Hybrid farm animal / SUN 8-22-10 / Lake Erie city west Cleveland / Mount * volcano in Mordor / Founder Oahu plantation / Electronic game fad 1980s

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "FILM NO-R" — famous films have their "R"s removed, creating wacky fake film titles, clued wackily ...

Word of the Day: SEI (40A: Finback whale) —

The Sei Whale (pronounced /ˈseɪ/ or /ˈsaɪ/), Balaenoptera borealis, is a baleen whale, the third-largest rorqual after the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale. It inhabits most oceans and adjoining seas, and prefers deep off-shore waters. It avoids polar and tropical waters and semi-enclosed bodies of water. The Sei Whale migrates annually from cool and subpolar waters in summer to winter in temperate and subtropical waters. // Reaching 20 meters (66 ft) long and weighing as much as 45 tonnes (44 LT; 50 ST), the Sei Whale daily consumes an average of 900 kilograms (1,984 lb) of food, primarily copepods, krill, and other zooplankton. It is among the fastest of all cetaceans, and can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph), 27 knots) over short distances. The whale's name comes from the Norwegian word for pollock, a fish that appears off the coast of Norway at the same time of the year as the Sei Whale. // Following large-scale commercial whaling during the late-nineteenth and late-twentieth centuries when over 238,000 whales were taken, the Sei Whale is now internationally protected, although limited hunting occurs under controversial research programmes conducted by Iceland and Japan. As of 2006, its worldwide population was about 54,000, about a fifth of its pre-whaling population.

• • •

OK, so here's what's surprising me today. The last Patrick Berry puzzle I did had the ASPHODEL / SIMNEL cross, which was just Brutal to me (and scads of others). I haven't called "Natick" on a crossing in a while, but that was pretty damned close. As many people said, there are at least half a dozen other letters that felt plausible in that "S" spot. This ... I'll call it an infelicity ... surprised me, as Patrick Berry is the acknowledged greatest constructor since sliced bread. So today I'm cruising along, oddly enjoying his simple remove-a-letter theme (the titles are in many cases legitimately clever or funny, which will make even the simplest theme seem genius), and then — in almost exactly the same part of the grid where ASPHODEL / SIMNEL had been, I run into LORAIN (25A: Lake Erie city west of Cleveland) / NEROLI (15D: ___ oil (perfumery ingredient)). Or, rather, LO-AIN / NE-OLI. As with the earlier "bad" crossing, I had no sure way to judge exactly how rough that cross would be for a general audience, but it felt Rough to me. I think I had seen one or the other of LORAIN or NEROLI before, somewhere, but the "R" was a flat-out guess. An informed one, but a guess nonetheless. LORAIN is the new ELMA. Or maybe ELMA was the new LORAIN. At any rate, they are small towns, is what I'm saying. To be fair, though, LORAIN is bigger, population-wise, than ELMA and NATICK put together. LORAIN is also bigger than EDINA, which I know well—but EDINA benefits from being a first-ring suburb of a major city (Minneapolis), whereas LORAIN ... isn't. Cleveland's close-ish. But ... look, long story short, LORAIN and NEROLI are not words I would cross. I have this strange sense that at least a few others will be perplexed here, though perhaps the number of seriously viable letters is lower here than in the case of A-PHODEL / -IMNEL. Stuff like this Really stands out to me. I mean, SEI and CATTALO (!?!?!) (31D: Hybrid farm animal) stood out to me too, but in those cases, the crosses were all quite gettable.

One interesting thing about this grid is the layout of the theme answers. You rarely get two stacked right on top of each other, let alone three semi-stacked (as they are in the NW and SE). This makes the puzzle astonishingly thematically dense up top and down low, and thematically sparse throughout the middle. Also, there are really long (11) Downs in the NE and SW, which I like and don't, respectively. In general, the fill in this one is far livelier than your average Sunday puzzle, but anything less from Mr. Berry would be surprising. More pleasure than pain, but that crossing ... yeesh, I say!

I should probably mention that I thought the puzzle's title was the stupidest thing ever until I got the pun. "What film is rated NO-R? That makes no sense at all!... Wait. FILM NO-R ... FILM NOIR. Oh. Right. OK. That's pretty good."

Theme answers:
  • 19A: Film about a corrida participant put to pasture? ("AGING BULL")
  • 23A: ... a candy-sharing confederate? ("THE GUMBALL ALLY")
  • 28A: ... a small-minded lady? ("PETTY WOMAN")
  • 44A: ... an embarrassingly one-sided tennis match? ("A THOUSAND ACES") [NOTE: the real movie is titled "A THOUSAND ACRES," not "A THOUSAND RACES"]
  • 67A: ... decorative furniture elements being blown off with dynamite? ("BEDKNOBS AND BOOMSTICKS")
  • 93A: ... a demonic horse? ("MY FIEND FLICKA")
  • 112A: ... drink garnishes? ("OLIVE TWIST")
  • 121A: ... a seedy Hollywood bar? ("MULHOLLAND DIVE")
  • 126A: ... skinned knuckles? ("FIST BLOOD")
Note that not only has an "R" been removed from the actual movie titles, but there are *no* other "R"s anywhere in the theme answers. Consistency!

  • 13A: "La Resurrezione" composer (HANDEL) — took longer than it might have, as I was looking for an Italian name.
  • 21A: Mount ___ (volcano in Mordor) (DOOM) — Is this LOTR trivia? Aargh. Yes.
  • 38A: The mythical tree Yggdrasil, for one (ASH) — this also feels LOTR-esque, but is simply from Norse mythology.
  • 51A: Political theorist Hannah (ARENDT) — a familiar name from my grad school days, though I never had to read her.
  • 59A: Geometric shape whose perimeter has infinite length (FRACTAL) — I liked this. Took me a while, but when I got it, it made sense. I feel like FRACTAL art was big some time in the '90s. Right around the time that 3D art where you had to cross your eyes to make it work was popular. This may or may not have something to do with the popularity of paisley.
  • 63A: Paramecium's propellers (CILIA) — not, as you suspected, OARS.

  • 9D: 1969 literary heroine who says "I like the words damozel, eglantine, elegant. I love when you kiss my elongated white hand" (ADA) — Nabokov. This may be my favorite clue of all time. Or at least my favorite clue since yesterday's YMA SUMAC clue.
  • 11D: Founder of an Oahu plantation (DOLE) — took far longer than it should have. This whole little DOLE/DOOM patch of land was weirdly tough.
  • 18D: Country singer Shelby (LYNNE) — Gimme. I own her (quite impressive) Dusty Springfield cover album. Hence "country" didn't really ring true. But her other work fits the bill a little better.
  • 29D: Bygone Toyota (TERCEL) — it's really an unattractive little car name. Sounds like an awkward, gangly bird, esp. if you stress the first syllable. Wait, it turns out a TERCEL *is* a bird—a hawk. Not gangly at all. Whatever. My ugly verdict stands.
  • 36D: Count ___ (2004 Jim Carrey role) (OLAF) — from "A Series of Unfortunate Events"
  • 79D: Carlisle Cullen's wife in "Twilight" (ESME) — you should commit this new ESME to memory right now. Move over Salinger...
  • 107D: Electronic game fad of the 1980s (SIMON) — I literally laughed when I got this. I'd forgotten all about SIMON. Beeping colored panels. It would play increasingly longer sequences of beeps and you had to play them back until ... you just couldn't, I guess. It was popular around the time these photos were taken (1981 and 1984, respectively):

  • 111D: Web site for cinephiles (imdb) — or for people who cheat on the pop culture clues in crosswords...
And now your Tweets of the Week, crossword chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • @Genosworld #FF @JoshGroban is a great dresser, good at crossword puzzles, bakes a great cake and sings like a God. www.joshgroban.com
  • @TerryStapes Friday's Crossword is proving to be rather difficult. Arent things supposed to be easier on Fridays?
  • @roRObabee -- only my father would endanger both of our lives to do a crossword puzzle while driving
  • @milesdoyle I dueled a woman on the train this afternoon, NYT crossword-style. Before West 4th Street, she was mine. 39-Down, rooftop.
  • @Benandthebuses Just tried to help the barmaid with her crossword. She does not say thanks and looks at me like I'm a sex pest
  • @luckmachine My memory of this job will be one of uncomfortable chairs, crossword puzzles, and uneasy relationships.
  • @jcwordslinger To the woman who fell three times while trying to do a crossword puzzle while standing on the train: Your moxie was annoying.
  • @jarrodcooper http://yfrog.com/n2jh6j Was @VenuseSWilliams wearing an oversized crossword puzzle at the AT&T party? @SerenaJWilliams (via @soulsummer)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:36 AM  

Rex, you are so right. That crossing was impossible! I left it blank. That whole little corner was rough because ELIAN was not so easy to retrieve, though it was gettable. But your near Natick was certainly my bona fide Natick.

I liked the fact that many of the theme answers were not too wacky - PETTY WOMAN, AGING BULL. And MULHOLLAND D(R)IVE brought back some good memories :)

I wanted JABBER for GIBBER. I had to step back and think of GIBBERish and GIBBER-Jabber to get it.

And given the film theme, I appreciated seeing other theme related clues and answers- the cluing of the RIVIERA, the DRAMA CRITIC, IMDB, NEMO, etc...

A good work out, Natick aside.

des 12:49 AM  

My word of the day would have been GIBBERS. Is the reason you didn't choose it because it is "common crosswordese" to you? I only vaguely remember seeing it before.

I totally cry foul on CATTALO. Even when I got it through the crosses I had to Google it to make sure, and the Wikipedia site says that a) the breed has been replaced by "beefalo" and b) they are regulated in the US as "'exotic animals,' along with pure bison, elk and deer." That doesn't sound like a "farm animal" to me.

Rex, for 11D, you probably want to correct the spelling typo of OAHU in your blog ("u" on the end, not "o"). I used one of your favorite techniques in getting DOLE quickly - what other brands are associated with food growing in Hawaii?

Noam D. Elkies 1:20 AM  

Yes, Neroli and 22A:LORAIN in Maine's a pain [complain, complain]. And a whale — 40A:SEI what? Around here that's always tre factorial (not to be confused with a 3-D 59A:FRACTAL), or something like that.

Outside of that, the theme is fun, at least for the movies I recognized (i.e. all but the gumballallallallally and the bedknobs) — even guessed 28A:PETTY_WOMAN from just the clue. 69D:DISINCLINES looks fine to me though the -ed version is more in use; the symmetrical 16D:DRAMA_CRITIC likewise feels less natural than "movie critic", especially for this puzzle, though that would run afoul of a theme entry. I too noticed the R-less consistency, though I was hoping for at least one theme answer that would delete two or more R's.

Yes, when 13A:HÄNDEL moved to England and lost his umlaut he wrote Italian operas, which were in vogue, until they weren't, at which point he started writing oratorios, whatever those may be.

There's a good reason for "Yggdrasil" to sound LOTR-esque, since Tolkien adapted a lot of his tales from Norse mythology. Anyway why does LOTRivia deserve more of an Aargh than say 70's top 10 hits? At least Tolkien writes way better than most 120A:TINEAR Yawn Alley songwriters.

Nice that for once the clue for 5A:IRAE actually involves the meaning of the word. "Damozel" (from the 9D clue) is nice too, and has been seen in the NYTimes only once in xwordinfo's memory, a Pahk-Matera collaboration some70 Sundays ago. It's a fancied-up "damsel", as in "distress".

80A:GIBBERS was my fourth try, after "babbles", "yammers", and "jabbers". Too bad 71D:NUB, which crosses that word, is not quite at the puzzle's very center where its clue suggests it should be.

Thanks for the return of crossword tweets!

NDE (undlymkh!? Maybe somebody took my captcha kvetching seriously.)

P.S. Check out the second Sunday puzzle! It was a lot of fun at Seattle.

chefwen 1:41 AM  

Got the theme right off the git go with the title and AGING BULL confirmed. Never heard of THE GUM BALL rALLY. Liked PETTY WOMAN and MULHOLLAND DIVE. Still it took me a long time to wade through this fine puzzle. So many little squares vs. aging eyes.
Lemon twist, yes, OLIVE TWIST, I'm not so sure of, they may be out there, but I've never seen one. Maybe in a dirty Martini?? Anyone?

Thank you Mr. Berry for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon, yeah, it took me that long.

George NYC 2:28 AM  

MULHOLLANDDIVE. Need I say more? Brilliant. Had the same trouble as Rex et al. with those crosses, but so what.
OLIVETWIST sent me rushing to the bar. It was past 6,
after all. A gimlet at Victor's was in order. The sun was over the yardarm. Wrong coast, alas. That would make for a very long goodbye indeed. Leda would understand. She always did. Farewell, my lovely.

jae 4:09 AM  

Growing up in north Ohio made LORAIN a gimme. My semi Natick was the S in the LOESSER/SEI crossing which I fortunately guessed correctly.

@NDE -- BABBLES was my first try.

BEEFALO I know, CATTALO, however, was also a guess.

Hey, I liked this one. A clever/amusing theme that helps with solving is always appreciated!

Jim 7:04 AM  

Finally finished last night after working on it since Friday night. After my first go round, I had HUGE open spaces in the northern and southern central areas. BEDKNOBSANDBOOMSTICKS was the dividing line between one indignity and the other.

GUMBALLrALLY (confederate inclusion made this already tricky answer trickier), ATHOUSANDACrES (or rACES? I still have no idea) and MYFrIENDFLICKA were all unknowns to me and the fill around them was frequently uncertain and always slow.

Loved some of the fill, though, once I finally got it: HOLYSEE,TINEAR,FRACTAL, and ALBEE were all a pleasure. I even liked DISINCLINES. But ARENDT crossing CATTALO? Get outta here. And since I didn't know LYNNE (had LYoNs) and I still don't know why LANES are bowlers' objectives, plus the LORAIN / NEROLI problem contributed to a 7-square INC but otherwise a well-spent Saturday.

Happy Sunday!

retired_chemist 7:22 AM  

Only problem with LORAIN was that it was born TOLEDO. I grew up clse enough....

IS 44A A THOUSAND ACRES or RACES? Not a movie buff......

Tried ENRON @ 17D. Nope.....

Nice puzzle. Medium it is.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:48 AM  

Did this one at the beach yesterday. Heck of a lot easier than Saturday's daily puzzle.

Like @Jim and @retired_chemist above, I finished not knowing if the root of 44 A was A Thousand Races or A Thousand Acres. Even speculated that it might be Art Hous and Aces, although the lack of an "e" on Hous made that seem less likely!

Had one write-over, JABBERS before GIBBERS.

Always Here 8:34 AM  

@RC - It was A Thousand Acres, based on a Jane Smiley book based on this play called, what, "King Lear" by some olde tyme guy.

Zeke 8:52 AM  

40A was just three letters to me. Post solve research seems to show that the Sei whale is a completely differenct species that the Fin (or finback) whale, and provides no support for the family being called finback whales. Not that this would have mattered, as a more literal clue, "cousin of the finback whale" would have left me equally stumped.

Actually, a tennis match with ATHOUSANDACES would be anything but lopsided. It would likely go to 5 sets, with an average 200 aces per set, which and even each set going 7/6, there would be over 15 points per game, which means every game went to deuce at least twice. That would be one damned long, hart fought, match

These nits aside, it must have been an excellant Sunday puzzle, as it was the first one I had the patience to finish in quite some time. Or maybe I just couldn't stand to watch SNL for the third time last night.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Fun and creative puzzle. Never heard of A Thousand Acres or Gumball Rally but both were gettable. Stuck forever on LORAIN and NEROLI. Never even saw SEI (but I got it from crosses).

Zeke 9:08 AM  

Damn, there were some reasonable thoughts, hidden in well constructed sentences with correct spelling. hiding somewhere in my previous post.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

I'm from Lorain County and I still tried to fit TOLEDO in the space.

JenCT 9:32 AM  

Got GIBBERS right away off of GUFFAW. MY FIEND FLICKA took way too long, considering it was a favorite movie of mine when I was little.

Don't get TOTAL for unqualified - anyone?

Never heard of CATTALO. Wanted flagella at first for CILIA, but wouldn't fit.

Fun puzzle, even with a few mistakes.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

@JenCT It was a total success / it was an unqualified success

foodie 9:58 AM  

Oh! A THOUSAND ACrES... Not a THOUSAND rACES! Makes more sense. I've read the Jane Smiley book but only vaguely recall that it became a movie- probably because I imagined it would be incredibly depressing. The book grabs you primarily because the writer is so gifted and the prose breathtaking. But the story line made me want to reach for the closest cheap novel with anything upbeat within it.

And speaking of books, in today's NYTimes book review, there's an article called Forms & Functions which mentions in passing an 1820 book called "Collezione de Rebus". I learned"rebus" on this blog. It turns out that it was a very popular game in the 18th century.

@Rex, is that you and your sister in those pics? Very cute and happy looking little people!

donkos 9:59 AM  

Consumer Report? may be one of my all time favorite clues.

I had a relative who lived in LORAIN and still took some time to get this - pretty forgettable place.

After finally getting SIMON,I had to do a double take - until it finally dawned on my that SIMON was indeed an electronic game (I was stuck on electronic game=video game). Poetic justice that I struggled with this clue - I was never any good at SIMON either.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

I'm imagining Patrick Berry is such a master that he writes only the theme answers (which were brilliant) and leaves the fill to some lowly assistants. I mean NIB and NUB; HES and IVE; TEA and EAT; TRALA, IBM, ADA, WAS, USE and ENOLA? They are either weak or tired clues or both and not what I was expecting when I saw Mr. Berry's name on the top.

Rex Parker 10:41 AM  


My sister, and then me and my cousin Carrie.

Painter's hats were all the rage, I swear ...


Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Had the r and s in 67d and thought farts. Close but no cigar.

Aspiring Ornathologist 10:53 AM  

Actually, a TERCEL is a male falcon, and I wouldn't characterize them as ugly. However, they seem to be documentably stupid.

From Wiki, "In February 2005, the Canadian ornithologist Louis Lefebvre announced a method of measuring avian intelligence in terms of a bird's innovation in feeding habits. The falcon and corvids scored highest on this scale."

When you're dumber than a chicken, you're pretty damned dumb.

Doris 10:56 AM  

As is frequently the case, "Hamlet" is an education in itself. The first--and perhaps only--time I've seen "gibber" is in a (regrettably) frequently cut speech of Horatio in Act I, scene i:

In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

And for us opera nuts: I had Alfano as the composer of "Resurrezione," but his opera is spelled "Risurrezione," the more modern form of Italian. The latter opera (1906) is based on a Tolstoy story or novel. You all needed to know this, of course, but I got it off my chest. Eventually came to my senses and put in HANDEL.

archaeoprof 11:10 AM  

DNF for me today. Absolutely never heard of ATHOUSANDACRES/races. Was it perhaps what some might call a "chick flick?" I'm just asking...

But I do remember SIMON. My kids used to beat me all the time.

foodie 11:12 AM  

@Rex, yeah, I remember those hats! you could also buy jean jackets with fake pain splatters all over them... Ah the 80's!

And the Sweet Lorraine's sign is equally nostalgic for me. They used to have a restaurant in A2 and our whole family loved to go there.

The Bard 11:43 AM  

Romeo and Juliet > Act V, scene III

PARIS: Give me thy torch, boy: hence, and stand aloof:
Yet put it out, for I would not be seen.
Under yond yew-trees lay thee all along,
Holding thine ear close to the hollow ground;
So shall no foot upon the churchyard tread,
Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves,
But thou shalt hear it: whistle then to me,
As signal that thou hear'st something approach.
Give me those flowers. Do as I bid thee, go.

Norm 11:43 AM  

I think of NEROLI as old crossword-ese, but I recall it usually being clued as ORANGE OIL or something of the sort. That was the least of my problems with this puzzle, which had too many #$%! people I'd never heard of. All gettable in the end, but annoying.

Sandy 12:04 PM  

I often don't finish Sunday puzzles, because they're just boring slogs. This, however, I kept at. A Thousand Acres was no problem (it being the book at which I decided I didn't like Jane Smiley), but Gumball Rally? Really? You've all heard of that? OK.

Aging Bull was my favorite.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Lorain was in the national news (a good while ago) so with a couple crosses, no problem.

Maybe appearance in the news ought to be a criterion for use of not-generally-known geographical places in puzzles.

But then, I didn't mind Edina at all, either.

Unknown 12:33 PM  

Good puzzle, right at my average Sunday time of 40ish minutes. Had to guess at the S for SEI, but it proved to be correct.

@chefwen: Regarding the OLIVETWIST thing, I'm thinking that Mr. Berry might have meant the answer to be read as Olive Or Twist? When you ask that question fast, as a bartender would, the O in OR is hard to discern from the E in OLIVER. Just Sayin ?

Sparky 12:40 PM  

When I saw the title I thought the theme would be to leave out the Is. Changed mind on PETTYWOMAN. @chefwen. Agree. Can't figure out how to twist an olive. Wouldn't the oily little orb fly across the room? LeeVan CLEEF big favorite of mine. Did not get NE-OLI/LO-AIN cross. Thanks Rex and others; a Natick I don't have to blame on myself. Enjoy what's left of the weekend.

Tinbeni 12:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tinbeni 12:45 PM  

@Sandy: The Gumball Rally probably falls into that "Guy Movie" category the same way The Thousand Acres may be called a "Chick Flick." It was my first theme to fall.

Hmmm, seems to me I heard this *then unknown city* LORAIN mentioned on CNBC and the Republic Steel acquisition of some steel mills from USX.
Ahhh, sweet LORAIN (insert Southern accent).

Was doing consult job in Flagler Beach when the whales were migrating by a few years ago.
My buddy was talking about the different kinds.
Remember him saying SEI (sounded like a 'C' to me) and checked them out later.
Hey, what do you expect from a guy who thinks his local Manatee's (Sea Cows) are "cute"?

Nice FUN Sunday solving.

Unknown 12:51 PM  

I wasn't born in Ohio like some of the others who found the Lorain answer easy but being an Oberlin grad certainly helped. Actually tried to put in Elyria first (Elyria is only Lake Erie adjacent, however).

George NYC 12:51 PM  

In this tray, we have an OLIVE.
In this tray, we have a (lemon) TWIST.
Each is a garnish, so when you speak of both of them, you are talking about GARNISHES.
There's no "twist of olive." When you order a martini, you usually pick one or the other, as in "olive, or twist?"
I'll have a bloody Mary, pleasy.

JayWalker 12:59 PM  

For whatever reason, "neroli" was familiar to me - my Doom was at Mt. Doom. Well - not doom really - I got it but it was a sheer guess! It was the last letter (the "d" to go in as I didn't know Ada either) - so I determined NOT to Google and took chance. Good for me. All-in-all, a good time was had by me.

Unknown 1:20 PM  

ghd straighteners
ghd hair straighteners
ghd australia
ghd uk
pink hair straighteners
pink hair straightener
pink straighteners

Mel Ott 1:31 PM  

No joy for me. Not counting the theme answers, I counted 43 proper names for answers. 43!!

Because of all the proper names, at least three or four naticks for some folks. Guessed right at the LORAIN/NEROLI & ADA/DOOM crosses. LOESSER seemed vaguely familiar, so that got me SEI. Knew PESCI & ARENDT, so that got me CATTALO.

Captcha: sormell. My condition after all the proper names.

Uriah Heep 1:32 PM  

A take on Olive or Twist.

And ... 1:38 PM  

(Adding to @George NYC)

The clue is plural, an "olive twist" is not. ;-)


CoffeeLvr 1:39 PM  

I finished, unassisted, so am very happy. Agree with Medium, although I was quite slow this morning, just not recalling quickly. Did have my moments of frustration.

Don't know LOESSER, and had conflated Lerner and Loewe and entered LOErnER. SEI actually saved me here, though I though it was Japanese, the other formerly big whalers.

Hated CATTALO, as here in the almost prairie lands, it is Beefalo. Both Beefalo and Bison are pastured and sold here from generally small farm grazing operations. I regularly eat bison, very healthy (unless it is finished on corn.)

Knew LORAIN, but took a while to remember it. Familiar from my past career - there is a Ford assembly plant there, called Ohio Assembly now.

It is always interesting to note how people differ in what they know or can guess.

Mr. Micawber 1:49 PM  

olive plus twist(lemon) = Garnishes.

Steve J 2:37 PM  

Ugh. I was not on the same page as Patrick Berry today. I usually find him tough, but there was a lot today that I thought pushed the boundaries of fairness.

NEROLI/LORAIN was just one of several Natick-y moments I had (although I somehow managed to pull LORAIN out of my deep memory, after giving up on an earlier TOLEDO/NADER crossing that obvious wasn't correct but did fit the clues). I also had blanks on LOESSER/SEI, CATTALO/ARENDT, and it seems like at least one other I can't recall.

The movie titles were mostly fun, although like many, I'd never heard of ATHOUSANDACRES and THEGUMBALLYRALLY.

Ultimately, it ended up being a DNF for me because I just didn't care anymore to try to figure out the crosses featuring obscure people and names. That sort of thing in Friday/Saturday is fine, but it does strike me as pushing it on a Sunday.

This one goes into the category of "respected, but did not like" for me.

JC66 2:37 PM  

My drink of choice is a dry martini, up, no fruit and I had a brain freeze and couldn't figure out why the 112A clue was plural until reading @Chewen's post.

Also, spent a couple of years of college in Ohio, so LORAIN was no problem but can see why this might be for others.

joho 3:21 PM  

I really liked this puzzle.

Was very impressed that there were no R's in the theme answers. In fact, that is how I determined 14D had to be AVOW not AVer. I got NEROLI but I initially wanted patchouli. Ew, used to work with someone so soaked in that I nearly gagged everytime we got into the elevator.

Lots of good theme answers my favorites being MYFIENDFLICKA and MULHOLLANDDIVE.

Thank you, Patrick Berry ... you're the best!

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Am I the only one bothered that "Olivetwist" was the answer for a PLURAL clue?

George NYC 3:30 PM  

See my post above.

[list 2] "... drink garnishes" 3:52 PM  


The horse is dead, stop beating it!

Sparky 4:18 PM  


PuzzleNut 4:34 PM  

Finished in average time for me with only a few iffy answers. Had HA?DE? and stupidly wrote in HAYDEN, which I should know better. That left yE?OLI which just didn't seem right. After correcting the y to an N, I somehow knew NEROLI, although I too recall it being an orange fragrant oil. Never heard of LORAIN, but still got it fine from crosses. Had CA??ALO and that seemed to scream CATTALO, although I never heard of the word before (Beefalo is more familiar). Didn't know LOESSER, but guessed at the second S, although I was parsing the movie as ATHOUS AND ACES which clearly had to have a mistake in it somewhere. Finally saw the light, but didn't know if it was referencing A THOUSAND (R)ACES or AC(R)ES. Always good to come here and learn the answer, and find that I'm not the only one with the problem. Had an issue with TOTAL for Unqualified, but I can imagine a total disaster being called an unqualified disaster. Slowed down a bit by ???MACRITIC, thinking it should either be a film critic or a movie critic, but it eventually came out OK.
Overall, a nice Sumday puzzle.

r.alphbunker 4:41 PM  

Hah! I was sitting in a Subway's eating lunch doing the puzzle on my iPod. Got to the lo_ain/ne_ola with everything else filled in and looking good. I guessed "r" and the iPod congratulated me! It made me laugh out loud.

chefbea 4:44 PM  

The last three days have been brutal!!! DNF fri, sat or today.

Look forward to next week

joho 4:49 PM  

I forgot to mention before, I prefer BUFFAMOO.

syndy 5:05 PM  

Had hayden and toledo at first(yeloli really a stumper).Fabulous puzzle fractal threw me though,was looking for an actually shape (tesserac?)Drama critic not so awkward if talking plays.Also tercel nice car nice name ter-cel Gumball rally:Michael Sarazan. Can't choose-petty woman or Mullholland dive

chefwen 5:11 PM  

Oh, that poor horsey, you can stop beating it now, I get it! Sorry I started that tirade.

Speaking of horses, Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven is one of my all time favorite books. Loved it!

Van55 5:26 PM  

At least Lorain at 311,000 has about ten times the population of Elma NY.

Theme was good. Fill was not so Good.

Rex Parker 5:44 PM  

No no no. Learn to read statistics. Try again.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

Could some please explain 17D: ELIAN?

CoffeeLvr 6:45 PM  

@anonymous 6:34

per Wiki: The custody and immigration status of a young Cuban boy, Elián González (born December 7, 1993), was at the center of a heated 2000 controversy involving the governments of Cuba and the United States.

His mother had drowned on the way to the US, and eventually he was returned to his father in Cuba.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

Many thanks

Howard B 8:45 PM  

Wasn't the crosswordese that slowed me down, but multiple titles of movies I've never seen or heard before (GUMBALL RALLY etc). Each was a nice speed bump. Plenty of potential to trip up here; the theme answers were definitely worth the struggle though.

Van55 9:02 PM  

My bad.

Lorain County has a population of about 304,000. City pop in 2002 was 68,652. Elma NY 2002 pop was 11,304.

Aspiring Ornathologist 10:45 PM  

@Van55 - Don't feel too badly. Go back and read my post.

Anonymous 10:58 PM  

NEROLI would be familiar to Scrabble players, as NEROLIS, the plural, is a very high-probability word, and the only one that can be made with that rack of 7 tiles.

(LORAIN, though, is harder, as there are no bingos in its plural!)

ArtLvr 11:27 PM  

LORAIN OH is timely for those in the area, as the Lorain County Fair dates this year are Aug. 23-29. Not that I've ever attended, but often was tempted on seeing billboard signs while driving through!

I didn't know the theme was flicks. I thought it was going to be books involving children when I first got FLICKA, BEDKNOBS and OLIVE(r) TWIST... Not all books, but no matter: I got the rest save for the FRACTAL, where my cross for "What he said' was Dicta, the plural of Dictum! Duh. By the end I had BOOM and thus Dicto, but still didn't see that one last wrong letter. FracCal? DITTO! Pfui.

I did like the clever theme phrases, especially FIST BLOOD and PETTY WOMAN. Also enjoyed the old-timey fill like CUTLASS, GIBBERS and GUFFAW, plus CILIA and St. Clare of ASSISI (or was it Ste. Clare??)

BURPS' clue was uproarious. Berry-nice Sunday, all in all.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

A Thousand Races got me. I had An Hour and Aces, which I like better as a clue answer but which makes everything else so wrong! Pity.

Rex Parker 10:48 AM  

Having to repost this here, as the author mistakenly believed it would be a good idea to post it on next week's (i.e. Aug. 29) puzzle.


From "jpmorgie":

Sorry all - have to rant about a totally incorrect clue from last week [well i didnt have time to attack the puzzle until tuesday].

FRACTAL was clued as being infinite which is totally wrong [and please dont cite web sources showing that it is -- we all know that everything posted on the web MUST be correct or it wouldnt be allowed!].

The point to fractals [an invented word which comes from the notion of fractional dimensions] is that a [natural] measurement can change depending on the scale of the device used to measure. The length of a coastline, for example, using a 12" ruler will give a larger number than using a tool that is 1 mile long. This does not mean that the coastline is infinitely long -- even if one counts individual atoms one will still get a finite number. Measure the coast in Angstroms and one will still get a finite number.

There is a difference between the concepts of bounded, unbounded, finite, countable, infinite, uncountable, etc.

Zardoz 10:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zardoz 11:12 PM  

Fun one, even with all the crossing names, not too hard to guess. Surprised that SEI was such a problem, but then have always been a whale aficionado. Made a huge poster of them in grade two.

@Aspiring Ornathologist 10:53 AM
First of all, the term is Ornithologist. Did you even read the article, let alone understand it?
"The falcon ... scored HIGHEST on this scale."
Dumber than a chicken, eh?

To whom does that apply?
Perhaps you should aspire to a career at KFC,
or attend Hamburger U.

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