novels and my favorite was "Moonraker" with the villian Hugo Drax.

I was learning bridge at the time and there was a famous scene in the novel where Bond completely outwitted the villain Drax with a legendary bridge hand, known in the bridge world as the Duke of Culbertson hand.

My troubles were in the NE where I had to piece together OHJOY from all the crosses because I didn't know then and I don't know now what the relationship is between the clue and the answer. Is it an expression "in the language"? Perhaps our resident lexicographer Orange can enlighten me as I truly
don't see the connection.

Orange 4:17 PM  

@Edith: "Oh, joy" is in my sarcastic language. I can't speak for everyone else. Here it is in a true story: "I have lunch plans and a date with a photographer tomorrow, but my kid just came home from school with a fever of 101 so I guess that's all off. Oh, joy."

Unknown 4:27 PM  

Could someone explain the SQUAD clue?

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

@Adrian - As an example, a football squad contains the starters and reserves.

fikink 4:54 PM  

@Edith, "Oh, joy!" is sarcastic but, unlike in Orange's truly unfortunate situation, I more often have heard it used when on the receiving end of a gift or gesture supposedly for your benefit.

"And now Carrot Top will entertain us with some of his prop comedy."

"Oh, joy!"

Unknown 5:23 PM  

Oh joy - a sports reference. I know how much I sound like the sort of supercilious person that complains about 'popular culture' in crosswords, but (American) sports clues expose a large hole in my body of knowledge that will never be filled.
(I should emphasise that this is not a complaint, but a lament)

ArtLvr 5:57 PM  

Nickname alert -- There was an athlete called PRAX in one of the other puzzles yesterday, not to be confused with Bond's villain DRAX... It was lucky I had one of the Younger Generation around at the moment I encountered that! (A clumsy sort given to prax falls?) A four-letter soccer player is no longer automatically PELE! Pfui.

edith b 6:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SethG 6:30 PM  

Oh joy, again people provide spoilers for other puzzles that some of us haven't done yet!


Orange 7:23 PM  


I once rode up the elevator at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando (that's the place with the ducks in the lobby fountain) with Carrot Top. There is not a damn thing you can do in that situation. "Oh! You're Carrot Top!" you might exclaim...and then your voice trails off. You can't say "Wow, I'm a huge fan" or "I love your work" or "You're so hilarious, man!" or "Can I get your autograph?" It's Carrot Top. You've established his identity, and there's nothing else to say.

I just hope I someday have cause to tell my Jackie Mason anecdote.

Shanti11 7:53 PM  

Hey fellow Canadians: did you notice that the Simpsons clip was via HULU, and it worked?!?

We are allowed to view HULU from Canada! We have been recognized! Our cries have been heard! Oh happy day.

Shanti11 7:56 PM  

Never mind. It was YouTube. The HULU logo was part of the video. Sigh.

mac 8:41 PM  

@Orange: we've called it "pulling an Andrea" before. Good one.
Who was the actor born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, again?

@Catherine K: you used to look so much prettier!

edith b 9:11 PM  


I sincerely apologize if I spoiled a puzzle for you. It never occurred to me that, since it was yesterday, that you hadn't done it yet.

My trash can is missing so I can't even get rid of the comment.

I'm sorry. I just wasn't thinking.


edith b 9:14 PM  

Seth G-

Gone. Sorry.

foodie 9:53 PM  

@andrea, it might help if you made a mental note: "No worries...about this particular issue, at this particular moment." I don't even use the phrase, but I make the note when others use it. Otherwise, it does seem like a lie, or at best, tempting fate...

liquid el lay 1:01 AM  


X elant elegant puzzle.

I did this puzzle at home, which is a quieter place than my usual venue- a restaurant bar.

I always start in washington and oregon

Nimoy wrote an autobiography called “I Am Not Spock” and followed it years later with the exquisitely zen title “I Am Spock”

EDDY is one of my favorite words .. whorl, gnarl, gyre, vortex- love that stuff.

TOADY- a great great word

LOGOS was kind of badly clued. Anyone see Idiocracy? How about “clothing accents”

Badly wanted STOKED or SMOKED for what became EVOKED

At the cluing “prop on ‘The Price Is Right’” my brain shouted NEWCAR!, RADARRANGE! (I know they don’t fit.)

ARABICLEGEND became TURBANLEGEND and handed me the key which was very helpful..

MYBAD confirmed the iffy RAW DADA, then EMO, EXTRAEXTRA! I was hoping XY_ would turn into some cool, obscure word.

WAXES is good. RNA turned SOUP into SOAP (“unfortunate date ending”) for a moment, before I saw the g-rated SLAP.

NED, JED, RED, TED? Thought about IRONY for the top row- the Y gave me YOW, ENO to ONO, OHJOY!

Wanted some kind of horse for VETOERS, but liked VETOERS for “nay sayers” too.

CIA gave me FOCUSON. RADIOSEMEMOS? I’ll take it.


But I revisited RADIOSEMEMOS (radios e-memos) key in hand ADIOS.. ADIOS.. ADIOSAMIGOS! - cool cool cool!

I think AVULSE x AME was worth AQUA x SQUAD!

did not notice the meta-extra..

was fooled by the "Naut. heading" thought it must be.... nautical. put in LEE which wedged in OK with NEILS and GEC to my eye... but was wrong. the abv. should have told me.


Anonymous 1:57 AM  

@Liquid el lay

Just read your RADAR RANGE as RAD ARRANGE...I must learn to parse partials (parshals?) better!

Loved your story! Loved the alert, but I swear I'm trying to reform, so try not to rub it in!

Kevin said the AME/AVULSE was his cross and never thought twice about it!

Anonymous 2:19 AM  

Unrelated to the crossword, Rex Parker was sort of referenced by the Jim Rome show this week (as "some dude who does crosswords") as the nationally syndicated sports talk show host is on a run of interviewing sports figures named Rex and is trying to keep going with other Rex's. That's when someone apparently e-mailed the show and suggested RP. If you have any desire to be on a sports talk show, they would probably take you. He's a decent interviewer.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Five weeks later -- the time lapse must skew the areas of difficulty. I didn't have much trouble with AME. It was my first guess. I did abandon it for a while when some of the others words weren't coming. My error was in the SW. I couldn't decide OZAWA or AZAWA and not being familiar with EMO I chose incorrectly.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  


Rock genre = emo? ?

- - Robert

Waxy in Montreal 5:36 PM  

@Anonymous endashes Robert

Had never heard of EMO as a rock genre either but here's what Wiki has to say -
Emo (pronounced /ˈiːmoʊ/) is a style of rock music typically characterized by melodic musicianship and expressive, often confessional lyrics. It originated in the mid-1980s hardcore punk movement of Washington, D.C., where it was known as "emotional hardcore" or "emocore" and pioneered by bands such as Rites of Spring and Embrace. As the style was echoed by contemporary American punk bands, its sound and meaning shifted and changed, blending with pop punk and indie rock and encapsulated in the early 1990s by groups such as Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate. By the mid 1990s numerous emo acts emerged from the Midwestern and Central United States, and several independent record labels began to specialize in the style.

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