Middleton who sang with Louis Armstrong / SUN 8-29-10 / Title dog in Inge play / Egyptian god of universe / Newswoman Logan / Gee in Glasgow

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Constructor: Derek Bowman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "GOING FOR A RUN" — thirteen two-word phrases, creating 26 words that start with the consecutive letters of the alphabet, i.e. AB (ARMY BRAT), CD (CARBON DATING), EF (EXHAUST FANS), etc.

Word of the Day: VELMA Middleton (6A: Middleton who sang with Louis Armstrong) —

Velma Middleton spent most of her career as Louis Armstrong's singer. She was originally a dancer and, although overweight, she often did splits on stage including during the Armstrong years. Middleton had an average but reasonably pleasing and good-humored voice. After freelancing -- including visiting South America in 1938 with Connie McLean's Orchestra and working as a solo act -- she joined Louis Armstrong's big band in 1942, appearing on some Soundies with Satch). After Armstrong broke up the orchestra in 1947, Middleton joined his All-Stars. She was often used for comedy relief (such as for duets with Satch on "That's My Desire" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside") and occasional features. Jazz critics rarely thought highly of Middleton's singing, but Armstrong considered her part of his family, and she was a constant part of his show. Middleton, who recorded eight selections as a leader for the Dootone label in 1948 and 1951, died in Africa while touring with Satch in 1961. (answers.com)

• • •

This was two struggles in one. First, the struggle to finish in a reasonable time—the puzzle felt decidedly crunchier than most Sunday offerings, with the west coast in particular proving a real bear for me today (crunchy bear!); and second, the struggle to figure out what the theme was—it was a good minute or so after I'd finished the puzzle that I figured out what was going on. Normally, when you "*" the theme clues, there's a clue somewhere giving you a hint as to what the starred clues have in common. Not so today. The title is the only clue. INSIDE and OUTER seemed related ... but no, dead end. Same with SPEED and QUICK (esp. with "RUN" in the title), but again, no. Finally just went to the beginning and took them one by one, and saw the ABCD string instantly. Very clever. I'm impressed by the construction. Thankfully, I didn't have to know the theme to solve the puzzle, though it sure would have helped there in the west, yeesh. Couldn't see either INSIDE or OUTER, and only INA and SHEBA (89A: Title dog in an Inge play) and OCH (or ACH, I couldn't remember which was Scottish and which German—39A: "Gee," in Glasgow) were providing any help in the crosses. All the Downs were a mystery. Finally decided 85A: Isthmus had to be NECK :( and that got me CONTINUES (40D: Carries on) and things began to fall from there. But I really had to work, and briefly despaired of getting any real toehold. Rest of the grid was toughish but ultimately pretty tractable. NEALE (53A: "Conversations With God" author ___ Donald Walsch) and VELMA were the only real bafflers for me. The rest were just clued in vague, indirect, or otherwise tough ways. So all in all, I call this a 'win.' Good workout, clever theme, solid grid.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: *Kid constantly switching schools, maybe (ARMY BRAT)
  • 23A: *Age-revealing method (CARBON DATING)
  • 29A: *Stale air removers (EXHAUST FANS)
  • 33A: *Supposed results of stress (GRAY HAIRS)
  • 58A: *Embezzlement, e.g. (INSIDE JOB)
  • 60A: *Pet shop purchase (KITTY LITTER)
  • 68A: *Party bowlful (MIXED NUTS)
  • 78A: *Pluto, e.g., before it was plutoed (OUTER PLANET)
  • 81A: *Harlequin romance, e.g. (QUICK READ)
  • 101A: *Leadfoot's downfall (SPEED TRAP)
  • 106A: *It's got some miles on it (USED VEHICLE)
  • 117A: *Annual sports event since 1997 (WINTER X-GAMES)
  • 120A: *Beginning of time? (YEAR ZERO)
Learned more than I ever need to know about AKRON today — both that it is the 71A: Highest point on the Ohio & Erie Canal and that Sojourner Truth delivered her speech "AIN'T I a Woman" there in 1851. Never heard of the Danielle Steel novel "H.R.H.," but the clue made it easy enough (35A: Danielle Steel novel about a European princess). Wanted some spelling of "Dianne" for the 111D: Von Furstenberg of fashion clue, but then some vague memory of EGON clicked into place. Don't know any version of DARTS besides DARTS, so 126A: Around the Clock is a version of this mean zip to me. Only a couple of answers seemed really clunky today: PADDY FIELD (11D: Rice source) and DARK SHADE (5D: Navy, e.g.). The latter feels as arbitrary as TALL BUILDING or RED FRUIT, and the former just seems redundant. How is a RICE PADDY (very familiar term) different from a PADDY FIELD (a term I've never seen or heard of in my life)?

  • 56A: British American tobacco brand (KENT) — "British American" completely threw me. I don't know what it means. Why isn't it hyphenated? Anyway, that clue told me nothing. Got the answer from crosses, then recognized it, vaguely, as a cigarette brand.
  • 67A: Words a house burglar doesn't want to hear ("SIC 'EM") — this one was brutal. A house burglar doesn't want to get shot. Or bitten. Or generally discovered at all. A house burglar also Doesn't Want To Hear Any Words. If he hears words, there are people about, and for a burglar, that is always Bad. My guesses here: "I AM IN" "IT IS I" "I AM UP" and other stuff I can't remember now.
  • 115A: Flair of pro wrestling (RIC) — Only other RIC I know is OCASEK.
  • 8D: Newswoman Logan (LARA) — learned her from xwords a while back, and have now seen her twice in the past week. Useful.
  • 9D: "Sex and the City" character also known as John (MR. BIG) — words can't express my non-interest in this show, or its movie spin-offs. Saw a couple episodes and found them repugnant, and Particularly insulting to women. "Kill yourselves, all of you!" I'd shout at the screen, to no avail. If I ever have to put MR. BIG in a puzzle, you can Bet that it'll be clued via these guys—I mean, they're not, uh, great, but I would willingly listen to them for hours if my only other option were watching a single episode of "Sex and the City":

  • 14D: 900 years before Queen Elizabeth was crowned (MLIII) — wow, the "900 years before" part just makes the bad worse here.
  • 82D: Locale of an 1805 Napoleon victory (ULM) — wrote in URI. If you did yesterday's puzzle, you know why.
  • 10D: Egyptian god of the universe (AMON-RA) — spelled it AMEN-RA, which I believe is what you say if you agree with RA. Nope, my spelling was valid, just not correct for today's puzzle.
  • 84D: Low-cost, lightweight autos of the 1910s-'20s (CYCLECARS) — definitely learned this from xwords too, but remembered it as CYCLOCARS, which I think a far superior name.
  • 90D: Gymgoer's pride (BOD) — the longer you stare at the word "Gymgoer's" the crazier it looks.
  • 104D: "Dónde ___ los Ladrones?" (1998 platinum album by Shakira) ("ESTAN") — total guess. I can picture her, and I probably could recognize a couple of her songs, but that album title is brand new to me.

And now your Tweets of the Week, puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
  • @DrOssie90 I was doing a crossword earlier when I came across "Twilight (4)" Apparently "shit" wasn't what I was looking for...
  • @amyskababy My aunty is using the 'just keep saying words until they fit' method of crossword solving.
  • @chelseashell My heart melts a bit when I see an attractive guy doing a crossword. Nerdy? Absolutely.
  • @outofsequences Stupid things: trying to surreptitiously watch a girl do crossword puzzles.
  • @SkyBlueThru Woman in front of me on train is reading crossword clues to her bloke. I am typing answers on phone and holding them above her head for him.
  • @jonvox Lack of a free daily New York Times sure took its toll on my crossword abilities.
  • @Renee70 @JargArmani there's something u should know about me. I don't do crosswords. I was going to tell you sooner but everything was going so well

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Scoobie 12:18 AM  

That had to be the worst review of a singer (Velma) I've read in my entire life. Maybe it's part of the great Toon bigotry rampant in this country, but damn.

des 12:24 AM  

thanks for the theme - I just couldn't get it and gave up, waiting for you to tell us (maybe because my first answer was WINTERXGAMES, I kept expecting answers with extra leters, but no - ah well).

I was also hoping for an explanation for ATWT as the answer to 54D, "Elementary figure: Abbr." Yes, I got it from the crosses, but I have no idea what it means (? A TWEET - I don't think so).
Any help would be appreciated.

Wade 12:25 AM  

Thank you. No idea why I did this puzzle, it being a Sunday and all, but I did, and was stumped on the theme. I knew to look for a run of letters, but all I noticed was that a lot of the answers had A and R in them. Then I realized A and R aren't terribly unusual letters for a word to have, Then I noticed they didn't all have A and R in them. Then I did something else for a while--oh, yeah, had some Fig Newmans. Then I came here. I didn't find this puzzle as tedious as most Sundays, but this is the first time I've done a Sunday after having spent most of the day working on the longest Star Wars Legos video ever made by an eight-year-old, one in which the placement, color, duration and density of every laser are painstakingly debated, and there's a buttload of lasers in this one, and we're still not done.

Zeke 12:36 AM  

One more thanks for the theme. I usually quit half way through on Sundays because that's the limit of my attention span, but I kept going with this one just to find out what the theme was. Yes, I am too lazy to scroll through the clues for the reveal. This, the one time there wasn't a reveal, justifies my sloth. Themes like this, the A/B, .. are just invisible to me for some reason.

@DES - ATWT = Atomic Weight = key figure for an element.

Alan 1:20 AM  

Guessed right on all the names. Spelled Trinidad with an a. Ainta women made sense. No googles. Just that one letter.Darn!Darn!Darn!

Clark 2:11 AM  

I had everything finished except the NW corner (where ARMY BRAT and EXHAUST FANS were supposed to go). Then I figured that knowing the theme might help. Looking at the starred answers in order made it clear. I don't think I would have cracked that corner had I not figured out the theme. Cool puzzle.

chefwen 2:42 AM  

I figured out the theme about one third of the way through and it was most helpful in finishing the puzzle in record time. Not that I time myself, but this puppy was put to bed very early on a Saturday afternoon, leaving me nothing to work on over cocktails. Big fix was at 29A EXHAUST FANS over ceiling FANS, that was after I figured out
the theme.

Our everyday dishes are 52A DANSK, and of this Sept. 4th they will be 39 years old. Down to six dinner plates but remarkably durable. I used to warn clean up crews not to drop one, they might brake a toe.

Thank you Mr. Bowman for an enjoyable outing.

@Clark - Roxie is adorable.

chefwen 4:15 AM  

I believe that would be break a toe. DOH!

jae 4:25 AM  

Medium-challenging works for me. Had the same slow slog through the mid CA region as Rex and I too grokked the theme several minutes after finishing. A solid meaty Sun. puzzle Mr. Bowman. Thanks!

BTW, for 81a CHICKREAD almost worked except for ULM.

OldCarFudd 4:45 AM  

I also got off to a slow star in the NW. Never grokked the theme until my wife started doing the puzzle and noticed her first two starred answers had two words beginning with consecutive letters.

One incompletion - I never figured out the Neale?Benigni cross.

Cyclecars in the USA were a fad brought over from Europe, and they were a disaster. Underpowered, grossly underengineered and flimsily built, they fell apart on our terrible roads. By 1916 they had vanished. They fared much better in Europe, with its better roads and tradition (even back then) of making good small cars. The classic, iconic, all-blood-and-guts English Morgan sports car was a 3-wheel (2 in front to steer, one in back to push) cyclecar for the first couple of decades of its existence. It typically had a two-cylinder motorcycle engine hung out in front, and went like spit. The guys who have them say they're a hoot. I hope someday to get a ride in one.

Doris 6:27 AM  

As a FORMER English teacher (on the secondary level, it's No Picnic), OCH was practically the first thing I got:

But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Robert Burns, "To a Mouse"

Leaped to mind immediately. (I was never very good at reading it aloud with the proper accent.)

Bob Kerfuffle 7:11 AM  

Did this one at the beach yesterday, plenty of distractions. Went through the whole thing saying What the heck is the theme? Could this actually be themeless?? But, after too long, it struck me. I circled the alphabet run, so I could show you I really did get it!

Two write-overs: 3 D, had WHYNOT before OHYEAH, and 117 A, had SUMMERXGAMES before WINTERXGAMES!

Oscar 8:10 AM  

Got the CD entry first, glommed onto the theme thanks to those "Alphabetic run" clues for GHI, jumped from * to * filling in almost all of the theme answers with no crossings, then began slogging through the fill to figure out the rest. The STAKE/BIKE crossing was the last to fall for me.

Having 13 theme answers is insane, so I can forgive all of the extra black squares, partial phrases, and icky fill. Only 136 words, too, I think. That's fancy. Overall: great idea, mostly well-executed.

I have read the "Conversation with God" books and they are quite amazing, even to this heathen. It reads like a two-character play, but since Neale Donald Walsch asks the questions I would ask, I had the sensation of actually talking to God myself. No, I wasn't even tripping.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Donde estan los ladrones is one of Shakira's earlier albums. Thank you ninth grade Spanish I class.

Saw her at Glastonbury, she's absolutely amazing.

Also had NINTHPLANET for the Pluto clue. :(

Leslie 8:37 AM  

Another "thanks" for the clue reveal, which I never ever saw, and more agreement on "ninth planet."

Now that I know the theme, I like the puzzle better, but there were little things that bugged. I Did Not Like cluing 39D with "skipping," if the answer isn't going to be "omitting." "Isthmus" for NECK is deliberately over-confusing. And (and this is just a personal annoyance) I'm bugged by Roberto Benigni's name because it seems like the G ought to go before the first N.

But the letter run really is quite cool.

Ruth 8:54 AM  

@Leslie, perhaps you confuse Sr. Benigni with a BEIGNET.
The GN in Italian is pronounced much like a Spanish N with a tilde. And Roberto's name is spelled like BENIGN plus an I. I do tend to find him a little annoying but not because of his name.

joho 9:44 AM  

I, too, didn't get the theme until @Rex informed me. But, actually, that's not a bad thing as I was really puzzled by this puzzle. Now that I see it, I am impressed!

The trickiest patch for me, and last to fall, OMMISSIONS/SICEM/OUTERPLANET/NECK. Seems I am not alone.

Super Sunday: thank you, Derek Bowman!

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Now this is how a weekend puzzle should look, not a lot of obtuse or relatively unknown places or names. Had the theme at carbon dating. While doing this puzzle thought Rex is going to hate this for being so easy.

skua76 9:49 AM  

British American Tobacco is the name of the company...

Had trouble in the west, put in OMITTING for 39D which of course crossed with 78A NINTH PLANET.

Never saw the theme until coming here.

Leslie 9:50 AM  

@Ruth: "Benign"--->"Benigni!" Thanks--great mnemonic (and, of course, obviously the source of his name, which I hadn't even noticed).

Ulrich 9:56 AM  

Like chefwen, I figured out the theme one third through--actually stopped solving and wrecked my brain to connect what I had with the title. Finally, I got it and went back to filling in the grid. Knowing the theme helped considerably from there on--like I could write in the first letters for the remaining theme answers w/o even looking at the clues, especially the Y for the last one.

This is a case, I think, where not being under any time pressure helped--you can lean back and try to enjoy the ride...oh, and I really liked this one.

David L 10:47 AM  

Another hand up for not understanding the theme until I came here. Tougher than usual Sunday, but nothing to gripe about (well, I could probably think of something if I tried, but I'm a good mood after three winning evenings at bridge). Last square to be filled was the X in WINTERXGAMES -- I thought at first the TV series must be Time TRAP.

nanpilla 11:00 AM  

Looking for alphabet runs, I got the theme on the first theme answer. I then filled in all of the first letters in the theme answers and was off to the races. Knowing what letter the second word started with made this a very easy puzzle. It's rare for me to get a theme that early- I must be on a roll - got Matt Gaffney's meta in just minutes this week also!

Was looking forward to @OldCarFudd explaining cyclecars, and you did not disappoint!

CoffeeLvr 11:01 AM  

Good morning, and is. I too had much trouble in the West, starting with a confident entry of "wager" for 62A. The area finally fell after I looked at a map in my Mother's study Bible (for MOAB). So not quite an unassisted finish.

@anybody: How is HAS A CATCH an answer to "Is not as easy as it seems"?

I did not see the theme until I took a mental break and looked for it while pondering the aforementioned West. Very impressive construction, and few of the thirteen were forced, as Rex noted.

Mini-theme from my former JOB: LATEMODEL, USEDVEHICLE, CARS, SPEED, EXHAUST system, VACuum controls, and multiple suppliers with HQ's in AKRON.

Rex Parker 11:21 AM  

Did I mention that in addition to a three-comment rule, there's a "don't be an asshole" rule? Well, there is. Actually, you may be an asshole to me, but not to other commenters (or, you know, particular races, religions, etc.).

[this comment occasioned by a now-deleted comment]

Carry on.

archaeoprof 11:30 AM  

Like @Ulrich, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. Took some time, but well worth it. Thanks, Derek Bowman!

Unlike @Ulrich, I didn't get the theme until I came here. Thanks, Rex!

@Doris: fwiw, I had a serious crush on my junior year English teacher...

ArtLvr 11:35 AM  

I was a happy camper with this one, especially with my last letter a purely lucky guess of the B cross in the unknown names LOEB and BENIGNI.

126A DARTS was a surprise because I was familiar only with a card game called Around the Clock, an old form of solitaire. What else was new? SHEBA being a dog!

And REVERIE at 64D was an early choice for that bemused Woolgathering, but I didn't accept it until I had all the crosses -- no direct substitute phrase occurs to me. I'd say "I was woolgathering" but "I was in a REVERIE". The clue needed "state of" or something: I don't suppose it bothered anyone else?

So it went a bit more slowly than it might have, but I mostly enjoyed the meaty run from soupy KIRS and GROG to MIXED NUTS. Thanks, Derek B.!


Anonymous 11:38 AM  

British American Tobacco is a company (often acronyme-d as BAT), and Kent is one of their brands.

chefbea 11:43 AM  

@coffee lovr - This puzzle was not so easy - there was a catch.

Thought the puzzle WAS easy in fact. got the theme at Gray Hair but didn"t realize it went in order. Just thought all the answers were two words whose first letters were side by side in the alphabet.

Why is temperance proponents=drys???

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

I take exception to 26 across---The University of Kentucky is known as KU not as KSU which would be Kentucky State University. Wildcat fans would be highly incensed.

Rex Parker 11:50 AM  

@Anonymous 11:48

I assume that was a (not great) joke about Kentucky fans thinking the world revolves around them, since Kansas State University's mascot = wildcat too.

ArtLvr 11:51 AM  

@chefbea -- "Wets" didn't want prohibition, but the "drys" did. The 19th century Drys went around smashing bars, etc. Some people are always trying to legislate morality for all according to their own views!


Rhetorical Answer 12:02 PM  

"How is a RICE PADDY (very familiar term) different from a PADDY FIELD (a term I've never seen or heard of in my life)?"

•A paddy [field] is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops

•A rice paddy is an irrigated or flooded field where rice is grown


joho 12:22 PM  

University of Arizona and Northwestern University are also "Wildcats."

CoffeeLvr 12:29 PM  

@ChefBea, thanks for the clarification. I was stuck in the backyard with a softball.

chefbea 12:32 PM  

@Artlvr thanks

captcha=dings...rings a bell

Jim 12:46 PM  

Great comments. Helpful on DRYS and ATWT. Though I'm sure I'll forget by the next time they come up.

WHAT...A...SLOG! I feel like I finally pinned a 140 pound pitbull to the ground. Intimidating at first, with too many advantages to seem plausible, but by rounds 7 and 8, he'll tire, and you can exploit his weak spots.

Thank God I am a Times distributor and I could start working on this on Friday night. Otherwise, this post would be nice and fresh on Tuesday morning.

Got GRAYHAIRS early on and thought "Hmm, that's no pun that I can discern, but it fits and let's just pretend we didn't see that." It wasn't until much later I got the theme, probably when trying to justify the otherwise awkward OUTERPLANET. Wanted ninth, but an AH sequence on long answers is generally as wrong as dating your cousin. Still didn't see it ran the entire alphabet until the very end, but generally by then had at least one word (usu. the second), so I could infer from there.

Knew KENT after Kool didn't work, mostly from hearing Christopher Hitchens mention they were his brand.

The W and (especially) NW were just, what's the word? Too tired to think of one. In succession, 1D to 5D: BORAX (tough), OOMPH (slang), OHYEAH (expression), EBB (obscure name) AND DARKSHADE (complete bullshit). Wanted AoneBRAT and EnglUshFANS (What?) b/c the x was not forthcoming. Couldn't decide between PACE and rAtE, and POOHBAHS (not, as I thought and dismissed, poobahs), came only during a furious scribble at the end.

Eventually, I'm sure I'll begin to abandon Sundays like others have, because who has the time for this kind of epic battle? However, I at least want to be able to say I've done one wholly correctly first. Alas, failed again today. ALMaBox / DANaK, and SYsOD / ESTAs. Closest one yet. Can't wait for next week!

Sparky 1:06 PM  

ARMY BRAT jumped into my mind full blown so figured the theme early. It helped to fill in the first letters. Started last night and then completely blank in center west even though I had SHEBA. This a.m. finally thought of NECK which helped a lot and was able to fill in. Alas, couldn't figure AT-T/-EDS cross so one square out. I believe WEDS has been clued like that before. @Zeke: thanks for the explanation. I like Sundays but then I'm a slowpoke. Have a good remaining weekend.

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

I am a medium-well solver at best. I was very surprised to read Rex's write up as well as the comments. I figured out the theme on carbon dating. From there I was able to get every starred clue with no crosses except for Winter X Games.
BTW‚ my name is Ric but I have zero notoriety to be clue-worthy. Maybe someday...

Van55 1:28 PM  

Interesting. The HAIC enforces the "no assholes" rule. :)

I couldn,t get started up top so I went from the bottom up. Looking for an alphabet run, I sussed out the theme with YEARZERO and it was pretty easy sledding from there. Hated MLII. Counted 11 "cheater squares." Thought tha consecutive acrosses of MOAB, DANSK, NEALE and KENT were a tad obscure. Don't think OOMPH is interchangeable with "zip." Never heard of HSN. Is BULGY a word?

Enjoyed the solve despite misgivings.

Mel Ott 1:38 PM  

Put me in the camp of those who did not get the theme until coming here. Now that I see the theme I like the puzzle a lot more than I did during the solving. Very impressive construction.

Completed the puzzle only because I guessed right at the triple Natick at 6A, 8D, 9D, 10D. For example, VELDA & DR BIG would have made as much sense to me.

Didn't like BULGY, but it made CYCLECARS possible, so it was worth it.

Don't like being pluralized (95A).

Villanova Wildcats.

PuzzleNut 1:40 PM  

I usually have a pretty similar experience as Rex, agreeing with 80 - 90% of his observations and his solving experience. But today he captured 100% of my feelings about this puzzle. No need to add more, but will second his comments on Sex and the City. Sad to say, there are probably much worse shows out there, but at least they aren't as well known.

Shamik 2:00 PM  

@nanpilla: You got Gaffney's meta in minutes? Wow! I want you on my team! If I had a team, of course.

Thanks, Rex, for explaining the unknown theme. That's why i need Nanpilla on my team for metas. This one felt like a slog until my time turned out to be easy-medium at 19:16. Will always have a soft spot in my heart for Sundays as a time to have a larger grid, more clues and answers, coffee, relaxation and a theme. Not getting the theme made this puzzle a meh for me.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

I also discovered the theme late which helped with a final push to the finish.

My least favorite answer was paddyfield but the issue goes beyond what was noted earlier. Paddy actually comes form the Malay/Indonesian word "padi" which means "rice which is still growing in the field". Thinking that the word paddy meant the field itself was an error on the part of foreigners. Malay actually has words defining rice at a variety of stages including "beras" rice in bags which has not been cooked and "nasi" rice which has been cooked. (think nasi goreng, fried rice)

edmcan 2:29 PM  

Something has to be wrong when I zoomed through this one. I thought it was a snap! Go figure.

Rube 2:29 PM  

Similar to @ChefWen, got the theme about half way thru. Having the theme made the West much easier. My little bit of errancy was having ringcountING, as in tree rings, instead of CARBONDATING.

Trying to relate REVERIE to woolgathering, I Googled and, sure enough, they are both about daydreaming.

I think of AMON RA as the Egyptian sun god, but universe works, (given a few crosses).

I quickly gave up on a 7th century date for the Elizabeth clue and confidently put down MLIII. For some strange reason, 1953 is indelibly etched in my mind, even though I was only 10 at the time.

Like @Oscar, the STAKE/BIKE crossing was my last letter.

Tx @OCF for the discussion about cyclecars.

hazel 2:36 PM  

I can thank Solve Against the Clock for blowing up my grid so that I had to retype everything - which made the theme immediately/finally come into focus which allowed me to change ninthplanet (even tried tenthplanet) to OUTERPLANET which allowed me to finish the puzzle.

Loved seeing the drama queen/king The Nature Boy!! Wooooo!

Quintessential Sunday puzzle for me.

nanpilla 3:13 PM  

@shamik - the reason this week is remarkable is that that NEVER happens to me! Never got his meta last week. So as long as you had 51 other members on your team to cover the rest of the year, you would be golden!

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

I started last night on across lite and slogged a bit through the fill, not understanding the themes at all. Had filled in a bout a half a dozen answers and had to put it aside to meet some friends for dinner. This morning I picked it back up, but hardcopy version and theme just clicked. The puzzle title, theme clues italicized rather than asterisked. Then reading Army Brat next to Carbon Dating it Just Made Sense.

Then I decided to ignore the fill altogether and just tackle the themes, which I managed to do pretty well w/o any crosses. That made the puzzle a lot more fun.

JD 5:24 PM  

Yeah, getting ARMYBRAT/CARBONDATING quickly made the rest of the puzzle fall pretty easily, although EXHAUSTFANS took me forever for some reason.

My one gripe is that BULGY/ULM/IGA crossing. BULGY could have also been BUMPY or BULKY (although the latter would have been a bit off), and IGA means absolutely nothing to me, and I'm always a bit shaky on short European placenames. So I figured I had that wrong until checking Rex's grid.

JD 5:27 PM  

Oh, and I almost forgot: if there's ever a darts variant question again, try CRICKET or FIVEOHONE (FIVEOONE? FIVEHUNDREDANDONE?). AROUNDTHECLOCK is not even close in popularity, as far as I know.

Steve J 6:29 PM  

Very much a slog for me, even with picking up the theme pretty early (although, I never would have gathered the theme if I hadn't checked the puzzle's title). The theme did help me cover a lot of ground, but not enough to save me from several areas.

I found Northern California brutal (and find using the gerund form "skipping" to clue OMISSION to be dirty pool). I could not remember BENGINI's name to save my life, had BAH for "Derisive call" (what the hell is YAH?), and I read "Protuberant" as "Protuberance," with BULGE leaving me with the nonsensical CECLECARS for 84D.

Lastly, I'm left wondering who orders wine by the LITER?

Glitch 6:46 PM  

@Steve J

I do.

Many small eating establishments that only have house wines serve them in liter & 1/2 liter carafes (think neighborhood pizza and bbq joints).

Not every place can afford a wine list/cellar.


Nancy in PA 7:12 PM  

Got the theme very early and started filling in the letters in the longish entries...am I the only one doing the Times Digest version with...NO STARS? So I was slowed down by not knowing exactly which entries were theme answers. But still fast and fun.

We don't need no stinkin' stars 7:24 PM  

@Nancy in PA

The regular "Dead Tree Edition" had the theme clues in italics - no stars.

I would have expected the Digest would have been the same.


Mark Murphy 7:42 PM  

VELMA stumped me too for a while, but after I figured out that it had to be the answer, I found myself thinking of the singer in Chandler's "Farewell, My Lovely" -- wasn't her name Velma Valento? I wonder whether Chandler, consciously or not, got the name from this singer.

I mention this because of your admiration for Chandler, though you seem to be more of a "Long Goodbye" guy.

JenCT 8:23 PM  

Thank goodness Rex rated this Medium-Challenging, since I worked on it on & off all day long! I never got the theme until I got here. Getting the theme would've really helped!

BOOED & POOHBAHS took me way too long, but I really liked them.

Actually tried HI MOM before SIC EM - imagine a kid coming home from school to a burglar? (Shudder)

@chefwen: we got DANSK dishes for our wedding, but we've since abandoned them for something lighter (I'm too clumsy for such heavy dishes).

Just a few mistakes, but at least I finished!

Paul in Deerfield Mass 10:30 PM  

I got the theme fairly early on but still wasn't able to finish everything. I got stuck in the middle on the BENIGNI/PEALE/ATWT complex in the middle and on VELMA/VAC. A few too many cultural references that escaped me, though some googling would have finished it off for me.

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

I had Ninth Planet. I did not get the theme until I read through all the clues. Since I did not write them in order, at first, I had to go through them all before I caught on. Overall, this was extremely challenging, more than most Sundays.

Robin 12:14 AM  

Family effort here today. Started this afternoon while watching the finals of the U.S. Amateur golf thingy with non-puzzle husband, who googled names for me during commercials, and finished tonight watching the Emmys with my mother, with Rex on the computer screen, which I could glance at over my shoulder to confirm answers as I got them. Thanks, Rex! You are my personal hero of the day. And thanks for deleting the assholes, too.

impjb 11:27 PM  

This was a nice Sunday challenge, squeezed in between a round of golf, barbecueing dinner and post dinner drinking on this holiday weekend. This was a nice cap to a nice day.

Mr. Big should have been "bigger" than they were. What looks good on paper doesn't always work out that way in reality.

Anonymous 4:40 AM  

Syndicated paper-pencil from the actual newspaper here....the theme clues had no stars, no italics; nothing to indicate which were themes and which weren't. I tried to make some down answers fit the theme, once I figured it out, which completely messed things up!

Joan 3:35 PM  


Algy met a bear
The bear was bulgy
The bulge was Algy

--Ogden Nash

Could not figure out the theme and why the answers to the themed clues were so mundane (kitty litter?) Now it all makes sense and seems pretty clever!

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