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]


Jeffrey 9:16 AM  
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Jeffrey 9:16 AM  

This is what you want for a Sunday puzzle. Challenging to the last letter. Just messes with your mind as you never know where the next rebus will show up.

I got the trick on KTEL/KT SAGAL.

@Rex: I think you got the Lees wrong; it should be Bruce and Ang.

Elaine 9:19 AM  

Up at 4:30--which counts as sleeping through the night. Finally printed the puzzle and despite catching on fairly early to the gimmick, took a while doing this one. Ultimately just retraced my steps to each answer where I had thought of something but found it wouldn't fit--CUDGEL, for instance, and completed the grid EXCEPT FOR the NATICKism at 60A/60D. A TV actress and some obscure company?...not good for me.

Then had to wait hours and hours for Rexie to get up and post. (snivel, snivel) It's only 8:20 CDST, and I'm already halfway through the day.....

JannieB 9:21 AM  
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JannieB 9:23 AM  

What a great weekend in puzzledom! Loved this puzzle no end - caught the theme at DK, but never knew where the next one was going to turn up. The NW fell quickly (never have liked the spelling of "appal" and never trust that it's right) with the only blank being the "SA". That and "XS" were my last fill.

Just what I want in a Sunday puzzle - thanks PB!

joho 9:28 AM  

When I saw Patrick Berry at the top I was hoping for just what this puzzle turned out to be ... a fantastically entertaining, intriguing Sunday puzzle. Definitely took brain power ... loved that we weren't just filling in all the many Sunday squares.

I got the theme all the way down at NV and the last square I filled ind was SA. It was a strange solve in that respect but a wonderful one at that.

Loved the shout out to DK.

LOVED this puzzle!

Thank you Patrick B!!

Elaine 9:29 AM  

Well, yeah. I should thank Patrick Berry for the interesting puzzle. It contained Mel OTT-- the one sports clue I always know!-- and except for the Natick at 60A/D I was able to feel really smart early in the day! Had a good time :0)

I feel the same way about APPAL-- even wrote down "apall" just to be sure. I think we just seldom see this word in this form. Usually we are the double L is in mind.

Hobbyist 9:40 AM  

If you can't say something nice, say naught. So I'm silent today.
Too bad, so sad.

fikink 9:41 AM  

Very clever and well done, IMO.

I didn't have as much trouble with it as ReXS.

Once again, Sir Noel Coward came through for me, though:

They will take a train,
or an aero-plane,
for an hour on the COSTA BRAVA
And they'll see Pompeii
on the only day
that it's up to its ass in molten lava.

[Why Do the Wrong People Travel?]

Hand up for the double-L in APPALL.

"Jebus H. Krist" - very funny, Rex!

A fine and fun Sunday puzzle, Patrick Berry - thanks!

fikink 9:44 AM  
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Leslie 9:47 AM  

Oh, my, I loved this puzzle. Since I'm fairly OCD about starting in the NW, the "DK" duo was the first one I saw, which made things pretty quick thereafter. My absolute favorite was drunks drinking TO X S crossing RE XS TOUT. And by the end, I was actively looking for NV (envy) to be in there somewhere.

Giggled madly at our buddy YEATS in the final answer. As Rex says, "HA ha!"

Smitty 9:54 AM  

Having a backwards weekend - while this wasn't exactly EZ, to me it was medium and yesterday's was challenging/impossible

I still don't get TOBY (mug with a mug) can someone "splain?

Alamogordo Dan 10:00 AM  

This was a terrific puzzle with one VERY notable exception. I have played golf 45 years and NEVER heard the term tee "pad". Tee "mat", "area", "ground", but not "pad". Making up a term just to fill out a puzzle is like fingernails on glass to me.

PGubanc 10:03 AM  

You can google "images" for Toby Mugs and you'll get lots of pix. Ceramic mugs with sort of caricaturish faces. I enjoyed this puzzle, though I didn't catch onto it as quickly as I'd have liked. I sat and "puzzled" [sorry!] over the NW corner, "photo[s/a]," for quite some time, finally caught on at "poison[i/v]."

Denise 10:12 AM  

I went through the puzzle, filling in randomly, and got to CANVAS -- put in the NV, thought "postal code for Nevada?" & then looked around for more, but the next two letter combo I found was definitely not a state.

It took a while, and it took reading the answers out loud, to really "get it."

I think it is a WONDERFUL puzzle -- everything a puzzle should be.

And Rex, I LOVED today's thorough and funny write-up.


HudsonHawk 10:20 AM  

I liked most of this puzzle, but the fun ended in the midwest. I finally got REX STOUT, but it was a pretty brutal cross.

And then there's the last square that Rex mentioned. It was also my last, and it sucks so much I can't believe it.

As Alamagordo Dan said, TEE PAD isn't a golf term. Been playing for over 30 years and have never, ever, ever, heard it. It's a Tee Box. Or if you're on the range, you might hit off the mats. The fact that it crosses another made-up word, PAREN, is just ridiculous. What made it worse, was after going through the alphabet, I was convinced it was another two-letter square, but came up with nothing. Meh.

Karen from the Cape 10:34 AM  

My personal 'who the heck?' moment was looking at ED_ORME at 48D. Never heard of her, and I hated ATTS less than GORME and guessed wrong. Other than that spot, I had a lot of fun with this puzzle.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I got the gimmick but I wasn't going to finish it when there's a rebus + areas like 123-across (thought it would be ASIS) and 119-across (thought it would be NAME).

My other thought is that it's strange how often the Sunday puzzle isn't very hard to begin with, and they give you some clue that spells out the theme for you. With this one, it would have been helpful to have starred clues.

Smitty 10:48 AM  

@PGubanc Thanks. Funny I was picturing those mugs, but I though they were called Steins.

@Karen - I did the same Ed Gorme thing

Martin 10:56 AM  

The tee pad is an official requirement of the game of disc golf. And yes, it is a "driving surface." From wikipedia:

Driving is one of the more dangerous aspects of disc golf as it pertains to pedestrians. Players should always be aware of their surroundings before a drive. It is common to yell "Fore" before a drive on holes from which the target cannot be seen from the tee pad.

Meg 11:04 AM  

This was a great puzzle! It took the longest time for me to get the 2 letter idea, which made the puzzle that much more fun. I do the Sunday in pen, and I had to keep waiting and waiting......

Apparently Leopard is a MAC OS. And now I know what a TOBY mug is.

Overall a fun, clever puzzle, and not really that hard. Thanks, Patrick!

BTW, what causes my post to vanish into the ether when I hit PUBLISH? Is there a way to avoid it?

Robert Herrick 11:08 AM  

Carpe Diem

Greene 11:15 AM  

Superb puzzle! @Joho really nailed how I felt working this: for once, a Sunday puzzle where I'm not just filling in squares. My mind was completely engaged (and frequently shorting out) for the duration of this beauty.

I was slow to find my first rebus squares, but knew something was amiss when AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS would not fit. Ditto for CRANK CASE. I finally cracked the theme at the REDS/ED Gormé cross. I was immediately able to fix the Verne novel and CRANK CASE issues. Loved how JOHN Q PUBLIC crossed with QP DOLL. So clever.

I just read Mr. Berry's book, Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies, in which he spends a great deal of time discussing selection and development of themes. I can really understand how much brainstorming went into a puzzle of this complexity and theme density. Said book is highly recommended. Bravo Mr. Berry. Encore, please.

@Fikink: I too was rescued in the NE by Sir Noel's clever ditty. I cannot ever hear any lyric from that song without picturing a very sardonic Elaine Stritch. It's really become her signature number.

Noam D. Elkies 11:38 AM  

Yes, a great theme, and very challenging for a Sunday. It seems that all of the phonetic readings of theme squares yield complete words, with the occasional word pair (14D:"CU"LATER), but nothing like EYES"ND"RS or S"PQ"RMIND. Perhaps that kind of thing would have made an already challenging puzzle too hard. Alas part of what made it challenging was the questionable fill already noted, plus way too many showbzzzz names, some in theme entries (yes, 60A/D was a blatant Natick) — the kind of clue where as far as I'm concerned WHOGIVESA[obscenity]"NE"WAY? was always a sufficient answer. And yes, alas no entries with two or more phonetic pairs like YOUR"XL""NC" or MORBID"OB""CT" (not that I'd really expect to find "morbid obesity" in a NYTimes grid — though speaking of [obscenities] I'm surprised 101D:MISHIT was allowed).

The DM square was what clued me to the theme too, though at first I thought the DIEM was obtained as "D, i.e. M" (via "that is to say" = "i.e."), so needed another theme square to define the theme.

106A:ATONIC is not a musical term; according to it's only an adjective, though I suppose the noun use is inferable. The Amtrak meaning of the verb 80D:ENTRAIN is attested by, going all the way back to 1881, but it still feels laughable to me.

The complete grid reveals some neat pairs: 122A:TEATS and 125A:YEATS anchoring the bottom, the consecutive 119A:ROLE and 120A:AIDA, and 57A:SMUT (one of a number of inventive clues) in the same column as 109D:SMUT; maybe also 18D:LETSBE atop 62D:LESSEE.


Van55 11:39 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Just enough of a challenge.

Had to use google maps to get San Rafael, but otherwise needed no outside aid.

JannieB 11:43 AM  

@Meg - thanks for the head slap. I saw the leopard clue, nothing came to mind so I left it alone. Finished the puzzle and never went back to that clue. But when I read your post, I did exactly that and it all made sense. (This post was written on my IMAC - doh!!!!)

slypett 11:43 AM  

I felt bent and twisted, hair-pulled and eye-gouged. From reading Rex and the comments, I know it's just me, but I found this puzzle unpleasant. To add contumely to injury, I finished with two blank stares, er, squares.

On the otherhand I enjoyed the tweets, especially kathycacase and laconic1, which made me laugh.

With regard to PAREN: When I was a proofreader, we used that word in preference to the very slow-moving parenthesis.

abby 11:44 AM  

I guess I can see where others enjoyed this puzzle, but I have a particular dislike of puzzles with two letters in one square, especially those where there is no rhyme nor reason to where they fall! I managed to complete it with my partner (we always work the puzzles together) and a little help from Google.

Ruth 11:47 AM  

And now I find out that I never knew the actual meaning of "salient." From its usage, I thought it was roughly the same as "pertinent" or "highly pertinent." Connection to "salire" hadn't occurred to me. Thus I am enriched (in many ways) by today's puzzle experience!

Wonder if this puzzle would be a breeze to today's always-texting youth?? (nah--)

PlantieBea 11:51 AM  

What a great Sunday workout! I'm raising my hand for APALL. I had trouble with the JOHN Q PUBLIC guy; I don't think I've heard of him before, and I thought he'd be Joe the Plumber at first. 60D was my natick. Otherwise, this was easier for me than yesterday's challenge.

My favorites were Rex Stout crossing To XS, and Poison IV with shivers.

Thanks very much Patrick Berry for this mental gymnastic!

Norm 11:52 AM  

Still call foul on TEEPAD despite the "explanation" above. Other than that, a fine challenging puzzle. Lots of fun. Especially the uncertainty, as Rex and others have noted, about when/where the next one would appear.

chefbea 11:57 AM  

Tough puzzle but fun. knew 47A was reds right off the bat but it wouldnt fit. Then got ED gorme and figured out the theme. Green with nv and tooth dk were easy but had trouble with the rest.

Been very busy the past few days and havent had time to do puzzles or blog :-(

Now to eat some caviar :-)

PS Happy belated birthday to Rex's daughter and happy anniversary to Rex and sandy

ArtLvr 12:02 PM  

All hail AIDA again! It was a clever puzzle and I saw the gimmick at CANVAS and GREEN WITH N V -- but like friend Twangster above, I couldn't keep my mind on it. My muddled thoughts drifted toward two-letter state abbrs. more than once.

I wanted Pose (119A, might be assumed) for ROLE, and put in/took out TOBY a couple of times. Tried for "Let go" rather than REST E Z and Blade (83D, chisel face) instead of BEZEL. The (10A, Leopard's home) was a blank, and I even got stuck on Bill Moyer for MAHER too long...

Wish I'd saved this until I was free of dizzy Flu symptoms!


treedweller 12:02 PM  

I enjoyed plugging away at this, and finished without google, though I never got the applet to accept my solution. I searched my grid, comparing it to Orange's guest host, but never found an error (tried with only the initial letter in each rebus square and also with both letters). My grid is lost now, but I still don't see any mistakes when I look at Rex's solution. No big deal, though I'm curious as to how my time would have compared to normal.

I never heard of a TOBY mug; I decided, in fact, that it might relate to the "Office" character. My big "duh" was POISONIV. I was reading it as "I.V." and wondering what the heck it was talking about until I was looking for that mistake later. Are you avoiding it so your fingerprints don't tie you to the crime, or what? Anyway, I figured it all out in the end (well, now that others have explained the mug) and had a good time. I really liked TROLLOPE next to TART. thanks, PB and WS.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Something I've never figured do you enter more than one letter in a square in Across Light for a rebus puzzle?

CoolPapaD 12:13 PM  

Hey, wait a sec! Isn't there some kind of "rule" regarding the symmetry of rebus-type answers within a grid (unless one is trying to draw a picture of a boat or somesuch with the puzzle)? I got the theme fairly early, but was bummed when I realized that there was randomness with the two-letter squares.

My personal hell was square 83, where the B was left blank, as I'd never heard of BEZEL nor BENIN. NEVER. All else was gettable from crosses, eventually, but I'm still left a bit unsettled regarding the asymmetry, TWO SAY the least...

Frances SC 12:32 PM  

Last night I watched How to Steal a Million, so the Ritz was on my mind. :-)

Loved the Yeats @ the end, and :-)ed again that Rex had No Comment about its inclusion, denial perhaps?

I'm not sure when the gestalt hit me, as I started this late last night and did just bits & pieces. The CANVAS/NV clue was a light bulb over my head and I went back to the beginning and enjoyed it all enormously.

Also enjoyed all the comments, esp. the deleted ones! Must have been a really aggravating experience for some!

John 12:54 PM  

Had JOESIXPACK for 103A,and wondered "The Abbott & Costello movie, was Coeds spelled with a K???". Finally figured out QPDOLL and everything was Jake! Fun romp!! Thanks to PB and Rex!!

Doug 1:04 PM  

Very clever and entertaining. It took me a long time to solve, so goodness knows how long to clue it.

@RP: The tweets are classic--Keep'em coming. You can't invent this stuff!

Randy 1:11 PM  

Enjoyed this challenging puzzle tremendously; proud of myself for finishing w/o resorting to Google. Then Rex's great write-up for dessert. Kudos to both authors. Wanted JOE SIXPACK for 103A. If you didn't know K-TEL, you haven't been watching enough TV.

still_learnin 1:24 PM  

A perfect Sunday puzzle. I was stuck on PHOTOSA and POISONIV. SALIENT gave me SA, but I still didn't get that SA was "essay" til I came here.

I never did get IV. For SHIVERS I wanted SHAKES and I had assumed SALE instead of ROLE. So, I ended up with 3 -- or, is it 4? -- wrong letters. Guess I'm still_learnin!

JannieB 1:30 PM  

@anonymous 12:03 If you are using a PC - hit the "insert key" where you want to entry multiple letters Hit return when done. If on a Mac, use "esc" to do the same thing.

archaeoprof 1:52 PM  

Another "Joe Sixpack" here. But what a workout! I think I'll watch football all afternoon.

Martin 1:57 PM  


An explanation documents why a clue is good. An "explanation" documents why a clue is not wrong. I'm cool with that.

Sam Donaldson 2:00 PM  

@pedsng: Personally, I prefer to have the rebus squares scattered randomly throughout the grid. Like Rex says, it makes you think more and be extra cautious since you never know where the next rebus square may lurk.

Symmetrical rebus squares look pretty and serve to up the complexity of construction, but I'll take the added drama in my solve anytime.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

People can not Guanzhuziji life, nor can block the dates of death, so that my human live forever. Since the lives to come to such a capricious, we should make good care of it, use it to enrich it, so that the capricious, and precious lives, distributing its sublime glory, reflecting the real value of life.

Martin 2:08 PM  

I think that's "Wishes for a fruitful Yom Kippur" in Chinese.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

A chisel face is a bevel not a bezel. I also have never heard tee pad. At a driving range its a mat. On the course its the teeing ground. Clever concept for the puzzzzzle caught on at the K-tel clue. Golfballman

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Unlike most of you, I despised this puzzle. Like Pednsg, I too call foul on lack of symmetry with difficult rebus theme answers without using asterisks in the clues.

I didn't realize that I had cracked the theme rather early because the way I pronounce Carpe Diem is not Dee Emm, but Dee Umm, so I resisted (although I already suspected CU Later/CUdgel).

@Ruth - thought the same thing about the definition of salient, so that was the very last space to fall, with a quick peek at my dictionary and a gigantic UGH for not seeing essay.

I think I'm also the 3rd who wanted Joe Sixpack after getting Jo, but it didn't look like it was going to work, so I resisted and caught onto QP pretty quickly.

Oh well, on the positive side, the acrostic was lots of fun for me. One clue: "Grumpy comrade" made me want to put in Badenov (as in Boris), but it wasn't right. Too bad, I LOVED Rocky & Bullwinkle. The correct answer was amusing, too (but not as much IMO).


mac 2:30 PM  

This was one big Sunday puzzle that was worth the time! I got clued in to the theme at "carpe diem", but still had all sorts of sticky areas to deal with. Never knew John Public had a middle initial, and putting "wry" at 110A wasn't helpful either. I also thought of something Palinesque like Joe Sixpack or Joe the Plumber. I know Benin and bezel, but for some reason I was envisioning a stern Indian face, feathers and all, for chisel face.
For Masters piece I had "hole" for a while, and I seriously doubted 101D ended the way it did before putting in the top two letters.

Can somene tell me about "Carny booth prize"? Never heard about it, although I know what those little dolls look like.

A well-know ceramist called Rhead made Toby mugs that looked like political figures of the time (early 20th century, I think). They are wonderful, and very collectible. Learned a lot on my weekly forays into Portobello Market when I lived in London...

mac 2:31 PM  

P.S. Superb write-up today, Rex!

Glitch 2:39 PM  

Was having a hard time getting started, but when “Around the etc.” wouldn’t fit, and with “TWO” in the title, “figured” there was something going on with numbers. That had me looking at the square that needed “80”, Karats gave me AT and I was off and stumbling to the end. [whew].


I have a cousin that vocalizes punctuation, like, you know, peren. She also still uses “air quotes” paren.

One day I discovered a curious set of “things” in one of our parks, Each had a sign “tee pad”, and an arrow. Found out it was a Disk Golf course, and after reading up on it, decided I never wanted to play. [BTW Regular Golf was never mentioned in the clue]

Between my cousin and Disk golf, TEE _AD stayed outside of Natick for me.


The NYT Magazine’s “On Language” column this week explains “out of left field”, for a crazy or weird, is actually a baseballism. When the Chi Cubs moved to Wrigley Field their old field was taken over by the Univ Of Ill which built a mental institution --- in left field.

Also a good section on “phantonyms”, words that look like they mean one thing, but actually mean quite another. “Salient” may be one.


Finally, remember there are no “rules”. Symmetry, 15x15, abbreviation signals, and all the other things we expect, are styles or guidelines, and may be (and have been) waived by the Editor. My favorite in the set I saw was that “words need not be in the dictionary …”


Glitch 2:39 PM  

Was having a hard time getting started, but when “Around the etc.” wouldn’t fit, and with “TWO” in the title, “figured” there was something going on with numbers. That had me looking at the square that needed “80”, Karats gave me AT and I was off and stumbling to the end. [whew].


I have a cousin that vocalizes punctuation, like, you know, peren. She also still uses “air quotes” paren.

One day I discovered a curious set of “things” in one of our parks, Each had a sign “tee pad”, and an arrow. Found out it was a Disk Golf course, and after reading up on it, decided I never wanted to play. [BTW Regular Golf was never mentioned in the clue]

Between my cousin and Disk golf, TEE _AD stayed outside of Natick for me.


The NYT Magazine’s “On Language” column this week explains “out of left field”, for a crazy or weird, is actually a baseballism. When the Chi Cubs moved to Wrigley Field their old field was taken over by the Univ Of Ill which built a mental institution --- in left field.

Also a good section on “phantonyms”, words that look like they mean one thing, but actually mean quite another. “Salient” may be one.


Finally, remember there are no “rules”. Symmetry, 15x15, abbreviation signals, and all the other things we expect, are styles or guidelines, and may be (and have been) waived by the Editor. My favorite in the set I saw was that “words need not be in the dictionary …”


Rex Parker 2:50 PM  

"Allow me to google that for you":

Def. 1 of "bezel": A slanting surface or bevel on the edge of a cutting tool, such as a chisel.

As for asymmetry of rebus squares — what Sam D said. We've seen it before, and it makes the puzzle tougher / more interesting. Sometimes I like such symmetry, but other times it just makes the puzzle too easy. I don't want half the rebus squares to be identifiable before I even get to their clues.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

I got the theme first from GREEN WITH __ in the relatively easy SE corner. APPAL though IN 1A totally stumped me. It's a variant! The normal spelling is APPALL which makes 4d not ANT but "AL"ANT. I Googled "aolent" and "aiolent" thinking this was some obscure word for a queen's damsel, but all I got was QUEEN'S GAY PORN SERVANT! headlines. Toby was my second last too. Loved the puzzle. Only one thing could have made it better: the color option. Posting separately on that.

edith b 3:07 PM  

Since this puzzle was asymmetrical that was the way I approached it. Like Leslie, I am slightly OCD about starting in the NW but, with a puzzle like this, I was forced to hopscotch around until I saw what was happening.

I had about a quarter of it done when I finally saw the rebus at the RE(XS)TOUT/TO(XS) cross and that was my breakthrough moment and I chug chug chug pushed ahead towards a solve. It's lack of symmetry was its best feature as I couldn't go to where the rebus information was and fill in the squares as one is able to do with a traditional rebus puzzle.

I always find a Patrick Berry effort to be stimulating and have a sense of satisfaction when I finish one. This on was particularly memorable as 86D TATIANA is my granddaughter's name.

John Bostrom 3:07 PM  

Imagine the theme answer spaces highlighted in some pastel color. I would gladly give up the expected loss of difficulty for the aesthetics of the result - thought it's by no means certain that couldn't be offset by clues useing varying color factors as additional elements. In cases like today's puzzle, the double-letter spaces could be highlighted in one color, the full answer in another. Creative use of color could open up a whole new range of possibilities for both themes and clues. E.g, couldn't "GREEN WITH NV" somehow be clued by reference to a green highight? It seems like a whole new dimension for the puzzle, and I'd bet it would both make the puzzle more enjoyable and draw many more people to the joy of solving.

Ulrich 3:22 PM  

@Sam Donaldson and Rex: I want to second you w.r.t. rebus symmetry. As I've said before, I'd like to see both types b/c each has its charms.

More generally, one of the things I enjoy most in xword puzzles is to figure out the "rules" constructors set out for themselves that I have not seen before. As a result, I do not understand people who get mad at a puzzle b/c they couldn't figure out how it worked--flexibility of mind is needed if you want to get the most out of NYT puzzles. Never-changing rules would take the spice out, for me...

In conclusion, I really liked today's puzzle, even if it gave me fits in parts... did @NDEs inventions---great stuff!

Ruth 3:33 PM  

@mac, not exactly sure what your question is about "carny booth prize"--it just means prizes given at a carnival game (the people who run these are referred to as "carnies" and a tough, scary bunch of people they seem to be--but they have a hard life!). The kewpie doll was a classic prize for accomplishing such feats as knocking over 3 milk bottles or shooting the ducks in the gallery. Don't think you see many actual kewpie dolls these days, but the expression "give the little lady a kewpie doll" was something I would hear at times in my youth, in a sardonic way.

Ulrich 3:37 PM  

...oh, and it's nice to see dk and Andrea united at last, if only in a puzzle...

joho 4:17 PM  

@Ulrich ... oh, that comment is priceless. TOOTH(DK) and Andrea DORIA united in a Sunday puzzle. Beautiful.

I also second your comment about "flexibilty of mind" and figuring out the constructor's rules ... that's what makes these puzzles ... the great ones ... so much fun. Who knows where we're going? I know I'll be along for the ride.

mac 4:19 PM  

Thank you Ruth, for the explanation. It's quite simple, I never heard of the abbreviation "carny" and even if I had, I would not know to connect carnivals with qp-dolls. I've only seen them in antiques shows.

A propos of nothing at all, I heard that the NY/NJ Nets are now called the Nyets.

Mme. M 4:22 PM  

i found this hugely unpleasant. would it have killed them to add either stars on the clues or circles in the grid? i might have been able to guess better had i known more of the fill. BUT.

my problem was the factoid clues - maybe i'm too young for them? rex stout died in '75, i've never seen a kewpie doll, and no one seems to know who eydie gorme is. the fill was iffy, too. not to sound like a whippersnapper, but if you're under 30, references to obscure pop culture from 40 years ago isn't hard, it's impossible. did NOT enjoy this puzzle in the slightest.

joho 4:30 PM  

@HudsonHawk ... I just noticed a comment I made a while back didn't appear here. I totally agree with you that's it's TEE BOX. Even though it's evident that there's a game called Disc Golf ... when the clue says "golf" it's a TEE BOX. To @Glitch who said the clue didn't say what kind of golf, jeez, what kind is there other than the game of golf we all know? Oh, wait, I know it's disc golf. Should have been clued "variant." But, that was my only gripe with this wonderful puzzle. I'd love to know what Patrick B. thinks about that particular clue.

Bill from NJ 4:41 PM  


I remember the first time I discovered a rebus puzzle. I didn't even know there was such a thing but the only way that puzzle made any sense at all was if there was more than 1 letter that went into that square and, I'll be damned if that pattern didn't persist through out the puzzle! I thought that was a fascinating idea and never forgot it.

Unless somebody explained the concept of a rebus puzzle to you, that is the way that most of us discovered a rebus puzzle - by doing. As Ulrich pointed out far better than I could, that is one of the charms of doing puzzles of any kind: figuring out the rules of construction as you go along.

I think it kind of adds to the sense of community one has with those of a kindred spirit.

AV 4:53 PM  

I liked the puzzle - it was HARD for sure, but I could relax on a rainy Sunday and tax the brain cells as I (like Rex) hunted for those elusive two-fers!

@Noam: Check out NY Times, Sun, Jan 07, 2007 SPELLCHECK, which includes some of your suggestions.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

My personal hell is fear of people, strees, grass, traffic lights and oxygen molecules. I haven't left my house since 1964. Thank God for crossword puzzles!

Unknown 5:02 PM  

I liked the theme, even though it tripped me up quite a bit.

But MARKERGENE? No. Just no. A marker gene isn't typically chromosomal, it's something that's introduced into plasmid DNA, like a gene for antibiotic resistance.

fikink 5:02 PM  

@Bill from NJ, I think maybe you have touched upon the fact that some of us find "speed solving" counter-intuitive, even though Will has been able to parlay the idea into a small empire. And these days, many new solvers come to crossword puzzles through that portal.

chefwen 5:23 PM  

Fourth tough puzzle in as many days but it was fun, if not, time consuming. Got it with GREEN WITH NV. Of course one of my first fills was TEEmat. Oh well!

Shout out to my famous doggy TOBY.

Glitch 5:26 PM  


I'm sorry I wasn't clear with "[BTW Regular Golf was never mentioned in the clue]"

What I meant was the clue was "Driving surface", no mention of ANY kind of GOLF. I inserted "regular" as that's what most were assuming, incorrectly.

The answer, after all, could have been ASPHALT if it fit.


CoolPapaD 5:31 PM  

@Sam Donaldson and Rex (and others) - I am OK with the asymmetry, as long as it's not a violation of any unwritten crossword law. It was unexpected (by me), and it did indeed make the puzzle harder, but it was still a fun challenge.

By the way, both of your write-ups today were great. Sam's substitute gig for Orange was the first I saw (in the wee hours of the morning), when my brain felt quite MT after finishing the puzzle.

Ulrich 5:39 PM  

@Glitch: To lend credence to your point: "asphalt" was the first answer I considered, but saw it was one letter too long...

..and I really like tulip trees. We see little ones sprouting all around our house every year, and I always try to replant them in spots that appear too tree-less--they grow very fast and have beautiful blossoms. Their fall colors are nothing to write home about, tho...

Stan 5:48 PM  

Pretty amazing puzzle in both conception and execution. But for me, just too hard to finish using my usual "dogged persistence" method. Once I became stuck in an area of white space, knowing that every blank square could be *any* one or two-letter combination was just too dizzying.

So, to address anyone else who crashed and burned on this: Don't feel bad! When Rex says it's a hard puzzle, believe me it's a hard puzzle. Most Sundays are way easier...

Elaine 5:48 PM  

Oh, my.
I have never played (WILL never play) golf, so my first thought about a driving surface was road-related. TARMAC!...but then an E came along. So I put TEEMAT. I guess I was not outraged because I don't really know any better.

Am I the lone solver who first got the rebus tip-off from CRANKCASE? and of course I knew the Casey Jones poem.... and I rather enjoyed winkling out the hidden tricks.

So, @Mme.M:
I am sure this was a frustrating puzzle for you, but many of us actually (gasp) date from the moth-eaten old Forties. Rex Stout's books are still available (and readable,) so it's not too much of a stretch to use him in a puzzle. After all, even a young whippersnapper like REX got these clues. (I can say that because I once called Rex that very thing to his face--well, via e-mail.)

It's nice for us rickety old gray heads to sit in our rocking chairs and reflect on one of the few benefits of advancing age-- our vast stores of general knowledge, trivia, and experiences, with which we solve puzzles that leave said whippersnappers fuming.

Chin up! Tomorrow is Monday!

Three and out,
Elaine (just call me Granny) W.

michael 5:57 PM  

I liked this, challenging, but possible. Still, at the end I was puzzled by bezel and tee pad (both of which turned out to be right).

Drove through Natick this morning...

PIXcle 6:31 PM  

clever...well done...hard but mostly fair

chefwen 7:12 PM  

@Elaine (Granny) W. - Well said!!!

Anonymous 8:01 PM  

My favorite kind of puzzle. I start out thinking it's easy, then I gradually realize there's something going on, but what? I really didn't think I would be able to finish it but I did, kind of (had to come here for three or four stumpers). I love the feeling of starting out thinking "impossible" and ending up 42-across.

jeff in chicago 8:32 PM  

Hi people...Long time no see.

Wow...this was tough tough tough for me. Took three sessions and a couple Googles. In then end, though, very satisfying.

I have played disc golf for years. I carry 14 discs in my bag. Plus two spotters. I've heard the chains rattle after my drive a few times, but no aces to date. And yes, I am a member of the PDGA. Still, TEEPAD did not come easily.

retired_chemist 9:52 PM  

Liked it. Enjoyed the challenge. finished with one error:

67D TO(pe) - a correct answer. Crossing thus is RE(pe)TOUT as a detective fiction writer. NOT a correct answer, but I thought it was just the name of a writer I had never heard of. Detective fiction is not my genre.

More like yesterday's and today's puzzles, please.

~ Oliver Chemist

jae 9:53 PM  

Nice tough Sun. workout. It was fun tiptoeing through this one looking for the land mines. Which means I'm with Rex, SamD, Ulrich (well said BTW), et. al. in finding the lack of symmetry a plus.

@Elaine -- my sentiments also!

fergus 10:20 PM  

Doing this at the beach with non-puzzle friend who was getting curious and kind of into it. Kept on popping up from the sand, with another possibility. She found the double letters acceptable, but that they could show up anywhere made for a pretty steep challenge. I said that Sunday puzzles puzzles don't generally require as much concentration.

HudsonHawk 10:57 PM  

@joho and glitch, I actually considered other driving surfaces, including asphalt, tarmac, etc., but once TEE_A_ was firmly established, I focused on golf (which, as glitch pointed out, was not in the clue).

FWIW, I've played a fair amount of Ultimate as well as some Disc (aka Frisbee) Golf, so I'm not unaware of the game. Nevertheless, we just called it the TEE. Same with regular golf, more often than not.

Again, other than that square, I really enjoyed the puzzle. But that final square was a downer.

John Q Public 11:07 PM  

Super-fantastic puzzle. Great job by the constructor. Love the idea of making the theme clues non-symmetrical, so you never knew where they were going to show up.

I knew something was up w/ a rebus at toothDK, but did not figure it out until hitting TooXS.

Took an hour, but it's one of those puzzles that was just fun to wrestle with. Thanks, Patrick.

bratton fan 9:36 PM  

I just want to mention that the answer KTel/KTSagal is false.

The name Katey isn't pronounced KT by anyone I've ever met. It's pronounced KD. Perhaps Cary Grant said KT. But I don't even think a modern Englishman would do so. Just weird. The sort of thing unfortunately I expect from the Times puzzle these days.

nurturing 9:48 PM  

@Mme.M: you said "my problem was the factoid clues - maybe i'm too young for them? rex stout died in '75, i've never seen a kewpie doll, and no one seems to know who eydie gorme is."

Well, showing my age - 62 - these were givens to me (how can you not know who Eydie Gormé is? Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé? Steve and Eydie? They still do concert tours and take TV roles). Thank you, Patrick Berry! (Did you know Ruth Stout, the mulch goddess, who grew gorgeous vegetables by hiding her banana peels and all other organic matter at the foot or her plants, under the foliage, was Rex Stout's sister? She is one of my personal idols!)

Not too long ago, it seems, I was under 30 myself, like Mme.M. Now I have 4 children over 30 and only 2 left under. Time passes swiftly.

For me, references to Abbott and Costello go too far back. Of course, I know what they looked and behaved like and have caught sequences of their comedy, but otherwise, they were before my time.

Spinning wheel...

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

Golfed my whole life and have never seen a "tea pad".

william e emba 9:31 AM  

Again, a late post-Yom Kippur comment.

I liked this puzzle a lot. I like it when a theme is essential for helping me solve a puzzle. Guessing CU-LATER opened the NE for me. And I like it when a cross-reference (which I normally hate) helps me solve a puzzle. Working from GAT to PISTOL opened the NW for me.

This puzzle became officially Difficult when I had two small areas open after one hour. About 10 minutes later, I was down to one small area, Oklahoma. I really couldn't crack B--L "Chisel face", because I knew it was a BEVEL, as in angled surface, but neither EV or VE helped with the theme. Aargh.

I had to overnight Oklahoma, and then next morning, after I went at P--- ("Masters piece") one more time, it was like, OK, not a golf clue, not a tennis clue, not an academic clue, definitely not a chess clue, perhaps it's a famous person clue AHA!!! Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology, popped into my head instantly. I haven't read it in 30 years, but heck, it's an American classic. The rest finished instantly. Although I was shocked to see BEZEL, because I knew that was wrong, BEZEL's are gem faces, but I looked it up in my dictionary, and there it was, definition number one: bevel on a tool. I hate that. (And 100% predictably, someone here couldn't bother to doublecheck before posting. Sheesh.)

Regarding complaints about EyDie GORME and Katie SAGAL: both have been in the puzzle, GORME about a year ago, SAGAL perhaps just two months ago.

Somebody literate has not heard of REX STOUT? Sheesh squared. "Fer-de-Lance" was a stone cold gimme that told me right off that there was something funny with the fill. I've read the complete Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe mysteries, and I recommend everybody do the same. Most were very good, there were maybe two or three duds in the entire series, and a handful that were over the top fantastic. (For what it's worth, my decision to finally start reading Stout/Wolfe was because of a NYT Double Acrostic about 8-9 years ago that had such a fantastic quotation from him that I couldn't put them off any later.)

K-TEL is not an obscure company. They invented the "as seen on TV" genre of advertizing, and in addition to all their notorious music compilations, they sell things like the Veg-O-Matic and other junk you can live perfectly fine without. I gave up television over thirty years ago, and I still remember them.

Amelie 12:09 PM  

I liked the juxtaposition of MAMA and LEONE. Anyone else craving pasta?

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

hi all--I HATE "TBSP" for "medication dosage". No physician has ever written for a "TBSP" of medicine to be administered. Ever.

Father Mapple 9:21 PM  

Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal.

Anonymous 9:42 PM  

why all the snobbery over " a tv actress"? not only did Katy Segal star in 2 very popular tv series she sang back up for Bette Middler for years and has a fantastic voice

PeterThomas 10:38 AM  

9/27/09. I play a lot of golf and have never heard the term tee pad. It's a tee box. Period. Bob

rckolon 10:33 PM  

Somewhat unfair to have no clue how many double letter squares exist, or where. This puzzle took me two weeks to get about 85% done, before I had to resort to the dictionary and google. I usually get over 90% done in a week. Yeah I am that slow. But I do them in ink.

Sue O 3:14 PM  

It was tough, but I finished it all (except for the xs bit) without resorting to cheating. Still catching up on old puzzles. Your comment about the Achille Lauro reminded me of my family's trip on the Angelina Lauro in 1967 when we emigrated to New Zealand. I think they had a typhoid epidemic on board a few years later.

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