Ottoman hospice honorific / SUN 3-14-10 / Soviet co-op / Noted Palin impressionist / Flower once cultivated for food

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "BOOK BINDING" — theme answers are fused book titles

Word of the Day: DURBAN (97D: South African city of 2.5+ million) —

Durban (Zulu: eThekwini) is the third largest city in South Africa, forming part of theeThekwini metropolitan municipality. It is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal and is famous as the busiest port in Africa. It is also a major centre of tourism due to the city's warmsubtropical climate and beaches. // According to the 2007 Community Survey, the city has a population of almost 3.5 million. Durban's land area of 2,292 square kilometers (884.9 sq mi) is comparatively larger than other South African cities, resulting in a somewhat lower population density of 1,513 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,918.7/sq mi)

• • •

It was my privilege to see this puzzle in an earlier, rougher incarnation. Having solved it before (maybe 6 months ago?) did nothing to help my time, which was actually slightly slower than average. The one, major slow point, that I don't remember at all from the original version was OVA (67A: Things that go through tubes). I have never, ever heard of the NASD (64D: Former Wall St. initials), and SMOTE could have been SMITE, given the clue (55D: Hit hard), and so I had -V-, figured that last letter had to be "S," and could come up with only IVS, which seems very close to plausible (there are "tubes" involved with IVS, after all), but isn't, if you really read the clue. So ... stuck. Even ran the alphabet to make sure EVEN was right, because its clue wasn't exactly transparent either (63D: Still). Not sure when OVA clicked. I tried to think of ways that IVY could a. be plural and b. "go through tubes." No dice.

As for the theme, I love it, though it took me a while to get my head around the concept — not the merger concept, but the idea that one title is referred to directly while the other provides a kind of modifying function. This puzzle has my favorite book, THE LONG GOODBYE, in it, so I'm predisposed to like it a whole lot, and even though I have almost zero familiarity with the work of JOSS WHEDON (89D: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator), I admire the answer. Yay for being contemporary. Also love DAHLIA (91D: Flower once cultivated for food) (Chandler wrote the screenplay of "The Blue DAHLIA," 1946), T.S. ELIOT (107A: 1948 Literature Nobelist) (Chandler makes many references to him in "THE LONG GOODBYE"), and JORJA (14A: Actress Fox of "CSI") (she was in "Memento," a Chandleresque mystery). I forget what most of my criticisms of the first draft of this puzzle were — I hope Caleb will drop by and remind me. I don't think there were many. I do know that I questioned the arbitrary inclusion/exclusion of articles in the book titles. Specifically, I was dubious about the dropped "THE" at the beginning of "END OF THE AFFAIR." Other titles keep their "THE"s and "A"s, but there, it's dropped. It's such a minor thing on its surface, but still, the part of me that likes consistency was irked. Caleb and Will overrode me, as they probably should have, as changing that answer would have wrecked the puzzle terribly.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: Plot of a Willa Cather novel (STORY OF O PIONEERS)
  • 41A: Unabridged version of a Philip Roth novella? (THE LONG GOODBYE COLUMBUS)
  • 61A: Pocket edition of a D. H. Lawrence novel? (LITTLE WOMEN IN LOVE)
  • 77A: "Frost/Nixon" director's copy of a Graham Greene novel? (HOWARD'S END OF THE AFFAIR) — for the record, the "HOWARDS" in "HOWARDS END" does not, technically, have an apostrophe in it ... I know, I know, why do I notice / care about these things? Who can say?
  • 99A: Final copy of a Cervantes novel? (THE LAST DON QUIXOTE)
  • 114A: Creased copy of a Jack Finney novel? (A WRINKLE IN TIME AND AGAIN) — nooooo idea who Jack Finney is. Never heard of this book.
  • 137A: Illustrations in a Leo Tolstoy novel? (ART OF WAR AND PEACE)
I did not care for NORW. (42D: Neighbor of Swed.) — both clue and answer abbrevs. look ridiculous with that fourth letter on them — or ON TWO (145A: How a call may be picked up at the office), mainly because I don't really get it. Is that like "ON *line* TWO?" I thought the original clue for this had something to do with when a football might be hiked ... but I could be misremembering that. What I don't know about Tin Pan Alley could fill a library, so the rhyme scheme at 112A: Form of many Tin Pan Alley tunes (AABA) was pretty meaningless to me. So was GILROY (22A: Tony who directed "Michael Clayton") and SINGH (51D: Indian P.M. Manmohan). I know a GILROY (home of the annual Garlic Festival) and a SINGH (golfer Vijay, among others). But not this GILROY, not this SINGH.

  • 19A: "Let's Talk About Sex" hip-hop group (SALT 'N' PEPA) — not my favorite song by them. Let's go older. First time I ever heard them:

  • 60A: "Authority is never without ___": Euripides ("HATE") — well that's an odd sentiment. HATE was not intuitive at all.
  • 105A: Suffix at a natural history museum (-SAUR) — had to pause a bit, as it seemed like there could have been infinite answers. Actual answer is rather obvious in retrospect.
  • 133A: Community hangout, informally (THE Y) — Whoa! Never saw the clue, thank god. Very interesting choice to make this a two-word rather than a one-word answer.
  • 144A: 1957 film dog (OLD YELLER) — wasn't he just in a puzzle? It's a "he," right?
  • 2D: String once used for cellos (CATGUT) — Made from guts, but not, as you might expect, from the guts of cats. Weird.
  • 70D: Firefox alternative (SAFARI) — I'm using it right now, though I prefer Firefox. I have had horrible internet connection issues this weekend, so I'm a little rattled and edgy about mishaps at the moment. Constant hiccupping of connection, made better by installation of new modem, but not eliminated. Grrr.
  • 73D: Film with the line "Oh, we have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies" ("PSYCHO") — watched it very recently. Can't say enough good things. Great line, great clue.
  • 98D: Biological bristle (SETA) — wanted AWN. Both are crosswordese.
  • 119D: Soviet co-op (ARTEL) — So it's like a HOtel ... but for pirates. Also, one of those words I "just know" from crosswords.
  • 113D: Ottoman honorific (AGA) — I get my honorifics confused. BEY? SRI? I don't know.
  • 116D: Ottoman hospice (IMARET) — I do not, however, get my Ottoman hospices confused. IMARET is IMARET is IMARET (more crosswordese, though higher end).
  • 121D: "Uncle!" criers, perhaps (NIECES) — god I love that clue.
  • 138D: Noted Palin impressionist (FEY) — The only reason I hope Palin runs in 2012.
And now your Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
  • @bryangreenberg Saturday morning. Coffee. Crosswords. New @broken_bells record.
  • @courtneyholbroo Baby just dropped me offff & now chilling in my snuggie with my cat on my lap doing a crossword. I'm hardcore, I swear.
  • @ertchin I maintain that "Stacked Crooked" is my favorite New Pornographers song for reasons beyond its use of the phrase "cryptic crossword".
  • @joshdelfresco What does the train conducter do. He's sitting in car 5 doing crosswords
  • @sethmeyers21 Thanks to Will Shortz for getting me in NYT crossword today. Is it dicky to start introducing myself as "13 Down?"
  • @The_Real_LLC @jose3030 I only use newspapers for the crossword, and now there's an app for that. All my other news is already digital.
  • @zrau Fuck you, USA Today crossword.
  • @eaststarlight One thing about my gets real behind her crossword puzzles baby..she pulls em out at red lights, stop signs, wherever! Lol
  • @ken_mooney I'm not sure how I feel about living in a world where Academy Award Winner (tm) Sandra Bullock will be on the box art for All About Steve

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


kirble 12:30 AM  

First time posting, so I have to start out with how much I enjoy the blog. Seriously.

Thought I'd pop in to point out that AABA isn't referring to the rhyme scheme, but to the structure of the song (i.e. verse, verse, bridge, verse).

Bill from NJ 12:38 AM  

I ran through this one, hotter than a pepper sprout, until . . .

The 89D/122A crossing. Slowed me down to a crawl. I finally got it through the crosses but I thought I had encountered a true Natick. I found this puzzle to be relatively easy to solve with the exception of the above glitch.

The theme redeemed it as I am a literary creature at heart and we get so few puzzles with literary themes but I had the same quibbles with the articles as Rex had but, all things considered, I enjoyed this oversized Sunday effort. Definitely not a slog.

George NYC 1:10 AM  

Loved this. Great choice of books, with the possible exception of The Last Don. Had trouble in Texas area til I got jsbach. Having The Long Goodbye and Howards End in the same grid was nice. Great Sunday puzzle!
@Rex: modem?

nanpilla 1:14 AM  

Had no power here in South Jersey for about 10 hours today. Thank goodness it came back on so I could get my puzzle!

@Bill from NJ - hadn't even noticed that the grid was oversized. That could explain why it seemed to take a long time.

@Elaine - thanks for the tip for putting the clues on a separate page - I decided to try that this evening, and it was great. Now I realized this was the perfect day to try it - the larger grid would have been impossible for me to read.

Caleb - nice one!

Milton Arbogast 1:21 AM  

After the film's release Hitchcock received an angry letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath after seeing Diabolique and now refused to shower after seeing Psycho. Hitch sent a note back simply saying "Send her to the dry cleaners".

lit.doc 1:46 AM  

Absolutely loved the theme answers. All else was a largely joyless slog. Worked out all but the area around the pair of tens in SW. Googled Buffy’s creator and finished. Ended up with the 67A IVS problem Rex discussed—hey, NSSD spells “WTF?” about as well as NASD IMO.

@kirble, welcome, and thanks for the clarification re rhyme scheme vs. structure. I was scratching my chin over that one.

George NYC 3:24 AM  

Sad to say, but the American equivalent to Howards End is Caesars Palace.

jae 4:01 AM  

Damn! I thought I had an errorless week until IVS. Didn't know from NSSD and SMITE made sense. The JOSS.../HAAS crossing was a guess but that was the only iffy part for me (except of course the error). Liked the puzzle a lot and it seemed a bit tougher than medium so I'm with Rex on the difficulty level. Well executed theme. My bride is currently on an IV pump for a bone infection so maybe I was prone to screw up as I've been working with those kind of tubes recently.

Anonymous 4:13 AM  

I had a much better time with this than yesterday's... I'm pretty sure I read "A Wrinkle In Time" in High School, but maybe not. Never read the rest of the books, but have heard of them so it wasn't too difficult. The only true "yuk" factor for me was "aptest". It's sad that strays are still sent to pounds, there needs to be a better way!

andrea jaded michaels 4:20 AM  

Loved the puzzle...exact kind I wish I could create! SO strange to have envy of a boy still in highschool, but that's the Caleb-effect!
(SO loved seeing him at the ACPT and have the cutest photo of him making faces with other prodigy Natan Lane as they bonded over maybe meeting up at Brown for a college tour. Who does not love Caleb???!!!)

Puzzle smart and literate and smooth. 3 Z's (very SNAZZY indeed!), at least 3 J's, a Q here an X there...what's a book lover/crossword constructor/ Scrabble maven not to love?

Gosh darn it, I see not only did I leave in IVS/NSSD...but I had PLOT/GTRO!!!!!!! :(

Other writeovers: Tired became JADED (Otherwise TOSS WHEDON made Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hmmmm...Toss Whedon = trash tv creator? I feel a theme a'comin'!)

TSK became TMI; PCS had to become ACS (Damn! First letter of the whole puzzle wrong. I thought the "Window" box referred to software!)

ARTEL new to me.
Bleedover: TROD crossing with COB!

Random thought: Singh means Lion.

Just when I started reminiscing about the 80's with ABSCAM and BORG and SALTNPEPA and wondering how/why Caleb knew that stuff, along came TMI and ADAM Lambert and Ed ASNER clued with "UP" to jolt me back into this century!

Bravo bravo bravo Young Caleb!!!

andrea last lane michaels 4:43 AM  

ooops, Natan LAST. Sorry Natan.
Conflation of you and that other guy!

wow, my captcha is eadrans, which is an anagram of ANDREAS. Is the computer now even doing anagrams?!

Bill from NJ 6:50 AM  

I just realized I had IVS/NSSD in my puzzle. Do you think it was a deliberate trick played on crossword nation?

Pretty crafty.

DrGaellon 6:50 AM  

Jack Finney was a science-fiction author of the 40's and 50's. His best known work was The Body Snatchers, the literary basis of the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

fiddleneck 9:49 AM  

why is mls a goal-oriented grp? 57 down.

Pele 10:02 AM  

@Lurene -
Major League Soccer.

CoolPapaD 10:06 AM  

Loved this, and still so humbled and blown away by Caleb's ability to construct such masterpieces. I bet he did well on his AP TEST (it shoulda been clued this way!).

Entered my personal hurt locker in the SETA / JOSS region. What the heck does AFTER A SORT mean? Anyone here say use this expression in the last decade or ten? I'm sure Tommy HAAS is a fine player, but in my mind, he is in the same league as ELKE CLIJSTERS and ANKE HUBER.

I'm going to ask my visiting Jewish mama if she knew BLINI to be the plural of blintz!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

Very nice puzzle; just what we expect from an old pro like Caleb Madison!

Wish I could say I had read all of these books . . . or any of them . . . but at least all the titles were familiar.

Just a few write-overs:

GORGA before JORJA (Oh, I know that one!! Actually, I didn't.), SNAPPY before SNAZZY, BERG before BORG, and had JOSSWEEDON before JOSSWHEDON.

No Asta, no Oreo, but Yeti is here to keep us grounded!

ArtLvr 10:09 AM  

Another salute to Caleb, and another hand up for trying Smite/IVS before NASD cleared that up.

The past tense of the clue for NASD is rather misleading, as we still use the term. The New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Stock Dealers did recently merge operations to form FINRA, but various companies' listings are still given separately. The symbols on the NYSE are mainly three letters, while those on the NASD are four letters plus a fifth at times to signify a foreign company, suspension or whatever, and rules for listings such as minimum stock price and overall capitalization still seem to be different. The ASE or American Stock Exchange is still shown separately too. I expect smaller local exchanges like the Philly keep their traditional IDs as well.

Never mind, it was quite a tour de force! Congrats again to Caleb...


Elaine 10:16 AM  

AFTER A FASHION, I loved this puzzle, but I see that I ended with the infamous IVS error--after all, just spent a day+ and counting in the hospital (watching over my mother-in-law)...[Hit hard] is not obviously past-tense, and NSSD makes as much sense as NASD to me. Still have no clue what that stands for.

Same SW semi-Natick as everyone else, and seriously self-righteous tut-tut at Caleb for AFTER A SORT. OF A SORT, okay; KINDASORTA, even better. Who, and where, says AFTER A SORT? (Please continue this rant in your imagination. I have to get over to the hospital now.)

Elaine 10:19 AM  

Oh, I see several new comments appeared as mine went up on the board, and NASD is explained.
Except for -A Wrinkle in Time,_ and _Time and Again,_ I've read the books, and that does help, even with a missing article.

See you guys tomorrow.

ArtLvr 10:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 10:21 AM  

p.s. National Association of Securities Dealers, NASD. People usually call it NASDAQ as it sounds better, and the Q is for Quotations (bid and ask prices).


Leon 10:24 AM  

Thank you Mr. Madison.

Putting in EDIE at 75a threw me off for a while.

jesser 10:32 AM  

Hands up for IVS/NSSD/SMITE, and I'm ok with that, because it works in my world.

My world, by the way, is Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Willa Cather used to live, and the RIO Grande flows right through town, and the state flowers are YUCCAS, which is why I love 24A, 27A and 32A stacked right up there like a trio of shout-outs to home. YAY! Thank, Caleb!

I will also admit a crush on ADAM Lambert, so 65A was a grin-inducer. That boy has pipes.

I had critical trouble with one of the book titles, because I remembered it -- almost. I hung on to THE last GOODBYE for far too long, which really made entry into that sector murky for the longest time. When I finally figured it out, the puzzle came together. Except for those damn IVS.

My buddy Jayme is in town today from the great state of Massachusetts. We will play pool and Scrabble. He has declared that he will drink only water, but I suspect his resolve will weaken by about 4 p.m.

Happy Sunday, Rexites!

Tartiosp! (I can only think of vaguely dirty translations, so I'll spare you) -- jesser

hazel 10:41 AM  

An oversize bowl full of awesomeness!

Had a bit of trouble in that pesky SW corner, which I believe took me almost as long as the rest of the puzzle, but patience paid off and

a new solving streak begins!

I loved everything from Adam Lambert to TS Eliot in full to the Coen Bros (the Dude abides!) to catgut - but above all, I loved the novelmashes. Fantastic puzzle. And I've read 9 of the 14. I would say tut tut to that but this puzzle deserves at least....

4 tuts!!

Smitty 11:04 AM  

Darn! almost got through the whole thing until I had to Google Joss Wheldon (to my shame, on a Sunday)

Nice puzzle

TMI? Anyone?

JenCT 11:11 AM  

@Smitty - TMI = Too Much Info

LOVED the Tina Fey/Palin bit - funniest bits in recent SNL memory.

BTW, "Salt" of Salt-n-Pepa is now a born-again Christian.

Meg 11:13 AM  

Just a bit of nitpicking, but why is SEEM clued as "feel like"?
Do you feel like a pizza?
I feel like I've been hit by a Mack truck.
What do you feel like?
I feel like hell.

None of these work with SEEM.
A sentence, somebody?

I did not know that a SALAAM is a deep bow made while placing the right palm on the forehead.

JenCT 11:18 AM  

@Meg - I SEEM to enjoy these crosswords, even though they're maddening at times.

Ulrich 11:28 AM  

Agree with all the praise for the puzzle. Was happy to get ASNER immediately b/c I spotted him at the Oscars--and one more hand up for IVS/NSSD. I wonder if Caleb has read all the books in question...

@CoolPapaD: A player who made the #4 ranking in men's tennis is hardly in the same league as poor Elke Clijsters. Plus, before injuries slowed Tommy Haas down, he appeared in commercials (he's very handsome). Saw him play last year at the US Open...

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

What no Pi?

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Um, is Caleb old enough to read Story of O?

Martin 12:07 PM  


I like Caleb's puzzles. They seem the work of a mature constructor to me.

Meg 12:13 PM  

@Martin: Yeah!! I knew it had to make sense in some context.

Norm 12:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
R. McGeddon 12:25 PM  

"Time and Again" is a really fun book. It might have been the one that started the Olde New-York genre.

OldCarFudd 12:30 PM  

A fine puzzle! Given Caleb's skill at cluing the merged book titles, I shall start to look for his name on Sunday cryptics, which are my favorite kind of puzzle.

NASDAQ is/was where small-cap stocks that didn't qualify for listing on a major exchange were bought and sold. NASD, the National Association of Securities Dealers, is/was a self-regulatory body working in conjunction with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), a federal regulatory agency. I use the ambiguous is/was because I've been retired for 18 years and haven't kept up with this stuff. I fell into the IVS/NSSD trap because I didn't realize there was anything past tense about the NASD; I'd never heard of the NSSD (apparently there never was such a critter), but that didn't slow me down!

Jack Finney's Time and Again is a wonderful science-fiction story. I read it when it was new, and again a couple of years ago. The political references are out of date now, but it's still a great yarn. After 20 years, and just before he died, Finney wrote a sequel, whose name escapes me. I didn't think it was as good.

CoolPapaD 12:40 PM  

@Ulrich - Fair enough - just finished reading about him. I haven't followed tennis since the days of BORG, so I didn't realize he had been so highly ranked. I love comeback stories, so I'll be rooting for him. Thanks!

Van55 1:04 PM  

Excellent puzzle. I too had IVS instead of OVA.

mac 1:15 PM  

What a great puzzle! I'm with Bill from NJ, I always like these literary puzzles.

@OldCarFudd: I loved Jack Finney's "Time and Again", and "From Time to Time" was not quite as good, but good enough! I've given these books as gifts to people moving to Manhattan; they give you a great sense of what the city was like so many years ago.

I finished in the SW as well, which fell when I figured out "jaded". For 24A I so much wanted to include "Cornelia" (Hi Artlvr). Bought "A Wrinkle in Time" for my son, but enjoyed it myself probably more. Little Women in Love sounds funny!

The power finally came on again late this morning. Power, cable and telephone were all out, how lonely that feels! There is a lot of damage around here (Fairfield County, CT), many trees and limbs all over the roads.

joho 1:15 PM  

Thanks, Caleb, for a SNAZZY Sunday puzzle!

The only downer for me was the again mentioned OLDYELLER.

The only mistake I made SEEMs to be rampant so I don't feel so bad about IVS.

I'm off to read WARANDPEACE. Not.

Happy Sunday, everybody.

George NYC 1:23 PM  

To those who enjoyed Jack Finney's Time and Again, I recommend The Alienist by CALEB Carr. It takes place in NYC circa 1890. Lots of well researched historical detail.

Stan 1:24 PM  

Interesting puzzle with a contemporary feel and great, funny theme answers. As Rex said, nice fresh clues for NIECE and PSYCHO.

I ended with IVS and almost a blank letter in _HEY. Had to run the alphabet twice before the "D'oh" moment.

Loved seeing JOSS WHEDON's puzzle debut! My avatar, BTW, is our new cat Willow (named for a "Buffy" character). We get to pick her up from the shelter on Tuesday.

Ulrich 1:34 PM  

@CoolPapaD: He's injured again, and at his age, it may be career-ending. One reason why I love to watch him is his one-handed backhand--for me, the most beautiful shot in all of tennis.

@mac: At times like these, War and Peace comes in handy! BTW it's out in a new, very compelling translation

SethG 1:34 PM  

NASD, the group, started NASDAQ, the exchange. If you're not familiar with Nasdaq, you don't listen to as much NPR as I do. OldCarFudd, some of those small-cap stocks that are listed on Nasdaq include Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Intel. The index tends to be tech-heavy, and the market is the busiest stock exchange (by trading volume) in the world. Whatever, I entered OVA with no crosses...

TS ELIOT is a great entry, but felt out of place given this theme. ANAS just felt out of place. Yet NARNIAS felt fine, maybe because of how it was clued or maybe because I'm just being inconsistent.

I think I spent a full minute on the ARTEL/THE Y cross. Fun puzzle.

Smitty 1:46 PM  

@Jen Thanks cor explaining TMI, Guess I suffer from NEI (not enough info)

edith b 1:56 PM  

From this point forward I refuse to refer to Caleb Madison's age. Suffice it to say he is first-rate constructor.

Like @mac, I enjoy these literary style puzzles. I like the fact that they turn a potential slog into an enjoyable exercise. Thank you, Mr Madison, for a nice Sunday diversion.

Norm 2:26 PM  

Okay, for those who like back-in-time stories (and hoping I'm not violating Rex's policy against collateral discussions), I'd recommend If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock -- old time baseball and thus very appropriate for this time of year.

Everything else has already been said, methinks. Great puzzle, Caleb!

Steve J 2:30 PM  

I was an English major, so any puzzle theme centered on books is highly likely to be one I really enjoy. And I really enjoyed this one.

Like others, I loved the cluing for UNCLE and PSYCHO, and I liked THEY. We always referred to the YMCA as "the Y" when I was a kid.

I was able to pick up JOSSWHEDON fairly quickly, since my last girlfriend was a big fan of his shows. Although, it took a little bit of working to knock his name out of my memory. I'm sure he's good at what he does, but what he does really has no interest to me.

I'm still kicking myself over taking a long while to get TSELIOT. T.S. Eliot was, and is, my favorite poet, and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" remains one of my couple favorite poems of all time. I should have picked this one up instantly, but I kept trying to fit a surname, rather than an entire name, into the clue.

Add Caleb's byline to one of the handful I'll get excited by. I really like his style.

CalebMadison 2:35 PM  


Thanks for all your feedback! I'm glad you guys liked it. I just saw the IVS/OVA dilemma... Embarrassing. Anyway, I'm ecstatic to see my hero JOSS WHEDON in a Times puzzle. Plus, I'm glad Will kept my PSYCHO clue. I'm pretty proud of it.

I also wanted to thank Ashish Vengsarkar and Byron Walden, who helped me a bunch with the theme entries. Amazing getting advice from pros like them.

Rex, when you saw the 1st draft, I still had TRESSY instead of DRESSY. Will came up with that ingenious change. Also, it still had AKAS instead of ANAS.

Glad you all liked it!

--Caleb Madison

Zeke 2:53 PM  

I fell into the same IVS/OVA trap as many late last night. I also woke up from a nap this PM thinking "I've heard 'member NASD/SIPC' on each and every brokerage and bank commercial on TV or radio I've heard in the past 20 years".
I need a damned life.

Rube 2:56 PM  

My enjoyability index for a puzzle is inversely proportional to the number of contemporary pop culture answers. This puzzle, by my count, had 15! Quantizing this using the relationship
EI = 10/(1+P)
where EI is Enjoyability Index, with 10 being perfect, and P is number of pop culture answers, gives this puzzle a score of .625. That really detracted from my Sunday morning pleasure.

However, I did enjoy the theme, even though it reminded me of some mashup they do on Wheel of Fortune.

Did someone explain 1A, ACS? I can't figure it out.

Loved the clue for JSBACH, disliked EMBARS, and have ARTEL as my WOTD.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Fun puzzle today. A little trouble in the SW, but nothing that a lot of staring couldn't cure.
With the clue for 8A, I remember ABSCAM as a congressional scandal and an FBI sting, not an FBI scandal like COINTELPRO. Am I wrong?

misterarthur 3:16 PM  

Duke Ellington and Jazz Guitar is not really a very accurate clue/answer. Duke Ellington's band really didn't have a steady guitar player. Count Basie, on the other hand did: Freddy Green. Don't mean to nitpick - but if Jazz Guitar is the answer, there are plenty more appropriate clues.

lit.doc 3:21 PM  

@Rube, re 1A, think "AC's", those cheap air-conditioning units that mount on the outside of a partially opened window.

Unknown 3:35 PM  

I have just discovered this blog and I am in heaven! In response to Rube, 1A, ACS, is the abbreviation for air conditioners, or 'window boxes'. I loved that twist at the beginning. As with many solvers, I had trouble with the SW and also needed to google Buffy's creator, which is how I discovered this blog. I am loathe to google for answers, but once in a while I do it. And this time, I am so happy to have done so.

joho 4:05 PM  

@Lauren ... welcome! It's funny, because I, and I'm sure a lot of the people here, discovered this blog by Googling. And then, once we start interacting here ... at least for me ... we can't Google anymore because it feels like cheating. The great thing is that since I don't Google any longer, I just keep at it until I get it ... the reward being so much more in the end.

SethG 4:07 PM  

Rube, I'm not sure how you're defining contemporary or pop culture, and I'm not sure how you got to 15. And why are non-contemporary pop culture answers, like the theme answers, okay?

For movies, say, what do you count as contemporary pop-culture? Frost/Nixon, part of a theme answer, was a recent movie about a not-so-recent era. Michael Clayton was a recent movie but a more serious one, as opposed to something like Spy Kids. Buffy was both a movie (almost 20 years ago) and a critically acclaimed tv series. Ed Asner was clued via a contemporary movie, but he's well known for earlier roles, both tv and movie, and he's been in movies since the 60s. And something like Narnia is literary, but they just made a movie about that, too.

What are your parameters?

chefwen 4:11 PM  

I am very happy that after being soundly thrashed by Friday and Saturday's puzzle I was finally able to finish Sundays, and enjoyably so.
Had to resort to a couple of Googles, but I learned a bunch of stuff in the process.

Thank you Caleb for a stellar puzzle.

George NYC 4:24 PM  


Nicely articulated.

Norm 4:32 PM  

I really wanted PCS for "Window boxes" but I guess that would have had to be "Windows boxes" no?

WebDoc 4:34 PM  

The cause of acid reflux by popular culture clues has not yet been established by medical researchers; only a correlation is suspected at present.

What ruined things for you was that tortured math formula business. No doubt you have a headache and need to take two aspirin, and call me in the morning.

Clark 5:08 PM  

Can someone help me see why 'Louvre article?' is LES? What's the connection between the plural LES and the singular 'Louvre'. I suppose there are a lot of paintings entitled 'Les . . .' Is that all there is to it? Kicking myself in advance . . .

Anyone who hasn't read A WRINKLE IN TIME, consider yourself lucky because you get to read it for the first time. This is one of my read-every-few-years books.

edith b 5:30 PM  


Louvre is being used as a synonym for French just as Nice summer clues ETE. So you are being asked for a French article and LES fills the bill. Classic misdirection.

lit.doc 5:32 PM  

@Clark, I think the cluing convention is simply "if the answer isn't English, signal it". So my best guess is that, in a case like this, the clue was saying "give me a French article that might be spoken at the Louvre".

@Lauren, hi! This makes two first timers today (see kirble at top). I, too, found this blog when I first began to venture beyond my daily newspaper (my NYT subscription is less than a year old). Great place to learn. And I don't mean to presume on your solving experience, but please do not view googling and the like as cheating. Cheating is when someone googles and pretends they didn't. Look on it as simply facilitating a "learning experience", as I've heard it aptly described on this blog.

deerfencer 5:34 PM  

Impressive construct and lots of fun once I beat my way in.

I'm glad Will let Caleb's PSYCH clue stay--it was PDF.

But the highlight for me was the merging of the very naughty and oh-so French "Story of O" with Cather's very stoic and American "0 Pioneers": Brilliant and hilarious merging of G-spots and G-ratings!

Nice job Mr. Madison!

CoolPapaD 5:36 PM  

When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I attempted to read A Wrinkle in Time, and, for some reason, could not stand it and shelved it. I just may pick it up again, based upon Clark et al's recommendations.

@tpsteve - I agreed with your ABSCAM thoughts - I only remembered it as a sting going after corrupt congressmen. According to the source of all sources, Wikipedia: "FBI documents later disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, consisting of newspaper clippings and letters written to the FBI, revealed a mixed response of the American public. Some Americans supported the FBI, but others argued that Abscam was an entrapment scenario ordered by a revenge-minded FBI who earlier had been stung by Congressional inquiries into acts of police brutality and similar widespread abuses."

Steve Pistacaglioni 5:52 PM  

This puzzle was much harder for me than it should have been because it nailed two of my main weaknesses: (1) My almost total cluelessness of contemporary pop culture, e.g. "singer Lambert," "actress Fox of CSI, "Buffy the Vampire," "Closer star," und so weiter. And (2) my longtime disinterest in who the director of a film (or TV show) might be - except for an occasional exception like Hitchcock or Fellini. There had to be 4 or 5 "director clues in this puzzle. I know the director is important - I just keep on forgetting why.

But that's why challenging crosswords are enjoyable: trying to figure out the stuff that you DON'T know.

Scott W. 6:22 PM  

@ Mister Arthur

Like you I had a quibble with 17D (Duke Ellington band instrument), but for a different reason. To my mind, JAZZ GUITAR describes a style of play rather than the instrument itself--i.e. there are acoustic guitars and electric guitars and a musician can play "jazz guitar" on either.

OldCarFudd 6:26 PM  

@SethG - Thank you for bringing me up to date about what's bought and sold on NASDAQ. I guess what happens is that new companies - which, in recent years, have tended to be tech companies - start out on NASDAQ because they don't meet the qualifications for being listed on a major exchange. Some of the ones who make it big, like the ones you named, are comfortable with the NASDAQ relationship and stay there. It used to be that the sign of a company having made the big time was getting listed on the NYSE, but that must have lost its cachet.

Rube 6:35 PM  

@SethG & @GeorgeNYC, first, I should set the record straight by stating that I am a few years north of 65. Second, I am not now nor ever have been a great fan of pop culture... I do enjoy my opera and classical music. This second fact was emphasized here by my not knowing Ringo Starr's real last name. However, and most importantly, it is most obvious to me from the remarks here that different people have different KBs (Knowledge Bases) and one persons Google is anothers gimme.

Like most solvers I start at 1A and work my way around and down. Unlike a lot of solvers when I get to a clue that starts "Tony who directed..." or "Actress Fox of..." I immediately move on to the next clue. Usually I don't know the answer and I know I don't know. Occasionally, after the first time thru, I'll have a few crosses and the clue "Ed who... in 'UP'" has __NER and I'll be able to guess ASNER only because I've heard the name, and I've certainly never seen "UP". When I have to skip over many of these types of clues, I get "off my feed". There are also those clues which I read at first as pop culture and then realize that I knew, or should have known, that. E.g. with __OISE I immediately put in the EL, thinking that these stories were before my time, but known. Another class of pop culture are those who are crosswordese like Brian ENO or Tina FEY. After their first appearance, these don't bother me. So that FEY was a gimme today and not on my list of 15, nor was ELOISE on my list. "One named supermodels", who are not named Twiggy, are on the list.

As for the theme answers, the only book I had not heard of was The Story of O, and, as Wiki says it is "French erotica", that's understandably why. Hey, I don't even use the common blog abrev "WT_" in polite blog society. (Although, having spent much time around drillers, I do have a very profane vocabulary, as my wife can attest.)

Let me finish by commenting that we saw Wicked a few weeks ago. My one word description is LOUD. And, for that reason, not very enjoyable. Also saw Avatar last week, mind boggling special effects. The stories of both of these were lame at best and I couldn't tell you any of the casts/directors/stage hands/gofers for either of these, (except for Sigourney Weaver, of course). And I don't care. (Previous movie was a Harry Potter some years ago and previous theatrical was Les Miz, many years ago, also LOUD.)

About the formula: Instead of EI, it probably should read EIgo-dp or EI(subscript og-dp) for old geezer-dislikes pop Enjoyability Index. I'll bet most everyone here can replace pop culture with some their nemesis like sports, or opera, or Roman numerals, or science, or French, or whatever.

Hey, this is fun.

I see that @SteveP is in my camp. And much less verbose. Tx Steve.

Tx @lit.doc and tx & welcome @Lauren for the tip on ACS. I too found Rex via Google.

George NYC 6:52 PM  

I think the takeaway here is that one person's pop culture is another person's opera. It's all good.

CoolSprings 7:35 PM  

That Salt n Pepa video is classic.

foodie 10:21 PM  

Rex, I wanted to be the first to comment on this blog from an airplane. I actually spent the money to get wireless access while flying-- By the time I registered and figured out my way around the process, we were landing! I'll try again later this week... I bet you don't care, but I've already commented from the car, driving across country through multiple states, so I felt the plane is a reasonable next step. After that, outer space!

Oh, great puzzle! I did it on the plane and it unfolded steadily for me. Most impressive!

Unknown 11:31 PM  

Agree about the Jazz guitar clue. My jazz guitar playing son from Ithaca College's jazz studies program says that Duke Ellington is a very lame clue. He doesn't remember the name of any guitar player with who played with Duke Ellington.


Bill from NJ 12:12 AM  

@George NYC-

It's all good. Quite right.

It's not so much a matter of a difference in ones knowledge base - it is an active dislike of things contemporary that I detect in these people who are against pop culture and the idea that there are things not worth knowing that seem to permeate these kinds of posts. I lack an understanding of ballet, classical music and opera but that doesn't give me the right to sneer at them.

Stan 1:14 AM  

Let me just chime in with @Bill from NJ on approving @George NYC's conclusion "It"s all good." Opera is a popular art form, by the way, as are crossword puzzles.

Stephen 2:42 AM  

For ye who asked: TMI is Too Much Information.
I had to look too. Maybe it's part of the OMG texting world.

I was smart enough to dislike IVS, but not smart enough to know how to fix it.

AFTER A SORT? Ummm, no. AFTER A FASHION, Roughly, yes.

Election losers are OUTS?

I greatly enjoy a nice puzzle like this, and I can do it only with trusty google at my side. (Man, that iPhone app with speech recognition is a game-changer!) the alternative is simply not to play. I'm not competing; I'm learning. I'm not cheating; I'm stretching my limitations. Shame? Hah!

I'm often irked by obscure culturANA. Google soothes my soul. Today, however, I had the opposite experience. "Bobby and others" was an instant gimme. Then I started wondering who else actually watched hockey 40 years ago, and began to doubt ORRS. Finally put it in and felt sorry for you who never heard of him. How many "Bobby"s are there in the world?

Unknown 1:26 PM  

First time posting, great blog! Thanks for some illumination. I have only one complaint: you've never heard of Manmohan Singh? As prime minister of the world's most populous democracy, he's probably one of the five most important leaders in the world. Certainly more important than Jack Finney, whoever the heck he is/was.

squirbear 10:49 AM  

First time blogger--and I do mean first time, on any site! That's the effect of The Sunday Times crossword, I guess.

I must admit that I had PCS instead of ACS for the first clue (Window boxes, for short?) for a bit myself.

This is a great site. It is fun to "share the solving experience."

LittleShep 1:43 PM  

First blog on this site. Great fun. Re 67A, isn't the IV the tube itself? It's the fluid that goes through the tube, and "things" would suggest something else. But "Emme" and "Alexa Vega" were blanks.

jazzmanchgo 7:08 PM  

I'm posting late (I get the TIMES crossword in the Chicago SUN-TIMES a few weeks after the fact), so probably nobody will see this . . .

. . . but I wanted to concur on the "Duke Ellington" business. "Jazz guitar" is a genre, not a type of instrument.

Duke's best-known guitarist was Freddy Guy, who joined the Ellington orchestra (then known as the Washingtonians) in 1925 as a banjoist. He switched to guitar in the early '30s. Unlike Freddie Green with Basie, Guy never really planted his personal sound on Ellington's music. After he left Ellington in about 1949, Duke decided not to replace him with a permanent fretman. Various guitarists, however, including Django Reinhardt, did sit in with him for brief periods of time in subsequent years.

Even after I filled in the letters, by the way, I didn't know what "THEY" ("community hangout") meant until I saw it here.

Zardoz 11:22 PM  

Hi Rex,

Great blog. Very interesting to see how others struggle through the tough bits. First time joining in, though I've followed it for a couple of months. Tear-off NYT calendar means going back to 2007, so commenting would be pointless, but really enjoy the links you provide. We get the Sunday syndicated only a week late (Canada).
The literary clues were marvelous -- I work in a library. Finney, ET AL, have been well covered, so no need to add, but had to Google 122a HAAS to verify. Should have seen that - common Dutch name. (BTW, had a fantastic teacher growing up in NZ! - Mr. Hooykaas) The Buffy guy came out of the crosses. Have never seen the show.
@deerfencer 5:34 PM
Very witty post, but what does PDF mean? Nothing to do with Adobe, I bet. Am a real newbie at this - don't text either.

Thanks Rex, & all the others, for the interesting comments, especially those cunningly incorporating clues and answers. Witty, witty, witty!
Don't see the point of Twitter - just a waste of bandwidth. W-W-W.

One minor point - 126d AYER'S Rock. Not PC in OZ. Now called Uluru. That would fit, but would be messy.

Cheers, Z.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

Before there was NASDAQ, there was NASD. NASDAQ originally stood for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation. NASD stood for the same thing, but without the AQ part. I knew all that, but still made the "IVS" mistake, where OVA goes, leaving "NSSD" where "NASD" went. Didn't even think twice about it. Oh, well...

Judy 6:46 AM  

I never commented before, and this is a couple of weeks late; I do the crossword when it is reprinted in the local paper, and take my time about it. Then I usually come here to check and find out what the wierd stuff was. I still had IVS in place, too, although I thought it was a questionable clue since I think of the whole apparatus, from bag to needle, as the IV; ova fits much better.
I just wanted to say what a kick I got out of the themed clues on this puzzle. Usually I find them a mixed blessing, but this time it was like starting the meal with dessert.

suzynyc 2:30 PM  

just found your site after finding the NYT magazine at the laundrette. I liked the literary theme too. I used to do the crossword all the time when Eugene Maleska compiled it and I shared your blog kind of banter with a friend (who got married and didn't have time any more) -- SO glad to find your site. will get the times on sunday and have another go.
It's much more fun to have a go with a community. Y, I don't know.

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