Marine snail — THURSDAY, Nov. 12 2009 — Dictionary of linguisitics linguist / Singer with 2002 hit Ignition / Heartlight singer 1982

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Diamonds! — a diamond rebus puzzle, with five diamonds scattered throughout the grid

Word of the Day: WHELK (65A: Marine snail)n.
Any of various large, mostly edible marine snails of the family Buccinidae, having a pointed, spiral shell, especially Buccinum undatum, which is commonly eaten in Europe.

[Middle English welke, whelke, from Old English weoloc.]

When I saw Brendan's name on the by-line and the slightly funky-looking grid (those are some weirdly-shaped black chunks in the W and E), I braced myself for something barbaric. Instead I got a pretty straightforward rebus puzzle. After a bit of flailing around in the NW, I uncovered the first diamond, and then went looking for a heart, a spade, and a club. But I quickly turned up another diamond in the NE, and then I knew that there would be no more big surprises (probably). The middle answer provides a nice title for the whole puzzle (A DIAMOND is Forever) with the diamond square giving its puzzle a distinctive, quirky asymmetry (other diamond squares have rotational symmetry). I feel like I've seen a diamond rebus before, but maybe I've seen the card suit rebus, or a baseball diamond-related puzzle (or two). This is a super-solid and enjoyable, but the truth is that Brendan is giving away better (more daring, exciting, adventurous) stuff than this 3x/week at his personal website. His NYT stuff, while still good-to-excellent, is starting to feel conservative by comparison.

Theme answers:

  • DIAMOND Jim Brady — 1A: Tycoon who was reputedly the first person in New York City to own an automobile
  • DIAMOND ring — 1D: Union symbol?
  • DIAMOND Head — 10A: Hawaiian landmark
  • DIAMONDbacks — 10D: Chase Field team
  • "A DIAMOND is Forever" — 36A: Classic marketing tagline
  • DIAMOND Lil — 37D: Mae West role
  • Black DIAMOND — 44D: Symbol for a difficult ski run
  • Neil DIAMOND — 67A: "Heartlight" singer, 1982
  • Hope DIAMOND — 54D: Subject of a renowned curse
  • Baseball DIAMOND — 68A: Home setting

Had a slow start and slow finish on this one, but otherwise (once I attained knowledge of the theme), the puzzle actually felt pretty easy. I had to dredge WHELK from my brain, which was difficult because A. I had no idea who this non-architect PEI guy was (60D: "Dictionary of Linguistics" linguist) and B. I had crossed my crosswordese and written in ARN (son of Prince Valiant) for AWN (58D: Plant bristle), thus taking away the "W" that whould have helped whith WHELK.

I did not know DIRT could be pluralized (52D: Grimes).

Thought both RECTO (32A: Chapter's starting point, usually) and TORIC (20A: Like some fancy soap bubbles) had tough clues on them today. TORIC bubbles!?!? What kind of space-age bubble bath produces TORIC bubbles?? I think I would get out of a bath that was giving off bubbles shaped like miniature inner tubes. RECTO is a technical book term referring to the side of the page that's on the RIGHT when you're reading (opp. side is VERSO).

This felt like a very witchy puzzle, what with the witch MELTED up top (4D: Like the Wicked Witch of the West at the end of "The Wizard of Oz" — first answer in the grid), and the "curse" of the HOPE [DIAMOND] and a HEX in the NE (11D: Whammy), and SPELLS in the SW (50A: Kisses may break them). Also a little known fact that the full title of R. KELLY's most famous song was "I Believe I Can Fly (Like a Witch)." (24A: Singer with the 2002 hit"Ignition")


  • 22A: "Corydon" author (Gide) — yikes. The title looked somewhat familiar, but needed that "D" to bump that four-letter author name from my brain to the page.
  • 13D: Airport code of the world's busiest airport (ATL) — I've probably said this before, but "world's busiest!?" I had no idea.
  • 27D: Jason who starred in TV's "My Name Is Earl" (Lee) — did that show get canceled? I watched only the first few eps and then lost track.
  • 36D: His first opera was "Rosamund" (Arne) — off the "A," with no knowledge of said opera. Composer, four letters, starts "A" — only once choice. ARNE is the oldest of old skool crosswordese.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. HELLO FROM THE FUTURE (12/17/09, today, real today) — please enjoy a free puzzle by Patrick Blindauer and me, in honor of today's very special TV anniversary... get it here. Thank You. We now return you to the past ...

P.P.S. For those who missed it on Tuesday, here's the special "40th Birthday" puzzle by Eric Berlin, commissioned by me to celebrate my 40th birthday month — but the puzzle has nothing to do with me. It celebrates another, far more noteworthy 40th birthday. Get the AcrossLite (.puz) version of the puzzle at Amy Reynaldo's site, HERE. Otherwise, just click "Print" below and enjoy.

How the Neighborhood Has Changed


John 7:48 AM  

What a FUN puzzle. Got the rebus from DHEAD, and popped in DJIMBRADY for 1A and DRING for1D, and was off to the races! I doff my chapeau to BEQ!

dk 8:03 AM  

Had to eat WHELKS on an OUTWARD Adventure off the mid-coast of Maine. Not bad when boiled in salt water with dandelion greens and wild onions.

BLACKD was my cue for the rebus.

RECTO is unknown to me.

TORIC bubbles - A high IQ tween girl band?

Had purl (aging sweater) instead of CURLS and realized both will work as large purchase orders (POS) are a subject of Inc. as well. Yes, yes, it is obscure.

nanpilla 8:08 AM  

Until I got the rebus, this was looking very hard - then BLACK diamond opened the whole thing up and it fell quickly. I took a chance and filled in the rebus squares symmetrically first, which sped things up. The C in CURL was my last fill - took me too long to parse that.

I always feel like Brendan has to put on a suit and tie and behave when he appears in the NYT. I keep waiting for something a little naughty to show up.

SethG 8:13 AM  

Wow, crashed and/or burned. Ugh.

I made the singular/plural diamond error, but that was easy enough to fix. What wasn't:

♦JIMxxAxx. So for the soaps, TxxIC? I put TALIC. You know, the inferred nasty form of "of or relating to tallow". That left the xSEL for the [North Sea tributary], and I knew ESEL was some crosswordese like that. I figured it had to be BFA instead of MFA from the letter pattern. My first answer for the slow mus. had been LEG, and I never changed the L. And my best guess for the xEVAN county was KEVAN. ♦ JIM BLAKE it is.

Did I say ugh? BEQ had a puzzle recently with a bad crosses theme, and I nailed all of those. Here, not so much... Approved.

Elaine 8:28 AM  

Fun puzzle. I knew Diamond Jim Brady at once, then couldn't figure out a way to make it fit. That took me far too long!

Tried ACCENT for 48D (refined in Britain) and TURBOJETS at 62A; wanted CAPILLARY instead of ARTERIOLE....

Finally BASEBALL [Diamond] set me straight, and with just a wee touch of overwriting i finished.

Now that I'm here, I spot an error-- I had DULL for 40A. "Inc. article subjects" did not make sense to me, I'd never heard of "Corydon" even though I love opera, and when I checked the mirror, my aging hair looked DULL! D'oh.

Everything else--in like silk. Just that one quigley little mistake. More, please!

Phil 8:29 AM  

Didn't like this one. ISOLATIVE, DIRTS for starters. TORIC Bubbles? Never happen. Andre' GIDE is obscure enough not to require what has to be his most obscure work as the clue. The clue for RECTO is just wrong - Chapter 1 usually starts on the RECTO page, but subsequent chapters appear randomly on both the left and right pages. Random analysis of my reading/read pile by the couch shows an average of 16/31 RECTOs vs 15/31 versos. This doesn't add up to "usually".
And of course, 51A, YOT(Someone).

Finally, I don't think the lack of symmetry here is "Daring", I think it was the failure to achieve symmetry.

Not approved.

joho 8:32 AM  

I always love a rebus so this puzzle made me very happy.

Like @dk and @nanpilla I got it at BLACK DIAMOND. Then I went back to the top and quickly filled in the theme answers there, next the middle with the bottom, BASEBALL DIAMOND being the last. In fact, the SE corner was the most difficult part of the puzzle for me.

Thanks for the fun puzzle, BEQ!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Loved this! Really fun. Thanks BEQ!

Phil 8:39 AM  

On the other hand, my knowledge of rap is slightly less that the intersection of NDE's & WEE's knowledge of the same, so I felt oddly good about throwing in RKELLY off of virtually nothing.

Jeffrey 8:44 AM  

A weird shaped grid on a Thursday screamed rebus and that fell quickly. I was flying along (like a witch) until 41D - Expert on a 68-Across which I misread as 66-Across and spend a looooong time determining who is an ARTERIOLE expert. EMT?


Anonymous 9:25 AM  

re. RP's 40th puzzle..
Loved it. I think it's the first of yours I've ever done.
(I missed some key players, though.. namely CM, BB, and E.) But, great.

ArtLvr 9:29 AM  

This was cool... full of COUPS! Thanks, Mr Quigley.

Meg 9:32 AM  

There's another PEI?? Mario, who came to the U.S. from Italy. He also wrote "The Story of English".

Wanted WDS for sentence parts. Nice clue.

I got 2 hits off Google for "toric bubble", so I guess they're possible somewhere. 2 hits....not so likely.

I was thinking Exeter, NH and confidently entered KEENE which is a city, not a county.

This was not a hard puzzle, and had none of the 7 words you can never say on TV. I really enjoy BEQ's irreverence; it's refreshing.

Dough 9:35 AM  

I always have trouble with BEQ puzzles. His interests and mine seem to have little overlap. That said, I love opera and the clue for Thomas Arne implies that a later opera of his was more famous. Harumph. He wrote one famous tune ("Rule Britannia") and has a 4-letter name, that's it! Little else noteworthy! Isolative? Arteriole? Toric bubbles? Jason Lee? Anita Diamant? Corydon? Maura Tierney? Dungeons & Dragons items? Airport codes (got to be on some BEQ list of taboos)? That said, I thought the diamond entries were all terrific and this was a solid Thursday. So on with the day.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I got most of this but stalled in the bottom left corner because I was thinking the ski slope was FOURDS, which put the diamond in the wrong square.

Chorister 10:07 AM  

All those BEQ puzzles I work off his website paid off today! Ok, yes, he does rein it in for NYT, but that only threw me off a little - had to keep reminding myself this would not be too wide open.

Being from Phx helped too, because the theme fell at DBACKS.

All of which is not to say I finished quickly. There was still plenty to figure out and I loved it.

mccoll 10:09 AM  

This was fun. Thanks BEQ. Diamond Jim leapt out as did Neil Diamond so this one went Quigley. I got CURL because that's what aging Canadians do when they can no longer play hockey.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:19 AM  

Agree, easy for a BEQ, not so many obscure references.


@Phil - - No such thing as toric bubbles? Maybe around 1:30 in this video (But beware, turn down your sound before clicking, audio screams:) The Gazillion Bubble Show.

retired_chemist 10:25 AM  

@ Meg - "The Story of English" was written by Cran and MacNeil. Don't know what if anything Pei had to do with it.

@ Nanpilla - C in 40AD CURL/COS was also my last fill. Desperately wanted an H instead...

Had BOSOX @ 54D off the O from OTRO. Then saw the theme off 67A, got 1A (which meant changing the M in MFA @ 5D), used symmetry to locate another diamond @ Miami, and.. voilà!

TORIC bubbles are AFAIK an impossibility. The sphere has the lowest surface to volume ratio of any 3D object. Sphericality (no worse a word than ISOLATIVE)is thus enforced upon any spontaneously formed bubble. If someone actually knows how to make a toric bubble, tell us.

Of course if you ingest/smoke the right stuff you can see any shape bubble you d**n please.

Puzzle was fun. Slowish even for me, but faster than a lot of rebus puzzles.

retired_chemist 10:31 AM  

@ Bob K - You may be onto something in the TORIC bubble world. Interesting. How does he get it to happen? Agree it may or may not be legit. Can't tell from the video.

Meg 10:43 AM  

@Ret Chem:

I checked my copy on the bookshelf and you're right. However, Wiki was not wrong. There is a book by the same name written by Pei in 1952 or 53.

How are the puppies?

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

A couple of sticky spots but pretty easy.
Wasn't too thrilled with some of the fill but it worked I guess.
I think an easier toric shape could be made as a smoke ring rather than a soap bubble.
Whelks are yummy.

CoolPapaD 10:53 AM  

Fantastic, but hard. I had trouble in the NE, SW, SE, and NW, as well as the E, N, S, and W. I had nothing filled until I got to AXELS, and then the NE fell. Here in the Valley of the Sun, we call our baseball team the D-Backs, so I wasn't aware of the rebus until much later, and then things fell nicely into place.

Some nice new clues for answers such as PEI and ARNE were welcome. TORIC and RECTO were learned on these pages within the past year or so (thanks, Rex). My biggest problem was keeping ISOLATING in for so long.

Nice, fun puzzle!

william e emba 10:55 AM  

Retired_Chemist, you shock me. You are aware that chemical compounds exist--stably even--in non-minimal energy configurations. That's the secret of catalysis. Why should physical configurations be any different?

Considering today's theme, which has lower energy: diamonds or graphite? Graphite. That is, A DIAMOND IS not FOREVER.

So for a TORIC soap bubble to exist, it just has to be a local minimum.

For those interested, the NYT paper edition has a second crossword puzzle in the arts section today.

Stan 11:00 AM  

Really enjoyable puzzle that I almost gave up on at first. Pushes the envelope less than the BEQ website, but still full of lively, unexpected, in-the-language vocabulary.

Here's a toric soap bubble.

Aviatrix 11:02 AM  

Yay, I love rebuses, and often imagine them where none exists. Yet I kept looking at that six letter blank and trying to figure out how to stick "BLACK" or "DIAMOND" in it. Took a while to realize the answer was both.

Would have liked to see SPELLS and SCROLLS linked in the cluing, "Effects of 49D" or something.

Had OXERS for complex jump: an oxer is a horse jumping obstacle as broad as it is high. What's the chance of a wrong answer having an X in the right place?

Had LHR for a while, and disbelieved ATL so I looked it up. It has been out on top since 2000. London has the busiest airspace on account of having two major airports in the same area.

I could only fit "DIAMON" in my MAGMIC app but it accepted the solution on the first try. Thanks, programmers.

slypett 11:05 AM  

Funny that I got GIDE right off my clunky memory, but had to pester Auntie Google for every other damn name.

I was just along for the ride.

retired_chemist 11:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 11:23 AM  

OK, OK, Stan has convinced me it can be done. TORIC soap bubbles do exist. The video says the place where the loop touches the previously formed part of the bubble is not a seam but an opening, which would be the topological criterion I would use for a real torus. Looks that way in slo-mo clips, so I pull in my horns.

3 and out.

william e emba 11:28 AM  

So Rex got GIDE off the --D-? What a coincidence! I got it off the GI-E!

Woot! I got RKELLY off the RKEL--!

No one is allowed to complain about ANITA Diamant in this puzzle. "Diamant" is French for Diamond, of course.

RetChem: Not all syntheses are from the ground up. You know that. If a system is in a high energetic state, all sorts of configurations will form. Here's a computer generated image of a double bubble, one TORIC. As for making one, look at the Bubble Artist video. Keep doing that, one of them will be a true TORIC bubble. Or make the double bubble by revolving.

retired_chemist 11:30 AM  

@ Wm e emba - Your point about local minima is correct. Stan's clip showed us how, which was my problem.

Don't understand your take on catalysis. Catalysts just provide mechanism(s) to take higher (free) energy substances to lower (free) energy substances without being consumed themselves. Nothing about relative energetics, a thermodynamic issue, inheres in catalysis.

(edit of my 11:12 post).

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

I've seen toric air bubbles many times on dive trips. Dive masters like to blow them to impress us vacationers, as well as for their own amusement.

(I don't know what relevance this might have to toric soap bubbles.)

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Too many obscure clues, but easy enough to solve. The diamond rebus theme has been done to death. BEQ unapproved D-.

retired_chemist 11:57 AM  

@ anon 11:38 - I think toric air bubbles are related more to smoke rings.

4 and out.

matt 11:58 AM  

I sort of feel like if someone else had written this, Rex would have been a little harsher on the vague theme, lack of symmetry, and... DIRTS.

Sam 11:59 AM  

How do you fill in the rebus squares if you're solving on NYT for time? I know how to do it in Across Lite but as far as I can tell the insert key doesn't work when solving in flash

PlantieBea 12:03 PM  

My puzzle fill was awfully sparse until BLACK Diamond revealed the rebus. I didn't know R KELLY, PEI, LEE, LI RR, or GIDE. I could get almost all from the crosses, but I had to look up Ignition singer in the end to finish.

We have quite the collection of Lightning Whelks picked up over the years on Florida beaches, although I usually think of whelks as mollusks rather than snails. I also think of mooring as an anchored item away from land to tie a boat to, and a berth as a fixed slip at a dock. But I see that moorage is any old place to tie a boat, so bearth works.

Thanks for the fun Thursday, BEQ.

jae 12:34 PM  

Being addicted to BEQ's website puzzles paid off on this one. I got the rebus from the Hawaiian clue before entering anything and proceeded to breeze through this. That said, I'm still trying to work out a couple of squares on this week's themeless Wed.

Fun puzzle, nice mix of pop culture and more traditional stuff.

And, thanks folks for the toric bubble seminar.

crackup 12:51 PM  

Felt like I'd been here before, puzzle opened with ski run clue. I do tend to jump around sometimes makes it a little more interesting then going by the numbers!

Campesite 1:08 PM  

I love rebuses, as well as BEQ's work. Puzzle: approved.

Shafty 1:17 PM  

I loved this one but got hopelessly mired in California because I'd screwed up the theme phrase as DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, instead of A DIAMOND IS FOREVER, and refused to own up to my mistake no matter all the clear evidence to the contrary(e.g., "Shouldn't 'some breads' be RYES instead of RYEE? I've never heard of RYEE bread so that has to be wrong," etc.). Ugh. FAIL. (Still, I LOVED the puzzle!)

mac 1:33 PM  

I had a lot of fun with this puzzle! Realized the theme with black diamond, as so many of you, but had left spaces open so it was easy to fill in the shapes. For the central answer I also wanted "diamonds", trying (shape)(shape) and (shape)s, but it worked out. Loved omnibus, tastier, redefines, the sentence parts and my new word, arteriole.
I thought it was Moira Tierney, and struggled with the end of "Isolative".

@william e emba: I noticed that Doubleday bonus puzzle! By the way, are we allowed to complain about "The Red Tent"?

My bath will never feel the same again.....

mac 1:35 PM  

@Rex: enjoyed that Eric Berlin puzzle.

Unknown 1:37 PM  

I'm completely baffled by the two clues: "Inc. article subjects" (33D, 40D). Even with the answer, I'm having trouble making the leap here. Help?

Van55 1:38 PM  

Intentionally obscure cluing of standard crossword fare such as TORIC and RECTO, plus the random Roman numeral MDL ruined this for me. Plus there were too many obscure pop culture answers to suit me. Never heard of My Name is Earl or Jason LEE.

Not my cup of tea today.

retired_chemist 1:43 PM  

Who produces TORIC (OK, not necessarily toric, but still...) bubbles and conducts an orchestra from the bottom of the sea? Answer about 6 PM unless somebody else posts it.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:46 PM  

@Buddy - "Inc." is the name of a magazine having to do with corporate business, hence CFOS (chief financial officers) and COS (companies).

@william e emba - Thanks for the heads up about the second NYT puzzle. Without giving anything away, I would say it has some connection to a recently released book. Too bad there is no credit for the constructor. I have done worse puzzles.

This one tripped me up at least once, since I googled after I finished doing it.

I would complain about 97 D, not to NYT standards, and recommend 55D to certain Rexites.

Clark 1:46 PM  

Started to get the Rebus with the ski run, but thought it might be a double letter thing, like, diAMOND. When I figured it out I then (following in the footsteps of our fearless leader) looked for the three other card suits. DiamondRING set me straight. Crossing of AWN WHELK was a guess. (It could have been ARN RHELK as far as I could see.) Gotta love a rebus. Thanks @BEQ.

And thanks for the toric bubble links. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

@Buddy -- (You're gonna kick yourself.) A 'Co' is a company. A 'CFO' is a chief financial officers. Each is a likely subject of an article in the magazine Inc.

Aviatrix 1:57 PM  

I'm surprised at people not knowing WHELK, even though without Google I wouldn't have had a whelk's chance in a supernova. (What does a whelk have to do with a supernova? It doesn't stand a chance in one.)

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

BEQ is being cut a lot of slack for this one. Any other constructor would have been ripped to shreds. But it's OK to be nice to your friends.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Is the second puzzle thematically about Dan Brown's books? Did not read his new one, only got fair reviews. BTW just started Devil in the White City by Eric Larson - after it was recommended to me by about a dozen people over the years

Charles Bogle 3:05 PM  

like sethg, wow, crashed/and/or burned...personally a bummer, because I did manage to figure out rebus and theme very early--I must be improving! all the theme answers, but could not finish the fill. Alas. Very clever puzzle and strong write-up; thanks, RP

mexgirl 3:10 PM  

Rex, I loved your 40th puzzle! Thanks to my kids I knew much of these guys, but in essence it was very enjoyable. What a year to have been born!

About today's puzzle? I love BEQ's originality and sense of surprise (even though I always get stumped!)

edmcan 3:12 PM  

Gee, I got the rebus right away, strangely enough, and only had trouble on the INC. clues. I got them, but they didn't make sense to me.

sanfranman59 3:55 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 20:45, 18:32, 1.12, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:19, 8:59, 1.26, 94%, Challenging

Today's solve times are undoubtedly affected by the clunkiness of the online user interface for entering rebus answers. For one thing, the interface only allows for a maximum of 4 letters in a square (by hitting Shift-+ three times, then entering 4 letters). This obviously doesn't work with today's rebus since there are more than 4 letters involved. This means using the alternate method of just entering the first letter (in this case, D) and it's hard to know how many online solvers will recall all of this without consulting the FAQ. Conducting science in the real world sure is hard!

chefwen 4:20 PM  

Usually BEQ puzzles beat me up pretty badly, but not this one, I loved it. Stared at NE L for a while then asked my husband if there was a ski term with diamond in it. After that I was off to the races. Had difficulty in the south east corner but ended up victorious. I'll never again groan when I see Brendan's name up top.

AV 5:01 PM  

I see some anonymice blasting BEQ with his own style of puzzle criticisms. Not nice, anonymice. Disclose yourselves!

My two cents: liked the rebus, but would have liked a symmetric diamond in the middle. And if there's no in-the-language phrase with diamond smack in the middle, BEQ could have used a couple of other entries with diamonds? These rebi puzzles are too hard to construct, so I kinda like them all.

David from CA 5:07 PM  

Me thinks Rex doth go easy on his buddy BEQ. Suddenly a theme with messed up symmetry becomes a feature and a lousy plural "DIRTS" gets approval, or at least happy acceptance. No mention of the pileup of abbreviations across the mid-latitudes (COS, CFOS, ENCL, VSO, USS).
Didn't like this one much!

edith b 5:38 PM  

Doing BEQ's puzzles on a daily basis held me in good stead today. I'm not familiar with RKelly's music perse but I am familiar with the name so given the combination of RK**** and a song title, it turned into a neon for me.

I had a problem in the Midlands as I went with the James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever in error and it took a while to straighten it all out and I had a problem with ISOLATIVE in the NW, not being familiar with that form of the word.

I got the rebus right away at the DBACKS/DHEAD cross and, like Elaine, I knew DIAMONDJIMBRADY right away.

slypett 6:25 PM  

Shark: Squeek, the Anonymouse, has earned his battle star with his often witty and always to-the-point posts. He (she?) is a tease but no craven.

jeff in chicago 6:37 PM  

Dolphins make toric bubbles and play with them

andrea curl-a michaels 6:43 PM  

Since people are giving Rex a hard time for cutting his friend slack,
I'll chime in...

I loved that there were FIVE diamonds, which results in TEN clues that work and are knowable and colorful (+ I view Diamant as a bonus clue, since it was ANITA that is in the grid)

Plus stacks of nines in each corner and despite the funky black square clusters, only 40 of them total...

But on the down side, a dozen abbrevs/crosswordese that might have drawn an arched eyebrow in other circumstances:

Actually I thought this was balanced in an old-fashioned way between boy/girl diamond-wise...
in that
despite the mini-deluge of baseball refs (no pun intended, as I've learned they are umps):
there was romance-stuff: D RING, HOPE D, A D IS FOREVER, and IDODO...

And for D JIM BRADY there was D LIL. For NEIL D, there was ANITA D.

So that's balanced.

It's probably some sort of 1950's sex-test...say DIAMOND to a boy and he thinks baseball, to a girl, she thinks ring. Bisexuals, androgyns and poker players think card suit.

@wm e. emba
I also noticed that full page, Sunday-sized puzzle/ad and am a bit put out that the constructor's name is left off.
Even if s/he were paid handsomely, it would be nice to know that puzzles are not "magically constructed" and that person could be commissioned for future work.

@jeff in chicago
A hoax! The Amazing Randi has disproved that TORIC bubbles exist, no matter how many sticks are pointing at them.

treedweller 6:55 PM  

I'm inclined to agree that BEQ is getting a little slack, and was prepared to say so. But then, after essentially giving up with three incomplete sections, I started throwing in guesses and finally finished. I always like the ones I have to work for, so I rescind my unsent criticism. Something about a hard-but-gettable puzzle versus a hard-in-fact-impossible-for-all-but-a-very-few puzzle.

I think this may be the first time I've seen a BEQ rebus. I was all the way down to BLACKDIAMOND before I realized what was going on.

Ulrich 7:40 PM  

@Andrea: I'm glad you brought those funky black squares up: They are "cheater squares", and it is no other than BEQ himself who introduced me to the term--so, they go into the slack that has been cut, together with the detritus already mentioned. However, "Diamant" is not only French, but also German for a certain girl's best friend, and that adds snarkiness to a puzzle that really needs it. In the end, I find myself on the fence...

retired_chemist 8:06 PM  

ret_chem 1:43:

Riddle: Who produces TORIC (OK, not necessarily toric, but still...) bubbles and conducts an orchestra from the bottom of the sea?


michael 8:36 PM  

I got it (with one exception) and liked it. But this was for me hard for a Thursday, more like Friday or an easy Saturday.

I can't imagine what BEQ's site is like, but will stay away since I spend enough time on puzzles already.

Clark 8:40 PM  

Ok everybody, the video that @jeff in chicago put up (at 6:37 PM) is a must see. IMHO. What is it about dolphins?

Elaine 9:16 PM  

SHRIEK! argh argh argh gag cough gag
(I hope you are proud of yourself, young man!)

@Clark, Jeff in Chicago

Oh, wow. I think that dolphins are playful scientists, eh?

Sfingi 9:31 PM  

I don't get it. Is there some way to catch on that it's going to be a rebus? And the other clues were so tangential. Even when I had one right, I had no feeling that it was for sure. With clues like Corydon, there are so many possible answers, back 2 millenia, why not something more to grip? How about "grimes"? I thought of so many possibilities, especially in last names. Totally woozy. How many years does it take to detect the direction of such a puzzle?

Yesterday's puzzle was one day earlier, but half as cryptic and with twice the appeal (101 comments). Luckily, as an old broad, I know I'm not stupid. So, please give the newbies a clue as to how you deal with this twisted, toric Moebius strip. Yeesh!

@Van55 I'm with youse guys, both days.

By the way, yesterday, my comment went into the ether and I reentered it this morning. But I wanted
@Kerfuffle to know my husband's suggestion - The Trouble with Father, and
@Elaine to know that it was Longfellow, in case you don't see yesterday's final comment - mine.

sanfranman59 10:13 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:19, 6:55, 0.91, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:40, 8:36, 0.89, 22%, Easy-Medium
Wed 11:54, 11:47, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Thu 20:59, 18:33, 1.13, 80%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:41, 0.91, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:05, 4:25, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:03, 5:47, 1.05, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 11:14, 8:59, 1.25, 93%, Challenging

The rebus took its toll today. Only 441 solvers vs. an previous average of 554 on Thursdays.

mac 10:14 PM  

@Jeff in Chicago: what a wonderful clip about the dolphins...

retired_chemist 10:14 PM  

@ sfingi - Thursdays by tradition are rebus days, so always keep a rebus in mind as a possibility then. I always feel there is something I am missing, not just that there are answers I do not know, when the puzzle is a rebus.

fergus 10:29 PM  

I'm almost getting to look forward to the Anonymous who writes in Chinese characters -- especially when we find the enigmatic translation.

Trusting in my Bible I thought that most Chapters would begin with a VERSE, so it appeared rather odd when I had to switch that to RECTO.

WHELK ?? I would rather eat a rubber band, given my meager experience. The Whelks were the only flaw in one of those grand Fruits-de-mer towers one often finds in French restaurants the last time I had occasion to indulge.

AV 11:58 PM  

@Darkman: Fair comment, I screwed up. Was looking at Anon at 11:46 and Phil at 8:29, both of whom used the BEQ style of commentary.

@Squeek: Apologies, I take Darkman's word that you are no craven!

slypett 12:42 AM  

Shark: You're a mensch.

Schmidtenor 2:26 AM  

I got a little confused about when Nostradamus lived, and put LDL, since LAURA Tierney looked right. (I've never heard of her, as I don't watch much TV.) Is Maura really a name? Thinking about it later, I guess 1550AD makes more sense than 450AD. Oh well, missed a solve by 1 square, yet again.

retired_chemist 5:13 AM  

@Schmidttenor - LDL isn't allowable as a Roman numeral AFAIK. LDL = (-50) + 500 + 50 = 500 = D. 450 is CDL.

Aviatrix 12:54 PM  

@sfingi: there is no tipoff for a rebus except that you have answers that you KNOW are right but they don't fit. So you look at them and ask if there is a part of that answer that can be represented by something else. And then you try it out.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

I know I am a little late to the party (it's Friday afternoon) but I can't believe there weren't more comments about 26D: Way into NYC=LIRR...For you out of towners, that's the Long Island Rail Road

PIX 4:10 PM  

(continuing the above comment) which bills itself as the largest commuter rail road in the nation. It mostly brings people from Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk) into and out of NYC, so they can work and play there. It insists it is Rail Road (two words) although most other choo choo trains consider themselves a railroad (one word).

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