2008 Pixar robot — WEDNESDAY, Sep. 30 2009 — Monopoly avenue in light-blue group / Bull on glue bottles / Copacabana locale

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: 19th-century writers from CONCORD, MA — theme answers are four 19th-century American writers. "Note" on the puzzle explains: "When the puzzle is done, the circled letters will spell, from top to bottom, the name of the town where all the people in this puzzle's theme once lived."

Word of the Day: Arthur Godfrey (16A: Arthur Godfrey's instrument, informally => UKE)Arthur Morton Leo Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. No television personality of the 1950s enjoyed more clout or fame than Godfrey until an on-camera incident undermined his folksy image and triggered a gradual decline; the then-ubiquitous Godfrey helmed two CBS-TV weekly series and a daily 90-minute television mid-morning show through most of the decade but by the early 1960s found himself reduced to hosting an occasional TV special. Arguably the most prominent of the medium's early master commercial pitchmen, he was strongly identified with one of his many sponsors, Lipton Tea. (wikipedia)


Circling arbitrary letters? Can I connect them and make a picture? A picture of Massachusetts? Why one "C" and on the other? The one in "ICILY" and not the one in "OCTAD?" I guess that since the circled letter bit really isn't intrinsic to the solving of the puzzle, I shouldn't judge it too harshly, but finding the letters, C, O, N, C, O, R, D, M, A from top to bottom in any given grid is not going to be hard. I can find all of them, in order, in just the top half of yesterday's grid, for instance. The base theme of four authors whose names fit neatly and symmetrically inside the grid is otherwise just OK. The CONCORD, MA trivia does make it hang together much more nicely than the simple fact of their all being 19th-century writers alone would have. But the circled letters sloppily strewn about the grid are aesthetically unappealing.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: With 6- and 22-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • 24A: With 53-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • 39A: Noted 19th-century writer (Louisa May Alcott)
  • 70A: With 71- and 55-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Henry David Thoreau)

I'm not a 19th-century literature expert by any means, but the very familiar (and long) author names made the puzzle pretty easy to zip through. I tripped a bit in the middle putting up OCEANIA instead of EURASIA (28D: Superstate in Orwell's "1984"), and for some (ironic?) reason, couldn't find the end of WHINY to save my life (for a few moments, anyway). Clue on RYE (69A: Alternative to white) was deceptive enough that I had to stop tearing through the puzzle and think for a minute — a not unwelcome event on a Wednesday (litotes!). Not a fan of two partials in the same grid both beginning with indefinite article "A" (A PAIR, A LIE). And YEOW, that's some spelling on YEOW (41D: "That hurts!"). Seen it before, but still not sure how it differs in sound / meaning from "YOW." Maybe you hold the "E" sound longer.

Speaking of OCEANIA, which I was, my thoughts and good wishes go out to the people of Samoa who were devastated by the tsunami that apparently struck while I was sleeping. Lots of Samoans in my wife's native New Zealand and in Los Angeles and other American communities. News of the tsunami was how NPR decided to wake me up this morning.


  • 27D: Bullet point (item) — ceci n'est pas un bullet point.
  • 32A: The Bakkers' old ministry, for short (PTL) — had the -TL and was ready to drop "S" or "A" in there before ever looking at the clue. This is why you look at clues.
  • 35A: Subject of a Debussy piece (mer) — as in "LA Mer." Heard some beautiful Debussy etudes on "Performance Today" yesterday. This is the guy who was playing:

  • 62A: 2008 Pixar robot (Wall-E) — ... said the constructor who works for Pixar. Product placement!
  • 59A: Bull on glue bottles (Elmer) — his weirdly proud mug is familiar in this house, as daughter is constantly doing "projects" that involve cutting, gluing, etc.
  • 1D: Copacabana locale (Rio) — Why did I always imagine that the story in the song took place in the U.S.? "North of Havana!" There must be more than one.
  • 7D: TV's Kwik-E-Mart clerk (Apu) — I would also have accepted Sanjay, Homer, or James Woods.
  • 10D: Monopoly avenue in the light-blue group (Oriental) — Either VERMONT or CONNECTICUT would have fit the Northeastern theme better.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

PS Celebrity crossword enthusiast and breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate is the 2009 Ambassador for Lee National Denim Day (this Friday, Oct. 2, 2009), a day to raise awareness about breast cancer issues as well as raise money for the Women's Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), including Christina's own foundation, Right Action For Women. They're asking for $5 donations. I'm giving a little more. Go here to donate. Thanks.


TUESDAY, Sep. 29 2009 — War aid program passed by Congress in 1941 / Irish Rose's beau / Big chipmaker / Osprey's claw

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: AT SEA (71A: Clueless ... or where the answers to this puzzle's starred clues were all first used)

Word of the Day: LEND-LEASE (8D: War aid program passed by Congress in 1941) — Lend-Lease (Public Law 77-11)[1] was the name of the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, France and other Allied nations with vast amounts of war material between 1941 and 1945 in return for, in the case of Britain, military bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, and the British West Indies. It began in March 1941, over 18 months after the outbreak of the war in September 1939. It was called An Act Further to Promote the Defense of the United States. This act also ended the pretense of the neutrality of the United States. Hitler recognized this and consequently had his submarines attack US ships such as the SS Robin Moor, an unarmed merchant steamship destroyed by a German U-boat on 21 May, 1941 outside of the war zone. (wikipedia)


This was a fun puzzle to solve, but as I was solving, I had no idea what the longer phrases had to do with one another. They sounded kinda slangy, but their connection seemed tenuous. Then (as if by design ...) I hit the final Across clue at the very end of my solve, and all became clear. "Huh ... interesting." The concept seems a bit straightforward, since there's no wordplay and nothing binding the phrases except the very general fact of their nautical origins, BUT ... I do love repurposed crosswordese, and this has to be the best use to which AT SEA has ever been put in a crossword puzzle. Further, the idiomatic theme phrases are all colorful, and there are crammed CHOCKABLOCK inside the grid, so high marks for construction prowess. The non-theme fill is kind of dire, but the fine execution of the theme mostly makes up for this.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Dangerously unpredictable sort (loose cannon)
  • 11D: *Likely to happen (in the offing)
  • 39A: *Junk (deep-six) — I always get this phrase confused with "eighty-six," which also means to "junk" or "scrap" something (originally, unwanted clientele at Chumley's bar in N.Y. — oh no, that's wrong. Dang. Leave it to World Wide Words to shed a light on the origins of idiomatic expressions: see note on "eighty-six" here).
  • 25D: *Jammed (chock-a-block)
  • 61A: *Inviolable, as rules (hard and fast)

Same basic grid shape as yesterday — or rather, same theme answer placement, with each theme answer relegated to a corner with an extra theme answers stuck in the middle, only this time that middle answer has long answers running through it connecting it to other theme answers. So it's actually a somewhat more restrictive grid than yesterday's, and that shows in the non-theme fill, which is decidedly sub-Gamache. Leaving aside crosswordese, there's a lot of suboptimal stuff:

  • ALKA
  • EPI
  • CPI
  • NONONO (OK, it's fun to say, but it's not much of an answer)
  • IFAT (I think I said this after finishing off daughter's birthday cake this past weekend)
  • XII
  • TADAS (really? More than one?)
  • TSA
  • AAH
  • AWEE

One thing I will say about NONONO and AAH — they make for interesting parts of the puzzle's lone sex scene: "NO NO NO, HARD AND FAST! AAH ... OH YES." I would add that HARDANDFAST, AAH, and OH YES are interpenetrating, but that would be overkill.


  • 1A: Moth-repellent closet material (cedar) — tripped on this, since I was looking for the material that moth balls are made of, and not the material that the closet itself is made of.
  • 6A: Osprey's claw (talon) — lots of raptors up near the woods where we walk every day. Doubt there are ospreys, though, since they are sea hawks and we are quite far from the sea. Mostly we get ... land hawks. And owls.
  • 38A: Sleuth, slangily (tec) — no one really says this. It should be put in the moth-repellent closet.
  • 56A: Three-stripers (sgts.) — a fine abbrev., but part of the worst section of this grid: the far east. VIENNA is By Far the prettiest thing over there (50A: _____ Boys' Choir).
  • 4D: Marketers' "language" (adspeak) — I like this a lot. I'm working my way through season 1 of "Mad Men," all about the advertising industry in 1960. Great stuff.
  • 13D: Roster at the Oscars (stars) — "roster?" I had SLATE.
  • 22D: Collette of "The Sixth Sense" (Toni) — speaking of the Oscars ... I mean the Emmys, TONI Collette just won one for "The United States of Tara," which hardly anyone has seen 'cause it's on "Showtime." The fact that TONI Collette is a great actress only somewhat mitigates my anger at the failure of the Emmy voters to give the award to Ms. Applegate of the unjustly canceled "Samantha Who?"
  • 24D: Big chipmaker (Intel) — computer chips, not tortilla chips.
  • 47D: Healthful claim on labels (less fat) — lots of trouble interpreting this one quickly, for some reason. Plural "labels" might have been part of it, but I think overall density on my part was the bigger factor. I wanted LESSONS (!?).
  • 54D: Any Beatles tune, now (oldie) — I was thinking something like the Opposite of this word, given that no band has been more in-the-news of late, what with the remastering and rerelease of their entire catalogue (an instant sell-out), and the release of The Beatles: Rock Band across multiple gaming platforms. [Any Dave Clark Five tune, now] would have felt more solid, though the given clue is true enough.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


MONDAY, Sep. 28 2009 — Round red firecracker / Form of address in British India / Relative of rhododendron

Monday, September 28, 2009

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Box Office Poison — theme answers are all two-word phrases where the second word is a synonym for a bad or otherwise failed movie (or stage production, I guess).

Word of the Day: ZAMBEZI (31D: Africa's fourth-longest river and site of Victoria Falls) — The Zambezi (also spelled Zambesi) is the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa. The area of its basin is 1,390,000 km² (537,000 miles²), slightly less than half that of the Nile. The 3,540 km- (2,200 mile-) long river has its source in Zambia and flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, to Mozambique, where it empties into the Indian Ocean. (wikipedia)

If the last three days are any indication, the puzzle seems to be back on track again, quality-wise. Today's puzzle is vintage Monday awesomeness from Lynn Lempel. No crap fill, five theme entries, a mess of Zs ... I can't really ask for much more a Monday. Felt somewhat thornier than a normal Monday, but my final time said otherwise. Shortish theme entries allow for their strategic placement such that None of them share an intersecting word. This allows the constructor to maximize his/her (in this case, her) ability to create clean, and even colorful non-theme fill. Is TANKTOP a bonus theme answer (26D: Close-fitting sleeveless shirt)? In that a BOMB is a movie that TANKs? Probably not, since TANK is the beginning of that word, and not a separate word, as is the case with the other theme words. Still, TANKTOP is a nice central Down. Really, really nice ...

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Abrupt way to quit (cold TURKEY)
  • 11D: Narcs' raid (drug BUST)
  • 40A: Chocolaty morsel munched at the movies (Milk DUD) — love the way that movies are subtly brought into the picture here.
  • 39D: Beach footwear (flip FLOP)
  • 63A: Round, red firecracker (cherry BOMB)


  • 4A: Nog ingredient (raw egg) — man do I hate "nog." Do people make it with RAW EGG any more? I would have thought RAW EGG nog had gone the way of RAW EGG Caesar salad dressing.
  • 15A: Relative of a rhododendron (azalea) — despite its "Z," a not uncommon (litotes!) six-letter crossword answers. So many vowels ...
  • 21A: State of weightlessness, as in space (zero G) — always love the way this looks in the grid. Like the name of some evil space emperor. All bow before ZEROG!
  • 45A: Bluefin and albacore (tunas) — probably my least favorite thing about this grid, but that plural is valid, given the clue.
  • 5D: Color of a picture postcard sky (azure) — that's really a lovely clue for AZURE.
  • 8D: Old, crotchety guy (geezer) — I get mail from this guy on a pretty regular basis. "How could you not know ..." "In my day ..." "Things were better when ..." "Kids these days ..." "Whipper ... snapper!"
  • 45D: Form of address in British India (Sahib) — British India also gives us the crossword words RAJ and AMAH, among others. Hurray for Colonialism! More words for us! (I'm being facetious — please, no indignant mail)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Resort region near Barcelona — Sun., Sep. 27 2009 — Latin catchphrase sometimes seen on sundials / Andrea known as the liberator of Genoa

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "That is Two Say" — 13 different squares contain pairs of letters that read phonetically in one direction, but must be spelled out in the other direction in order to make sense.

Word of the Day: Casey [KC] JONES (94D: Driver of the Cannonball Special) John Luther "Casey" Jones (March 14, 1863 – April 30, 1900) was an American railroad engineer from Jackson, Tennessee who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad (IC). On April 30, 1900, he alone was killed when his passenger train collided with a stalled freight train at Vaughan, Mississippi on a foggy and rainy night. His dramatic death trying to stop his train and save lives made him a folk hero who became immortalized in a popular ballad sung by his friend Wallace Saunders, an African American engine wiper for the IC. Due to the enduring popularity of this classic song, he has been the world's most famous railroad engineer for over a century. (wikipedia)

Now this was hard. I picked up the theme fairly early, and it was still hard. By the time I got down to the SW quadrant, it was very hard. The theme squares were a. not the same letters every time, and b. not symmetrical, and so it was like walking through a damned haunted house, not knowing when some mystery was going to jump out and spook you (those things managed to stay patiently hidden for a good long time in many cases). Plus, there was no consistency to the way the theme squares worked; sometimes the phonetic direction was Across, other times Down. No pattern (that I could see). But the problem, difficulty-wise, wasn't just the theme, though. It was the theme coupled with a delightfully vicious cluing strategy, and words / phrases aplenty that seemed to come out of left field. Some of them were slight groaners (the PATINES / ENSEALS crossing was mildly unpleasant) (30A: Surface films: Var. + 17D: Closes tight), but most of the rest of them seemed freaky but fair. Here's all the non-theme stuff that made me say "Whoa ... what?":

  • 23A: Resort region near Barcelona (Costa Brava) — didn't know it at all AND was convinced there was a rebus square hiding in there. Ouch. This NW corner was the second-to-last area to fall.
  • 33A: Key sequence in a chromosome (marker gene) — what a great answer. Sounds familiar, but I couldn't define it for you. Tough pick-up for me.
  • 77A: Driving surface (tee pad) — the biggest WTF in the grid. The "P" in this answer was the very last square to fall, and I must have stared at blankness for many, many seconds. I couldn't believe TEE PAD was a thing, and I couldn't make any sense of the Down clue: 78D: One end of a digression, for short? -AREN doesn't want to make any word except the name KAREN, and I knew the Across wasn't TEEKAD. Finally the fact that PAREN. could be short for "parenthesis" occurred to me, and I knew TEE PAD must be right. Maybe that was a gimme for golfers, but I couldn't get a straight answer on TEE PAD even after I finished and googled it. Yikes.
  • 97A: Masters piece (poem) — as in Edgar Lee Masters!? Jebus H. Krist! Yesterday it's "France" meaning Anatole France, today it's "Masters" meaning Edgar Lee Masters. My Literary Way-Back Machine's getting a lot of use this weekend. (see also TROLLOPE at 45D: Author of the Barsetshire novels)
  • 99A: Car make of the 1930s (Graham) — familiar with the cracker, but not the car. Not At All.
  • 106A: Unaccented syllable (atonic) — after I got it, it felt mildly familiar, but since I'm no musician, it looks really weird, like and adj. posing as a noun.
  • 84A: Surname of two signers of the Declaration of Independence (Lee) — Getty and Brenda.
  • 111A: Andrea known as the liberator of Genoa (Doria) — I knew this as a ship. Never heard of the guy it was named after. I always (Always) confuse the Andrea DORIA and the Achille Lauro.
  • 98D: Leaf vein (midrib) — ouch, what? I know nothing about botany? OK, that's true.
  • 89D: Mug with a mug (Toby) — not until I got it all from crosses did I remember what a TOBY mug was. The name "Toby" makes me laugh because of the character on "The Office" with that name, and Michael Scott's fierce hatred for him.

This should have been the Halloween-time Sunday puzzle — it was a trick and a treat. Made me use my brain and amused me at the same time. Good job.

Picked up the theme when CARPE ... had nowhere to go. I thought there might be a rebus puzzle wherein letters are read in one direction going Down and the reverse direction coming Across, but that thought lasted about two seconds. Once A[DM]IRABLE became undeniable, I saw that "DM" could be said aloud to render "DIEM," and I was in business — as much as I could be in a puzzle like this. What was really disconcerting, as I made my way through the grid, was where the theme squares weren't. I kept looking in the longer Acrosses, and almost (almost!) every time — no. Expected a bunch in the central Across (since I ran into that Across at the "AT"), but ... no. No more. Just the one. But then you get into the nooks and crannies, and ... well, there's a 8x4 part of the SW quadrant that's got FOUR theme squares in it (that's the area that repeatedly punched me in the face).

Theme answers:

  • 14A: Club (CU dgel)
  • 14D: Casual farewell (CU — "see you" — later)
  • 31A: Dental problem (tooth DK — "decay")
  • 24D: Post decorations on four-posters (be DK nobs)
  • 37A: Very noticeable (SA lient)
  • 2D: Life magazine staple (photo SA — "essay")
  • 40A: Praiseworthy (a DM irable)
  • 13D: Latin catchphrase sometimes seen on sundials (carpe DM — "diem")
  • 47A: Chianti and Beaujolais (r ED s)
  • 48D: Singer who played herself in "Ocean's Eleven" (ED — "Eydie" — Gormé)
  • 60A: Music compilation marketer (K-T el)
  • 60D: "Married ... With Children" actress (KT — "Katey" — Sagal)
  • 70A: 1873 adventure novel that begins and ends in London ("Around the World in AT — "Eighty" — Days")
  • 55D: Units of fineness (kar AT s)
  • 74A: "Fer-de-Lance" mystery novelist (Re XS tout)
  • 67D: How drunks drink (to XS — "excess")
  • 87A: Stop worrying (rest EZ)
  • 83D: Chisel face (b EZ el) — BEZEL! I practically shook my fist at this answer when I finally got it. If the "EZ" part of the Across hadn't been so "EZ" to pick up, I might still be staring at emptiness.
  • 93A: Dipstick housing (cran KC ase)
  • 94D: Driver of the Cannonball Special (KC — "Casey" — Jones) — I knew KC Jones as the coach of the 1980s Celtics, and that is the only KC Jones I knew.
  • 103A: American everyman (John Q.P ublic) — wow.
  • 104D: Carny booth prize (QP — "Kewpie" — doll) — I had WRY for DRY at 110A: Like some humor, so the answer -WOLL was doing NOTHING for me. Changing W to D got me the QP instantly, which got me the JOHN Q. PUBLIC that was hiding from me as well.
  • 106A: It's not to be touched (poison IV — "ivy")
  • 96D: Flu symptom, with "the" (sh IV ers)
  • 116A: Jealous (green with NV — "envy")
  • 107D: Sneaker material (ca NV as)

Wow, that's a lot a lot a lot of theme material.

What else?


  • 114A: Ethan Frome portrayer, 1993 (Liam Neeson) — usually appears in puzzle just as last name. One of those long answers today where I expected a theme square to jump out and bite me. But no.
  • 7D: Screamer at a crime scene (alarm) — wanted SIREN.
  • 34D: Prestigious London hotel (Ritz) — I just think of this as a generic fancy hotel name, though I suppose Taco had to be singing about somewhere specific.

[Whoa ... didn't remember that little blackface moment! Yikes!]

61D: Gloomy Milne character (Eeyore) — gloomy and vowelly.

Now here are your Tweets of the Week (puzzle chat from the Twitterverse):

  • @TazaChocolate Today's NY Times Xword, 15d: Cry before waving the hand. It doesn't fit but all I want to write is "You are the weakest link. Goodbye."
  • @andrea_bartle Bad things happen when work gets boring... I resort to weird tasting drinks, 409, and crossword puzzles to entertain me.
  • @arielawesome LA Times crossword is too easy. they try to thwart me w/ 1930s movie trivia, but i've got Bob, the sharp octogenarian, at my disposal. win!
  • @foxbiterer my mum, doing a crossword, just said "what's a planet that begins with 'e'?" Am adopted.
  • @kathycacace Clean hair. Make up. Saw some art. Posted up in Tompkins with $3 coffee and the crossword. Is there such a thing as personal gentrification?
  • @laconic1 Deliberately leaving out some crossword answers so can appear intelligent in company later - sad?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Patron of barristers notaries — SAT., Sep. 26 2009— Axiom producer / Momentous 1960s convention / 1971-97 nation name / Cousin of catnip / Hindu maxim

Saturday, September 26, 2009

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Constructor: Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: KAON (54A: Particle named for a letter of the alphabet) — n. (Abbr. K)

Any of a subgroup of unstable mesons that consist of an electrically charged form with a mass 966 times that of an electron and a neutral form with a mass 974 times that of an electron, produced as a result of a high-energy particle collision. Also called K-meson. (answers.com)


A tough and thoughtfully filled puzzle, with a mess of Scrabbly letters and vibrant words and phrases. There is a big difference between a themeless puzzle that is crafted and one that is simply churned out. Compare today's puzzle to yesterday's to see that difference, vividly. This is a standard themeless grid — one that opts for medium-sized and potentially brutal corners over huge white spaces and/or multiple grid-spanning answers (other common late-week grid features). The upside of a more modest grid like this is that it can be filled, really, really cleanly (as it is today), while the multiple nooks and crannies have the potential to create lots and lots of trouble spots, so the difficulty level can stay relative high. You aren't apt to build a momentum and blow through a grid that is shaped like this and clued Saturday-tough. Speaking of cluing, today's cluing was almost over-the-top in its trickiness. There must be a dozen or more clues that either have "?"s on the end or rely on really effective misdirection via wordplay.

I wanted to start the puzzle with VERO (23A: _____ Beach (former home of Dodgertown)), but couldn't confirm any of the letter, so moved on. First real foray into the grid came with CHERI at 6D: Dijon darling. That was wrong, but quickly replaced with my next guess, AMOUR. The "R" there reminded me that my RED SOX used to be the Americans (25A: Team known as the Americans until 1907), so I went AMOUR, REDSOX ... then up to IN A MOMENT (15A: "Hold your horses!"), Down with IT IS SAID (9D: "According to some ..."), and back Across with SANS SOUCI (17A: Carefree). That pretty much had me on my way to downing the entire NW.

Puzzle had exactly three trouble spots for me. First, the NE. RADIX was not coming (wanted INDEX)(10D: Base of a number system), didn't initially pick up the "punches" meaning of "socks" in 21A: They may come with socks (shiners) [technically SHINERS come *after* socks, but whatever...], and never would have thought to call a gemstone a "symbol" (13D: May symbol => EMERALD). Also, had no way of getting KILL from 31A: Take out until I came back around and picked up the "K" via KARNAK (31D: Egyptian temple complex near Luxor). Wanted DELE. Then wanted it again at 18A: Takes out (dates).

Next trouble spot was the upper SE, specifically where DIABOLO (44D: Game involving spinning a top on a string) comes together with KAON. Now that I look at them, there is an eerie, vague familiarity to the pair, but I really had to hack my way to that last square via all the crosses, and then make an educated (but extremely probable) guess at the "A." "A" made a word that at least looked like the Spanish word for "devil," and I figured that if you pronounced "KAON" as "KAY-on," then that would make sense as a particle named after a letter. I had TOMBOLO and MUON in their places at some stage of the game.

Hardest part by far, for me, was the SW, where -AT-N as the answer to 60A: 1-Across topic resulted in SATAN (1A: Momentous 1960s convention => VATICAN II). Bad, bad mistake, because I ended up with a grid where all entries looked like real words except one: FIRESIT? (39D: Romantic, perhaps). I sort of knew something was off when I came up with TARE for 56D: Flag, but I knew TARE was a word with multiple meanings, and I figured I just didn't know one of them. But FIRESIT? That's absurd. Sounds like something that would be better clued [What FDR did?]. That *has* to be wrong. Only by (eventually) tearing out FIRESIT *and* TARE was I able to see another possibility at 60A: LATIN! Then I had FIRELIT and TIRE and I was done.


  • 28A: Axiom producer (Isuzu) — criminy, the new car models just keep coming. I wanted something like OLD GUY or QUIPPER.
  • 30A: Enjoyed London or France (read) — Jack London, Anatole France
  • 32A: Patron of barristers and notaries (St. Mark) — read it as "Patron of barristas ..." and thought "they had those in biblical times?"
  • 34A: Swing set players? (big bands) — the clue cuteness just keeps on coming as well.
  • 36A: Capital of East London (Rand) — "capital" as in currency. East London is in S. Africa.
  • 39A: Domain of Paul Bunyan (folklore) — ah, a figurative domain. Really wanted something like BACKWOOD(S).
  • 48A: Pope who excommunicated Martin Luther (Leo X) — Knew it was LEO somebody, so, since it was Saturday, I tried "X" — XERXES slipped right into place at 49D: Victor at Thermopylae, 480 B.C.
  • 43A: Author of the controversial kids' book "In the Night Kitchen" (Sendak) — "Controversial?" Why, 'cause you could see the kid's penis? O, man. That's sad. I'm quite excited to see the Spike Jonze movie adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are" next month.

  • 50A: 1971-97 nation (Zaire) — HA ha, I just considered putting this in a puzzle I was constructing without realizing it wasn't a "nation" any more. I guess if I'd kept it, I would have found out while cluing.
  • 55A: Nathaniel Hawthorne story subtitled "The Bosom-Serpent" ("Egotism") — man, I thought that serpent was "jealousy" or "envy."
  • 57A: Part of an Avignon address (rue) — never saw this clue. Seems surprising in a puzzle that took a good deal of thought/work.
  • 59A: Do without much daring? (bun) — I don't know ... I couldn't make a passable BUN if I tried, so it takes more "daring" than I've got. Plus ... they can be kind of hot, I think.
  • 66A: Where the owl and the pussycat went, in a poem (to sea) — and not, as I found out the hard way, KOREA.
  • 67A: Cell organelle with microtubules (basal body) — OMG blah blah blah science get crosses and guess something. For being gibberish to me ... wasn't that hard.
  • 2D: "In the Mood," e.g. (anapest) — unstressed unstressed stressed. A metrical foot. Think the opening of "I Feel For You" by ... Chaka KHAN ... Chaka KHAN ... Chaka KHAN Chaka KHAN ...

  • 7D: Like it (neuter) — "it" is neither masculine nor feminine in gender, hence NEUTER.
  • 22D: His #14 was retired by the Mets (Hodges) — Gil HODGES. Third baseball clue of the day, nicely intersecting RED SOX.
  • 24D: Location of the Boston Mountains and Buffalo River (Ozarks) — so ... not Boston or Buffalo, I'm guessing. I started with OREGON.
  • 29D: Territory east of Ukraine on a Risk board (Ural) — never played, but this was easy enough to guess.
  • 35D: "And a Voice to Sing With" memoirist (Baez) — had no idea, but again, easy to guess with a cross or two.
  • 40D: Cousin of catnip (oregano) — nice tie-in with 45D: Like a cat playing in catnip (aroused).
  • 41D: Figure of speech like "no mean feat" (litotes) — good day to be an English professor. ANAPEST and LITOTES are just part of the professional jargon. LITOTES is simply a means of expressing something by negating its opposite.
  • 42A: Gigayear (eon) — "Gigayear?" Is that a real thing? That sounds made up.
  • 46D: Successor to Powell on the Supreme Court (Kennedy) — easy to pick up off last three letters, which were already in place when I first looked at this clue.
  • 53D: Hindu maxim (sutra) — at least the Hindu Maxim wasn't a car model.
  • 58D: N.B.A. legend Monroe with a signature spin move (Earl) — "the Pearl" ...

  • 63D: Bath suds spot? (pub) — Bath as in the English city. Suds as in beer.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Oenone's peak — FRIDAY, Sep. 25 2009 — Birthplace of Parmenides / Musical featuring Nubians / Tent erector's tool

Friday, September 25, 2009

Constuctor: Robert A. Doll

Relative difficulty: Easy/Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ALBAS (52A: Serenades for lovers parting at dawn) noun a Provençal troubadour poem or love song, typically about the parting of lovers at dawn.


The lacklusterness continues. Loved "IT'S A ZOO OUT THERE" (16A: Frazzled commuter's comment) and "I BEEN HAD!" (34D: Gull's cry), but most of the rest feels like it was written with a heavy assist from Autofill. Why am I looking at so much crap short fill on a Friday? A couple of the following would be OK, but more than a couple just looks lazy:

ALBAS (!?!?)
MTST (!!!!!!!!!)
ELEA (27D: Birthplace of Parmenides)
ENNA (51A: Province between Palermo and Catania)

Few things say "I just don't care" like that set of words — and in a themeless? Maybe in a grid with an intricate theme ... maybe. But not in a themeless, where you are duty-bound to keep crap to a minimum (since you aren't restricted by anything but your own sensibilities). Even longish stuff like DEAD SPOT and OPEN AREA and NO, DEAR (60A: Domestic denial) and EASE INTO (59A: Take on gingerly) feels limp, like not much care or thought went into fill choices. And "DON'T TASE ME BRO" (14D: Memorable catchphrase of 2007) might have been great if it had appeared in a puzzle in 2007 ... or even 2008. The phrase appeared in an Onion puzzle almost two years ago, where it was a theme answer about rivers ("Don't tase m EBRO!"). *That* was genius. *This* just feels belated (as internet-driven "catchphrases" go). All in all, the puzzle looks like four somewhat interesting long answers (and "I BEEN HAD!") held together with wads of old duct tape. Honestly, it feels like (for the most part) the wheels have come off the NYT puzzle over the past month or so (even excluding the controversial "Half-Century" stunt week). I'm hoping autumn sees it back on track.


  • 10A: Chances, briefly (ops) — for "opportunities?" Really? Who says that? [oh, right, "Photo OPS" — thanks, Sandy]
  • 25A: Tent erector's tool (maul) — wanted it right away, off the "M," but couldn't remember if it was MAUL or MAWL. To my credit, I knew it wasn't MALL.
  • 4D: Oenone's peak (Ida) — Mt. IDA = crosswordese, but it's nicely hidden here. I know "Oenone" only as the nymph that Paris abandoned when he went off with Helen.
  • 29A: _____ ammoniac (mineral found around volcanic vents) (sal) — guessed it off the "S"; not likely to remember it.
  • 30A: Musical featuring Nubians ("Aida") — I learned the word "nubian" from rap music of the early 90s.

  • 5D: Part of a French face (nez) — part of a twofer with OEIL. We get a somewhat more interesting twofer in the AFC matchup of CHIEFS (1D: A.F.C. team that has won one Super Bowl) and STEELERS (12D: A.F.C. team that has won six Super Bowls).
  • 3D: "The Little Mermaid" villain (Ursula) — commonest clue for URSULA, in my experience.
  • 7D: Prozac might treat it (neurosis) — seems ... off.
  • 11D: Ancient Lusitania, now (Portugal) — did not know that. I know "Lusitania" only as the ship.
  • 15D: Big name in aquatic tricks (Shamu) — took me longer than it should have. I think I was looking for a brand of jet-ski.
  • 37D: Grp. famous for its send-ups? (NASA) — cute.
  • 47D: Playground troublemakers (darers) — icky -ER plural. Don't blame the DARER. The DOER actually "makes" the trouble.

Happy third birthday to this blog, and thanks to all its loyal (and traitorous, and fairweather) readers. Despite the recent spate of negative reviews, it's still my pleasure to write this thing every day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


1975 U.S. Open winner Manuel — THURSDAY, Sep. 24 2009 — Rapid to Rossini / Thule distant unknown land / Publisher of fictional New York Inquirer

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: S-ENDING — "S" added to ends of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: ULTIMA Thule (5A: _____ Thule, distant unknown land)Thule [...] is, in classical literature, a place, usually an island. Ancient European descriptions and maps locate it either in the far north, often Iceland, possibly the Orkney Islands or Shetland Islands or Scandinavia, or in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance Iceland or Greenland. Another suggested location is Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea.

Ultima Thule in medieval geographies may also denote any distant place located beyond the "borders of the known world." Some people use Ultima Thule as the Latin name for Greenland when Thule is used for Iceland. (wikipedia)

Also, a Swedish rock band:


I thought add-a-letter themes were on Brendan's list of "10 Bullshit Themes," but no. That's good, because while "add-a-letter" puzzles can be dreadful, they don't have to be, as this one proves. Simple concept (add "S" to the end) yields great theme results. That this puzzle is not any better than the average puzzle Brendan cranks out three times a week at his own site says a lot about how good those puzzles are. I now expect anything of his that appears in the NYT will be stunning, and this was just OK for me, dawg. Theme worked out, but some of the fill and cluing felt off. Sub-BEQ. Dropping a tennis obscurity with a convenient name down the middle of the grid feels like Fail, though ORANTES did make that middle of the grid tough in a way I normally appreciate on a Thursday (25D: 1975 U.S. Open winner Manuel) (ORANTES are also praying figures in Christian art ... too tough? Too easy? Too boring?). SATIATE (24D) and [Gorge] feel inequivalent to me, though I'm sure some dictionary somewhere says not — ah, I see the secondary meaning of "SATIATE" is "fill to excess." That's weird that one word can mean "fill to satisfaction" and "fill to excess." "I was satiated, but then I just kept eating to the point where I was ... satiated." OK. Don't know that I've ever seen LOGGIAS pluralized (well, I rarely see LOGGIA at all unless it follows the name "Robert") (26D: Open galleries). So middle was definitely MEATIEST part of puzzle (39A: Having the most substance), but not liking any of the big Downs there took some of the pleasure out of the puzzle. I did love the longish Acrosses in there, esp. WHAT A GUY (30A: "Gotta love him!"). My main issue today is RE-. RE- RE- RE-. Three times? Three RE-words, all in bottom half of puzzle? REMOVALS (36D: Parts of some appliance delivery jobs) is a perfectly good word, not forced at all, but put REHEM next door (49D: Take up again, e.g.) and now my RE-quota has been reached. After that, RESAW feels like a glaring, ugly excess (50A: Cut again). I have also seen BABA WAWA in puzzles one too many times now (4D: Classic "S.N.L." character who spoke with rounded Rs). USA USA USO? US no. On the whole, this is good stuff, solid Thursday stuff, but ... if you like it, you really really should be doing the puzzles at BEQ's site, thrice-weekly. On average, they are even better than this.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Band without a drummer? (The Beatless)
  • 24A: "See ya, idiot"? ("So long, ass") — this one killed me. Base phrase is a conditional phrase ... really hard for me to pick up, and made the middle that much harder.
  • 35A: Mission of an Army officers' school? (training brass)
  • 47A: Nice touch from Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend? (Who caress) — aren't they "THE Who?" And I know the other members are dead, but still ... Pete and Roger do not WHO make.
  • 54A: Playful kiss on the Discovery? (shuttle buss) — adorable.

  • 1A: Former "Meet the Press" moderator Marvin (Kalb) — total WTF to me (see also the next Across, ULTIMA Thule).
  • 11A: "_____ Boys" (1886 novel) ("Jo's") — Alcott.
  • 19A: 1989 one-man Broadway drama ("Tru") — it's three-letter drama day today. See also "HIM" (31D: 1927 E. E. Cummings play).
  • 20A: Divine creature with six wings (seraph) — no idea it had that many. Freaky.
  • 27A: Goddess with a cow as an emblem (Hera) — often referred to in mythology as "cow-eyed." Pretty sure it's a compliment.
  • 59A: Cryptozoology figure (Nessie) — some qualifier like "familiarly" probably needs to be in this clue somewhere.
  • 8D: Quebec's _____ Rouleau crater (Ile) — I know from personal experience that Brendan hates the answer ILO. Apparently ILE is just fine. ;)
  • 28D: Publisher of the fictional New York Inquirer (Kane) — as in Citizen. Very nice tie-in with "Rosebud" (52D: Beloved object of 28-Down => SLED).
  • 38D: Lallygagged (dawdled) — surprised to find that this is an acceptable alternate spelling of "lollygagged," which is the word I know.
  • 63A: Like this puzzle ... not! (easy) — not a fan of this kind of winky crap. The supremely dated "Not!" joke makes it all the worse.

Have a nice Thursday. Signed,

Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


WEDNESDAY, Sep. 23 2009 — 1992 presidential aspirant Paul / Apology starter / Island east of Java / A place you can go in 1979 #2 hit

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Constructor: Jonathan Gersch

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: HENRY HUDSON (55A: Explorer who sailed into 46-Across in 1609)
— 400th anniversary puzzle (?) commemorating Hudson's sailing into NEW YORK HARBOR

Word of the Day: Paul TSONGAS (8D: 1992 presidential aspirant Paul)Paul Efthemios Tsongas (pronounced /ˈsɒŋɡəs/; February 14, 1941–January 18, 1997) was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a one-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Previously he also served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and held local political office as well. (wikipedia) — he won the New Hampshire primary, but James Carville dubbed Clinton the "Comeback Kid" because he did so well following a spate of bad press, and Clinton did indeed come back and leave other candidates in the dust.


An utterly straight tribute puzzle that is crammed to the gills with theme answers, yet somehow produces zero joy. Fact. Fact. Fact. Zzzzzz. I have some tolerance for cross-referenced clues, but there isn't a single theme clue here that doesn't involve being directed to another theme answers. I lost interest at 1A. Of course the non-theme fill isn't that hot — you can't expect it to be with the serious restrictions placed on it by the theme density. In the end, it is what it is. If you enjoy uncovering little bits of trivia, this is the puzzle for you. Just not the puzzle for me.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: With 69-Across, ship of 55-Across (HALF / MOON)
  • 67A: With 8-Across, business of 55-Across's backers (SPICE / TRADE) — really wish SPICE and TRADE could have TRADEd positions here.
  • 18A: Aptly named ship on a later voyage of 55-Across (DISCOVERY) — how is a "later voyage" relevant to this event-specific theme?
  • 20A: Body of water sailed in by 55-Across (ARCTIC OCEAN) — sailed in generally, sailed in in 1609 ... ?
  • 26A: Like most of the voyages of 55-Across (TRANSATLANTIC)
  • 46A: See 55-Across (NEW YORK HARBOR)
  • 55A: Explorer who sailed into 46-Across in 1609 (HENRY HUDSON)
  • 61A: 55-Across's destination when returning to Europe (AMSTERDAM)

There are a TON of names in today's puzzle, which is fine by me, but do all their clues have to be so incredibly dull and straightforward? The most interesting one is 68A: Stephen of "V for Vendetta" (REA), and that's only because the movie involved is relatively recent and not "The Crying Game" again.

  • 6D: Attorney General Holder (Eric)
  • 11D: Laura of "Jurassic Park" (Dern)
  • 12D: "A Day Without Rain" singer (Enya)
  • 14D: Mrs. Gorbachev (Raisa)
  • 19D: Psychologist Jung (Carl) — those last four Downs are sequential
  • 32D: Educator Horace (Mann)
  • 33D: Mayberry boy (Opie)
  • 38D: Nabokov title heroine (Ada) — those last three are sequential
  • 49D: "24" agent Jack (Bauer)
  • 59D: Hall-of-Fame QB Graham (Otto)

All Downs, all clued with zero panache. I think my favorite clue of the day is 48D: German children (kinder), if only because it's an interesting / unexpected clue for KINDER (what with English options being readily available). Ooh, and I like the symmetrical HOODLUM in FETTERS (45D: Tough + 4D: Chains). That's nice. Otherwise, kind of a drag.


  • 24A: Cornstarch brand (Argo) — went with SAGO ... isn't that right? No, SAGO is a starch for baking, but it's not from corn, but from the SAGO palm. Dang, I can see a can in my mind ... something to do with baking ... brand name ending "O" ... not named after Jason's ship ... grrr. Aha, it's KARO, and it's corn syrup. OK, I feel better now.
  • 17A: Gossipy type (yenta) — unexpectedly common, this word. Started the puzzle by guessing HIYA (1D: Informal greeting) and confirming it off of this answer.
  • 40A: Apology starter (Mea) — as in "mea culpa"; that eastern section took me longer than it should have because I dropped in TONGA (!?) where TIMOR was supposed to go (29D: Island east of Java).
  • 3D: Nickname for someone who shares a name with the 16th president [of the United States] (Linc) — so, all name clues are boring, except this one, which is awkward and unwieldy. Great.
  • 57D: "A place you can go," in a 1979 #2 hit (YMCA) — again, what is with the clue? Of all the lyrics in that song, that's what you pick? But ... "you can get yourself clean." "You can have a good meal." And best of all, "you can hang out with all the boys." Come on!

[My favorite accidental DISCOVERY of the day]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. Will has asked me to post this info about the upcoming tournament in Pleasantville, NY. (And by "upcoming" I mean Two Days From Now) Sounds like a good time. You should go. I found out about it too late or I'd be going myself. I know Caleb Madison will be there. He's adorable, so that alone should be enough of a draw. Come on, if you're in the area anyway, you should go. You don't have Friday plans, anyway. No you don't. Oh, come on, you're not fooling anyone.

Pleasantville Crossword Contest

This Friday, Sept. 25, will be the 13th annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held in Pleasantville, NY, hosted by Will Shortz. The event will go from 7:30 to about 9:45 p.m., at the St. John's Episcopal Church, 8 Sunnyside Ave. (corner of Bedford Road). The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. The puzzles will consist of the Monday through Thursday crosswords from next week's New York Times. Two of the four constructors are expected to be on hand as officials. Prizes are awarded in many categories. Regular Times constructors can't compete, but are welcome to help judge. The cost to enter is $30 (or $45 for a doubles team), which includes coffee and dessert, with all the proceeds going to the Pleasantville Fund for Learning. Registration can be done at the door. The site is convenient from MetroNorth or by car. For more information, call 914-773-7794 or visit <www.pleasantville-fund-for-learning.com>.


Dessert from Linz — TUESDAY, Sep. 22, 2009 — Riverbank cavorter / Bit of 1773 Boston Harbor jetsam / Accelerator bit

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Constructor: Gail Grabowski

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Tough"
— same clue for three theme answers

Word of the Day: ORSER (59A: 1987 world figure skating champion Brian) — Brian Orser OC (born December 18, 1961 in Belleville, Ontario, Canada) is a Canadian retired professional figure skater. He is the 1984 & 1988 Olympic silver medalist, 1987 World champion and the eight-time Canadian national champion.

He is one of the most accomplished skaters in Canada's history, with eight national titles, two Olympic medals, and a world title to his credit. He is the skating director at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. He currently coaches Kim Yu-Na, Adam Rippon, and Christina Gao. (wikipedia)


Not my favorite kind of theme, but for what it was, it was fine. Cute, if dated, phrases that are very accurate in their articulation and not at all clunky. I was oddly slow on the uptake, needing a bunch of crosses to get JUST DEAL WITH IT, but the puzzle went down in a very Tuesdayish manner after that. With such low theme density in this one, I would have liked to see something more interesting in the non-theme fill, particularly the long Downs. TEACHEST doesn't really do it for me (35D: Bit of 1773 Boston Harbor jetsam). By a country mile, the best answer in this grid is CONJOB (1D: Swindler's work), although TASERS is nice too (and brings a nice symmetrical law enforcement balance to the criminality of CONJOB) (46D: Cops' stunners). It probably goes without saying, but the best clue of the bunch, by an even longer country mile, is 23A: Riverbank cavorter (otter).

Theme answers:

  • 20A: "Tough!" ("Just deal with it!")
  • 35A: "Tough!" ("Too bad, so sad!")
  • 51A: "Tough!" ("Thems the breaks!")

[Sometimes I forget mainstream rap is so old. Almost thirty years ago!?]


  • 25A: Wall and Bourbon, e.g.: Abbr. (sts) — like that the two STS are from totally different universes. Why are Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen linked in my head? ... wait, I just figured out. The famous father thing. Moving on.
  • 61A: Womanizer's look (leer) — You can LEER without womanizing, I think. And "womanizing" implies serial infidelity, not a way of looking. And yet this clue was transparent!
  • 32A: Problem with an old 45 (skip) — any excuse to play this song, even if the number's wrong ...

  • 62A: Dictionary word in bold type (entry) — oh, you mean, the Word. That you are looking up. Right there. This clue confused me, as I was thinking of some subcategory of dict. word.
  • 4D: Dessert from Linz (torte) — pretty sure xwords taught me that they make TORTEs in Linz, i.e. linzertortes.
  • 22D: Accelerator bit (ion) — somewhat toughish cluing. Was not thinking particle accelerator at first, although how any other kind of "accelerator" might be anatomized into "bits" I don't know.
  • 56D: Who wrote "All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream" (Poe) — absinthe will make you say some crazy sh@#.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


The "Happy Birthday, Kevin" puzzle (9/16/09)

Monday, September 21, 2009

This is very late, but I wanted to create a post where people could discuss / give feedback on the puzzle Caleb Madison and I created for crossword constructor Kevin Der's birthday. We made it especially for Kevin, but it should be doable by any regular crossword solver.

In case you missed it, here are the links again.

NOTE: There is an error in the clues. 6-Down should read [Six after Ford]

[AcrossLite and .pdf version available from Amy Reynaldo's crosswordfiend.com, here.

You can also print it out very easily, below (just click on "More" and then "Print")]

Across Lite - Happy Birthday, Kevin

Do not read on if you haven't solved the puzzle yet ...

The puzzle started as a side remark in the bar of the Brooklyn Marriott during the weekend of the 2009 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. If I remember correctly, I was sitting there with my friend Angela (PuzzleGirl) and maybe a couple other people and at some point Kevin Der and Doug Peterson came over ... I feel like Barry Silk was there at some point. Anyway, I remember Kevin standing there to my left and I joked about making a puzzle out of his name. I don't think I intended to honor him. I'm pretty sure I was mocking him. But somehow the idea stuck and I later pitched the idea to Angela, perhaps as a rebus puzzle ... but that just seemed too hard, so I decided to make it easy on myself (esp. as I had very little constructing experiences) and do a puzzle where I bury his name. I pitched some theme answers back and forth with Angela, and then I had the chance to run the idea by Caleb and he shot right back with two great theme answers (DUDE RANCH, BLADE RUNNER) and declared he wanted in. In fits and starts over the summer, we built the puzzle. All credit goes to Caleb for making the grid. I had not done that before and in fact had not done that until just this past weekend, when I did it twice. It hurts my head.

What was cool about constructing in a leisurely fashion is ... we must have written and rewritten the grid (or many parts of it) dozens of times. The SW alone has been through a half dozen versions, with the current version being my last minute oneupsmanship. We both had decent versions of that corner, but the last one ended up best, if only bec. it got rid of sad intersecting plurals at 70A (was ENDS) and 56D (was DONTS, as in "dos and donts"). Also a version of ENDS was elsewhere in the grid, so ENDS had to go even though most people probably wouldn't have noticed. The Ford stuff and the insane amt of cross-referencing — that's all Caleb. I thought of cluing OXY via the college (their url is oxy.edu), but Caleb is the one who noted the connection to OBAMA. Having NICO and LOU REED in the puzzle was just dumb luck. Turns out Caleb's a huge Velvet Underground fan. Who knew? People seem to like the clues on HAN SOLO [Ford explorer?] and END ZONE [Site of a safety dance?] the best; the former is Caleb's, the latter mine.

I was beyond happy to get CHAZ into the grid. It was kind of painful to hang on to the puzzle all summer for that reason alone. I wanted to be the first to use the former Chastity Bono's new, post-gender change name in a puzzle. And I loved my clue, [Sonny of Cher?]. Don't know if I was first with CHAZ, but I was first that I know about. I thank CHAZ, because getting out of the SE would have been hard without him.

Across clues are mostly mine, Down clues mostly Caleb's. I don't remember who did middle of the grid, but NW, NE, and S are mostly Caleb, and SW, SE, and N are mostly me. Part of the grid I'm most sad about is FRIEDA, in that I mistaken thought that was how FRIDA Kahlo spelled her name. Love "Peanuts," but am not sure I would use FRIEDA again unless I was well and truly desperate. Also, too many Es and Rs and Ds in that SE corner now that I look at it (though when you're writing a puzzle around the name DER ...). If this had been a puzzle for general publication, I would have changed the NITRO clue and possibly the ONE clue. Back-to-back rap clues at 49A (ONE) and 50A (NAS) made me very happy.

Ugh, I see now that we have ONE and AS ONE in the grid, so boooo. Why didn't Anyone mention that? If I'd noticed that, the SW would have undergone yet another rewrite.

It was great to see that so many people downloaded or printed out that puzzle last Wednesday. Kevin liked it. So, in general mission accomplished.

Anyway, all feedback welcome, and all questions entertained.


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