Biblical land with ivory apes peacocks — WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6 2010 — Alignment celestial bodies / Native of India in British army / Garment in Gujarat

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Constructor: Julian Lim

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: ALL WISE (38A: Like King Solomon ... or an oral hint to 17- and 62-Across and 11- and 29-Down) — theme answers have no vowels but Y, i.e. ALL WISE => All "Y"s

Word of the Day: OPHIR (54D: Biblical land with "ivory and apes and peacocks")

Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר, Modern Ofir Tiberian ʾÔp̄îr) is a port or region mentioned in the Bible, famous for its wealth. King Solomon is supposed to have received a cargo of gold, silver, sandalwood, precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks from Ophir, every three years.


Yipes. Felt like a total meltdown. Never got a flow going. Started by butchering the NW (how is ARF "thin?"), and then just stumbled through the rest of it. Never got properly got the theme. Figured it had something to do with "Y"s before I ever hit the middle, but there were different numbers of "Y"s and the "Y"s appeared in different places, so I had no idea what was going on. Never heard the phrase ALL WISE before. ALL knowing, ALL seeing, ALL powerful, yes. I believe it's a common Solomonian epithet, it's just not a phrase that came easily for me. Don't like the tenuous connection between ALL WISE and the theme answers. ALL WISE would seem to indicate that every letter is a "Y," which of course makes no sense. Floundered through this one and yet still somehow ended up, when I was done, at third on the NYT leader board, which to my knowledge has never happened before (I don't usu. compete against the clock, but still...). Looks like lots o' people struggled with this one, so I feel somewhat better. If I hadn't been a constant solver / blogger, I don't know what I'd have done with stuff like SYZYGY (a gimme bec. of past appearances) (49D: Alignment of celestial bodies), SEPOY (just saw it yesterday when reviewing last year's Words of the Day) (70A: Native of India in the British army), and LESAGE (high-end crosswordese) (47D: "Gil Blas" novelist).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Race energetically past? (fly spryly by) — this was death. I kept misparsing it and seeing FLYS -RYLY ("dryly?") BY. Today's puzzle was hard, in large part, because the theme phrases are not in any way real / inferrable. They're just bizarre.
  • 11D: Where an old wanderer is interred? (gypsy crypt)
  • 29D: What Romeo and Juliet had to do? (sync trysts) — seems wrong. This would imply that two trysts are going on simultaneously, wouldn't it?
  • 62A: Native African's musical beat? (pygmy rhythm)
Once I got out of the NW, I proceeded (in fairly typical fashion) clockwise around the grid, and had a somewhat easier time of it in the NE, middle, S and SE — the OPHIR / DRYMOP (52A: Dust collector) section being the only real snag through those portions. Then there was the SW. Why are the very beginning and the very end always the killers? Well, maybe because an empty grid = by definition zero traction ... and of course the very end is hard — it's the stuff that's giving you the most grief. Still feels oddly repetitive, this struggle / cruise / struggle pattern. A tiny answer threw me today. Very tiny. It's an ATOM (44D: Tiny bit). Can you guess my mistake? I'll give you a second ... ["Jeopardy!" theme music plays here] ... figured it out? Yes, I wrote in A TAD. Common and accurate. Sadly, wrong. SW was therefore rrrrrough, esp. 55A: Stonewall, say (stymie). At one point, out of desperation, I had SAY DIE. I was only 75% of each letter in LESAGE, and so the whole quadrant felt shaky. EBRO finally forced me to reconsider A TAD, and it wasn't long after that the puzzle was done. All the grief in not too much over 6 minutes. Felt much longer. Somehow I'm still tied for 5th on the leaderboard (out of the 103 solvers who are done at 11:28 PM EST). This one must have knocked people on their collective asses.


  • 33A: Todd who directed "I'm Not There," 2007 (Haynes) — not exactly a household name, though he's pretty accomplished. I associate him most strongly with "Safe" (starring Julianne Moore), though the only movie of his that I've actually seen is "Far From Heaven" (really good).
  • 1D: Thin bark? (arf) — how is this "thin?" ARF is a real, full bark. "Thin?" Pfft. Boooooo.
  • 3D: Grammy winner for "Amarantine" (Enya) — blindsided, though I'm sure I've seen the clue before. Four letters, ENYA, Four letters, ENYA, come on, brain!
  • 22D: "... so long ___ both shall live?" ("as ye") — I imagined that this was the part of the vows that you repeat after the minister, so I had "AS WE."
  • 25D: Garment in Gujarat (sari) — man, I really really had no idea where Gujarat was. Sounded Mexican to me. It shares many letters with Guadalajara, for instance.
  • 27D: 2008 title role for Benicio Del Toro (Che) — did not see whatever movie this is. Wanted WOLFMAN, but that's forthcoming.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


George NYC 11:55 PM  

@Rex and I seem to be on same solving sched these days.
I found this a theme more impressive after completion than enjoyable during execution. But since we get 7 puzzles a week, I don’t mind ones like this that cause the solver to ponder the language in all its weirdness. Loved sweat units=BEADS; PYGMY seems a bit un-PC but let’s not go crazy. Liked ZIPLOC as could confirm by looking in my kitchen. Is that cheating? Older but yser!

Tinbeni 1:29 AM  

When I decided to give the NYT CW a shot for a month I knew the Mon-Thur. would be a step up, Fri.& Sat. a real challenge.
And last Friday ... Kicked my Ass!!

But I told myself a new solver ADAPTS, SHIFTS with the wind, can't be a FRAIDYCAT, YEA!

Sooooo, I look for the theme, get ALL WISE (but not yet its meaning) and promotly got STYMIE(d) at this stonewall!

YEW move on, clue by clue, ans., knew CHE not COSI, then you look and have SYZYGY entered (WTF) but I just saw SEPOY the other day, I know this "Y" ... oh, I GIT it.

Nothing CASUAL about this puzzle, no TEASES, Julian Lim I salute you.

Time to DRYMOP my TATTOO(ed) ass off the floor.

@Rex - great write-up & Wolfman clip.

Anonymous 1:30 AM  

all wise because all vowels are the letter y

chefwen 1:52 AM  

Wow, toughest Wednesday I have encountered. Never have seen so many WISE in a puzzle before. Managed to finish with two Googles but did end up with one error, so I guess it doesn't count. Ah me!
Loved FLY SPRYLY BY. Here's hoping for a more enjoyable Thursday.

Still jet lagged Rex?

Campesite 2:00 AM  

Why, there are so many Y's!

Perhaps someday EBRO will be clued as an email penpal ("Don't cyber-taze me, e-bro!").

andrea syzygy michaels 2:42 AM  

@Rex, I think the "1s "Thin" refers to Asta of the Thin, like a crossword clue used to clue a crossword clue. Thin (man)'s dog Asta Arfs. Ryght?

If we hadn't had the bleedover SPRY I would have been really messed up bec I got the first theme answer licketysplit (sp?) but then kept trying to figure out what word would rhyme with GYPSY that meant a prison or something.

PLUS, my usual complaint, FRAIDYCAT is so long that I mistook it for a theme answer till I got to the fauxish ALLWISE...which begs to at least be spelled ALLWYSE.

But, like @GeorgeNYC wrote:
"I don’t mind ones like this that cause the solver to ponder the language in all its weirdness."

Still, you would think at least ONE of the phrases would have made sense...
I mean, wouldn't GYPSYRHYTHM have been lots better and a PYGMYTRYST much more fun? (Short but sweet)

And what's with the scary wedding subtext..."With this ring ITHEE wed" " long ASYE both shall live" just to get in two ugly partials?
My suggestion: hang on to LAID, TWOSET, NESTSIN, change the central entry to ALLRISE and 1A to AMENS, throw in a frightened groom clue for FRAIDYCAT and you have another puzzle.

Tinbeni 3:14 AM  

@Andrea SYZYGY
I always thought I had an active imagination.
Boy do I like the way you think.
Such subtlety turning a puzzle with an answer SYZYGY in it into a Shakespeare tragedy ... marriage.

Oh well, back to the Hubble findings.

Elaine 6:30 AM  

Don't you people sleep? But I digress....

This one kept me clawing for a toe-hold for a bit--but having had more than one wedding, I was able to fill in those blanks lickety split. The SEPOY Rebellion and SYZYGY (remember how Portnoy takes that test?) were also helpful.

I have no clue why I knew OPHIR (and OPAR is what Edgar Rice Burroughs called it in his fifth Tarzan book.) I got ALLWISE at once, and "getting" the theme should have helped me more....but again, why did that come to mind so readily?
Did not Google, but I admit I looked at my phone for 64D. Tsk. The last thing to go in was L in LOTTERIES/LESAGE. Hand up for A TAD (after iota and before ATOM).

FLY SPRYLY BY was the only "theme" phrase that suggested itself at once--from the F--though it did mean giving up PERCHES for 4D.

I certainly feel like I was in a tussle. Will be on the lookout next time Julian Lim's name is on the byline!

DvN 6:36 AM  

"Arf" is thin compared to the deeper "woof."

Elaine 6:42 AM  

YIP is thinner and theme-ier.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

I dunno, Rex's comments sound like SOUR GRAPES (see Mon.) to me. I thought this was a brilliant puzzle. Multiword answers using only the vowel Y?! How cool!

I think your gripes are groundless. ALL WISE might not be the most common phrase but it is certainly very gettable.

I also think ARF is is a fine answer for thin, as contrasted with "woof" or some other dog sound, as mentioned above. you would only use it for the bark of a smallish dog which would have a thinner sound. I have three Labs and mine definitely do not "ARF". I like the Thin Man hypothesis too!

I also enjoyed STYMIE and SEPOY.

Greene 7:05 AM  

Finished this thing correctly, but I can't say I much like it. Random phrases with "Y" as the only vowel? I suppose, but happened to phrases being in the language?

I got stuck in the NE since I had ONE SET instead of TWO SET. Amazing how long it took me to let that go. Just could not see GYPSY CRYPT for the longest time either. When I finally got it, no AHA. Just, meh and a feeling of gratitude that it was done.

I did love SYZYGY though. I know we've had it before, but never on a Wednesday as far as I remember. I learned that word from Bill Finn's (he of Natick fame) The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, one of the funniest and oddest musical shows I've ever seen. SYZYGY was the first spelling word (during a sort of prologue).

Hand up for A TAD instead of ATOM. EBRO set me straight though (after I stared at EBRA thinking "Where in blazes is that river?").

Hopefully we'll have a good rebus puzzle tomorrow.

JannieB 7:45 AM  

I agree with @George - I like a puzzle that focuses on the weirdness of the language. But I also agree that the theme answers should be in the language or at least coherent phrases. "Sync trysts" makes no sense at all to me.

Didn't have much trouble otherwise - about an average Wednesday time for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:46 AM  

I've always considered puzzles like this to be "my kind of puzzle". But it killed me as I continue to time myself, casually - almost 12 minutes. The SW got me, as it did Rex et al, since I didn't know LESAGE and couldn't decide whether Stonewall was a Civil War general or a bar in NYC.

Finally finished with just one write-over, had GMT before GST.

All in all, loved it.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:50 AM  

On second look, I would cry "foul!" at 11 A. The clue is "Prime meridian std." and the answer is "GST". So we have "standard" cluing "standard"? Don't we have rules against that sort of thing?

Bob Kerfuffle 8:06 AM  

On third look, apparently there is such a thing as Greenwich Sidereal Time. I retract my "foul!".

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Never seen AA batteries in a smoke alarm/detector always 9 volt. Amy Winehouse is getting a work out this week 3rd or 4th appearance for me. Golfballman

edith b 8:09 AM  

You know you are doing too many puzzles when you can solve the thing in a reasonable amount of time, with no errors, and still have no idea what sort of animal you have by the tail.

When I retired from teaching, my teaching friends, knowing I loved books, gave me a beautifully illustrated copy of Gil Blas as a retirement gift. It was over a 100 years old and gorgeous, not meant to be read but looked at - a perfect gift for a book lover and an emblem of what this puzzle represented to me - filled in completely but untintelligible.

I had to come here to figure out the theme only to find out it was just as opague to Rex as it was to me. A true WTF.

Rex Parker 8:40 AM  

The theme description explains: no vowels but "Y", thus ALL WISE = "ALL Ys." Don't know "Y" someone thought this needed restating...

I considered "Thin Man" as possible context for ARF, but immediately discarded it. Too attenuated a reference to be plausible. The dog's name isn't "Thin." If "Thin" had been enclosed in quotation marks, I might have bought it. But you have to fill in two logic leaps (Thin to "Thin Man," "Thin Man" to Asta, Asta to BARK) to make this work. Never seen that before.

Hey, google [thin bark arf] and I'm #1.

And if you accept that ARF is "thinner" than some other bark (absurd) then you don't need the "Thin Man" hypothesis. I'm sure the cluer *intended* one of those meanings (I don't see any other possibilities), but neither works.

I'm sure there is some master list somewhere of "English words in which "Y" is the only vowel." Arranging those words into random phrases doesn't qualify as brilliance.

mac 8:41 AM  

Glad it was "challenging". I got the theme fairly quickly but still had to hop around, ending in the casual, ease, slur section. Thought "sync trysts" was the weakest. Do we call syzygy, Sepoy, Otho and Ophir ueber-crosswordese? Scrabbly? Not Wednesday level to me.

A few false starts: de Sade for Lesage, Arno for Ebro. Really like stymie. Tough puzzle, Corgy!

"Far from Heaven" is very good. Last night we saw "Other Peoples' Lifes", and that was great.

mac 8:43 AM  

@Elaine: yip, good point!

joho 8:46 AM  

@edith b ... well put! I, too, finished correctly but didn't have a clue what I'd done or Y.

Anybody who's owned a tiny Chihuahua knows that their bark or "arf" is anything but thin on the decibel scale. I think the clue was supposed to mean thin as in thin bark on a tree as a mislead. I like @andrea's theory but think it's a stretch and more clever than what we got.

All the "Ys" are impressive, I must admit, although I really didn't like SYNCTRYSTS. And, in the end, didn't love this puzzle.

Dashiell 8:50 AM  

Nick Charles wasn't "The Thin Man", the "Thin Man" was a murder victim in the novel. He didn't have a dog, but had an ex wive, two disfunctional kids, an extorting girlfriend and a crooked lawyer.

retired_chemist 8:58 AM  

@ Bob K - I did not like GST for just the reason you mentioned. Sidereal time has to do with stars, and Greenwich Mean Time with the sun. My 12D answer MERENA was a WTF but might have been Venus's sister in mythology. Oh well...

Maybe someone astronomically inclined among us can tell us that GST is a terrific clue. As of now (it's Wednesday, for Pete's sake) I think it i (a) way too obscure, or (b) a construction error presuming it stood for Greenwich Standard Time, which AFAIK doesn't exist.

Other than than it was a nice challenge. Sort of. WAY tougher than the average Wednesday, in part because the theme phrases were universally hokey. As Rex said, SYNC TRYSTS doesn't even make sense unless there is more than one going on.

Megan P 9:10 AM  

I loved the wackiness of this puzzle, even though it was hard for a Wednesday. It had a lot more personality than most.

fikink 9:20 AM  

Agree with all of you about SYNCTRYSTS. Ugh.
The only reason I came up with ATOM immediately is because, fortuitously, it was on a puzzle from 1998 that the FIL and I did yesterday.

@Campsite, "e-bro" ha!

Like SERENA being aligned with TWOSET, but I'm with you, @RC - I was insisting on GMT for most of the puzzle and trying to make SERENA into MINERVA which didn't fit anyway.

xyz 9:26 AM  

WOW! Wednesday? Reading(only) Rex, I feel a bit better.

I'm far from a good solver, but felt pretty good that I got about 3/4 of this one with no googles. The SW? A complete mess for me.

Had IOTA and wouldn't give it up because it was Wed. and I didn't question it as it was floating there. If I'd learned my rivers, I'd have done better, but not knowing HAYNES (not Dylan fan as most my age are)nor LESAGE, got GIT and ENS (clever, thought hard on that one - I'm slow) - that did not go far in that corner.

Only real beef is that Smoke detectors nearly All have 9v batteries because of power/life and reliability. Had AAA, so Romeo and Juliet (worst of the themes by far to me) languished in unrequited love for me. Got the theme and all answers of it except 29D

At least I learned a lot today, sheeesh. I guess it was very hard, but just OK+ (shrug)

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Greenwich Standard Time is legitimate, though rare.

retired_chemist 9:32 AM  

@ Anon 9:27 - the two Google references I saw redirected to Greenwich Mean Time. I think Greenwich Standard Time is REALLY rare.

Smitty 9:37 AM  

Aww c'mon it was fun!

My biggest hang up was I thought theme answers all had 3 Y's and I stared at SYNCY-YSTS for the longest time.

xyz 9:40 AM  

Used to be more into Astronomy than I am now, but GST/GMT tough call. Now GMT aka UTC as it is on my SW radio.

Continuing astronomically: SYZYGY is such a great word, a sci-fi novel by Frederick Pohl (Book Cover, Rex?) and I remember seeing one in the summer (~5 planets + moon) about 2000-2002 at the same time the Aurora Borealis was seen as far south as N.C (saw ours in PA) - it was so amazing as to probably drive wackos to some CULT. The two were probaably related, that's a lot of gravitational forces aligned

The more I think about it, I learned a lot about clues/puzzles today, that's a good thing,still some stuff that was a little bizarre.

Greg Clinton 9:44 AM  

A whole lotta lovin' here. Romeo and Juliet, Jane EYRE, with this ring ITHEE wed, so long ASYE both shall live. Dates, TEASES, TRYSTS. I got a sudden hankering for a RENEE Zellweger flick.

The Corgi of Mystery 9:54 AM  

Thanks for the writeup, Rex...sorry you didn't like the puzzle more. This was the debut I mentioned a couple weeks back, which appeared quite suddenly and much faster than expected.

Re: GST, I didn't want to draw attention to what I thought was a pretty ugly abbrv., so just used a common clue from the database. Also, in general, I wish the fill could have been a bit zestier (with less crosswordese), but found it rather tough going filling around the theme answers because of the lack of "normal" vowels. In any case, thanks for the feedback everyone -- it's really useful for the future!

foodie 9:54 AM  

First, thank you Rex! Reading you made me feel better. I thought my brain was rotting, for me to struggle so badly with a Wednesday puzzle.

I went back and forth between thinking this was random and not in the language, and thinking that it was also playful, out there, and fun. I mean outside of "ALL WISE", the theme answers don't even try to pretend to be in the language... SYNC TRYSTS is ridiculous, and PYGMY RHYTHMS is from a 1940's movie.. FLY SPRYLY BY is poetic and GYPSY CRYPT-- there probably was never one in the history of humankind! It's like there were certain fumes in the air while Mr. Lim was constructing : ) Interesting!

dk 10:01 AM  

This one was hard and fun.

Did not get PIGMYRHYTHM (final fill) until 20 minutes into this little gem. Of course that fill reminded me of yesterdays FST posts and I started chuckling into my oatmeal -- step twins eyed me warily.

My other odd stumble was ZIPLOC. We are a wax bag and reusable plastic/jars household so like the TV clues this one escaped me.

Right with Andrea on the ARF clue. It made perfect sense to me. I went right to the Asta/Thin Man connection.

My first pick for alarm batteries was low, followed by aaa and then the aha moment.

In sum: **** (4 Stars)

Parshutr 10:10 AM  

If the plural of HOOF is HOOVES, why is the plural of ROOF ROOFS? I'm just asking.

Rex Parker 10:11 AM  

@Corgi, you have nothing to apologize for. You made an interesting, memorable puzzle that many are enjoying. Sincere congratulations.


johnpag 10:12 AM  

This one killed me for a Thursday - SYNCHTRYSTS??

And why wasn't SYZYGY listed as a theme asnwer in the clue for ALLWISE? It's certainly "wiser" than SYNCHTRYSTS.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Arrgh. This one whipped me like a stubborn mule. It felt like a Friday to me. I finished, but not before I had GMT for GST, and couldn't figure out why 12D made no sense.

Picked up 17A, the first theme answer from the down clues, and assumed the rest of the theme answers would rhyme. Wrong.

SW and R & J took forever to nail. It didn't help to have put AAA in for the smoke alarm batteries either. 9V it is!

For some reason, PYGMYRHYTHM made me think of Gilligan's Island.

@ Corgi of Mystery- it was challenging and made me think outside the box, so congrats on your debut.

Van55 10:27 AM  

What a fantastic debut puzzle, Corgi!

Very Fridayish and I loved the theme and difficulty.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

The "?" on 1D makes the clue and obvious reference to Thin Man. It was one of the first answers I filled in. I'm surprised that Rex had so much trouble with this puzzle. My only trouble spot was I had PAYOFF instead of BUYOFF and it took me some time to get past that.

The Energizer Bunny 10:39 AM  

@dk - "My first pick for alarm batteries was low" -- LOL, LOL!!!

XWDCRTC 10:43 AM  

Interesting commentary re: GST and Std. While we seem to have missed the FOE no-no from yesterday? (Foe was in the grid and in a different clue)

deerfencer 10:55 AM  

I admire the ambition behind it but this was obviously NOT a Wednesday puzzle (see johnpag's comments above--he thought it was hard "for a Thursday"--LOL!) and completely slayed me. (Usually Weds are my favorites.)

Got the ALL WISE key easily but it didn't help. Agree SYNCTRYST is a garbage answer but liked FRAIDYCAT and many of the other longies.

Even though I got AAS immediately, Anon is right--smoke alarms almost always have 9V batteries--so this clue was a clear gaffe, at least the second cluing error to slip by Shortz in the past week. ("Stock symbol for Genentech" was the other as DNA has been retired since the Roche buyout.)

In the end this looks to me like a perfectly fine Thursday/Friday puzzle--maybe Will is discombobulated coming off the holidays.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I found the puzzle a cut above the normal fare. While answers like "Fly spryly by" may not be completely aesthetically pleasing, I hope such non-Google-friendly constructions increase in the future. Using Google does not count as solving.

OldCarFudd 10:58 AM  

A difficult (for a Wednesday), different, fascinating puzzle! While I agree that answers should normally be in the language, I think an exception is allowed when a puzzle is as obviously a flight of fancy, or a word game, as this one is. Corgi was clearly playing with us. I, for one, enjoyed the game.

xyz 11:01 AM  

PYGMYRHYTHMS was as much a gimme as SYZYGY for me and to answer the I believe still unanswered PC question, Pygmy is the name of a race of people and is not a slur; neither is MIDGET nor DWARF as these are medical terms.

to continue free-associating: Idiot, Moron, Cretin & Imbecile now are relatively un-PC but are legitimate IQ-related (but somewhat arcane) medical terms.

Two Ponies 11:07 AM  

@ Corgi, First congrats on the debut. I thought you were going to warn us this was coming?
I must admit I am rethinking my comment since seeing your post.
The theory is brilliant but some of the execution fell short.
However, thumbs up for originality. I certainly was challenged. It felt more like a Thursday or an easy Friday.
I had the same battery problem as others along with Arno for Ebro so that SW corner was a beast.
@ Parshutr, Ha! I had that same rooves thought down in that SE corner.
I once tried to juggle two boyfriends at once. It ain't easy synching those trysts!

SethG 11:09 AM  

GST is Greenwich Sidereal Time. Interesting that that's received more comments already today than it did either of the times it appeared, with exactly the same clue, last summer.

SYNC TRYSTS should have had a Tiger clue. I didn't have Rex's problem in the NW, but I had more than he did in the SW, which took me twice as long to do as the entire rest of the puzzle. I had xxxWISE for a while and still had no idea how that could start. Didn't know LESAGE, was thrown by the "every" in the letteral ENS, more.

Was kinda bothered that SYZYGY wasn't thematic, but I'll always forgive SYZYGY. Am still bothered by EASE, which I think is not synonymous with luxury. And I'm just baffled by the Thin.

Jeffrey 11:14 AM  

GST is Goods and Services Tax.
HST is Harmonized Sales Tax.

I know that.

What I don't know is what day it is. I started doing a Wednesday puzzle and half way through it became Saturday.

Ran in a stonewall.

The Corgi of Mystery 11:14 AM  

@Two Ponies: so did I, but I had started to do the puzzle myself this morning before I realized it was mine!

PlantieBea 11:16 AM  

Wow, Corgi! Thanks for the Wednesday challenge: an impressive debut! I enjoyed its WISE guy spunkiness, but was stung by the SW in the end. My fatal error was A TAD for ATOM and GET for GIT...I was STYMIED, therefore by the river EBRO which I could not OBTAIN. Favorite themed answer was FLY SPRYLY BY.

Thank goodness for Rex Parker's words of the day and general discussion. I wouldn't have remembered SYZYGY or SEPOY otherwise. Agree with others whose smoke detectors take only 9V batteries. Had to write over ONE SET. Almost got me on the Inning clue.

foodie 11:17 AM  

@Corgi of Mystery, I posted at the same time as you did, so before I knew who you were, but I actually remembered your previous comment and wondered if it might be you. Congratulations!

I really liked the last part of your comment today-- i.e. how the feedback is useful for the future. If I recall correctly, you're a young scientist, right? That's the secret of surviving and profiting from tough reviews of grants and papers-- what doesn't kill you makes you stronger! I have the feeling you'll do great, both in science and in crossword construction! Way to go!

Ulrich 11:34 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 11:36 AM  

I had all the theme answers but one before I hit the SE and by then, I was looking for answers with 3 y's and absolutely could not finish. The "all vowels" thing never occurred to me--goes to show that once you see a pattern, it's incredibly difficult to abandon it and look for a new one--or maybe I'm just not nimble enough any more in my mind.

@Andrea of the syzygy clan: I love how your mind works, especially late at night.

@corgy: this was certainly thicker than an ARF, and your experience from this morning reminds of the time a started to read a quote in a paper and nodded in total agreement, until I finally realized that the author had quoted me!

Squeek 11:38 AM  

Way to get our attention Corgi.
Lots to hate but lots to love today.
I'm wondering how much Will had to do with some of those odd clues. Maybe you can fill us in later.
I must have been napping the last time Sepoy popped up, new to me.
Otho who?
Ophir, no idea. Cool that it was theme related but without Rex I would never have known.
27D, Hmm, Hispanic name, 3 letters, must be (El) Cid or Che.
Serena was Athena for a minute. Oh, tennis. Got it.
Pygmy might not be PC but I have my doubts about any pygmies seeing this puzzle. Gypsy might be pushing it too but it brings romantic notions with it so I like it. Andrea is so right about gypsy rhythm being a better answer. I can hear the tamborines now.

Tinbeni 11:47 AM  

Now I remember, you had a LAT debut a few weeks ago and mention that a NYT was coming up soon.

Having four theme answers in a NYT debut with only the vowel 'Y' is impressive.

I only wished I had not started this puzzle last night after my 3rd Scotch (double).

SYZYGY with a slight buzz on, is scary.

ArtLvr 11:56 AM  

Congrats, Corgi! I really enjoyed the puzzle and slowed only at the ATOM, until I saw LOTTERIES and EBRO. Lots of ingenuity and fresh fill like BUY OFF and DRY MOP, and funny STYMIE. We don't have a lot of verbs ending in -IE, do we?

Oh yes, that SW was my last area to fall, as I also tried Attain before OBTAIN. Kicked myself a tad at taking so long to think of LESAGE too... Lovely.

Not a CASUAL Wednesday, but that's fine. As to EASE equating to Luxury, I think it works if one considers relative expectations in life! Just sayin'. We all have the luxury of being able to spend time here, n'est-ce pas?


fikink 11:56 AM  

Question: Can one clue SLUR with "elision"?
Has anyone ever seen it done?

treedweller 12:05 PM  

Well, it's interesting to comment after knowing the constructor is one of "us". I would like to think I would say the same things regardless, but I could feel my wrath dissipating as I read Corgi's comments above.

Which is not to say I was all that wrathful. I like most of the puzzle pretty well. Was half-guessing at COSI, didn't know SEPOY, and whenever I see Rochester I think of the old warner bros. cartoon with Jack Benny and his violin, so I barely salvaged EYRE from "Myra" (don't ask--it looked okay at the time, and it is an anagram of the correct answer in this context). SYZYGY would have probably been blank much longer if I didn't know this was such a "wise" puzzle. But all that fell in more or less normal Wednesday fashion.

It was the SW that brought up my hackles. Were these TRYSTS with boy bands? Because I would always go with SYNCh over SYNC. Throw in Arno for EBRO, the unclued dialect at GIT, total blindness to LOTTERIES, and WTF at LESAGE, and you get a big, fat fail here. I googled the author to finish. It says a lot (to me) that I managed to suss out ENS before any of the rest of this stuff--those are always forehead slappers for me, after much mystified staring. I also agree that 9-volts are more common in alarms, but there's no way to make that fit and I pretty quickly threw in the AAS.

thanks, corgi--it was fun.

Ulrich 12:08 PM  

Correction: For me, too, the SW was my downfall, NOT the SE! I'm disoriented this morning...

slypett 12:09 PM  

Until I got to the SW, this was an easy puzzle. Maybe I should just stay out of the desert sun.

Corgi: The SW was a ten-car pile-up. Congrats, I guess.

HudsonHawk 12:18 PM  

The SW was also my undoing. The theme actually saved me, since I didn't know Todd HAYNES, but with a Y there, the ES at the end seemed likely. I was expecting a third Y in SYNC TRYSTS, but GIT eventually dropped in.

Elaine 12:18 PM  

Oh, add my name to the list of fans offering congratulations!

This is a tough crowd at times. The discussion reminds me of conferences I had with teachers who gave poor grades for handwriting to our daughter (who has a T4-5 SCI;) she's a research physicist now...still with poor handwriting. We can't all be elegant all the time, and it can be a mistake to equate elegance with quality. Yes, the phrases are a bit wanky, but they were gettable and fit your theme, PLUS you had some bonus Y stuff in there. I had a good time.

Now that you are Unmasked, Corgi, you will have to change your name, eh?

I like your clue. Or we could try "Speaks after Scotch," mayhap, per Tinbeni.

Flying spryly by, three and out,

lit.doc 12:24 PM  

Thank you, Rex, for your cogent and comforting write up. At double my usual Wednesday time, I was thinking I had suddenly gone stupid.

@anon 7:02, dude/ette, if you feel compelled to dis someone, especially our host, why do you also feel compelled to hide behind "anonymous"?

@The Ms. Lim of Mystery, congrat's on the puzz! Loved it. I'm easily amused by word play (hell, I'm easily amused, period). The theme phrases were fun to puzzle out. I understand the vexation of solvers (several earlier posts) who parsed the phrases vigorously, but feel like playfulness deserves a modicum of indulgence. Only piece that threw my a bit was the seemingly themed SYZYGY. Knew the word, but was confounded by the absence of a corresponding all-y entry at 6D. My bad, though, as I should have read your clue list at 38A more carefully.

Had the same reflexive stumble at ATOM as many of y'all. ATAD? ABIT? Saved, albeit slowly, by the crosses, which also saved me on LESAGE. That one irked me for long minutes while I thought "I spent all those years studying this stuff and I'm drawing a blank on a famous novel?!" Sigh.

BTW nice parallel downs with SERENA and TWOSET.

@Rex, or any advanced solver/constructor - I thought NYT had a clue policy re using brandnames. Seeing ZIPLOC tells me I misunderstood something I read. What are NYT's actual gotta-have-a-shelf-live no-nos?

@Camesite, your e-bro neologism is terrific! Hope to see it in a puzz soon.

@Tinbeni, are there new findings from Hubbel that I haven't heard about yet? Haven't seen anything in the news lately.

Unknown 12:33 PM  

Congratulations The CofM

You mentioned before that this one required a re-write before it was published. I agree that the theme was worth the effort, but wonder about the SW corner. I would think that easier clues in a few places could have made it more apt for a Wednesday, but that certainly isn't a criticism of the puzzle. I wonder if this was one of your better times for a puzzle.

Foodie's post represents fine praise from someone who knows academia. You should seek her out. Philly is proud of you.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Corgi - thanks for the workout! Harder than typical Wednesday, but then you didn't pick the day it was published. That's on the editor...

Tinbeni 12:55 PM  

Nothing spectacular ... just the earliest image yet of the universe-600 million years after the BIG BANG, when the universe was a toddler.
Ok, it's the most complete picture of the early universe. Shows galaxies with stars hundreds of millions of years old, and primordal signs of the first clusters of stars.

joho 1:01 PM  

@lit.doc ... I think Julian is a guy but I could be wrong. Corgi?

I was just looking at the picture of Todd Haynes ... isn't he in commercials for an insurance company?

Jeffrey 1:01 PM  

We've gone from a thin ARF to a picture of the entire universe in one puzzle. I'd say we've covered it all.

Doc John 1:16 PM  

Wow, did I choke! Had batteries for LOTTERIES and attain for OBTAIN. That corner was pretty Natick-y for me with that author's name crossing a river that I can only get thru crosses.
Nice puzzle, though- Y did he do it?
Oh well, on to Thursday!

SueRohr 1:23 PM  

I also thought this was a Thursday or Friday puzzle. Got the theme right away but still struggled. Like you all said -synchtrysts made no sense to me even after I had it. Agreed with Rex that Gujart sounded Mexican. Agreed with Rex that arf had no reason to be thin. Rex and I think similarly on much of the puzzle. So how come it takes me 5 times as long to complete it? Don't answer that - it's rhetorical.

Clark 1:27 PM  

‘As long as we both shall live’ lives in my head in the voice of Tom Hanks in the last few minutes of You’ve Got Mail. Now was that a ‘we’ or a ‘ye’?

I also had ‘a tad’ which STYMIEd me for a while in the SW. So R and J had to synchronize their trysts -- makes sense to me. Ok, every tryst is synchronized you might say, but R and J really had to focus on this synchronizing business -- and in the end, of course, they failed.

I thought it was a barrel of fun, though it took me two sittings. Wacky puzzle. You just had to (apropos of yesterday's FST thread) “follow the yellow rubber line.”

@O Mysterious One -- Now I read that it is you. Well, I loved it. Most of the things that bugged others came across to me as quirky, interesting, fun. More please! (I especially liked FLY SPRYLY BY and SYNC TRYSTS.)

Glitch 1:28 PM  

@joho @lit.doc

If you click on Corgi's blue "header" on his posts you will find out lots of information about HIM.


Nice one!


Anonymous 1:29 PM  

UGH for all the reasons above. IOTA, ATAD...
ROOVES anyone?

I think Romeo had more in mind than "SYNCTRYSTS" with the lovely Juliet.

GYPSYCRYPT?? Give me a break

PIX 1:31 PM  

@Corgi of Mystery: You should be proud to have a debut puzzle that has generated such an active discussion from the troops. Yes, not everyone thought it was the most perfect puzzle ever made. So what? Suppose on your first published NYTimes puzzle everyone just said, "". I imagine that would be very painful. This has many people actively discussing the puzzle...a true success. Congratulations.

Having said that I would like to come to your house and rip apart your smoke detector...I bet I don't find AA batteries!

Again, congratulations.

Tinbeni 1:37 PM  

Like I said to @lit.doc. what was released 18 hours ago is no biggie.

Soooo, the image pushes back the known galaxy formation by 1.5 billion years ... showing the seeds of the great galaxies today.
It's just one piece in a larger puzzle related to the origins of the universe and what caused the major re-ioniztion event 400 to 900 million years after the BIG BANG, leading to a heat wave that stripped electrons from the neutral hydrogen that filled the universe. Giving rise to the types of galaxies, stars and other objects (planets, etc.) we are familiar with today.

All I really know is in this mystery "whodunit" I have an alibi.

fikink 1:37 PM  

@Elaine, re: "... it can be a mistake to equate elegance with quality."
Indeed. I have known some elegant bastards in my time.

@lit.doc, we concur on so many things!

@Tinbeni, after a day of looking at that awesomeness, I would have three double scotches, too. How do you ever reorient...from the awe or the scotch?

edmcan 1:49 PM  

Gee, I liked it. Odd, but doable. I groaned when I got to 'All wise'.

Division of Labor 1:52 PM  

I sadly fear that I put in AAS without a second thought. All battery assignments at our house are automatically the job of The Hubster. Also included in job description: tasks requiring ladder-climbing; grilling; spider-killing.

Tsk. There are various versions, of course, but generally the person officiating at a wedding asks each party a lengthy question involving "Wilt obey (possibly optional in these wicked times)....keeping thyself unto (apparently ALSO optional)...for richer sickness and...blah blah...for as long AS YE both shall live?" You have to get the answer right or you don't get the ring.

bluebell 1:52 PM  

I probably took longer than anyone here to finish this, but I finished it. Was feeling proud until I saw that my GMT was wrong. I wrote it in with such confidence too!

The theme answers are great plays on language sounds (not meaning), which is what this theme is about. Synctrysts is a bit leadfooted compared to the other three.

Doug 2:02 PM  

Couldn't for the life of me finish the SW last night. Probably the Orange Bowl and a couple of homebrews. This morning I polished it off in about a minute.

ARNO for EBRO and AAA for AAS. Kept thinking of basketball for picks, instead of LOTTERIES. NICE CLUE btw.

This was Thursday level, maybe Friday, but recent Fridays and Saturdays have been killers (excepting the softball Xmas Friday from Gamache.)

Shamik 2:16 PM  

@Corgi: Excellent NYT debut! I agree with PIX that criticism born of confusion is far more welcome than "boring," "meh,", "too much crosswordese," etc. Bravo.

Put me in the ARNO and AAA category. Ugh on's just cumbersome.

SYNCTRYST is freakin' brilliant, people! Why if R&J had been able to sync their trysts better and shown up when and where they were supposed to have shown up, they might not have ended up so stupidly dead. There's a reason they teach this in middle school because it shows how dumb teenagers in love can be. (Don't mind a minor in English lit in college while avoiding Shakespeare entirely.)

Have always loved SYZYGY long before crosswords when my brilliant brother (may he RIP) told me of a cool word he learned. It looks cool. It sounds cool. It's easy to dance to and has a good beat. I give it a 9.

Didn't like the clue "Thin bark" at all. Just awkward and misleading. Next time, please clue it: "Bark." Get the tree huggers going to FIR, YEW, ELM, ASH, etc.

My SIL is a Tupperware director (that's above the T'ware consultant and manager level). She is appalled that I am the ZIPLOC queen. Lots of T'ware don't fit easily into a backpack (see my photo).

Also wanted ALLWYSE, but given that the husband is currently in India for a couple of weeks, I know that there is no way they're going to alternately spell the garment SARY. And hey, if you don't wear those regularly, they are nearly impossible to put on without a significant amount of help and safety pins.

chefbea 2:22 PM  

WOW @Corgi thankx for a tuff puzzle. I agree it took longer than the usual Wednesday and I had to google.

Thought syzygy would be the word of the day and also a theme word

Greg Clinton 2:42 PM  

@Clark, I had the same Tom Hanks You've Got Mail line conspiring against me and kept going back and forth between ASWE/ASYE. In the end, the Y's persuaded me.

andrea teases michaels 2:55 PM  

85+ comments later and it's still before noon here in SF, so congrats on that, Corgi of Mystery!
(Do corgis have thin barks?)

I hope you have a thick bark to absorb some of the slings and arrows, on the other hand, you seem to be getting cut some slack from a fairly supportive crowd!
(I'm still waiting when I get thrown to the hounds, which I suspect is fairly soon)

But to be "constructive" I was genuinely off-put/stymied by the long 9 letter non-theme answers (personal taste) and the set up phrase being a rhyming action whereas the others were odd little not-in-the-language made up nouns...
tho I'm still having fun rearranging them to make more sense:
Wasn't Romeo and Juliet final scene sort of set in a TRYSTCRYPT?
Don't bands SYNCRHYTHMS? and what's more fun than a GYPSYPYGMY!

On a different note, I only got OPHIR bec my cousin David lives on OPHIR St. in LA. Fun to learn it was named for some "actual" place. No apes and peacocks there but they do have a cute little dog (who goes ARF).

Joe 2:57 PM  

This reminded me of one of the puzzles from the computer game "The 7th Guest" some 15 years ago. (Has it really been that long?) The puzzle entailed the user shifting around cans on a shelf that consisted of many consonants and only Y as a vowel. The ending phrase was "SHY GYPSY SLYLY SPRYLY TRYST BY MY CRYPT".


archaeoprof 3:15 PM  

Another hand up here for struggles in the SW. Ended up with all but the E in ENS. Just didn't see it.

Tough (for Wednesday), clever, and fair.

@Corgi: congratulations and thanks!

Masked and Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Thin bark = sparse or weak bark, I suppose. Since only one "arf"...? Best I can do to explain it. Sounds like something a Corgi would come up with, anyhow.

sanfranman59 3:28 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)

Wed 17:19, 12:08, 1.43, 98%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 8:25, 5:57, 1.41, 96%, Challenging

Definitely very challenging for a Wednesday. The median time for both groups of solvers is the highest for a Wednesday in the 31 weeks I've been tracking online solve times. These times place this puzzle in the Easy-Medium Thursday range.

Personally, I made it through the puzzle in a pretty good Wednesday time for me (about 9 minutes), but had one error that took me about 4 minutes to track down. I assumed my mistake was somewhere in the DRYMOP/SYZYGY/OPHIR/SEPOY/OTHO or HAYNES/SYNCTRYSTS morasses, so I focused my error-finding energies there. It turned out that I had GMT instead of GST for 11A: Prime meridian std. and didn't notice that this gave me MERENA for 12D: Sister of Venus. DOH!

Jim in Chicago 3:43 PM  

Wow, what a Wednesday. I made it though, but barely. Many of the answers were in Friday/Saturday territory, but what saved them was that they were crossed by easier words.

I'm with the 9V crowd, every smoke detector I've ever had took a 9V battery. But, what's up with those mutant 9V batteries with the stupid flexible connection you can never quite get to snap into place.....

I knew the phrase "gold of Ophir" so that was an unexpected gimme for me. Ditto for SYZYGY, which I know only from crossword land.

I would argue that the shift keys are on the LOWER EDGES of a keyboard. The one I'm typing on has NOTHING on the sides.

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

Worst Wednesday puzzle I ever saw. Where is Will Shortz?
I used to do puzzles on LIRR in the 1950's and I've seen many changes over the years, but this is the worst ever.

Clark 4:11 PM  

@Division of Labor -- I can't believe you TSKed me! I was just saying that the version of this that lives in my head is Tom Hanks saying to Meg Ryan:

"I would have asked for your number, and I wouldn’t have been able to wait 24 hours before calling you up and saying, 'Heh, how about some coffee, or drinks, or dinner, or a movie -- for as long as we both shall live.' ”

And then I was wondering if the word in the movie was 'we' or 'ye'. (I checked it out. It was 'we'.)

And then you TSKed me! In the interest of protecting the institution of marriage no doubt. ;)

lit.doc 4:19 PM  

@joho, I'm having a senior moment here. "Julian"? Don't see the name in my earlier post, not sure what you're ref'ing. Sounds like an interesting issue, though. Please to remind me what we're talking about?

sanfranman59 4:26 PM  

@Anon 3:50 PM ... worst in what way? I found it challenging, but enjoyable. I learned a few things (GST, HAYNES, SEPOY, SYZYGY, OPHIR, OTHO) and was pleased to come up with a few things I didn't know I knew. It was more difficult than an average Wednesday, but it seemed fair to me. I agree with others that the toughest clues were made get-able by crosses with easier clues. And I found the theme to be reasonably entertaining. I can't ask for much more than that from a crossword.

what lit.doc had 4:27 PM  

"@The Ms. Lim of Mystery"

Bill from NJ 4:28 PM  

@George NYC was on the mark about the nature of our language. I have rarely seen clues expressed so poetically, FLYSPRYLYBY is a beautiful phrase. I also liked the way SYNCTRYSTS flowed gently down the page, crossing EBRO as it passed by in the SW. And, Ulrich, I notice that people frequently confuse things when they try to express the puzzle in geographic terms so don't feel bad.

I remember SYZYGY fom a Thursday puzzle that also included the word FERULE that prompted a similar disscussion that day, not dissimilar to the one today.

Congratulations to The Corgi of Mystery but I wish he would have weighed in on the "Thin arf" clue.

Meg 4:31 PM  

Corgi: I'd rather have a toughie any day! I actually finished it with no errors (but certainly a few lucky guesses). And I learned a few words, which is always a good thing!

A lot of the clues were not immediately gettable, which made the puzzle more interesting. I particularly liked the clues for 69A and 20A.

Like Rex I got caught up in counting "Y's" and parsing FLYS PRYLY BY. So, all in all it was fun just figuring things out!

I am a bit stuck on how "luxury" means EASE. Anyone?

George NYC 4:34 PM  

Congrats, @Corgi!
I have always liked your moniker as 1) I collected Corgi toys in my youth (British model cars, etc). and 2) had a semi-Corgi dog later. Amazing how fast he could run on those little legs...

Tinbeni 4:36 PM  

@Anon 3:50pm
So how do you really feel about this puzzle that you obviously had no clue what was being asked and made you feel like 42-down (an ASS)?

Ok, you've been doing CW's on the LIRR since back in the 1950's?

Hey, everything is relative. Yesterday Hubble astronomers found proof reaching back an additional 1,500,000,000 years the known start of galaxy formation.

Admit it, you had no clue for 49-d SYZYGY, big deal, relax, have a Scotch.

But don't lay that "Worst Wednesday puzzle ever" crap on us.

Jeffrey 4:47 PM  

This is the time we usually get Rex's "why didn't you just ignore the silly Anonymous commenter" speech. Usually stated thus:


Division of TSK Labor 4:49 PM  

I withdraw the TSK. Could be you are a happy bachelor and don't yet know the words. Or perhaps you did not pay close attention during your wedding. Or mayhap you watch "You've Got Mail" slightly too often. There could be so many reasons ye misguided solvers miss gimmes. You're a good egg.

Now go check your smoke alarm batteries, okay?

Rex Parker 4:58 PM  

Crosscan does have his uses.


The Corgi of Mystery 5:00 PM  

Wow...lotsa comments.

[Thin bark?] was Will's clue, not mine, and I'm not 100% sure I get it either, to be honest. As for the great Smoke Detector controversy of 2010, that was all me. As it happens, I did have one with AA batteries in my old apartment, but I guess the clue was unfortunate, seeing as that doesn't seem to be anyone else's experience. Blame my landlord.

JaneW 5:04 PM  

Like many others, spent a lot of time in the SW and found the puzzle more challenging than most Wednesdays.

Once I'd completed the puzzle, I admired the way the Ys in each theme answer had the same vowel sound -- all long "i" sound in FLYSPRYLYBY, short "i" sound in PYGMY RHYTHMS. Nice touch.

OldCarFudd 5:09 PM  

@Meg - A life of ease/luxury.

@Tinbeni - Right on!

Stan 5:10 PM  

Congrats, Corgi. I had fun wrestling with this and didn't mind the minor head-scratching moments. And I like my new goddess Merena -- hope we hear more from her.

An aside: my father did crossword puzzles (not seriously, but he enjoyed them) and as a kid I would help out. Soon became aware of Gil Blas (which I pronounced to rhyme with Bill Blass). It made no sense to me whatsoever, but I knew it was something, so Gil ____ and ___ Blas were always gimmes.

Rube 5:18 PM  

@oorgi: I'll support you. I have two smoke detectors w/ AAs, (the rest have 9Vs).

@Campsite & @Andrea - LOL. You'tre great. But my concern with A TAD was that it gave me eBra. Did this have something to do w/ "virtual women"?

WHen I see ARF, I immediately think Little Orphan Annie. I'm dating myself again.

@Joe, tx for the memory. I knew I'd seen this type of thing before somewhere.

Doable & enjoyable.

@Rex. This grasshopper is curious to know what is the record for posts.

This is ~post 103.

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

@ Meg,
Think life of luxury as life of ease.

Jim in Chicago 5:20 PM  

On 9V batteries, here is a direct quote from Wikipedia:

9V batteries are commonly used in smoke detectors......


Martin 5:43 PM  

Modern smoke detectors increasingly use AA batteries. Examples include many of the new "wireless" models, which increase protection by triggering detectors in other rooms to contribute to an alert. Here's one. And another.

Circuitry designed for 3 or 4.5 volts (rather than 9) can take advantage of the much higher current capacity (longer battery life for a given milliamp draw). Look at the Milliamp-Hours Capacity of a AA versus a 9V.

Perhaps "increasingly" would have been better than "often," but that's pretty nitty.

Glitch 5:48 PM  

Just wanted to keep the comment count rising while still keeping on topic and avoiding "If I haven't run across it, it must not exist" comments...

To determine the Greenwich Sidereal Time (GST).
1.At midnight on January 1, 2004, the Greenwich Sidereal Time (Greenwich Hour Angle of the Equinox) was 06:39:58.
2.For each additional day, subtract 00:03:56. (that is, 236 seconds) as a reasonable approximation.
3.Add the time from midnight of your local time, minus 10 seconds for each hour (240 seconds for each 24 hours). This is the Greenwich Sidereal Time.


Anonymous 5:48 PM  

Re: 28D

According to my understanding, "tiresome" means "boring" or "tedious". Not "resulting in physical fatigue".

Is an OAR a boring device for propelling a boat?

Tricky clues amuse me. Imprecise ones that involve distortion of language do not.

Is it just me?


aandreaa caarlaa michaaels 5:50 PM  

9V/AA/DDD (my answer at one point!?)
The REAL question is how do I get the Evil Mr. Fong to change them?

lit.doc 5:52 PM  

@Glitch and @joho, thanks. Doh!! I am so freaking slow some days.

@Julian Lim, sorry about the presumptive misread.

JannieB 5:54 PM  

@Anon/Charles - It's your glasses! The clue is TRIREME, a type of boat, not Tiresome!

Congrats on your debut, Corgi. Any puzzle that generates this many lively comments is a success in my book.

joho 6:08 PM  

@lit. doc ... no worries, just thought you'd like to address the constructor properly.

@Andrea ... your TRYSTCRYPT is brilliant using the "Ys" in a phrase that actually means something. I really enjoyed this puzzle and, as I stated earlier, was impressed by all the "Ys" but it fell flat for me because the theme answers didn't really mean anything. I mean, what if all puzzles just had themes that were made up phrases? This is unusual in that it's really the first I've seen that does this. It is creative and ambitious. And, let's face it, none of us will forget the debut of The Corgi of Mystery.
Congratulations Julian!!!!

Martin 6:54 PM  


There's an app for that.

Squeek 6:57 PM  

@ aandreaa, Forget Mister Fong. Anytime you need your batteries changed or recharged I'm there.

foodie 7:22 PM  

yeah, I too am curious about the highest number of comments in a given day on Rex's blog. I know of at least 141, on Thursday, July 16, 2009, a puzzle by Elizabeth Gorski. But I wonder what the record really is? Rex, do you keep stats?

@Tinbeni, very cool about the Hubble findings... I love all that stuff about the universe-- All these stars that FLY SPRYLY BY, looking like GYPSY PIGMYs, belying the hidden RHYTHM, the SYNChronicity, THE SYZYGY!

But did you ever wonder: Y?

Hoople 7:33 PM  

66A Clue: "I said ... out!"
Answer: git


get out! or git!

But never git out! Who has ever said "git out!" ?

Anybody else think "git out!"
is redundant or wrong?

edith b 7:35 PM  

@Crosscan & Rex-

I totally agree with Rex on his "Commenters Shouldn't Comment on Other Commenters" rule - having been rebuked in the past for violating same - but I sometimes have to bite my tongue when the Anonymice have the TIRESOME habit of not proofreading their comments.

Martin 7:39 PM  


It's not a fill-in-the-blank clue, which would be ["I said ___ out"]. The ellipsis indicates an emphatic pause.

k1p2 7:42 PM  

@Corgi - Congrats on your debut.

Had many of the same wrong starts as those before me here. Trouble in the SW. Only game I could think of with picks was Tiddly-winks. And by the time I figure out the "spry" part of 17A, all I could picture was a runner covered in vegetable shortening. Time for more mulled wine I think (too cold here for Scotch and we'd probably go for bourbon)

SethG 7:50 PM  

@The people who keep telling Meg about lives of luxury and ease, I disagree that those are the same things. And if they are, would you accept [Luxury] as a clue for RILEY?

Noam D. Elkies 8:04 PM  

Congrats to Corgi! In general the constructor doesn't get to choose a puzzle's weekday, but this felt clearly in Wed/Thurs territory to me.

I guess that the debut of a blog regular explains the record(?) number of posts here. The NYTimes blog notes that this puzzle also blew away the previous record for y's in a weekday puzzle, 15 to 12. Was 49D:SYZYGY originally intended as a theme entry too but discarded for lack of a symmetric partner? There's arguably a further bonus entry hidden in 55A:STYMIE, alternatively spelled "stymy". At any rate, the theme couldn't be "3 y's per theme answer" (as some here suggested) because 17A:FLYSPRYLYBY has four.


P.S. Re "rooves", recognizes that pronunciation but not the spelling.

Jeffrey 8:20 PM  

@edith - no need to bite your tongue. Just yell at your computer like I do.

(A big Youppi!! to ex-Expo Andre Dawson for being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame)

4 and I'd better git out.

Your Momma 8:21 PM  



You are too tired to do good work! Be grown up and STOP right this minute, have a glass of water and an ibuprofen, and PUT ON your jammies. (Record cold predicted.) And your solving will go better in the morning.


Glitch 8:33 PM  



But my post was more grandiose ;)


Anonymous 8:35 PM  

@ Rex -- "29D: What Romeo and Juliet had to do? (sync trysts) — seems wrong. This would imply that two trysts are going on simultaneously, wouldn't it?"

There are several trysts in the texts, ergo pluralization.

Albeit the final tryst takes place in a crypt -- er...a CRYPT TRYST

w. shakespeare

Sfingi 8:35 PM  

So glad most of you thought this was challenging.

Though I got the theme, at least the WISE part (did not have all until I came here), I had trouble in the SW and NE. I got the PYGMYRHYTHM part, but as a person of short persuasion, took offense. I had only parts of the others.
Also don't understand why a Gypsy has to be old.

@Squeek - oh, so, Non-PC is OK if the victim doesn't see it. If that's the case, Gypsies are taught not to read, in which case I can say all I want? Just kidding.
I blurt out whatever, anyway.

I had "Nile" for EBRO. Does that mean Hebrew? I looked fruitlessly for a map of the Mediterranean with all rivers dumping into it labeled. Had to go with lists. Any suggestions as to where to find such a map on the web?

Did not know TWOSET (sports, my usual excuse). SERENA never occured to me. Same excuse.

Just changed our smoke alarm batteries - 9V.
Hemmed and hawed on BEADS vs "pearls."
Never heard of Todd HAYNES or LESAGE.

The puzzle seemed brilliant only after I saw all the answers. Maybe a little precious, though. Liked the marriage mini-theme, too.

Whenever I see nonchalant, I think of CAR 54 when Toody learned the word. He says someone's " slouch at being nonchalant." We use the expression all the time, now. Wish I could find this episode.

Ulrich 8:46 PM  

@NDE: It's a well-known fact that some people cannot count past 3...

Tinbeni 8:49 PM  

Though the Hubble/Astronomy/Age of the Universe etc. is interesting and thought provoking and may even cause a being to wonder, Why? "Y".

Here we git to wonder if "Thin bark?" is an acceptable clue to be answered "arf" in a crossword puzzle.
And I bet most already had the "A" and "R"...

Corgi's NYT debut, the comments here, even a word like SYZYGY

deerfencer 9:03 PM  

The 9V vs AAA conspiracy debate continues:

mac 9:33 PM  

For what it's worth, I think "arf" is thinner than "woof", and "yip" is even thinner. I prefer meow. And don't tell me I'm slurring when I'm eliding!

chefbea 9:34 PM  

134 comments!!!! Time for bed. I'll see how many more when I check the blog in the morning...a hundred more????

Cea 9:51 PM  

Liked arf, hated syzygy, and briefly tried owl wise for Solomon. I also hated having to google on a Wednesday, which was the only way to stop being STYMIED in the south west.

But still liked the puzzle.

mac 10:06 PM  

Anybody want a recipe?

Rex Parker 10:18 PM  

Please, no irrelevant comments just to drive the comment number up. The number of comments a write-up gets on any given day is not interesting to me. Interesting comments are interesting.

Thank you,

lit.doc 10:32 PM  

@all who are still going on about the cluing of ARF, please read TCOM's posting much earlier and stop faulting the puzz for the editor's emendation.

@Your Momma (geez, that just sounds sooo wrong), feel the love! I just got sat down with a properly elegant Baccarat glass of 12-year-old Irish whiskey (of the Irish persuasion) and am reading with pleasure all that has transpired since my last post. Drink more, stay up late, and enjoy the conversation!

sanfranman59 10:46 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 6:37, 6:55, 0.96, 41%, Medium
Tue 9:31, 8:46, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 17:27, 12:08, 1.44, 99%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:40, 0.92, 28%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:32, 4:29, 1.01, 59%, Medium
Wed 8:21, 5:57, 1.40, 96%, Challenging

Relative to the day of the week, this puzzle ranks as the 3rd most challenging puzzle for all solvers and the 7th most challenging for the top 100 solvers of the 168 puzzles I've tracked.

slypett 11:11 PM  

Hoople: Note the three dots in the clue. They signify either ellision or a break in the utterance (often for emphasis). "I said...get" means that an insertion is not wanted, but a word or phrase that is a synonym. Thus, the answer is GIT.

I hope this clears up the problem. If it does not, please call our Customer Helpline at 1-800-555-1212 for further assistance.

michael 11:14 PM  

I was relieved to see that Rex had this as "challenging." I got it all except for GST, but it took much longer than most Wednesdays. Sometimes, I wish that MTW were harder (like this), but then I remember that solvers vary in their skill levels. I look at a chess site where puzzles get harder Monday through Sunday and rarely get past
Wednesday or Thursday (I'm better at crosswords than I am at chess) and would not be happy if the chess site toughened its early-week puzzles.

slypett 12:08 AM  

Michael: As Brownung said, "Blessings on your head." (Abu Ben Adhem)

Lee @ SRQ 6:59 AM  

I love crosswords, but I'm puzzled (ouch!) as to why speed is so important? Who cares, unless you're involved in a contest. Savoring a eureka moment is delicious, but it has nothing to do with speed. Another human activity comes to mind where speed should never count. I doubt that I have to elaborate.

Lee @ SRQ

Rex Parker 7:02 AM  

We've had the speed v. savor argument / discussion ad nauseam here. If you care you care, if you don't you don't. The end.

Unknown 9:22 PM  

Hard, yes. But fun all the way.
I had one letter left in SyncTrysts and could not get it. But I love being beaten by such an imaginative phrase.

(BTW: do people not get it? If they had matched their meeting times, they would not have died. duh?)

Three cheers for whoever built this. One of my favourite Wednesdays ever.

Nullifidian 1:59 AM  

In from syndication-land:

I'm glad you rated this "Challenging" because all this time I was thinking, This is a Wednesday?!

I had some write-overs this time.

On 61A, I mistakenly wrote AAA for "Smoke detector batteries, often". What do I know? All of the smoke detectors I've ever seen take nine-volt batteries.

Also in the same general area, I went the easy route and wrote NILE for a four-letter river with its terminus in the Mediterranean Sea (51A). So you can imagine I had some difficulty in that SW corner.

Never having read LESAGE, nor having seen him used before as high-level crosswordese, I couldn't check against his name to realize I was doing it wrong.

I've never seen SYZYGY in crosswords either, but I've seen the word used in real life, believe it or not. Surely as an "All Y's" word, it ought to have been mirrored by a theme clue in the north.

CHE is a movie about Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It's a good film, but perhaps not one to watch unless time is hanging heavy on your hands, because the film is 4.5 hrs long. It was stuck on my DVR for ages before I had the time to sit down and watch it.

I didn't know Todd HAYNES from Adam, but he emerged from the crosses once I got the theme.

I've also never heard " long AS YE both shall live." It's always been "as you" in every wedding I've ever attended.

I didn't know ENYA won a Grammy for Amarantine, not least because I've never heard of the album before in my life. Nevertheless, it sounded appropriately Enya-ish, so I guessed that off the initial N in RENEE (is there any other Zellweger?).

This was a mental workout for me, but a little bit humbling coming right in the middle of the week.

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