Princess loved by Hercules / THU 10-21-10 / Certain 1920s faddist / Cabinetmaker's hardware / Reddish-brown gem / Fraternity benefactors for short

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Constructor: Dan Naddor

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BLOCK (48D: The 2x2 black square near the middle of this puzzle's grid, e.g., which is part of eight answers)— black square in center represents the word BLOCK in Across and Down answers that either run into it or emerge from it

Word of the Day: PIANO HINGE (3D: Cabinetmaker's hardware) —

Piano hinge
a long hinge, originally used for piano lids, but now used in many other applications where a long hinge is needed. (wikipedia)
• • •
Super quick write-up today, as I am swamped in advance of my talk this weekend. It's like a vintage paperback bomb went off in here. I have 90% of the images I need scanned, and I'm pretty confident that I can smooth the contours of the presentation during the unfortunate bus + LIRR ride tomorrow. Barring massive technological snafu, things should be fine. But the point is—I got other stuff to do right now, including sleep.

I liked this puzzle. I like the BLOCK. I got the trick before ever seeing the BLOCK clue down in the SE. I wish the puzzle didn't even have that clue. It's unnecessary, and makes the puzzle easier than it needs to be. The grid is weird for many reasons, not least of which is all the long answers that have nothing to do with the theme. Never heard of a PIANO HINGE or BOTTOM ROUND (tried BOTTOM ROAST before realizing ROAST was in the clue) (21A: Butcher's roast cut). Wait ... what the ... this puzzle doesn't have rotational symmetry! OK, I like it less now. I guess it couldn't very well be symmetrical, with a 2x2 black square in the "middle." But ... yaargh, I'm getting a little woozy just trying to figure out the black square pattern.

Theme answers:
  • 6D: What a hammer may hit (AUCTION-)
  • 7D: Author's bane (WRITER'S-)
  • 39A: Neighborhood get-togethers (-PARTIES)
  • 41A: It displays the connections between system components (-DIAGRAM)

  • 43D: Smash hit (-BUSTER)
  • 44D: Bit of comic strip text (-LETTER)
  • 38A: Temporary lapse of memory (MENTAL-)
  • 40A: Metal casting housing automotive cylinders (ENGINE-) — "METAL" is in the grid, but whatever ... (2D: Rock music genre)
Despite filling in the BLOCK answers pretty easily (except BLOCK DIAGRAM—never heard of that), the puzzle still seemed Thursday hard, with odd phrases and toughish clues. Really struggled a lot with the NW. Without the PIANO part of PIANO HINGE, those short answers weren't readily apparent to me at all. Really loved MR. AND MRS. (27D: Start of some addresses) and POLE-SITTER (58A: Certain 1920s faddist) and WIZEN (50D: Shrivel from age). All the ugly short stuff (and there's not much of it) seems forgivable. Even SARD (13D: Reddish-brown gem).

  • 15A: 1944 murder mystery directed by Otto Preminger ("LAURA") — one of the original film noirs. Good stuff.
  • 16A: Jazz pianist with 16 Grammys (COREA) — I think Pat Metheny is playing at the University tonight. He and COREA may as well be the same person, as far as I'm concerned.
  • 32A: O's overseas (OMICRONS) — these are Greek, right? Yup, 15th letter of Greek alphabet. Only just now noticed contrast between O-MICRON and O-MEGA. Small. Big. Weird.
  • 1D: Fraternity benefactors, for short (ALUMS) — pretty specific clue for a pretty general group of people. Tough.
  • 53D: Princess loved by Hercules (IOLE) — supercrosswordesey. I always forget her name, thinking it's IONE, or even IOLA ...
Enjoy the wonderful guest bloggers for the next three days. See you Monday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Alex S. 12:08 AM  

My brain absolutely refused to believe that FIERIER is a real word and the cross didn't help.

Clark 12:28 AM  

I liked this a lot. Author's bane -- I thought, weird how the 'writers' part of 'writers block' would fit. Then 'Neighborhood get togethers' -- I'm thinking, well 'block parties' would fit, but that's way to long. Once again with ENGINE [BLOCK]. It was only with 48D that it clicked.

FIERIER is an excellent word, an impossible word! Oh, I see, it comes from Middle English 'fier' (meaning 'fire'), which came from Old English 'fyr' (meaning, you guessed it, 'fire'). So, what I want to know is how come 'fiery' got held back with the M.E. spelling, but 'fire' made it through to the modern spelling. Is it cause 'firey' is too ridiculous? I'm glad I don't have to decide these things.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

Any Thursday I complete or nearly complete I like. Was really close here. Omicrons, Moue, elzin (+ ozule), got the better of me tho. Had Piano Tongs for the longest time... that didn't help...

chefwen 12:45 AM  

Had a lot more fun with this puzzle than I had with yesterday's Googlefest. Struggled a little because at 48D I put in BLanK before OUZO raised its ugly, Anisey flavored head. Gawd, that stuff can kill. Then came our lovely CLEO and after that everything seemed to come together quite nicely. Block DIAGRAM was the last to fall after I grasped onto the MTG PDA clues. OMICRONS was my learning WOD.

CoolPapaD 2:03 AM  

I remember hearing a rumor that Will has several of Dan Naddor's puzzles "in the vault." I hope this is the case, because I truly enjoy them, and this was no exception. This had the perfect mix of easy and obscure, and the latter were perfectly discernible from the crosses. I agree with Rex that MRANDMRS was terrific.

Before I became a vegan, one of my favorite places on earth was a local Brazilian steakhouse, where the servers walk around with huge slabs of meat on skewers. My favorite cut (juicy, tender, but immensely flavorful) was the bottom sirloin - don't know if it's the same as a BOTTOMROUND, but (?butt) it's a moot point now!

Falconer 2:48 AM  

Fantastic, fun, clever puzzle -- I always love the late Mr Naddor's work because it is so inventive and stylish. Great words like ouzo, ouija, omicron, Romana. Love the trivia like "pole sitter" mixed with sports clues like elbows, Alvin and jeers. Bravo.

John 3:34 AM  

Really liked the puzzle! thought writers___ , engine ___. HMM a rebus? Where's the extra BLOCK? HA!! there they are!!!

Laura, Double Indemnity, Sorry Wrong Number, D.O.A, The Blue Dahlia, The list goes on!

JaxInL.A. 4:16 AM  

Early morning meeting for me, so I wanted to post tonight to wish Rex all the best with the presentation. It sounds FABULOUS and I wish oh wish I could hear it. I love pulp fiction (read, that is), and it is so hip that Rex is an expert. I have sent a smoke sacrifice to the techno gods on your behalf, and look forward to hearing how it goes in a future post.

And wonder of wonders, I can see today's video! I'm very happy, especially after this puzzle gave me that delicious aha! moment. All the best, Rex.

Captcha=conlecti: where Rex will be? Can you use Latin to describe pulp readers?

andrea corea michaels 4:17 AM  

Wow, 8 words that start and end with BLOCK!!!!!!

Too cool. Total BLOCKBUSTER. What a shame this man is gone. Who knows what was to come. With what? 100 puzzles in the LA Times, this man clearly had no WRITERSBLOCK.

Almost makes no sense to critique in some ways...I mean, what can we say, "Here's what you need to know for next time"? :(

I tried to change the wacky FIERIER to FIERcER for about a second.

Re: that whole O-micron, O-mega small and big, in lay terms, they use the "little" one in the middle or beginnings of words with "o" and the O-mega is only used when it's the LAST letter...and that's why it's last (Alpha to Omega, "Omega Man", etc.) at least that is what I understood when I lived in Greece way back when for all of 7 months.
So, like in OUZO, the first O would be omicron which looks like an o...the second o is at the end and lookss like a w. I don't know how to make my keypad write in Greek but it would look like "ouzw"!

Have we discussed TASM before? I had a devil of a time with that one!

I fall for PLAN/PLot/PLAt every time...


jae 4:19 AM  

Liked it a lot. Pretty easy once I caught the theme. I too hesitated at FIERER but I think I've seen versions of it in previous puzzles. Hopefully, there are a few more of Dan's puzzles in the cue.

shrub5 4:20 AM  

Caught onto the BLOCK theme early so this turned out to be a relatively easy solve. One dictionary look-up for SARD -- crosses seemed solid but I didn't know this word.

Had FIERCER before FIERIER, HIP before HOT and KOOL before KENT. All were resolved easily enough.

Weird seeing PIECRUSTS in the puzzle. I just made some pie crusts tonight!!

@RP: Good luck with your presentation!

JaxInL.A. 4:28 AM  

I made all the errors @shrub5 made. Eventually managed to solve without help in a reasonable time (for me), but nearly gave up until I got the theme and things started to fall into place.

Pieces of the corners came first, SE, NE, then SW. Did well in the Great Lakes, though stymied for a while because I had hands of the gods for LAPOF, not realizing that the "of" was missing from the clue. The lightbulb finally came on as I tackled Texas, 48D kicked in (see aforementioned tasty experience), and I was mostly okay after that. Last to complete were TASM (had auSt) and IOLE(?). Gotta remember that one.

I am sorry to learn that today's constructor was gone before I ever met him. Good night, Mr. Naddor, wherever you are.

Gervalse: when Ricky wants to dance?

fikink 7:07 AM  

What @falconer said. Fun, fun, this puzzle. Dynamite fill, new approaches, little crap. Just terrific!

FIL uses PIANO HINGES all the time in his woodworking.

@Rex, I wish your presentation were webcast. Much good luck. I know you will WOW them. And I, too, am looking forward to your war stories when you return. Viel Gluck, viel Spass!

suburban_guy 7:53 AM  

thanks to basketball got started in the SE but wanted ovary for a while. Anise liquors only 2 I know are grappa and ouzo, that helped with ovule and wizen. Did well for a Thursday but got stuck in the NW. Couldn't get alums. But all in all a fair and fun Thursday.

The Hag 8:02 AM  

I loved FIERIER. It's one of the few instances I can think of where using the comparative actually made the solve more interesting. Like everyone else, I tried fiercer and had to write out firery?/fiery/fieryer?/fierier in the margins to get the spelling right.

The asymmetry and long non-theme words make me like the puzzle even more. Rules are made to be broken.

*captcha: lereampe - French crosswordese for turning up the volume again*

glimmerglass 8:11 AM  

Once in elementary school (I think 2nd grade), the teacher asked if anyone could spell "fiery." No one could. "Firey?" Nope. It was our introduction to what a WTF language English is.

joho 8:19 AM  

I loved everything about this puzzle going into the block, out of the block and all around the block.

Everytime I see Dan Naddor's name at the top I know it's going to be fun. He had such a gift. It's nice that we can still enjoy his talent.

Good luck, Rex!

mitchs 8:27 AM  

Gotta love the blocks. I didn't know that Pax Romana signified an UNEASY peace.

I thought it was just a neutral term describing an era.

jesser 8:52 AM  

This one was fun. I caught the trick early on and filled in all the various blocks except for 41A, which seems to have given Rex and others trouble.

It killed me, for no good reason. I just gave up on 39D and figured, sure, the PtA would send out a MTG reminder. D'oh!

The fill was great, except for SARD, which may indeed be great, but it sounds and looks wrong. I wonder what it means in URDU?

Thanks and godspeed, Mr. Naddor.

Chembe! (Sorry, I'm having a block on this one. ;-)) -- jesser

Diana Holquist 8:54 AM  

Fun! Like @JaxInLA, had the ah-ha moment that makes it all worthwhile. Had TNT for 1A (yeah, I know, abbr...) which gave me trouble forever until "metal" came to my rescue.

Confidently wrote in 'editors' for 7D w/o a moment's hesitation and it worked for a while. Honestly, if you're a writer who thinks writer's block is your bane in this day and age, you might want to look for another line of work. Too many other banes to waste a moue (?!?) on that one (overworked editors, e-pirates, reviewers, bloggers, bad covers, bad titles, snowstorms that keep people out of the stores on release week, agency pricing, Amazon pricing, WalMart pricing, 715 channels on the dish, XBox, PS3...)

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:00 AM  

Quality stuff. Pouring a PBR for my homie Dan.

fikink 9:09 AM  

@jesser, "chembe" is a French chum, my sweet.

Insp. J. Clouseau 9:17 AM  

Oui, c'est vrai. As in, "me old chembe, the minkey."

mmorgan 9:17 AM  

Good solid work out. Every time I was about to give up on this one, another batch of letters filled themselves in. Got the SE first but it didn't help and I slogged for a while.

Didn't like PARTIES for 39D until I later realized it was (BLOCK) PARTIES. Structurally, I really like the way the 8 BLOCK clues are arranged around the center. I first thought they'd show up randomly, or would encompass across/down clues -- for example, after I got WRITERS (BLOCK) (first theme answer), I thought 32A would also end with (BLOCK).

Loved POLESITTER (kept looking for a specific person).

Thought 6D (What a hammer may hit) would have something to do with a piano -- I guess I knew there was a piano in there somewhere!

In the end, the NW almost killed me, until I finally took out TNT and put in AMP for 1A. And I wasn't sure of the first letter of PECTIN (the last remaining square).

I was deeply unsure of several answers I had... SARD and MOUE among them, and I had no idea how I knew ROMANA (first had HUMANA) and OMICRONS, not to mention OVULE.

So what a joy to see Mr. Happy Pencil's smiling face!!

Tinbeni 9:28 AM  

What a beautiful Thursday !!!

First off, the NY Yankee's shut-up the "Fat Lady" from singing last night (which meant I could read my Sports Section this morning).

Then I do the LAT and it has ALE which I IMBIDED in a NOISY beer hall.

And today the NYT has my fave constructor, the late, great, Dan Naddor.
And it has my second favorite booze, OUZO!
It happens, I live just south of Tarpon Springs, lots of things greek around here.

Hurry sundown, Cheers !!!

chefbea 9:31 AM  

Great puzzle!!

Loved filling holders...better go make an apple pie.

The NC state fair was great..110 lb watermelon and 15 pound sweet potato to mention a couple of winners.

Of course I had to try the deep fried oreos.

Good to be back in Rexville

John V 9:39 AM  

@Rex, same reaction to 48D: diminished the puzzle a bit, in my view. Also, NW required a second seating. Otherwise, particularly after seeing the "block" theme, played more like a Tuesday for me. Also agree with comment that this was more fun than yesterday, which as my first DNF Wednesday in a very long time :(

Lindsay 9:52 AM  

How can 7D be anything but "rejection slip"?

Words like MOUE remind me of playing Boggle with my crossword-solving grandmother when I was kid. For example,

Me: Yean is not a word.
Grandmother: Of course it's a word. Yean: to bring forth a sheep."

She would respond to my challenges of moue with a pouty illustration of the meaning.

PuzzleNut 10:02 AM  

A few write-overs, but overall a pretty easy puzzle. Like others, thought about a rebus with WRITER, but seemed like an S was needed. Next was AUCTION and that pretty much gave me the theme.
Put me down for FIERcER. I have the same IOLE, IONE, IOLA, IONA issue as Rex, but didn't even see this clue/entry as the crosses came first.
48D was anticlimatic.
Symmetry was really odd. As Rex noted, the 2x2 middle necessitates non-symmetrical grid, but EVERYTHING was off. Felt a little uncomfortable, like the carnival funhouse where things are a little askew.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:21 AM  

Great puzzle.

Dan Naddor, we really miss you.

(If anyone hasn't already, click on the link to the Wordplay site (on the side of Rex's blog) to read more about Dan.)

Van55 10:22 AM  

I'm not a fan of alphabet runs such as "Queue after Q." Thought FIERIER crossing SATORI was borderline unfair because I didn't know SATORI and wanted FIERCER. Didn't like the clue for ALUMS today -- too general as RP points out.

I will miss seeing Dan's puzzles in the NYT, but look forward to the last few to come in the LAT.


Intereresting coincidence that PIECRUSTS pops in today in light of the LAT's theme.

Mark 10:28 AM  

Would have loved to have seen this answer in today's puzzle after Wednesday's puzzle:


Clue: Pretax figure

SethG 10:30 AM  

Yesterday's took me 6 minutes, today's 15. Nice grid, and great concept, but I just do not click with Naddor cluing.

Andreacorea, I was only in Greece for one month, but I never saw ouzw. Usually ouzo, sometimes oyzo, never ouzw. See this, for example. Or this.

efrex 10:39 AM  

Had maybe 10 clues solved before catching the theme, ((BLOCK) PARTIES did it fore me), at which point 7 of the 8 fell immediately (AUCTION took a bit). Upper middle & upper right were the last to go (SATORI, SARD, URDU, and BOTTOM ROUND), but otherwise, a very doable puzzle.

I'm probably the only one who thinks ARAK before OUZO; without that error, I'd probably have had a record Thursday.

Tip of the hat to the late Mr. Naddor. Next time the missus and I bend our ELBOWS with some OUZO listening to our COREA records, we'll give you a toast.

efrex 10:40 AM  

Had maybe 10 clues solved before catching the theme, ((BLOCK) PARTIES did it fore me), at which point 7 of the 8 fell immediately (AUCTION took a bit). Upper middle & upper right were the last to go (SATORI, SARD, URDU, and BOTTOM ROUND), but otherwise, a very doable puzzle.

I'm probably the only one who thinks ARAK before OUZO; without that error, I'd probably have had a record Thursday.

Tip of the hat to the late Mr. Naddor. Next time the missus and I bend our ELBOWS with some OUZO listening to our COREA records, we'll give you a toast.

efrex 10:40 AM  

Had maybe 10 clues solved before catching the theme, ((BLOCK) PARTIES did it fore me), at which point 7 of the 8 fell immediately (AUCTION took a bit). Upper middle & upper right were the last to go (SATORI, SARD, URDU, and BOTTOM ROUND), but otherwise, a very doable puzzle.

I'm probably the only one who thinks ARAK before OUZO; without that error, I'd probably have had a record Thursday.

Tip of the hat to the late Mr. Naddor. Next time the missus and I bend our ELBOWS with some OUZO listening to our COREA records, we'll give you a toast.

Ulrich 11:08 AM  

I had the mistakes most frequently mentioned already, but still, did this relatively fast as I caught on to the block thing early and then filled in the block-related answers w/o hesitation except for BLOCK LETTER, which was my hold-up--needed crosses for that one.

I'm intrigued that a puzzle with no symmetry (well, it has what mathematicians call the 'trivial' one, a rotation by 0 or 360 degrees, or the 'identity transformation') made it into the NYT--puzzle rules are there to be broken! Bravo, Dan and Will!

Sparky 11:08 AM  

Filled in tnt right away. But then the downs steered me right. Almost caught it at WRITERS; got it at PARTIES. Then I went around and filled in all of the blocks except 41A which took a while. Had FIERcER for a time but know MIGRAINES too well to miss. Really good Thursday for me. Good luck, Rex, with the Keynote Address. I bet it will be interesting and fun. Will they put it on YouTube? I hope so.

Two Ponies 11:10 AM  

What a yummy puzzle.
Just the right degree of toughness for my Thursday.
I thought the lack of symmetry was a real plus. Rules are meant to be bent.
The last of the theme answers to fall was Auction because I see that thing as a gavel rather than a hammer. It did not diminish my enjoyment. Clever clues everywhere I looked. Very nice fill such as migraine. Delightful.

Two Ponies 11:12 AM  

PS I see that Ulrich and Sparky posted while I was typing. Sorry to sound redundant.

mac 11:36 AM  

My last letter, a guess, was the P in 5D, my only write-over "on end" instead of no end. Wonderful puzzle, way, way easier than yesterday's. Also thought of pax humana, but Romana filled itself in. Does Iole have something to do with the wind? I was looking for an anatomical part (ear-related) for the hammer.

I think omicron may sound shorter than the omega. Had some years of (old) Greek many years ago, so I don't remember the details.

mitchs 11:37 AM  

A nice and interesting tribute to Mr. Naddor over at Wordplay from Rich Norris.

Arby 11:40 AM  

Metheny and Corea are similar in stature when it comes to talent, but so amazingly diverse musically. I could listen to the two of them exclusively, 24 hours a day for the rest of my life, without wishing for other artists (except maybe Gary Burton and an occasional palate cleansing of Rush or Yes or Kansas. [OK - I lied about the "exclusively" part.]). Sadly, they've only played together on one album that I am aware of - one of my favorites (Like Minds). Too bad you are going to miss Metheny's Orchestrion show - it is so unique and amazing.

Wife and I were given complementary after-dinner Ouzo's when dining at the local Greek restaurant on our anniversary this year. OPA! Tastes a lot like Nyquil, only less pleasant and with more of a kick.

kjfa 11:52 AM  

Sorry to bring a practical question to this erudite blog but do any of you use the blackberry app thru bplay? I can't get the daily puzzle anymore. Are there other options?

Mel Ott 12:34 PM  

@mac: yes, omicron is a short O, omega is a long O.

I don't care how many dictionaries it may be in. FIERIER just doen't look right. I can't even get my tongue around it to pronounce it.

A lot of really good stuff in this puzzle, however.

Matthew G. 12:41 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Hard but deeply satisfying. Don't really care about rotational symmetry -- that's just a rule for the sake of a rule and this puzzle is proof that near-symmetry is just as good as symmetry when it comes to making a solid puzzle.

I was (very) dubious about FIERIER when I got it (that center-north part of the grid was the last to fall for me, between FIERIER itself as well as LAURA, BOTTOM ROUND, OP CIT, and SATORI, all of which are pefectly legitimate but very hard). But the more I think about it, the more I respect it. It's a real word according to several dictionaries, and you have to love the double "IER" in the answer.

Great, great puzzle.

PamJo 12:48 PM  

I am reading 43D as a shout-out to our Rookie of the Year catcher who was 4 for 5 last night with a brilliant run-saving tag. Loved the puzzle, but I am also on a post-LCS win high. I needed every other cross to piece together MIGRAINE, which makes much more sense than McGRAINE (whatever that is, I am sure that screaming also exacerbates it).

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Just a note to Rex that the LIRR is running VERY limited service this weekend due to signal repairs. See the following link:

ArtLvr 2:14 PM  

I loved the square black hole in the almost-center with its hidden BLOCK connections, plus all the fill with touches of the supernatural like OUIJA, OMEN, ORACLE, in the LAP OF the gods, Hercules' IOLE, Bone-dry SERE, and a doomful Pax ROMANA. Also, in the Land under Down Under, TASM has a kind of devil too! Spooky... RIP, Dan Naddor.


Rube 3:07 PM  

Had most trouble in NW where I kept TNT for too long. Actually had thUgS for fraternity benefactors for a while.

Kind of remembered SARTORI and MOUE from xwords past. Unfortunately, spelled them SARTOmI and rOUE at first. Quickly fixed both, but wierd that I had the R and M backwards in two such unrelated words.

MENO Mosso is my WOTD. Never heard this term before.

Thought this was a marvelous Thursday puzzle. just the right amount of difficulty to do without Googles.

deerfencer 3:47 PM  

Great solve! RPIP (Rest Peacefully in Puzzleland) Dan Nadoor.

deerfencer 3:49 PM  

Oops, Dan Naddor that is.

sanfranman59 3:53 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 15:45, 19:01, 0.83, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:30, 9:09, 0.93, 46%, Medium

Androuzo carla michaels 3:54 PM  

I am copying your post and sending it to EVERY writer I know!!!!!! WOW, you said it! Who are you? What do you write?

The perfect Grandma Scrabble story!

Thanks for the picture, you are absolut-ely right! I was trying to think of a Greek word with two O's to illustrate my point and OUZO jumped out from the grid...but now that I see @Mel Ott's and @Mac's
posts, I think I may have it all wrong anyway...I mean, I know you always use the O-mega at the end of a word (like thank you - evcharisto) but maybe it's just about long and short sound, not placement in a word, tho I'm fairly certain I haven't see O-Mega earlier I don't know what's up with OUZO.
That'll teach me to try and be pedantic about anything besides the ways of young Italian boys!
(See you tonight!)

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

"He (Metheny) and COREA may as well be the same person, as far as I'm concerned."

You're an asshole

acme 4:23 PM  

ppps Has someone already explained why comic-strip dialogue is all in caps?

william e emba 4:39 PM  

I found the puzzle mostly easy, getting the theme very quickly, although I did fall for some of the above mentioned mistakes (TNT, FIERCER, KOOL, etc).

But my biggest stumbling block was I just couldn't remember one of the blocks. M----- BLOCK? I couldn't think of anything other than MEMORY BLOCK. Sheesh, talk about being laughed at by the puzzle.

edith b 7:04 PM  

I really enjoyed the visual aspect of this puzzle, what with eight theme-entries pinwheeling around an (almost) central 2X2 block of black squares. I also like the way the black squares were integrated into the nature of the solve. And any puzzle that conjures up the image of Gene Tierney is all right in my book.

David from CA 7:39 PM  

Asymetrical grid - bleah! Just seems wrong to open this door, and for no particular reason in this case. (Unlike a fantastic puzzle years back where the theme was broken crossword rules.) Would have much preferred either a 16x16 grid with the 2x2 "block" (and one 6 letter and one 7 letter answer coming in from each direction), or a 14x16, or a 3x3 "block" (oo..with a 1 square rebus in the middle ="BLOCK").
Oh well, too late now :(. Did have fun with it, except the COREA/SARD random-vowel crossing.

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

Mr. Nadder, someone should kiss you and tell you that you are one of (if not THE) most creative, innovative constructors contributing to the NYT today. Your themes and fill quality are beyond reproach, and I hope you have many many more puzzles in you, because I can't get enough of having the chance to put my pen to your pieces of art. You are the best!

Two Ponies 8:27 PM  

@ David from CA,
A puzzle from last year was the shape of a dollar bill and was a big hit. Personally I think stretching the conventional notion is a good thing.

Do I have to be the one to break it to Anon. 7:54 that our esteemed Mr. Naddor is deceased?
We're all sorry.

sanfranman59 10:00 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:46, 6:57, 0.83, 1%, Easy
Tue 8:41, 8:55, 0.97, 50%, Medium
Wed 18:03, 11:43, 1.54, 100%, Challenging
Thu 15:50, 19:01, 0.83, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:43, 0.88, 3%, Easy
Tue 4:37, 4:36, 1.00, 57%, Medium
Wed 7:35, 5:46, 1.32, 96%, Challenging
Thu 7:59, 9:08, 0.87, 32%, Easy-Medium

acme 10:02 PM  

@Two Ponies
Just to give credit where credit is due...that magnificent Dollar Bill puzzle you mentioned was by Patrick Blindauer who practically breaks convention every time out!

@anonymous 7:54
as folks have noted, you can read all about Dan Naddor by clicking on the sidebar WORDPLAY link.

Dirigonzo 10:06 AM  

This was the Thanksgiving Day puzzle in syndication land and strangely (or maybe not) it had enough yummy references to evoke some pretty strong memories of family traditions when I was a young boy (very long ago). Our feast always included two meats, turkey of course and venison if my dad had bagged a deer, or beef - maybe BOTOMROUND - if he had not. Side dishes always included SLAWS and I'm pretty sure my grandmother used PECTIN in the cranberry sauce. Of course there were PIECRUSTS galore with lots of different fillings, and I'm pretty sure there was alcohol involved although I don't think it was OUZO.

Very good puzzle, very good memories.

Thanks for letting me reminisce, and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

@Dirigonzo - don't forget to keep your ELBOWS off the table too.

squidney 10:27 PM  

Loved, loved, loved this puzzle. I just wish I hadn't started it at 2am! Couldn't put it down till it was complete. I wish all crosswords were this fun.

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