Ancient Jordanian city with rock carvings — SUNDAY, Aug. 9 2009 — Bone receptacle / Common setting in Indiana Jones movie / Entertainer Bela

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Constructors: Patrick Blindauer and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Made For TV-Movies"
— 5 grid-spanning answers are wacky, hypothetical shows; each answer is made up of an existing TV show and an existing movie linked together by a shared word

Word of the Day: ESTIVAL (25A: Summery)

Of, relating to, or appearing in summer.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin aestīvālis, from aestīvus, from aestās, summer.]


A very clever and very easy puzzle from two of my favorite constructors. Theme answers were few, but enormous, and easy to get with only a handful of crosses in place. When you can throw 21-letter answers across the grid with relative ease, the rest of the puzzle is sure to follow. All the titles involved in the TV-Movies were very well known to me, with CITY OF ANGELS being the only one I had any uncertainty about (I knew the title well, but wasn't sure if I remembered the movie in question — it's the Meg Ryan / Nicolas Cage vehicle from a few years back). The only resistance this puzzle provided came at the very end, in the far SW, where neither TANAKA (124A: Tomoyuki _____, creator of Godzilla) nor PETRA (98A: Ancient Jordanian city with rock carvings) came readily. Appropriately (for this puzzle), I was saved by TV (albeit TV I've never watched): was able to guess "The TEXAN" for 100D: Old TV western starring Rory Calhoun, with "The" and knew ELENA Verdugo well from ... well, from crosswords, frankly (99D: "Marcus Welby, M.D." actress Verdugo). The ELO clue was oddly not a gimme — took me some time to piece together the letter reversal in the title "OLE ELO" (107A: "_____ ELO" (1976 album)). But that little patch was the only place I really had to work. Otherwise, a breezy, ESTIVAL puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 22A: Dirt-dishing lass who's been cut off? (Gossip Girl, Interrupted)
  • 44A: Dad is familiar with top Broadway star? (Father Knows Best in Show)
  • 66A: Actor Joel's crime scene analysis? (Grey's Anatomy of a Murder)
  • 90A: One-quarter of a mourning lacrosse team? (Two and a Half Men in Black)
  • 113A: Hollywood hanky-panky? (Sex and the City of Angels)

Theme answers are odd in that they are 4/5 modern (either still on the air or produced within the past decade or so), and 1/5 old — half a century old, in fact. "Father Knows Best" ran from 1954-60, and "Anatomy of a Murder" is exactly 50 years old this year.

There weren't an inordinate number of names in the puzzle, but when they came, they came in bursts. The SW corner, I've covered. There's also the potentially vexing little niche in the NW where PELE (28A: Star of football, to most of the world) and FLECK (38A: Entertainer Bela) come across LETT (30D: Mikhail Baryshnikov, by birth). The FLECK clue took me longer than it should have because the tell-tale banjo was left out of the clue. Had me thinking Bartok and Lugosi and Abzug and Karoly ... Fixed it all pretty quickly, though.


  • 1A: Explorer who has a monetary unit named after him (Balboa) — small hiccup here at the beginning, as I did not know this, and then put in LUG for 1D: Tote (bag).
  • 20A: Notre Dame cry ("Go Irish") — had GMT at first for 11D: Prime meridian std. (GST), which made the Notre Dame cry look like it ended in "MH." Worried that it might be some foreign exclamation featured in Victor Hugo's novel or something equally obscure.
  • 36A: Wayne _____ (Gotham City abode) (Manor) — new Batman comic now out in bookstores called "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?," written by Neil Gaiman. About as good as a (super)hero comic has been in recent years. Smart, funny, imaginative, beautiful.
  • 58A: Epic poem written in dactylic hexameter (Iliad) — THE epic meter in both Greek and Latin.
  • 76A: Some depictions on a pyramid wall (gods) — much more basic answer than I was expecting.
  • 80A: Brand that's universally liked? (Sara Lee) — great clue. "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee."
  • 84A: Backyard briquettes (charcoal) — makes me want to see BRIQUETTES in a grid.
  • 87A: Red head, once? (Mao) — I'm sure I've seen this clue before, but it's still good.
  • 14D: Superhero with an octopus named Topo (Aquaman) — never heard of this octopus, but the fact that "octopus" is in the clue pretty much gives this one away. The only TOPO I know is GIGIO.
  • 24D: Beverage brewed from petals (rose tea) — I'm sure someone somewhere drinks this, but so far I've come across it only in crosswords.
  • 34D: Common setting in an Indiana Jones movie (library) — fantastic clue; probably my favorite of the puzzle. Completely misdirective, yet accurate. I was thinking LIBERIA or LIBYA or some such geographical setting, but no.
  • 55D: Noted rule maker (Hoyle) — quickly wrote in COYLE, probably because I just finished reading "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" by George V. Higgins (1970). Easily one of the five best crime novels ever written. Brilliant. If you like Elmore Leonard (or Quentin Tarantino, for that matter), you must read this book. Right now.
  • 68D: Colorado State, athletically (The Rams) — I'm writing this from just outside of Boulder, where the CU Buffs play.
  • 69D: Future presenters of the past (oracles) — great clue that took some time to sink in. ORACLES present the future, but they are features (predominantly) of literature from the past.
  • 93D: Something you love to play with (new toy) — YOURSELF didn't fit.
  • 105D: What traffic and dogs do (snarl) — no desire to think about snarling dogs right now. My shepherd/husky was mauled by a pitbull yesterday back in NY. She has many wounds, but is very lucky that her injuries weren't much worse. One of the bites was about an inch from her left eye.
  • 112D: Snick's partner (snee) — more things-seen-only-in-xwords.
  • 117D: Pill alternative, for short (IUD) — I wonder when the Times first decided that birth control was appropriate as a crossword answer... now, it seems like any other answer, but I imagine there was a time when mention of IUD might be seen as too indelicate or controversial.

And now your Puzzle Tweets of the Week (puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse):

  • ruthreichl Coffee and crossword at home, looking out at the river; feels like such incredible luxury.
  • whithicks Things that are addicting: crossword puzzles, vampire novels, sex, ice cream, Facebook, and Twitter. I think Twitter might be the worst.
  • electra126 Just got to write the word 'boob' in a crossword puzzle. It's a good way to start the morning. ^ ^
  • viswoman I got most of the puzzle without cheating and going to Rex Parker. Would help to know a lot about fraternities. Instead of nothing.
  • guentheralex Giving up on a crossword puzzle is an agonizing, gut-wrenching decision which never gets any easier
  • priehs At BGSU commencement. One faculty member is secretly doing a crossword. I see you!
  • soupisgood201 "its hard for me to do it orally" my mom said that about doing a crossword puzzle. Leigh ann says "thats what she said"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Announcement — two free puzzles you must do now! (or ... you know, when you have time)

Brendan Emmett Quigley and Matt Gaffney asked me to come up with ANY word or phrase I wanted, 10-15 letters long, to serve as the seed theme answer for puzzles that they both then constructed independently of one another (in a kind of crossword duel-to-the-death). I thought long and hard about what word/phrase I would give them. Finally chose something vivid, with lots of potential — it certainly yielded impressive (and highly divergent) theme results. You can solve both of the puzzles from this puzzle duel very easily, and for free. Brendan's puzzle is here. Matt Gaffney's puzzle is here. These are two of the best independent constructors in the business, and their work is more than worth your time and attention.


carmen 12:20 AM  

first sunday i did without help in awhile, so naturally i was digging it. two embarrassments: LIBERIA for LIBRARY and DOYLE for HOYLE (although I wanted to write HAMMURABI for the latter, honestly). no quibbles. admittedly, ABACI tripped me up for most of the puzzle (I took "Summers" to mean "Spends the summer," i.e. "Uncle Donald summers in Martha's Vineyard").

LAYS EGGS was my favorite

Bill from NJ 12:48 AM  


Sadly, George Higgins died a couple of years ago still in his prime. I read all of his work and suggest "Dreamland" and "The Judgement of Deke Hunter" after Eddie Coyle. Some of the best dialogue-driven novels ever written in the crime field and, arguably, any other field.

PuzzleGirl 1:18 AM  

Andrea and PB2 are a great team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Loved this smooth, elegant puzzle. Wish I could remember Lhasa APSO. I always want it to be IPSO because I'm thinking of ipso facto. Don't get me started on shih tzu.

I, too, loved the clue for LIBRARY. And my fave theme answer was TWO AND A HALF MEN IN BLACK.

Awesome awesome puzzle, you two. Nicely done!!

Crosscan 1:26 AM  

Very good puzzle, also very easy. My fastest Sunday ever.

Love the Justice League crossing of AQUAMAN and Wayne MANOR. I thought Topo was in the Legion of Super-Pets but no. For those unaware, here is the Wikipedia explanation:

The Legion of Super-Pets is a fictional team of super-powered pets in the Pre-Crisis DC Universe.

Most of that would take a long time to explain. "Fictional"? Really?

Krypto was a member.

I fear I've digressed a tad. Loved the puzzle. ACME and PATBLI rule!

dshafron 2:07 AM  

I am glad that our fearless leader liked this - it always makes me feel better when we agree. I too thought it was easy and fast, though I also fell into the LUG trap at 1D, and it didn't help when I changed it to TUG before coming up with the noun. Of all the theme answers, which were all easy, I have seen none of the TV shows, and have only seen "Best in Show," which I can watch over and over and still howl. There are few people funnier to me than Fred Willard, and I love Parker Posey more than Sara Lee! OK - I'll admit to a few random partial episodes of Sex and the City, watched under protest, while I was wooing my wife-to-be. I hope I don't offend anyone, but those were four of the whiniest and most pathetic women on the planet. No wonder they had relationship trouble...

On Friday, fikink urged me to see Bridge on the River Kwai, which I shall do, so if anyone feels I should rent any of the other films or TiVo any of the shows mentioned, please weigh in. I'm going to reserve "Eddie Coyle" at Rex's suggestion.

BTW - I've only seen the first Indian Jones movie, and I don't remember much except the huge ball and the burned hand - what's the deal with the library, and why is it Rex's favorite clue???

Thanks! Going to try MG's and BEQ's puzzles!

Madfoot 2:27 AM  

Augh! Augh!!! Why is this already posted? It says Saturday! I read it accidentally! My week is ruined!!

Yes I realize the grid is awfully big for a Saturday... I wasn't thinking. I shake my fist at you and your snappy entertaining prose, Rex Parker!

The Corgi of Mystery 3:56 AM  

Agree that this was both easy but highly entertaining. My one moment of counfoundment was staring at AB__I for "Summers" and feeling momentarily that a word like that just couldn't exist.

Greene 5:22 AM  

I concur. An easy, breezy puzzle which was just plain fun. I got into a SNARL down in the SE corner, but was saved by The TEXAN (Thanks Rory Calhoun).

Useless Musical Theatre Trivia of the Day: The SARA LEE jingle referenced by our esteemed puzzle constructors and Rex is by none other than Broadway composer Mitch Leigh, who wrote the score for Man of La Mancha and...well, a bunch of other shows you've probably never heard of (Cry For Us All, Sarava, Chu-Chem, and Home Sweet Homer...anyone?).

@dshafron: By all means check out Anatomy of a Murder, which is probably the best trial film I've ever seen -- with expert performances from Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara, Lee Remick, and more. The film has a deliciously jazzy soundtrack composed (mostly) by Duke Ellington who also has a cameo role.

JannieB 7:38 AM  

Congrats, ACME, on a long-overdue but most welcome return to the puzzle page. You and Patrick are a dynamite team and have given us a great summer's treat (that was such a sneaky clue I never did get it!).

Loved the theme answers and the straightforward but well-written clues. You gave Patrick credit for the grid, but your trademarks are all over it. Well done!!!

joho 8:30 AM  

Wow, what a perfect puzzle weekend! This is just what a Sunday should be with clever cluing and fresh, fun theme answers. I loved the clues for ABACI and SARALEE because both had me stymied for a time.

Carryover word from yesterday is SHALLOT ... how elegant and tasty just like the puzzle.

Thank you Andrea Carla Michaels and Patrick Blindauer!!!!

chefbea 8:40 AM  

WOW what a great puzzle. You two are a team!!! Lots of great clues and answers. Southwest was the hardest for me too.

Andrea... what a great meal we can make out of the puzzle
Charcoal for the grill ( for the main course)
served with rice pilaf
Sara Lee cheese cake for dessert
and to drink - rose tea
and we can call it a seder dinner!!!...well, not really

Haggis 8:59 AM  

All labourers draw hame at even.
And can to others say,
Thanks to the gracious God of heaven,
Whilk sent this summer day.

Of the Day Estival
Alexander Hume

retired_chemist 9:03 AM  

Very nice. Medium difficulty, with slowdowns all my own fault. Started 66A with MCCREA (does that date me or WHAT?), and didn’t catch that I was making his A do double duty for way too long. Also had ONE AND A HALF MEN @90A – shows that I don’t watch much TV. Those errors made the Bay Area most interesting (as does ACME of course).

Some writeovers: SNORTS/SNORES @ 7A instead of TWANGS, PET TOY [sic] @ 93D.

Some wonderful, eclectic fill: ESTIVAL, PETRA, OSSUARY, GO IRISH, and more. BALBOA a monetary unit? Who knew? ABACI – clued superbly.

@ PuzzleGirl re shih tzu - I will never forget Fred Willard in Best in Show saying, “That doesn‘t roll trippingly off your tongue, does it?”

All in all, a fun solve. Thanks, Patrick and ACME.

HudsonHawk 9:06 AM  

Lots of fun. Loved the clues for IUD and PFFT. I had RIDER before RIATA for "It's thrown from a horse".

Anonymous 9:07 AM  


Was excited to hear about the new Batman comic co-authored by Neil Gaiman. I do not usually read comic books but Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite contemporary authors so I will check it out. Particularly loved "American Gods," "Anansi Boys," and "Neverwhere" in that order.

Add my vote to those who loved this clever and fun puzzle. I was only stuck on the ABACI - SARALEE cross. Otherwise smooth sailing. Favorite theme answer was TWO AND A HALF MEN IN BLACK.

jae in ispswich 9:10 AM  

What everyone else said. Easy delightful fun puzzle. Tried REPEATED and GIVEUP but no other real problems. Great job PB and ACM.

Barry S 9:20 AM  

A perfect Sunday puzzle! Great theme entries and a pleasure to solve. Thanks Patrick and ACME.

jae in ipswich 9:24 AM  

BTW here is a link to Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, Steve Martin, et. al. playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown. I think they won a grammy for this one.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  


Meg 9:38 AM  

The only place I got stuck was PFFT. Is that an abbreviation or is it the noise you make when you are stuck on a clue?

I always thought POSIT was "put forward for consideration", so I've learned a new definition.

Did BEQ and Matt's puzzles on Friday. What were you thinking, Rex? Jack Nicholson?

foodie 9:48 AM  

Like a day at the beach! I loved it!

It did two amazing things for Sunday-- it never felt like a slog, and the theme answers actually sound like real sentences! Some are straightforward and others are funny-- e.g. TWO AND A HALF MEN IN BLACK : )

Adding to the feeling of cohesion is that so much of the non-theme material is TV and movie-related-- it creates an atmosphere.

And I always love seeing PETRA in the puzzle-- an amazing place!

Rex, I was sure OSSUARY would be the word of the day! And LOL re YOURSELF...

Wonderful, delightful Sunday Puzzle! Thank you Patrick and Andrea!

PlantieBea 9:53 AM  

Thanks ACME and Patrick for this fun Sunday puzzle! Ended with an error of ELENE/TENAKI. Doh! Should have known better. I enjoyed the range of cluing and answers--from Joyce to Gossip Girl, shallot to okra, Pele to Fighting Irish...great Sunday fun.

ArtLvr 10:08 AM  

Delughtful... thanks Andrea and Patrick! Couldn't think of PETRA for a moment, even with the Rock in the clue; ABACI and CDE clues were very funny.

One nit -- I knew HOYLE was wanted at 55D, though I think the clue is inaccurate -- Compiler of rules, yes, but not the Maker of the rules?


John 10:33 AM  

Remembered PETRA from a recent puzzle, also remembered TEXAN as a kid. so the SW was only a little problem.

Can you imagine the result if they really combined the movie and the show??
The mind Boggles!!

Loved the entire puzzle! Had a ton of fun solving it!

Thanks for the great sunday morning you two!!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

BALBOA (1a) popped right in for me. I got hung up for a while on 49d, where I entered ANTONY.

What on earth is th e connection between ABACI, and summers (71d)?

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

An abacus is used to add or sum; hence, ABACI are SUMMERS.

Joe, in Montreal 11:08 AM  

Snick might be only in crosswordland but I thought of the Mikado and snickersnee.

A nice puzzle but I have a question. Briny is an adjective; SEA is a noun. How is SEA the solution for briny? It seems like giving the clue 'red' for an answer APPLE.

Ulrich 11:09 AM  

For someone as TV-deprived as I am, the puzzle did not fall THAT easily--had to construct almost all theme answers laboriously cross-by-cross and then make some educated guesses. But once the answers emerged, they turned out to be clever and made sense, in a funny way, in their own right, all of them. So, what else can I say that hasn't been said yet?

Ulrich 11:12 AM  

--oh, and @Joe: I looked it up and found online the following:

the briny Informal the sea

Joe, in Montreal 11:20 AM  

thanks Ulrich; then perhaps the clue should have been The briny, to indicate a particular use (and perhaps restricted; I am from Nova Scotia and never heard 'the briny' without 'deep' after it).

Joe, in Montreal 11:21 AM  

... or 'the briny ocean tossed'...

chefbea 11:27 AM  

How could I have forgotten the okra sauteed with shallots???

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

straightforward but why is 84D "B train?" CDE?

bookmark 11:42 AM  

Wasn't PETRA in one of the Indiana Jones movies

Stan 11:42 AM  

Classy, sly, summery fun puzzle, solved outside (near the bag of briquettes), with much silly grinning. As someone else said, a perfect Sunday morning.

Thanks Patrick and Andrea!

Swedish-sounding Doug 11:43 AM  

Awesome puzzle, ACME & PB2! Great theme, super fill, and fun clues. Can't ask for much more. You guys rock.

@Crosscan - The Legion of Super-Pets is pretty cool, but the SPCA (Space Canine Patrol Agents) are the real deal. From Wikipedia:

"Their battle cry and sacred oath, with which they began all meetings, was

Big dog, big dog, bow, wow, wow!
We'll stop evil, now, now, now!"

PlantieBea 11:49 AM  

@anon: The letters C, D, and E follow the letter B in the alphabet, hence "the train".

retired_chemist 12:05 PM  

@ Joe in Montreal - Briny as used is in essence metonymic - the substitution of an attribute for the thing itself. I take your point that it is technically incorrect, not being the same part of speech, but I think some liberties are OK for figures of speech. Didn't bother me.


Glitch 12:08 PM  


Please pass the sea salt, I prefer it to table salt.


bookmark 12:10 PM  

Checked IMDB for Indiana Jones movies. PETRA was one of the settings in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." (1989)

Sorry about the missing question mark in my earlier post.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Lovely puzzle; fun, funny, everything. The theme answers are great. Thankyou Patrick and ACME. I look forward to more!
Rex, the 93D comment was LOL awesome. Excuse me, I must finish cleaning coffee off my keyboard.

Shark 12:17 PM  

5 stars out of 5! Very elegant puzzle with clean fill. Five 21-letter theme answers are just perfect for this breezy Sunday. Kudos!

mccoll 12:30 PM  

Gotter dun! This was quick and easy for a Sunday. One google produced Mila Kundera and Bob's your uncle. I enjoyed this one and it didn't take long. Thanks to PB and ACM and, of course to RP. I liked many of the comments which seemed to focus on the puzzle rather than other "stuff" Great clues, too. Summers for ABACI and ORATED I liked particularly.
@Haggis - great stuff from the dour Scot - pastoral; even bucolic.

Leon 12:44 PM  

Thank you Patrick Blindauer and Andrea Carla Michaels. A summer treat.

Noticed lots of answers that ended in A or O.

Criterion recently put out The Friends of Eddie Coyle on DVD. Mitchum was great in it.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Re unhinted abbreviations (from yesterday):

If 64D "Real-time e-notes" (IMs) isn't an abbreviation, I don't know WTF is.

(IM = Instant Message)

Perhaps the clue is that the "e-" prefix in "e-notes" (a word I've never heard) is short for "electronic" but WTF anyway!

Good puzzle, but
Grrr anyway. :-)

Larry from the lair

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

I have never heard of GST- does it mean Greenwich Standard Time? But "standard" is abbreviated in the clue... "Greenwich Mean Time" or "Greenwich Meridian Time" is all I ever learned in astophysics class. Sadly, THEY are trying to change it to "Universal Time" (as if there isn't enough anthrocentricity in life).

Lili 1:31 PM  

Surprisingly easy, considering that I no longer watch much television. At least I'd HEARD of the shows in question.

"Summers" for "abaci" had me stumped for a bit, and I slightly objected to "kaput" for "pfft". Loved "estival" and "ossuary" -- beautiful words, and the adjectival form of "summer" in Italian is "estivo" -- a word I've always liked for some reason.

61 down involved one of my pet peeves. Poli Sci is a major in itself, and there is no such major as "pre-law." Unlike aspiring med students, people who hope to attend law school don't have to take any particular set of courses, and they can major in anything, from Anthropology to Zoology. I really cringe when I hear people say they are "pre-law." It doesn't mean anything except that they hope to become lawyers someday.

Forgive the rant.

PhillySolver 1:39 PM  

Does anyone else remember Wendy Schweiger's xword blog, 'I esitavte therefore I am?'

She had a very nice style on crosswords and she still posts about music in a knowledgeable fashion.

edith b 1:40 PM  

Congratulations, Andrea and Patrick, for an enjoyable Sunday puzzle. I really liked the combination of TV and movies as a theme.

Simple but sophisticated. Perfect for a Sunday morning!

Andrea Patrick Michaels 1:41 PM  

I accidentally opened to the middle of Rex's blog (I had borrowed someone's iphone and didn't know how to work the thingie where you make it wider with your fingers...creepy!)
and first words I saw were
"smart, funny, imaginative, beautiful" and thought OHMYGOD!

But then I realized he was talking about a BAtman comic book! HAH! Serves me right!!!!

Anyway, of course I'm thrilled by all the comments...I'm assuming the nay-sayers are out enjoying the sun! :)

Running off to a Scrabble tournament, will check in later.
Will S was visiting here and I had to ask HIM to explain the ABACI clue to ME!

Love you guys!

fikink 1:56 PM  

Was it Spalding Gray who was always searching for that perfect moment when everything coalesces into the grand experience? That was this puzzle for us in Iowa this morning. Great fun blended with our comic strip puff clouds and Bass Ale brunch - we had what we used to call, "a panic"!

Since Andrea is a self-proclaimed cougar, I tried to convince the men that the answer to 93down was BOYTOY, but the FIL said even the heretic Will Shortz would not have allowed that.

We all have tears in our eyes from such fun (and, maybe, such drink). Thank you, Patrick and Andrea, for making this one of the most enjoyable Sunday brunches this year.

Denise 2:01 PM  

Today we cheered the 10,000 runners at the Falmouth Road Race. The elite runners go whizzing by, and then, more than an hour later, the race ends.

Like us puzzlers -- we just try to do the best that we can, a little faster and a little surer.

They have their sport and we have ours.

still_learnin 2:13 PM  

A perfect ESTIVAL Sunday puzzle. What a great way to start the day! Thank you Patrick and Andrea.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Did the Gaffney Quiggley puzzles. Hope you will blog them. Or give us the seed phrase sometime.

dk 2:19 PM  

Oh Andrea................. I BESEECH thee: More Sundays.

Pandering to Mr. Shortz with the WILLPOWER fill was a little over the top. And, ESTIVAL is at present being dissed by my spell checker.

Fine puzzle with plenty of fun fill. As a Godzilla fan TANAKA was a favorite and as one of ACMEs non-cougarish conquests I used to watch the TEXAN.

So would a Patrick B and Andrea M duo be Pacman or Blam?

XMAN 2:22 PM  

Fun to do, quick to be done.

@Meg: I think POSIT for 'surmise' is more than a ghost-hair off. I mean, there's a shade in the dictionary that just about almost includes 'surmise', but doesn't quite.
That's my opinion anyway.

Nice puzzle ACME and Patrick!

JeffW from VA 2:40 PM  

So how does this work for a collaboration? Does one person come up with the theme and another does the grid? Or, one does the Down clues, the other Across?

Patrick and Andrea, would love the behind-the-scenes story of how this wonderful puzzle was created.

[Newbie interested in construction]

Shamik 2:54 PM  

Lovely to have an easy puzzle...13:13 for me second fastest Sunday. And it was a smooth puzzle, to boot!

@chefbea: Because sauteed okra, with anything, sounds do-able, but unappealing. Okra has to be cooked by a person who really knows how to cook it properly to make it palatable. My friend's mother from Knoxville is knowledgable. I am not.

Shamik 2:55 PM  

@anonymous 2:14 pm: That would be cheating! Seed phrase will be world known on Friday.

Mike the Wino 3:05 PM  

A wonderful puzzle, thoroughly enjoyed! My one glitch was that my brain could only see "barnyard briquettes" at 84A, so I was thinking all kinds of scatological nonsense. Doh!

@Rex, sorry to hear about your dog. I hope she'll be okay!

Robert 3:14 PM  

I highly recommend the Patrick Berry puzzle that appears as the second puzzle in today's NYT. It is an unbelievable feat of construction that is guaranteed to amaze.

chefwen 3:15 PM  

On Saturdays blog I posted "sure hope Sundays puzzle makes me smile" or something like that, and indeed it did. Was smiling throughout the whole puzzling experience. The only thing I googled was that NYRO lady, never heard of her and wasn't sure about the OSSUARY, I'll have to look that up.

Does "like an ass" EQUINE sound like Acme, or what?

Great puzzle, thank you Acme and Patrick.

Meg 3:24 PM  


If you complete both puzzles, you'll know what the seed phrase is. It's not a particularly profound phrase, just something that was interpreted quite differently by both constructors.

Personally, okra always looked slimy to me and definitely unappetizing, but I didn't grow up in the south, so I'll assume there's a better way to cook it.

PlantieBea 3:37 PM  

At the risk of making this a blog all about okra, I must step up to defend them. They are very easy to cook--either dust them with flour or cornmeal and salt, and fry them in olive oil; or, stick them on a skewer, rub them with oil, and grill. The secret, IMO, is selecting small okra that are not woody or stringy, and cooking them over medium high heat to brown the skin. They will not be slimy. They are also very delicious when pickled in a spicy BRINE. All three of my northern born children and their father love to eat Okra.

Stan 3:44 PM  

Yes, best wishes for the speedy recovery of your dog, @Rex. From everyone here, I'm sure.

treedweller 3:59 PM  

I got stuck on the ABACI/MILAN/CAB/SARALEE area and finally had to google. I was trying for "cut" instead of CAB, which almost gave me ABACI, but I repeatedly considered, then rejected it. Finally understood when I read @carmen above (even though she didn't explain--go figure).

I'm getting over the "product placement" aspect of WS-era puzzles, but using a ad tagline as the clue, thus implying it is fact, still rankles, even with the "?"

Otherwise, a fun puzzle, though I wasn't as taken with the theme answers as others seem to be.

@ArtLvr I agree, HOYLE clue seems off.

@Rex and Bill from NJ
The local library has lost Coyle, but I just reserved Dreamland. After this site turned me on to Stark/Westlake (I have a few of his on loan now) and convinced me to finally try Chandler, I am determined to listen when such recommendations are made.

Rex Parker 4:05 PM  

In Apple store in Boulder on MacBook pro of my dreams.

That is all.


chefbea 4:17 PM  

I love okra - slimy or not.

Heavens - do I have to change my avatar again???

Jodi Cohen 4:41 PM  

oh dear, all i can think about is your dog! who cares about the puzzle... well, you know what i mean. best healing to your pooch.

JC66 4:50 PM  

@Lurking Larry

cld b du 2 the fact imers rite like this (-;

foodie 5:13 PM  

Rex, you're a man of perfect taste! That is all.

pauer 5:14 PM  

Thanks for the sweet comments and write-up. Thought you might enjoy seeing some unused theme entries (some of which are Made for Movies-TV):

Special thanks to Acme for the collaboration. We sure had some fun on this one!


chefbea 5:29 PM  

@Robert Thanks for mentioning Patrick Berry's puzzle. Have started it. Quite amazing

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

Loved it, and not just b/c I could solve it! Ended with only one error: FLACK/LATT, which, knowing neither, seemed reasonable to me.

I'm thinkin' Charlie Sheen should call Tommy Lee Jones about making a guest appearance. It could be a Jake/comic book/dream type thingie. Or maybe Jake could be the alien TLJ is looking for?

Chip Hilton 6:34 PM  

Why is a Latvian called a Lett?
You can explain it, but I'm sure I'll forget.

PIX 6:37 PM  

Why is one quarter of a lacrosse team two and a half men? Can't women play lacrosse?

Ulrich 6:55 PM  

@Chip: In some languages, Latvia is called Lettland, and I'm sure that's where the name comes from.

@PIX: This is but one instance of a clue being more general than the answer. I always have to remind myself when I'm ready to protest that it passes the substitution test--so, I wouldn't read more into it, and certainly not with ACME signing off on it.

foodie 7:46 PM  

@pauer and acme

I think your leftovers are wonderful!!




in particular! It must feel a bit sad to let go of such lovely entries... But it shows that the theme material had a great deal of depth, and I can imagine that it was a lot of fun to come up with all of these combos!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:02 PM  

Who says it has to be hard to be enjoyable. That said, Blindy: WTF? You shoulda gone 23x and used DIRTY DANCING WITH THE STARS. A+

ChemProf 8:29 PM  

Great stuff. Solved part of it sitting in my office at the home of THERAMS. :)

Anne 9:00 PM  

At this late hour, I assume I can say anything I want since probably no one will read it. I haven't posted since Tuesday even though I did all the puzzles - because I didn't have time to read all the comments. When I go back to read the comments, I always read the last one first and go backwards. Many times I find it to be a quite interesting mystery - as in what the heck are they talking about and why.

Anyway, congrats @Andrea/Patrick. It was a fun Sunday and I don't seem to say that often enough anymore.

@Rex, I am so sorry about your dog. What a terrible thing to happen.

PGubanc 9:27 PM  

Rex, I hope your dog is okay! Paws crossed for complete healing.

Glitch 9:36 PM  


You get bonus points for not posting until you've read (IMO).

And you can, indeed, say what you want, but don't think everyone has gone for the day.

There's not only the left coast, but those "syndicators" a couple of weeks behind.

Check back in the morning to see who has followed us.

And again in about 5 weeks ;-)


dk 9:47 PM  

Rex, what is the Macbook pro of your dreams. I need/want to replace my G4.

@ANNE, Hi many of us read late but don't post. So we got your back.... in a manner of speaking.

@Andrea, just what will you do with all of this praise.

chefwen 10:59 PM  

Rex and family, I hope your poor, injured, pet heals rapidly. What a horrific thing to go through, especially as you are away.

ArtLvr 11:22 PM  

@ treedweller: Thanks for agreeing about the HOYLE!

@ pauer: Loved your unused theme entries -- great bonus fun that you shared those too...

@ rex: Please keep us posted on your pup? People shouldn't try to make pets of pitbulls or their ilk.


Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Did this on the beach at Pt Lookout NY. Was alt of fun. My sister in law did the People Magazine puzzle as she sat next to me. I kept asking her if she wanted to take a crack at it. She was too intimidated and declined. When I was done I showed her the theme and some of the curveballs (ABACI, CDE, HAIRDO, etc...). She was duly amazed at the construction and how anyone could ever come up with ABACI for "Summers"

XMAN 12:46 AM  

Rex: I know my Daisy would suffer terribly from such an attack. I hope your darling pup recovers from the emotional as well as the physical trauma. Pit-bulls should probably be outlawed (but then only outlaws would have pit-bulls).

andrea vanna michaels 1:11 AM  

Ha! Well there goes our "Made for TV movies Part Deux"...

@jeffW from VA
re: collaboration

I was reminded of all the fun we had when I saw Patrick had posted the discards...

We've made about 6 or 8 puzzles together (two other Sunday-sized ones made it to the WSJ)

Each collaboration is totally different. If I remember correctly for this one, there was lots of brainstorming...
Once you have a list, you want them to all be consistent, eg TV first, movies second...
If possible, all well known, to both men and women...young and old, not too niche, major networks, or if two different eras can be combined.

Obviously, we wanted them to be fun/ny...and be easily defined in a non-tortured way.
SO you get a big list and THEN they have to have the right amount of letters and be paired, etc.

It was serendipity that 5 were an exact 21...and don't think we weren't reluctant to give up DIRTYDANCINGWITHTHESTARS, but that was too long and didn't follow the TV-first-then-movie rule.

Then you need a good title that gives an accurate hint.

(Most important, you need a Patrick to be able to make the grid!)

I'm more into ideas and I've been "told" my clues are too easy
(read: OK, they suck).
I'm Miss Monday, what can I do?
(Tho I think I took a first pass at writing them).
All the ones folks raved about are Patrick's...
(at best I do reeling in work if they get way Too Clever by Half... the original name of my naming company!)

It's hard to comb out who does what, suffice to say Patrick does a lot more of the heavy lifting...but I hope it's a gestalt-type of thing where together we keep bumping each other up to the next level.

Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to create a Sunday and Patrick (and Will!) made that dream come true :)

Does that answer your question?

By the way, I LOVE before/after stuff.
That is how I won a $50,000 motorhome + cash and prizes on "Wheel of Fortune" 20 years ago!
(2D ANO was a tribute to that!)

The first puzzle was
(my first spin was $1000, which in '89 was the highest amount on the wheel.
I guessed "T", there were FIVE...and just like that, boom! $5000!!!!!)

I had never even heard of SALT SUBSTITUTE...Sugar substitute, yes.
but Salt?!
The final puzzle was "BAJA CALIFORNIA HERE I COME"

The gal on the end had done ALL the work and had _A_A CALIFORNIA HERE I COME and guessed P!!!!
It became my turn...and the rest, is herstory.
So, 20 years later, I have spun the wheel on another before and after puzzle...
Tho this time the Pat was Patrick Blindauer, not Sajak!

fergus 2:29 AM  

Did this in tandem with Taiko drummers pounding, and only occasionally got into the consensual beat. I even had Beantnik for the One who loves Pick-ups.

Got it all eventually, but with a bit of annoyance at my own closing mind in the South Carolina region. The puzzlers are crafty enough to have keyed the most unyielding region in that unyielding fashion.

Best Sunday puzzle in a while, though I was one who liked the Greek letters.

normadesmond 5:39 PM  

what, no link to something Laura Nyro?

Dave92127 1:51 PM  

Someone please explain HACK / CAB.

XMAN 2:47 PM  

@Dave92127: A hack is a coach or carriage let out for hire (see hack writer), hence a taxicab.

choirwriter 3:03 PM  

Well, I just want to say, with gratitude, that this is the FIRST Sunday puzzle I have completed in my life! I loved it. We got it a week late in our paper, and without a theme title attached (nor credit for the authors! Grr). Made it fun to come here, though, and read the 500 gazillion comments from everyone about it.

I give credit for my success to Rex and Orange and Puzzle Girl at LA Confidential for their tips and great commentaries that have encouraged me not to give up so easily on xwords. Now I am enjoying them and looking forward to the daily analysis! Thanks, all of you.

Rex, my cat, although normally extremely anti-dog, still sends her sympathies to you and your goggie, and best wishes for a quick healing.

Raymond 12:46 AM  

As per usual, puzzle is a week late out here in beautiful, downtown Juarez. Got to agree with Norma Desmond -- I was looking for a Laura Nyro link. Bela Fleck Live at the Quick would have been pretty cool, too. Saludos...

steve 12:00 PM  

I liked the answer "lay eggs," but don't both bees and birds do it? I think all insects do.

Rob From Brooklyn Originally 2:52 PM  

Don't understand why fourth of September answer is "tee". I'm thinking fourth hole in golf but what does that have to do with September?

XMAN 3:28 PM  

@RobfromBrooklynOriginally: Count in from the S and you'll get your wish.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP