Heroic poet Gaelic legend / SUN 2-7-10 / Harsh decree / Frequent partner Fonteyn / It Had To Be You Lyricist / Easy-Bake Oven introducer

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium (or Medium-Challenging if you are football-illiterate)

THEME: "The Football Fan" — theme answers are common football terms, all clued as fill-in-the-blanks in a grid-wide short story about a football fan, told in the voice of a football play-by-play announcer ...

Word of the Day: DIKTAT (120D: Harsh decree)

  1. A harsh, unilaterally imposed settlement with a defeated party.
  2. An authoritative or dogmatic statement or decree.

[German, from Latin dictātum, from neuter past participle of dictāre, to dictate. See dictate.]

• • •

Theme was a breeze — I watch ESPN for at least a few minutes virtually every morning, and I've been at least vaguely following football since I was a boy, so all the terms involved were very familiar — but it still presented enough resistance to be interesting, and the theme is both cute and impressively dense. Very enjoyable. Wish LDR (152A: P.M. or pres.) hadn't returned to kill my buzz right at the end there, but otherwise, nice work. There were a few answers and clues that left me baffled. It's rare that there are SEVERAL (59A: A number of) words in a Sunday puzzle that I've never heard of, but today I had to stare down DIKTAT (120D: Harsh decree), EPICARP (84D: Fruit peel), and LENITY (82A: Mildness) (these three words started out as nothing, nothing, and LAXITY, respectively). Blogger is underlining "LENITY" in red even as I type it. While I can certainly picture a LONG-JAWED person (103D: Having a big mouth?), I can't say as I've ever heard LONG-JAWED used in a sentence.

The scariest part of the grid for me, though, was 115D: Up and down. I had QUARCS ... because I had CAHN for 143A: "It Had To Be You" lyricist (KAHN). I knew QUARCS was wrong, so I changed it to QUARKS without having any sense at all of how that could be right. After checking all the crosses, I left it and crossed my fingers. Once I finished, I looked up QUARK to see what "up" and "down" had to do with it — thus I learned that "There are six types of quarks, called up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Only the up and down quarks are needed to make protons and neutrons; the others occur in heavier, unstable particles." (answers.com) After I got done snickering at the idea of a "bottom" and a "top" quark, I went and looked up DIKTAT and EPICARP. Yep, both words. Done. [P.S. there are some amazing DICK TATS on the interwebs, but none that I can show you here..]

Theme answers:
  • 25A: "The football fan is fingering the buttons on the remote ... he pushes the ___ and the game is on!" (first down) — me: "there's a 'down' button on remotes? And he pushes the first one he comes to? What? Oh, pushes the FIRST button DOWN. OK."
  • 28A: "He's prepared a ___ of popcorn for himself ..." (Super Bowl)
  • 31A: "... and he's got Budweiser and Michelob on tap — excellent ___!" (draft picks)
  • 48A: "Now he remembers setting $10 aside for pizza — he searches his jacket and finds it ___" (in the pocket)
  • 50A: "But he forgot to place the order — we may be looking at a ___ here, folks" (late call)
  • 67A: "He phones the pizzeria and tells them he wants full cheese and mushroom ___" (coverage)
  • 73A: "The pizzeria's out of mushrooms, though so he'll need to make a ___" (substitution)
  • 89A: "O.K., he's ordered the pizza — but now his wife is moving around in front of the TV, making ___!" (screen passes)
  • 96A: "He's looking for an opening, but she's doing a tremendous job of ___!" (blocking)
  • 113A: ""Now he's spotted the pizza delivery boy, who's through the gate and crossing the ___!" (yard line) — never seen this term without a number in front of it.
  • 115A: "The pizza is $9.75 (!?) ... he hands $10 off to the boy and waits for the ___" (quarter back) — OK, we now know a couple of things about this guy: he lives in a land of very cheap pizza and is too big an asshole to tip the delivery boy. Really, the pizza boy should have asked him if he wanted his QUARTER BACK ... and then the guy should have said "Of course not" and given at least another dollar, for god's sake.
  • 132A: "Now he's got the pizza — but the TV's showing nothing but snow! He quickly gives it an ___ ..." (on-side kick)
  • 137A: "... and it works — the ___ is good!" (reception)
  • 141A: "His posterior goes all the way back into the easy chair — ___!" (touchdown)
Miffed that I blanked on KENNER, which really should have been a gimme, since I'm sure my sister had an Easy-Bake Oven and I must have seen TV ads for them by the baker's dozen when I was a kid (33D: Easy-Bake Oven introducer). As far as mistakes go, I had HAIR GEL for HAIR OIL (44D: Pomade) and GO ON A TRIP for TAKE A TRIP (87D: Vacation).

Loved seeing MUDD and JUDD together in the same grid today (5D: Newsman Roger + 78A: Film producer Apatow). Also love the answers COSSETED (12D: Spoiled), JERKY (78D: Spasmodic), LAWNBOY (47D: Brand name acquired by Toro), and CLARE (97D: Quilty of "Lolita"). Big "Lolita" fan (Quilty was played by SELLERS in the (good version of the) movie). Also love the clue on REVOLVERS (29D: They're drawn in western scenes). Just finished watching "Point Blank" with Lee Marvin — not a western (though he was in SEVERAL), but he sure does fire a REVOLVER. A bunch.

  • 54A: N.F.L.'er Manning (Eli) — nice Super Bowl tie-in; his brother is the QUARTERBACK for the Colts.
  • 63A: Hiker? (center) — another timely tie-in.
  • 85A: Essayist Didion (Joan) — she sure can write. I'm a big fan of her essays from the '60s (see "Slouching Towards Bethlehem").
  • 91A: IntelliStation maker (IBM) — total guess, but in three letters, not likely to be anything else (maybe NES, I guess).
  • 105A: "A Shot in the Dark" star, 1964 (Sellers) — misread this as ["Wait Until Dark" star, 1964], and wanted HEPBURN.

  • 123A: Heroic poet of Gaelic legend (Ossian) — "legend" is right. Authenticity of poems under his name has always been in question. Samuel Johnson was the earliest and most (humorously) vocal skeptic.
  • 151A: Unintentional poker table signals (tells) — a good, if easy, clue.
  • 6D: Shrubby wasteland (moor) — somehow I always expect a clue for MOOR to emphasize dampness or mistiness, probably from reading/watching "Hound of the Baskervilles" or having once partially read "Wuthering Heights."
  • 71D: Frequent partner of Fonteyn (Nureyev) — knew it ... couldn't spell it.
  • 139D: Letterless phone button (one) — not many options here, really. ONE, TWO, SIX ... TEN.
And now, a brief "Tweets of the Week" — crossword chatter from the Twitterverse:
  1. @stanaesthetic OMG! I just noticed (after 3 or 4 years) that my crossword Converse have clues on the inside! I'm so doing the crossword! XD
  2. @nsepich There is so much wrong with that "He went to Jared" crossword/engagement commercial...
  3. @Brent_Conley Just owned another USA Today crossword. I am the smartest person I know.
  4. @telescoper Lemony Snicket? Who the hell is that? Dear Guardian crossword editor - please no obscure children's authors in a grown-up competition!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Noam 12:32 AM  

Noam D. Elkies

Noam D. Elkies 12:58 AM  

[let me try this again; meanwhile my captcha has tchanged from the apt (though inaptly green) "rantgray" to the nonsensical red "ingshess"]

Well the puzzle is competently done, with good moments even outside the f-ball groaners (and I suppose some non-theme football clues like 54A and 63A are obligatory), but do we really need a super-sized Superbowl puzzle? The standard-issue 21x21 would surely suffice... Maybe I should just be thankful it wasn't b*seball puns (or worse, N*SCAR).

Re(x) 139D: What kind of phone has a TEN button? 82A:LENITY, 84D:EPICARP, and 115D:QUARKS (clever clue), and120D:DIKTAT I recognized (though 84D took a long time to dredge up); it's random monkey-business names like 13D:ABU that I needed crosses for. [Oh, and "dick tats" is funny but I hope Rex's readers have breakfast before their daily Rex fix.] I happened to remember "83A:MERRIE Melodies" but I imagine many solvers were mystified. Couldn't figure out the clue for 134D:CULL, but I see now that it does make sense.

I await retired_chemist's explanation of the Nb-Ta link suggested by the 124D clue and answer.

Who needs a word like 2D:ORIENTATE in the language when we already have the perfectly good verb ORIENT? I'll take "ush" over "orientate" any day. (Both are back-formations, but "ush" is funny — as in "toot" = "do a tutor's job" — while "orientate" from "orientation" is just lazy.) Re the stacked 9-er 3D:WORMEATEN — Surely I'm not the only one here who started with "moth-eaten".

Liked the clues for 62D:LEMONS, 64D:EST (I see it's not quite new, but much fresher than this take on 142D:HIS), 121A:EPILOG (cf. "European capital" = OSLO), and 83D:MCCOURT (because he was my high school English teacher for three semesters). 75D:BISMOL is OK but why put "go-with" in the clue rather than just "Pepto-______"? I suppose 106A:SNAFU has gone far enough from its R-rated etymology that it is unobjectionable.

OK, must get to sleep now; tomorrow at about 7:30PM I'll be playing in the Brahms clarinet trio, and I don't want to disappoint the ten or so people who will skip S.B.XLIV to hear Op.CXIV.


lit.doc 1:14 AM  

OK, so I’m sitting here having a really good time, working through this 23x Sunday grid, feelin’ good ‘cause I’m actually able to do it, albeit slowly (the Saturday puzz ate my brain). OK, so I’m like 90+% done AND THE EFFING POWER GOES OUT FOR A FRACTION OF A SECOND. So close, and yet so much rekeying. Sigh.

Lots of cool stuff, and fun theme clues/answers. @Rex, me too re HAIR GEL which, with 64D EGO (high-quality wrong answer, no?) left me, for a time, with 68A GG_. Also, @Rex, I’m guessing you meant that you’ve never seen YARD LINE with(out) a number in front of it. And, yes, I started with GOAL LINE. And, yes, ending with LDR totally sucked. Saw the possibility early on, but soooo wanted it not to be.

QUARKS, wow. I’ve read a few of Richard Feyman’s “pop-physics” books (so far as one can with only a year of calculus) so I knew the flavors, but that corner would have been more like “in and out” butt for the crosses. SW felt like the wrath of K[L]AHN.

By the authority vested in me by me, I hereby consign EPICARP and LENITY to Outer Darkness.

OSSIAN was another “grad school paying for itself” moment. But potholes elsewhere. RIM before LIP. DICTAT before K. Starting with 1A BAD forced me to waste time trying to fit DOG-EARED or some such into 3D. IN HIS/THE POCKET was further complicated by my expectation that the cross would be NTH, despite my having one.

That I ate up so much clock time pondering SPEED vs. CRANK at 122A does not speak well of my early years. And today’s Embarrassing Total Disclosure: at 139D I actually *looked* at my cell phone.

chefwen 1:39 AM  

I felt so clever plopping in shrek for 71A, DOH!

Loved the puzzle, but then again I am originally from The Green Bay Packer territory and football is beaten into you.

Upper half of the puzzle fell quickly, lower half, not so much. Put it down to walk the doggies, came back with fresh eyes and finished quickly.

Great kick off for the game, thanks Patrick Berry.

Go Saints.

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

I hope it's ok to ask a general question. I read this blog often and I notice that Rex and others often talk about the cruciverb website for getting information about how clues have been used before or other puzzles by the same constructor etc.

I've been to the site and it looks very cool but you need to pay to see some of it and I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile for someone who is not a constructor but is very interested in crosswords? Or do you have to be a constructor? Thanks!!


matt 2:30 AM  

This reminded me of the stories we used to have to write with vocab words in middle school English. I thought it was medium-challenging overall, even being a football fan. I still don't understand why a CARD is a funny fellow (I ended up settling on BARD) and I had a personal natick at the intersection of ALRET and LIRAE. Overall, though, pretty enjoyable. Can't wait for the game tomorrow (and the chili I just made).

Rex Parker 7:20 AM  


I meant TATS of DICK Nixson, of course. I have no idea what kind of TATS you were thinking about ...

Rex Parker 7:24 AM  


If you are a crossword junkie, then the "Gold" membership to cruciverb.com is totally worth it. Very useful databases for aspiring constructors, as well as people who are just dead curious about the history of words / clues in mainstream crosswords.

Sara 7:48 AM  

Exceptionally funny write-up today. I laughed a lot, and not just a the Samuel Johnson line (everyone click on that link if you haven't yet)

ArtLvr 8:46 AM  

I gobbled this up like a bowl of popcorn! Very impressed with the intricacy, density and overall LENITY of Patrick's puzzle, gettable for a non-sports fan and full of fun fill like CAJOLE, DAWDLE, PLUNDER, MERRIE and YAW.

The LONG-JAWED creature having a big mouth conjured up a crocodile, perhaps snapping up some TALONED raptor. This image might require some ANACIN or Pepto-BISMOL... The clues were clever, like "Laying down the law(n)" for SODDING.

That last one, plus CULL's "Get the best of" and the LAWNBOY brand at 47D acquired by TORO reminded me of a local scandal some years ago. The embattled CEO of another maker of YARD equipment invited his entire board of directors and their wives to dinner, then locked them all up overnight (sending sitters to their homes) while arguing his case. As I recall, he didn't end up in jail or a nuthouse -- in fact, I think the company survived a bit longer than expected!


CoolPapaD 9:35 AM  

Among the funniest write-ups in recent memory:

...snickering at the idea of a "bottom" and a "top" quark...[P.S. there are some amazing DICK TATS on the interwebs, but none that I can show you here..]

NDE - I go crazy when I hear people say "orientate," and have never thought it to be a real word. Also had MOTH EATEN for too long.

Totally guessed the N in OSSIAN and NIOBE - never heard of these two, as well as the ones Rex hadn't heard of either.

Most enjoyable overall. I'd rather do a puz than watch the game (both can take the same amount of time in this household...). I eagerly await the commercials, however!


Skua 9:36 AM  


joho 9:41 AM  

I think this puzzle scored a TOUCHDOWN or two. Very timely and filled with lively words.

The only things I didn't like were LDR and regarding the breakfast test: JELLIED eel and TOE for corn site.

I thought the lyricist had to be Sammy Cahn, so was reluctant to change the "C" to a "K." But it had to be a "K," right? So I Googled and got Gus Kahn. Mystery solved.

@ArtLvr ... crocodile is way better than my animal for LONG-JAWED. I was thinking horse-faced. But then horses don't have big mouths.

Thanks, Patrick Berry for a super Super Bowl Sunday puzzle!

I'll be gone all next week ... will definitely be missing Rex's write-up and everybodys' comments. Have fun all!

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

What the heck's a blackastar?

Smitty 9:50 AM  


Black as tar

Smitty 9:55 AM  

@Noam, ORIENTATE sounds about as much like a word as RECYCLABABLES.......

@Rex, I'm with you on MOOR...Isn't there a word that sounds like ARROYO that fits into 4 letters?

I'm horseracing-savant, so not an EZ breezy Sunday for me.

vilis 10:11 AM  

Can we bury commentators along with ORIENTATED, and just have well oriented commentors?

Ulrich 10:25 AM  

@Smitty: You're saying there is no such a thing as a black-a-star? And I thought I had learned a new word--now I have to look up "dick tat"...

Speaking of which: Diktat can also simply mean "dictation"--this used to be a common exercise in elementary school to test your spelling and punctuation skills--gone out of fashion b/c of the ban-everything-that-smacks-of-drill crowd, with very dire consequences for the spelling abilities of the next generations...

Fun puzzle, in my book--wait to hear from those who complain about the gender stereotyping in the clues...

Meg 10:25 AM  

This was fun! I actually thought "ORIENTATE" was not a word!!! So, I stand corrected, but I still hate it.

I got QUARKS, but since "up and down" are types, isn't the clue a bit off?

The theme answers told a story, which I thought was especially clever of Patrick.

OK, OK I can't get how ILL means "scarcely". I need someone to use it in a sentence. On-line dictionary was no help.

@Rex: Weird. I kept thinking of Hepburn and who else was in that movie until I realized it was the wrong movie. "Wait Until Dark" scared the hell out of me at 13.

I believe there has been a backward definition of SNAFU as an acronym: Situation Normal All F----- Up. My 2 cents for the day.

Yesterday I bought popcorn kernels at the supermarket, you know, to make REAL popcorn. The cashier asked me if I knew how to make it. She was serious.

A Capriote 10:32 AM  

In a sentence-" I can ill (scarcely) afford new shoes."

Elaine 10:35 AM  

EPICARP was new vocab for me; I was just sure it had to be correct, but I wrote it in the margin to look up later.

I printed this up around 2:30 a.m. (@lit.doc-- this makes the case for working on paper)...but the grid was so tiny that my eyeballs fell onto the desktop, and it was hard to see through the tearing-up.

I finished this at the breakfast table, and (@lit.doc--just so you know you aren't the only one) I managed to con my husband into looking at the telephone to confirm 139D.

Cute puzzle even though I finished with an error at ABU/OBEY (duh) and another with QUARKY instead of QUARKS. Well, it's our daughter who is the physicist, and she doesn't live here any more.

Here's hoping everyone in the (new, improved) Snow Belt is safe and warm!

Ulrich 10:41 AM  

BTW I'm seeing clearly a diagonal football--from the SW up to the NE--in the grid, with the seam indicated by the diagonal line...

ArtLvr 10:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jesser 10:49 AM  

This puzzle was great fun, but why oh why could not 63A have been part of the story line? I mean, it was Right There! 113A was my SNAFU, because I put in THE DRIVE and it made perfect sense, but wow did it muck up that section. Only when I reluctantly removed it did the last part of my puzzle cooperate. I suppose the Manning family will be happy that ELI made an appearance today, even though his brother will have more people notice him -- by an exponential factor, I suspect. I didn't snicker about quarks until I read the write-up; now I'm grinnin' beeg beeg.

Having so recently converted to the same-day puzzle, I am still uncomfortable with doing the damn things on my computer screen, so I print them out and do them the semi-old-fashioned way (but I miss newsprint). My point? Well, the Sunday puzzle prints itty bitty, and it is a strain on 51-year-old eyes -- even with cheater glasses. If I win the lottery, I will buy a big copy machine with an enlarging feature!

GO SAINTS! Yo te amo New Orleans! (I should have said that in French, but I don't KNOW French, so there you have it.

Happy Superbowl Sunday, Rex and friends!

ArtLvr 10:57 AM  

@ joho, thanks and good luck on your week away! We'll miss you...

@ skua, that ANORAK link was depressing, but I heard again the echo of a professor who, at the end of his lit course, merely gazed at us with a sad smile and muttered "Lisez de belles choses". (Read good works, by which he meant like those of Dostoyevsky.)


OldCarFudd 10:59 AM  

Everyone's comments seem in general agreement today. Down with lenity, epicarp, orientate and ldr! Otherwise, a good romp.

@Ulrich - You're right about the football. I hadn't noticed, but it has to be deliberate.

jesser 11:04 AM  

HOORAY for Ulrich spotting the football in the grid! That's just darn cool!

From now on, I shall close each of my posts with a toast, but instead of skoal or cheers, I'll hoist my glass to all of you via my captcha.

Ditamp! -- jesser

chefbea 11:28 AM  

what a great puzzle!!! Had to google a bit. Hate the word epicarp - never heard of it!!

@Ulrich - I see the football now. You are very observant.

I'll talk about our fun get-to-gether in Westport later

treedweller 11:38 AM  

My new Spinal Tap phone goes up to eleven.

@Meg I raised my eyebrows at SNAFU for that reason, though I have heard it as " . . . all fouled up." Given this came from the military, I don't really believe the clean version. Should we be on the lookout now for FUBAR, TARFU, and BOHICA?

lit.doc 11:48 AM  

@chefwen, had I not first worked the downs in that diagonal I, too, would have slammed in SHREK and stuck with foreeeever. Got lucky.

@carla, I'm so glad you asked that question re cruciverb.com. I've been wondering the same thing. Thanks, Rex.

@jesser, "te amo" becomes "je t'aime" FWIW ("yo" is redundant).

lit.doc 11:50 AM  

@treedweller, LOL re your new phone! Grand allusion.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

@jesser, Across Lite has a function to print on two pages - it makes your Sunday grid a lot larger. It's at the bottom of the dialog box when you click print

SMB 11:51 AM  

Unlike others, I found this puzzle annoying and mostly too easy. And I'm not in the upper leagues like most of you. A few unknowns like Niobe and Kahn.
Count me as the one who will whine about the stereotypical wife. I made the chili yesterday and am waiting to take up the whole couch. We are not all clueless.

slypett 12:06 PM  

Am I the only one who thinks this puzzle is as much fun as wearing a wet blanket on a cold and windy day?

I didn't hate it. It's just that there is a surfeit of three- and four-letter words, and the fact that most of the theme answers are slightly off the mark. Other than that, the idea was clever and carried out consistently.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Usually I just get a mild headache from the Saturday puzzle, but this Saturday's gave me a migraine. So I was looking forward to a nice Sunday puzzle glide. But no! Yoish! Football theme!

The only thing I know about football is a bunch of guys run into each other and fall down a lot, and then it takes 20 minutes for them to do it again.

Not fair! Not fair! Not fair!
Where's my glide?

Glitch 12:31 PM  

@carla @lit.doc

While crusiverb.com is, as Rex indicated, the Gold $tandard:


is a free site that answers a lot of questions.


retired_chemist 12:46 PM  

Never one to shy away from a challenge, here is the best I can do on the Ta-Nb connection.

Tantalum was discovered in 1802, and for some forty years there was a controversy about whether niobium (first called columbium) was a second element or was really tantalum. Settled in 1864 but the name niobium apparently was not settled on until 1949.

I can only speculate on the choice of name, but since Nb is always found as a minor constituent of the first-known Ta ores, perhaps it was named so as an offspring of tantalum, as Niobe was an offspring of Tantalus.

Rex Parker 12:48 PM  

The kind of mail I get on a regular basis:





There's being wrong, and then there's being dickishly wrong.

JenCT 12:55 PM  

Loved, Loved, Loved today's puzzle!!!! Thanks, Patrick Berry. Yes, I'm a big football fan. A nice easy puzzle was just what I needed before the ACPT.

So, who'll be there? Less than 2 weeks away!

retired_chemist 1:07 PM  

OK - now the puzzle. Super-sized for Super Bowl XLIV. Note that this is the first time that the ordinal number of our sitting President matches that of our Super Bowl. Absent freakishly strange politics or a really long NFL lockout, it will be the only time. Dubya, however, missed XLIII by less than two weeks.

The theme involved just a bunch of uninteresting groaners for me. Not hard, just meh.

Hand up HAIR GEL and for parsing it BLACK-A-STAR to start. Then D'oh!

Also hand up for disliking ORIENTATE, LENITY, and Bud and Michelob as excellent DRAFT PICKS. What happened to SAM ADAMS, BASS, ANCHOR STEAM, SHINER BOCK,......?

With @Rex's defn. of DICK TAT, I have to wonder if SPIRO had one.... You do remember that GROW A ***** is an anagram of SPIRO AGNEW?

Overall probably my least favorite puzzle of the last couple of weeks.

George NYC 1:18 PM  

I think the football even has fingers on it...Amazing.
ONSIDEKICK was my fave. Smart that the football fan, even when frustrated, knows not to kick and possibly break the screen. A real pro...

jesser 1:24 PM  

@anon11:51 Thanks! I'll try that next week, fo-sho!

@retired chemist: Grow a spine? They wanted Agnew to grow a spine? Just kidding! And that alternative to spine is funny, right there. I don't care who you are!

@whoever-cares: I have added more information to my blogger profile, just because.

Three and OUTTA here! GO SAINTS!

Bapintsa! -- jesser

Norm 1:34 PM  

@lit.doc I'm with you on EPICARP but LENITY is a fine word and the rule of lenity (for the application of new legislation that eases criminal punishment) is a long-standing doctrine. Now, if you want to ban all rap music references from crosswords, I'm with you ....

treedweller 1:34 PM  

@r_c I'm with you re: DRAFT PICKS, but I decided it was an acceptable clue because an NFL announcer would probably use those as examples of the epitome of beer. Can't offend those advertisers, you know.

lit.doc 1:36 PM  

@retired_chemist, I applaud your refined taste in beer! I, too, cringed at the puzzle's frat-kegger-worthy (and I use "worthy" advisedly) offerings.

Four and out. Everyone have fun watching or avoiding the game, as suits!

joho 1:37 PM  

@ArtLvr ... thanks, I'll miss everybody here, too.

@Ulrich ... nobody sees the grid the way you do. How cool to have football included!

@Meg ... you brought back a memory regarding popcorn. I had a friend visit who actually had me make it fresh for here because she had never seen it done!

@rex ... didn't I answer that Cahn/Kahn question at 9:41 a.m.?

jae 1:45 PM  

Delightful puzzle although I screwed up an error free week with ELITIST instead of ELITISM. Me too with MOTHEATEN. BTW, you can also look at the center of the grid as a line of scrimmage with ll single black squares on each side, or is that too much of a stretch?

Clark 1:56 PM  

One of the benefits of a law school education: familiarity with a few good words for crosswords, such as, LENITY as in 'The Rule of Lenity.'

Now let me find a place where I can't hear the TV.

Stan 2:06 PM  

This had its moments. I liked seeing Red Sox Nation fave DENIS Leary appearing with Red Sox Nation foe BUCKY Dent.

Sellers is great as Quilty! Nabokov wrote (at least part of) the screenplay.

Meg 2:08 PM  

@Treedweller: Never heard of TARFU or BOHCA, so of course I had to look them up. The latter is just gross, but thanks for adding some super new words to my vocabulary!

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Carla, Rex is right, as always. Cruciverb is indeed the gold standard.

Don't bother with xword info. It's a joke and no real constructor ever uses it. Everything there is covered way better on cruciverb.

Cruciverb is a professional site that includes all the publications, it's more accurate, it's way more complete, it has the support of not just Rex but the rest of the constructor community as well.

Xword info is free. You get what you pay for.

PlantieBea 2:31 PM  

@Ulrich: thanks for pointing out the football. Good eyes!

A medium/challange for a Sunday. Had trouble believing in ILL/ILIE, DIKTAT, TELLS/CULL, ADREM/DIRAE, but got them right anyway. I ended with the QUIRKY/YTET/IBA error, though, and I'm blaming the 4AM wake up call to watch the scrubbed shuttle launch.

Thanks R_C for the Niobium/Tantalum info.

Go Saints (even though you ousted my choice two weeks ago).

retired_chemist 2:34 PM  

@treedweller, @lit.doc, and I are all Texans, whether born or naturalized. Does that make Texas the good draft beer capital of this blog? Is, in fact SHINER BOCK not generally available elsewhere?

Elaine 2:35 PM  

I thought about protesting the "draft picks," but since beer is a seldom-indulged dietary item, I decided to shut up about it and not be a beer snob....but what about Rolling Rock, from Latrobe, PA? and good ole Stroh's from Cincinnati days. (It's probably brewed elsewhere, but nobody in their right mind would drink Hudepohl or Wiedemann's... I may have spelt the latter wrong; it's been a long time.)

my captcha is "chibumsb"-- a little drum riff? chi BUMs b!

I usually watch the SuperBowl with my eyes closed....

Elaine 2:37 PM  

We've only had Shiner when traveling in TX...but I admit we don't shop for beer a lot anywhere.

archaeoprof 2:43 PM  

@Elaine: you spelled Wiedemann's right.

But "nobody in their right mind" would drink it?

Guess I wasn't in my right mind during my teen-age years in Cincinnati...

BTW, the Saints copied WHO DAT from the Cincinnati Bengals, whose fans were cheering WHO DEY long before. I'm just sayin.

Noam D. Elkies 2:54 PM  

Forgot to mention: 26D:SPRIEST = S-mass celebrant?

Thanks to ret.chemist for the tantalizing information about element XLI (and the presidential coincidence involving XLIV — though I suppose the Cleveland duplication means GWB can claim to have been the 42nd person to hold the US Presidency during the 42nd SB).

Anyone careto explain this captcha? Looks like a reasonable six-letter partial.


mac 3:28 PM  

Perfect Superbowl Sunday puzzle. A little disconcerting to be doing it with Karen from the Cape sitting next to me writing at twice my speed.... At least I remembered Bucky Dent!

Couldn't believe ldr. showed up again! Had Cahn for Kahn and levity for lenity, but otherwise fine.

Back to the kitchen. Guests arrive in and hour and a half.

Can you believe I actually enjoy getting a second captcha almost every time? Caphedy to you too!

chefwen 3:32 PM  

If we could get it here I would opt for a Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat Beer. Mmmmm! Dat's gut stuff, doncha know.

Aleman 3:34 PM  

I love Shiner Bock but because of licensing, it is not available in New York.

I console myself with Brooklyn Cookie Jar Porter, not Budweiser or Michelob.

retired_chemist 3:35 PM  

@ Elaine - Spellings correct AFAIK, and both beers familiar from my Ohio River youth. Left at 17 so my knowledge of them is, well, largely illegal. IMO Genesee (upstate NY) is, or at least was in the early sixties, even worse.

@ NDE - I suppose Dubya could claim either XLII or XLIII, whichever one suited his purpose at the moment. Alberto Gonzales would have been glad to justify....

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

Didn't fumble around with this one too much, but I was moving all over the grid(iron) before finally filling in the last box. Gain a little, lose a little,complete a long one, drip the patper.
And so it goes.
Liked the puzzle, loved the write up.
Agree with everyone about orientate

@NDE- enjoy your performance.
To those watching the game, enjoy.
To those who are not, go see NDE play Brahms

Elaine 3:36 PM  


Can't resist: "teen-age years" and "right mind" don't belong in the same sentence, especially with the addition of beer.

You were probably drinking Wiedemann's due to budgetary restrictions.

chi-bum-s-b! (repeat, since my current captcha is lutmnl--sort of autumnal in a low frame of mind?)

treedweller 3:37 PM  

I drank a lot of Shiner in college (both Bock and the bygone Premium, but mostly Bock), but when they sold the brewery I think the beer changed. Or maybe it was my taste that changed. Anyway, for TX beer, I'll now take Real Ale from Blanco (Full Moon Pale Rye is my fave of their standard offerings, though the current seasonal Phoenixx ESB is great) or St Arnold's from Houston (Lawnmower or Elissa, usually) over Shiner any day.

Incidentally, native Texan here (4th or 5th generation, I forget which). Only 24 years in Austin, though, which makes me still a carpetbagger among the locals.

Scarlet-O 3:41 PM  

That southwest was missing ONE letter when I mosied over here-- the S on the very bottom. Being totally clueless about the clues for 115D and 148D I just plain did not know... I had QUARKY and YTET (don't ask.) Still don't get how "up and down" asserts quarks, per se, not that I know much about them, and for the life of me, though I've seen that STET a zillion times I still forget what the dickens it means. I also f'd myself for a while with ADO for 114D and TSELIOT for 83D. Loved it but man it was a long'un... I found I couldn't even find sections I wanted to go back to very easily...

captcha: stillant

Steve J 3:44 PM  

Looks like I'm in a minority in not being terribly pleased with this one. The theme struck me as being too close to my most-despised puzzle type: the quotation puzzle. And some of the clues and/or answers just seemed clunky (like the already-mentioned YARDLINE, but there were others that rubbed me the wrong way). Didn't dislike it, either. On my personal sucked/bad/eh/good/great scale, it's a solid eh.

Some passing thoughts:

ORIENTATE is a perfectly acceptable and established variant. And, in fact, it's proper in English dialects other than North American.

I'm not getting EST as "Id follower." (And I had a moment, when the only crossing letter I had in place was the T, of thinking, "Please don't tell me that this is going to become awful and have IOT as the answer.")

Had a personal Natick (and I'd argue it's crawling up into territory beyond personal, but still probably not a true, Natick) with ADREM/DIRAE. I would argue that non-English words should not cross, unless they're ones that have entered common English vernacular.

And every time I see BUCKY Dent in a puzzle, I can't help but think they keep forgetting to clue what is, in New England, his full name. (For those not familiar, Bucky Dent had a track record of having huge games against the Red Sox, particularly in a playoff game, leading to his being known throughout New England as Bucky F'ing Dent. The middle name, of course, is not truncated.)

Scarlet-O 3:45 PM  

@rex, oh LOL, "top" and "bottom" quarks... how could I have missed THAT line in your blog. those quarks never quit. And yeah, lenity?? I had levity for a spell...

c: unten

retired_chemist 3:50 PM  

@ Treedweller - thanks for the recs. Too bad a hunt for your faves would require more time than there is between now and the Super Bowl.

re Genesee - their web site says it is brewed with "barely malt," which one hopes is a typo, although "barely" is consistent with my earlier experience. It's also "fully kraeusened," whatever that is.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

@Steve J:

i.e. == Id EST == that is (to say) Latin

Ulrich 4:26 PM  

... and used with increasing frequency as if it meant "for example", which it does't.

Steve J 5:03 PM  

@archaeoprof: From what I've been able to determine (using the interwebs, so to be taken with a grain of salt), the "Who Dat" chant predates both the Bengals and the Saints. It sounds like the Saints' chant originated with local colleges and/or high schools in the 60s. Apparently the Saints fans started using it c. 1983.

The Bengals fans started up with the "Who Dey" chant a couple years earlier. But accounts I found from a few different newspapers all point to the Saints' "Who Dat" as coming from local universities, not appropriating it from the Bengals.

And there's my new thing learned for the day.

@Anon 4.04: thanks for the reminder. I wasn't thinking of Latin at all, obviously.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

I'll side with those who thought the theme answers were on the clunky side (although I did really like "quarterback"). But I'm pretty much willing to forgive that now that the football in the grid has been pointed out.

Clark 5:22 PM  

@r_c: "Kräusening is the traditional method that German brewers use to carbonate their beer, most often lager beers. Basically, the process consists of adding freshly fermenting wort to beer that is ready to bottle. Kräusening overcomes the problem of yeast going dormant during the lagering phase of fermentation. It also helps clean up the flavor of the beer by reducing levels of diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and dries out the beer." (www.picobrewery.com/askarchive/krausen)


from The Quest by W.H. Auden:

"So at all quays and crossroads: who can tell
These places of decision and farewell
To what dishonour all adventure leads,
What parting gift could give that friend protection,
So orientated his vocation needs
The Bad Lands and the sinister direction?"

I too prefer 'orient' over 'orientate', and chocolate over strawberry, and fudge without nuts . . .

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

Anyone have a problem with DEY for old ottoman leader? I know about BEY, but that gave me ALLOYEB

retired_chemist 5:25 PM  

@ Clark - thanks for the info.

retired_chemist 6:19 PM  

@ Anon 5:25 - the Dey was a title for governors of Tunis and Algiers. He was assisted by a divan. Kinda like Boll Clinton....

A Bey was somehow different.

OldCarFudd 6:32 PM  

I'm with the group that thinks Bud and Michelob are swill. But considering the word painting that emerges of the hero of this puzzle, B&M are suitable. My daughter got her master's in architecture at UT/Austin, and met her husband there. They live at the Jersey shore now, and they still pour Shiner Bock; I'll have to find out where they get it, since I hadn't realized it was rare in these parts. Personally, I'm conceited enough that I can't resist drinking beers named for me. Two good ones are an English beer called Old Peculier (sic) and a western US beer called Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Moonchild 8:27 PM  

Halftime is over and the Who were awesome. Nobody can scream like Roger.
Ulrich gets the MVP today for seeing the football in the grid.
Go Colts!

Karen from the Cape 11:37 PM  

Since my fellow commentators are entirely too humble, I would like to point out that ImsDave, Ulrich, and mac all got certificates for completing the three puzzles perfectly at Westport. And for two of them, English is an ESL.

Re the crossword...ooh, I want the Converse crossword shoes.

slypett 11:55 PM  

George NYC: Speaking of ONSIDEKICKs, did you see the doozie the Saints sprung on the colts? It was the single most surprising moment in all my years of watching sports.

lit.doc 11:57 PM  

@OldCarFudd, congrat's on your daughter's success at UT. Great architecture school despite the regents' moronic decision to reject the brilliant Swiss architects' design for what is now the Boring Blanton Art Museum.

@treedweller, I feel your pain re Olde Austin. I've only been here since '92, and I would totally be a carpetbagger were it not for protective coloration--UT cred's and 4-ga. ear piercings.

lit.doc 12:00 AM  

@slypett, yeah baby. That onside kick to open the second half wins my Titanium Testicles Award of the decade!

slypett 12:07 AM  

retired_chemist: I turned up a couple of ancient (they were steelies) empty cans of Genessee in an attic cubbyhole in Massachusetts. As far as I know, it is currently unavailable in Mass.

slypett 12:16 AM  

Steve J: 'id EST', 'that is' in English. There were a lot of "foreign" clues in this puzzle not indicated as such. Didn't bother me, but may have troubled others.

bootlept: what you did when you were caught in her husband's bed, c. 1786.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

Is "late call" really a football term?

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

This ursine couldn't let this captcha go by: urersine

Auntie Google says:

The Detroit News, January 25. 2010

Sunday's top game: Raptors 106, Lakers 105

Late call helps Raptors pull upset

Associated Press

Toronto -- Even Hedo Turkoglu was surprised to find himself heading to the free-throw line with a chance to beat the defending NBA champions.

A driving Turkoglu drew a foul from Pau Gasol, then hit both free throws with 1.2 seconds left as the Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-105 on Sunday night.

"I was surprised. I thought I wasn't going to go to the line," Turkoglu said. "Usually I don't rely on that because sometimes you get calls and sometimes you don't. I just tried to take the best shot I could."


Gasol insisted he didn't foul Turkoglu on the decisive play.

"It was a questionable call," Gasol said. "I don't think I pushed him at all. My arm was on his back but I never pushed him. A tough call at a critical part of the game."

From The Detroit News:

mitchs 1:25 PM  

@Elaine: believe it or not, Burger beer is back in production here in Cincy. The worst of the lot is back!

william e emba 2:57 PM  

A few years ago there was a NYT Sunday diagramless whose theme was the six quarks: phrases began with up/down/strange/charm/bottom/top. In the days when bottom and top were still hypothetical, some people called them beauty and truth.

You ought to say a proton is made up of two up quarks and one down quark, but the usage "two ups and one down" is common enough. For what it's worth, monstrosities like "charmness" and "bottomness" are sometimes used.

TheWertle 3:53 PM  

It always excites me when I see a puzzle is by Patrick Berry ever since I learned that he lives here in Athens, GA. In a house shaped like an "A" no less. And of course his puzzles are always a lot of fun.

Unknown 1:21 PM  

Hi I am SO not a football OR a Superbowl fan, but I enjoyed this puzzle immensely, and liked it's bigger size (more to do, or so it felt), and of course the football image (which I didn't notice on my own).
I do have one problem, and that is the clue for moor, 6A. It makes me sad that even Patrick Berry can define one of the last natural beauties of nature left (the moors of Yorkshire and elsewhere in northern England) as 'wasteland.' In fact, I would say the word implies exactly the opposite of a wasteland, meaning basically a piece of land undestroyed by having a mall put on it (and then left deserted?)

slypett 6:38 PM  

Tina: Amen to that. PB was carelessly referring to the old way of looking at that sort of landscape. In the days of extensive agriculture in England, that sort of land couldn't be used for farming, so it 'lay waste', hence, a 'wasteland'.

Unknown 11:22 PM  

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PIX 8:19 AM  

Great Puzzle...timely and a lot of fun.

Epicarp is a perfectly good word; there is a strong bias against the sciences on this site.

Chick in Easton 3:28 AM  

Am I missing something? Is there truly such a thing as "jellied eel"? (101D)

Although Rex mentioned both occurrences, no one has specifically pointed out that PB included both a specific and an inferential mention of Peter Sellers. The specific was 105A, and the inferential was 97D: Sellers played Clare Quilty in the 1962 movie.

"Orientate" is like fingernails across the blackboard, for those of us who are old enough to know what that means.

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