Plant with purple flowers / SUN 2-27-11 / Aircraft control surface / Weekly since 1955 / TV title character who said I'm not Amazon

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: V-2 — theme answers are two-word phrases where both words begin with "V"; further, the grid has two unchecked letters (both "V"), and black squares in the middle of the grid form a double set of "V"s...

Word of the Day: CHIVIED (13A: Annoyed with persistent petty attacks) —


, -vied, or -ied, -vy·ing, or -y·ing, -vies, or -ies.
  1. To vex or harass with petty attacks: political opponents who chivvied the senator.
  2. To maneuver or secure gradually: "had spent two weeks chivvying this division toward combat readiness" (Tom Clancy).
To scurry.

n., pl., -vies, or -ies.
  1. A hunt or chase.
  2. A hunting cry.

[Variant of chevy, a hunt, hunting cry, from Chevy Chase, title of a ballad about a border skirmish, from Cheviot Chase, a large unenclosed hunting tract in the Cheviot Hills.]

• • •

Unusual and mostly delightful Sunday puzzle. Nice change of pace in the grid structure, the unchecked letters, and the mostly vertical theme answers. A couple places in the grid seemed completely nuts to me, especially the NE, where CHIVIED (13A: Annoyed with persistent petty attacks), VINCA VINE (16D: Plant with purple flowers), and "OUT IN L.A." (22A: 1994 Red Hot Chili Peppers album) were entirely unknown to me (glad to see that the Red Hot Chili Peppers album was a rarities + demos album, and not an album of original material ... my '90s pop culture cred took a hit on that one). I can't really believe that much strangeness was allowed to live in one place in the grid, *but*, to the puzzle's credit, the theme came to the rescue and I worked it all out. Nearly spun out at SLIDE ON (40D: Use for skating) and SEVENS (40A: Common rolls)—had GLIDE ON, which caused a momentary freak-out. But I had the good sense to pull the "G," and, again, it all worked out. Had a bit of trouble in the west (mostly because I didn't bother to check the cross-reference in the MCCABE clue (57D: Warren Beatty title role with 56-Down), though also because I don't know my ELEVON (91A: Aircraft control surface) from my VINCA VINE), but it didn't last. Thornier than average, but I like that on a Sunday. Thumbs up.

Theme answers:
  • 4D: The other way around (VICE VERSA)
  • 27A: John McCain and John Kerry (VIETNAM VETS)
  • 16D: Plant with purple flowers (VINCA VINE)
  • 59D: Weekly since 1955, with "The" ("VILLAGE VOICE")
  • 73A: "Wedding Crashers" co-star, 2005 (VINCE VAUGHN)
  • 63D: Vessel seen just below the surface? (VARICOSE VEIN) — nice clue.
  • 107A: Keepers of the flame? (VESTAL VIRGINS) — I work in Vestal. No idea what the virgin situation is there.
Interesting to see HUMVEES at 1-Across [Desert Storm transports], since I walked past a fleet of them at the local armory today while I was walking the dogs to the (snow-covered, completely empty) park. I have never seen anyone coming in or going out of the armory, but I've seen the HUMVEES and other vehicles around town, so ... something's going on. Binghamton's got upstate NY security locked down, America. Just so you know. The park was gorgeous because no one was around and so I could let the dogs go commando (no leashes!) on the little league field. Tried to go to our normal walk in the woods, but there was nowhere to park (lot snowed over, side of the road not plowed), so we went back and frolicked in the neighborhood. Here's me and my dogs, frolicking in our front yard. Well, the dogs are frolicking. I'm mostly just standing there:

Never heard of: HETH (1D: Eighth Hebrew letter) or IRONWOOD (9D: Tree with very hard timber). "IRONWEED," yes. Iron & Wine, yes. IRONWOOD, no. Also, no idea that Jude LAW was ever British P.M. He's had such a varied career (47A: British P.M. after Lloyd George).

There was a "Real World" joke on this past Thursday's episode of "Community," so that show was fresh on on my mind (57A: "The Real World" airer=>MTV). What was not fresh on my mind was the toy company DUNCAN—haven't thought of them in years (since the last time I played with a yo-yo, probably) (85A: Toy company behind yo-yos). I like how things get all Hebraic with HETH and MT. ARARAT (3D: Post-flood locale) and TEL AVIV (37D: Setting for part of 2005's "Munich") and TEACHER clued via rabbi, and then veer wildly in the center of the grid toward the pop cultural with "AVATAR" and then VINCE VAUGHN on top of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, former CO-ANCHORS of "Weekend Update" on SNL. Big fan of both Fey and Poehler: those women now anchor two of the only sitcoms worth watching: the Emmy-winning "30 Rock" and the amazing and highly underrated "Parks & Recreation," respectively.

Lastly, loved the clues on XENA (10D: TV title character who said "I'm not an Amazon") and SARCASM (54D: "Oh, joy!," e.g., typically). And I'm not even being sarcastic. Oh, joy!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


CoolPapaD 1:06 AM  

Veni, vidi, and nearly vici - had OLAF instead of the retrospectively obvious OLAV. Thought this was terrific but challenging, especially the west. I love Robert Altman, but must admit I wasn't familiar with McCabe and Mrs. Miller - I kept thinking Shampoo. THE FED was also difficult to parse, so this area was the last to go down. My only complaint is that EEGs are almost never done in the ER. EKGs (or ECGs) are often done there. No biggie, though - loved this one!

George NYC 2:08 AM  

Great Sunday puzzle.
I'm concerned about the Humvee activity upstate...

Rube 2:19 AM  

Where is everyone? You regulars must have gotten wiped out yesterday. Since I gave up early on the Saturday puzzle, I was ready for Sunday.

This was a very enjoyable puzzle. Usually when Rex uses the word challenging, I HTG, but not this time. Even spotting Peter C. the pop culture answers, this one went down fairly easily, (for a Sunday). Got AVATAR with only a few crosses and even recognized OUTINLA! (Somehow, this last had something to do with coaching girls soccer teams in the 90's, but I don't remember what.)

Have seen the CHARLES river in a puzz recently so I take it the Longfellow bridge is in Boston? Not sure I like SKEINS defined as coils, but whatever. Have lots of vinca on a slope in the backyard but I've never heard anyone call it VINCAVINE. Will google ELEVON when done here and make either this or FER as my WOTD. Must have forgot that it was COSSACKs who killed all that British cavalry. DUNCAN and AGATEs (agies) brought back memories of my youth.

Any puzzle with VESTALVIRGINS in it is great in my book.

retired_chemist 3:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 3:14 AM  

Whew! This puzzle was a relief after Saturday's disaster. Nice theme that helped with the solve, some interesting fill, and all gettable one way or another.  I liked the shape of the grid, and all those Vs made it fun. Plus it has "InL.A." in an answer. What more could I ask? Thanks, Peter Collins.  

And thanks to @Jim, @mac and @joho who answered my question late yesterday about the definition of malapop (as opposed to Mrs. Malaprop, one of the only appealing answers in Sunday's grid).  @mac and @joho agreed that it was a wrong answer that later appears as a right answer elsewhere in the same grid.  @Jim added that it might also mean a particularly piquant wrong answer.   Have wanted to ask that for ages.

Happy Oscar viewing, everyone.

GILL I. 3:27 AM  

Wow, loved this one.
1A was my first entry.
When our son got his learners permit he would beg me daily to take him out on a drive. His father would start to sweat profusely so I would give in.
He would give me the heebie jeebies - lordy, that boy was the worst driver this side of the Mississippi.
One day he came home from school and said he wanted to become a Marine. We said "No, you're going to Stanford, Yale, Harvard, USC......"
When he returned from his first
tour of duty, the LST he'd been on dropped its bow ramp and out popped our son driving a HUMVEE with the CO at his side. To this day, I can't wipe the smile off my face.

retired_chemist 3:28 AM  

Enjoyable and kinda medium here. As usual, did not see the theme until I got here. Enough of a giveaway from the black-square V's in the grid to put OLAV, not OLAF, @ 39D and SOV., not SOC., @89D. That was cute - two unchecked squares, each with two nominally correct possibilities, the decision between which having to be made from a theme I only partly understood.

@Rex - Don't let your dogs off leash in TX if HB998 passes. It forbids dogs over 20 lbs. running free and requires $100,000 liability insurance lest they get loose. Fortunately the bill seems not to "have legs," as my State Sen. and Rep. say. They both have such dogs...

@Rube - The Longfellow Bridge is on Rte 3 and the MBTA Red Line. It connects Boston to Cambridge just east of where MIT is.

Confidently expected RAIMI to be wrong and require a recheck (90A) but Mr. Happy Pencil accepted it.

86A EASED IN and a ferociously hard time seeing 87D NONUSER made the SW slow going despite dredging up both ELEVON (91A) and UELE @ 102A surprisingly quickly. At one point had IG__O for 101A and filled in the obvious without looking at the clue. I thus had Peter and Gordon singing "IGLOO Pieces" briefly. Seems strange to apply the term NONUSER to a nondrinker rather than a non-druggie.

I wonder if, to a Brit, 94D recalls the old joke about the fille de joie on Le Métro.

Thanks, Mr. Collins.

jae 3:40 AM  

Interesting grid, clever theme, crunchy fill, what's not to like? Med-Challenging for me also. I had couple of missteps (e.g. GEN-X) and some dyslexia related spelling problems but mostly it was working the crosses in the problem areas ( e.g. CHIVIED) that got this done. Great Sun. !

Doris 6:07 AM  

Knew CHIVIED because in Shaw's PYGMALION, Act I, where 'Enry 'Iggins first spots Eliza Doolittle in Covent Garden:

All the rest have gone except the note taker, the gentleman, and the flower girl, who sits arranging her basket, and still pitying herself in murmurs.

THE FLOWER GIRL. Poor girl! Hard enough for her to live without being worrited and CHIVIED.

Oscar 7:17 AM  

Think this was inspired by the alien show "V"? Or was it written to commemorate the start of 2005?

Odd to see VARICOSEVEIN in the singular. Odd to see VINCAVINE at all.

Glimmerglass 8:17 AM  

Ditto everyone do far today. Delightful Sunday puzzle and, as Rex said, it all worked out.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

Quirky, but a really fun solve. Some great groans in the SE -- VARICOSE VEIN and TENDONS made me smile. Good stuff!! Had a smidge of trouble there as I first had XPS for NTS at 121A. A modest theme with a few nice touches, and an enjoyable (and quick) solve (although the NE required some sweat -- I don't know CHIVIED or OUT IN LA or VINCA VINE, but somehow I got it all...).

I first thought I saw a heart in the grid and was thinking the V's were going to be Valentine theme. This was MUCH better.

Benny Profane 9:16 AM  

Who is V ?
What is V ?
Where is V ?
Why V ?

NYTAnonimo 9:27 AM  

Don't be messing with my mind, it's Andrew Bonar Law who followed David Lloyd George. (I'm posting this for all those other gullible people out there.)

PastelLady 9:37 AM  

That's one happy dog, Rex. If I had a fur coat, I dance in the snow, too.

Totally agree on this liVely puzzle. LoVed it.

Weird: the captcha is 'doguric' --you know, the acid crystals that cause gouty paws in canines...

Greene 9:44 AM  

Puzzle restored my faith in my solving abilities after yesterday's brutal slog. Loved this one from the second I saw the shape of the grid. Has anyone yet commented that the grid employs left to right symmetry instead of the usual rotational symmetry? Nice touch.

I got off to a slow start, but picked up the theme in the SW with VILLAGE VOICE and things moved rapidly from there. I mostly struggled in the NE where so much was unknown to me: CHIVIED, OUT IN LA, and VINCA VINE. Thank goodness for SPANNED and knowledge of the theme or I'd still be in that corner.

@Doris: Thanks for the quote from Pygmalian. You had me digging up my copy and there it was: CHIVIED. Never saw that before, probably because I prefer to watch plays rather than read them. Hope that will be enough for me to remember the word now.

Lindsay 9:53 AM  

Quite a bit of crosswordese, especially in the vicinity of the Vestal Virgins.

Snowing here too. The novelty of WHITENESS has worn off.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

HUT 2,3,4! RUY as in Lopez. EKG. VEricose. And Glide on. The whole east coast stalled from these traffic jams on the N/S roads. Otherwise delightful. Except how is INT a QB miscue? Mishap, OK; mistake, maybe. Some INT's are thrown perfectly, the real cause being at the receiving and defending end; and even when the cause is a miscue, the INT is not that but the result. Clue: stuffing. Answer: FAT.

JayWalker 10:34 AM  

Well, you're all a lot nicer than I am - and clearly - smarter! I had exactly the same problems that Rex did - except - I didn't solve them. "Chivied", "spanned" and "sevens" eluded me completely leaving me with a very bad taste in my mouth - especially after solving all the rest. I am annoyed with myself over "Innocents" and as for "Vinca Vines" - don't get me started!!

JenCT 10:41 AM  

VINCA VINES are very, very commonly used container plants - not to be confused with VINCA the groundcover.

Also couldn't see NONUSER for waaay too long - was staring at NO__SE_ forever!

Didn't know CHIVIED, guessed at OUTINLA (knowing the Chili Peppers), have a few IRONWOODs in my woods - they have interesting, muscle-y-looking bark.

Enjoyed this puzzle very much, after the last two days (which I gave up on).

archaeoprof 10:45 AM  

Innovative, fresh, cool, and fun.

Like a dog playing in the snow!

joho 10:45 AM  

Brilliant puzzle made for a perfect Sunday, thank you Peter! Love that you got your name into the clues at 83A,"Ft. Collins setting."

Like others, the "V's" in the grid struck me right off the bat and set me up for the fun to come.

My only writeovers were Gas before GEN, aSaP before RSVP and SALUTes before SALVOES.

Had to look up CHIVIED to be sure I got that right, definitely my WOTD ala @Rex.

Lastly, Rex, what a great writeup today ... you are in top form! Must be all that romping with your furry friends!

Rex Parker 10:53 AM  

Just to be clear, there are actually *two* dogs in that picture. Gabby is licking Dutchess's ear and Dutchess is pretending to be vicious.

Speaking of which — time to take them out again.

P.S. I recommend today's LAT puzzle by Byron Walden and Jeremy Horwitz, "It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated"


Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Nice puzzle. No snow here. It is about 79 in N.Ft. Myers, FL :) Flowerlady9

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

According to Andrew Swanfeldt's CWD there is no such hebrew letter as heth its beth. So who the heck is editing these puzzles when the first letter of the 2 first clues is wrong?

chefbea 11:21 AM  

Finally a nice puzzle after Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Going to be in the high 70's today. Time to get out in the yard

redhed 11:22 AM  

My favorite clue was 90A: "bands on the run" (tendons). I work regularly with an orthopod who repairs Achilles tendons, either lengthening or shortening. Just thought that was one cool clue.

Here in NC we expect bright sunshine today with a high in the mid-seventies.

Happy Sunday!

David L 11:26 AM  

A nice easy ride after yesterday's train wreck. I knew CHIVIES, although I'd spell it with two Vs. And LAW puzzled me for a while -- he's generally referred to as Bonar Law, I think, in the same way that Lloyd George is not referred to as just plain George.

Only word I didn't know at all is ELEVON - I assume, from the name, that it's some kind of device that makes a plane go higher than it would if it didn't have one...

Cathyat40 11:38 AM  

@retired chemist: I never did see NONUSER, though I, too, guessed correctly on ELEVON and UELE. I didn't know RUR or EDE, therefore DNF. I also erred with OLAf.

Dogs love snow :)

No BS 11:42 AM  

I guessed "elevon" (with some cross letters in place) knowing "elevator" and "aileron" already. Wiki says:

Elevons are aircraft control surfaces that combine the functions of the elevator (used for pitch control) and the aileron (used for roll control), hence the name. They are frequently used on tailless aircraft such as flying wings. An elevon that is not part of the main wing, but instead is a separate tail surface, is a stabilator.

Loved puzzle, writeup and comments.

retired_chemist 11:47 AM  

Elevons, ailerons, and stabilators are all aircraft control surfaces. Somehow I cannot help thinking that Dubya approved this jargon.

Shamik 11:49 AM  

Work and training for other work has put a serious crimp in my crossword access. First puzzle I've done all week! To my surprise, found it easy at 16:49 for a Sunday for me. Liked the V's. Liked the dogs romping in the snow. Don't know which is dirtier...dogs romping in the snow getting all wet or slobbery dogs romping in the Arizona dust.

Only think I'm god 12:22 PM  


As a pilot, that's how I feel about those -ene, -one,
-ane, -ine suffixes ;)

Mel Ott 12:22 PM  

I was saved several times by simply paying attention to the theme. Otherwise I would never have gotten close to that CHIVIED/VINCA VINE cross.

Likewise I always wait for the crosses before deciding to spell the name OLAf or OLAV. And 89D could just as well have been SOC (Socialist) as SOV (Soviet). But there are no crosses at the bottom of those black V's in the grid! The theme made V the probable choice.

chefbea 12:23 PM  

@redhead where in Nc are you?? I'm in Wilmington

JC66 12:27 PM  

@Anon 11:19

"According to Andrew Swanfeldt's CWD there is no such hebrew letter as heth its beth."

Bet(h) is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet; HET(H) is the eighth. Note that Hebrew is read right to left, so if you check out the chart here you'll see how the confusion may have arisen.

SethG 1:19 PM  

This was a really good Saturday puzzle, though that NE corner was pretty yuck.

It'd have been nice to eliminate non-thematic V's, but I think I like it better with the Tel Aviv and the V=Five.

retired_chemist 1:31 PM  

@ Only Think - I HEAR YA! :-)

foodie 1:41 PM  

Very Very Vun Vuzzle.

"What the heck is VINCA VINE?", said I rhetorically. "Oh" said puzzle husband, "it is the source of VINCA alkaloids". "And what the heck is VINCA alkaloids?" I asked less rhetorically. "It's a class of drugs that include VINblastin and VINcristine, the cancer drugs".

He seems to be right... (sigh)

George NYC 2:24 PM  

The Longfellow Bridge is locally known as the Pepper Pot Bridge, for obvious reasons.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

@retired_chemist 3:28 AM said ...

I wonder if, to a Brit, 94D recalls the old joke about the fille de joie on Le Métro.


To a Brit, 94D
"SHAG (vt)"
has nothing to do with catching files, of course, and wouldn't pass the breakfast, lunch or dinner test. So presumably the "old joke" isn't printable here either. Off-line email would be welcome. :-)

Your blog posting of fille de joie on Le Métro is number two on Google, so that's no help with the joke.


Leering Larry

quilter1 3:39 PM  

Thanks for the Parks and Recreation clip. One of our favorite shows.

Very fun and enjoyable puzzle. I'm often blind to themes but got this right away. The SE was the last to fall. Clever cluing. VARICOSE VEIN reminded me of Archie Bunker's phrasing: very close veins.

PastelLady 4:16 PM  

Two dogs, eh? I wasn't sure. If I had two fur coats I'd both dance AND roll in the snow, to express The Unbearable Whiteness of Being.

chefwen 4:17 PM  

I absolutely lovvvved this puzzle, got the V thing right away, just looking at the grid gave it away. Took a couple of days off due to the entertaining of house guests and after reading the blog and comments from the last two days, I am glad I did. One of our guests is a VIETNAM VET and enjoyed the shout out. His twin brother was also a VET and died about 10 years ago from the effects of agent orange, so sad.

We will be burning some IRONWOOD later this afternoon in the pizza oven, they grow like weeds here.

Had a few write overs, but not too many. FATUOUS over foolish, SPENT over tired and COME over heel. Had a great time with this one!

mac 4:30 PM  

Wonderful Sunday puzzle, but a weird solve for me. I did the upper half, to agates and feed me, and the interior of the lower v with no problem whatsover, then came to a halt and had to chip away at the two bottom triangles! Still not sure what the problems were, but Apflat, elevon, I go to, Uele. AEC OSU, NTS, Raimi and Duncan did not help.

Non-democratic rule = fiat seems odd to me, never heard that word used that way. Thought it meant OK, approve.

retired_chemist 4:52 PM  

@ mac - fiat from the free dictionary:

fi·at (ft, -t, -ät, ft, -t)
1. An arbitrary order or decree.
2. Authorization or sanction: government fiat.
[Medieval Latin, from Latin, let it be done, third person sing. present subjunctive of fier, to become, to be done.

PuzzleNut 4:58 PM  

Exactly what Rex said. How strange as we usually have very different takes/issues with the puzzles.
Enjoyed that the theme was EXTREMELY helpful in solving this one. Usually, I either a) never see the theme, b) not at all excited about the theme, or c)finding the theme is irrelevant to the solving experience.
Sorry if my observation about yesterdays LAT puzzle upset anyone. At the risk of spoiling todays solving experience, I can second Rex's endorsement and will add that it was one of the more difficult Sunday LAT's I can remember.

Free Lunch 5:15 PM  

I'm pretty sure OLAF is an acceptable answer for 39 down. When you break a puzzle rule by providing no crosses, you'd better be sure there is no ambiguity.

Suzanne 6:50 PM  

Nice Sunday.
Benny Profane... brilliant! I hope you enjoyed yo-yoing up and down the puzzle.

n.t. 8:22 PM  

I'm a NYT newbie, but this is my favourite Sunday of all time. The grid is two smileys! Or one evil smiley wearing a funny hat! And some truly excellent non-theme fill (PLATELET, IRONWOOD, COANCHORS, RUNNERS UP).

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

Wow -- I had a completely different reaction to almost everyone else. I thought the theme answers were generally dull (what is clever about vice versa or Vince Vaughn?), and the rest of the puzzle was just blah. I do confess, though, that I didn't see the v's in the grid or see that the two unchecked boxes were supposed to be v's (I had Olaf for one and Soc for the other) -- maybe I would have liked it better if I'd seen those things, but not sure.

Stephen 8:43 PM  

I was enjoying this. I like seeing hinty things like the title and the two big Vs in the grid, and getting little sniffs of things. Liked the horsepower I got from biasing all my thinking toward Vs. Smiled at "vessel seen just below the surface" and again at "subs" and again because they were right beside each other. But I stalled in the NE.

Later I came back and slogged away at it. Who is XENA? gad. Do I have to watch this crud just to be normal? Why is "the situation" MATTERS? Why should I tolerate cadence syllables being HUPS? Where do I have to go to learn about GAS-X? VINCAVINES? huh? After all that, I was getting kinda CHIVIED. I swore at "common rolls" being SEVENS, as if it was some kind of bread baked by an obscure baker in Long Island that even people in New Jersey had never heard of. Then it clanked. Oh, ummmm... cute. Had I not been PO'd already, the SEVENS clue would have normally added some zing to my day. Had to pause and let it happen.

foodie 10:07 PM  

@Anonymous 8:38

I was actually asking myself why I liked this so much. I think there were a few reasons. The first is that it's distinctly different from the usual Sunday fare of add a letter, switch a letter or some similar formulaic approach. The second is that there is a form/function unity between the theme and the grid, with that double V which is both internally consistent and esthetically pleasing. Third, the constructor really went to town with the V's, including at the bottom of each of the V's in the pattern and a perfect 1A: HUMVEES! And then a special cluing for a stand alone V... The sheer extravanganva of it all was fun. And finally there was a lot of great fill beyond the theme, as indicated by others.

I think the design of the grid avoided the million little pockets with 3-mers and 4-mers--short fill that populates a lot of Sunday grids and seems endless. So while some parts of this may have been challenging to some, or not particularly inspiring to others, it really has a wide open happy feel that makes it feel like fun.

GILL I. 10:19 PM  

@ n.t.
I'm not a NYT newbie but I am a Rex commentator newbie. I finally pulled up a seat and sat down. I think you'll find a welcome mat.
Favourite? You must be a Brit?....

Stan 12:13 AM  

Fun puzzle, and hit the Sunday difficulty sweet spot for us. Two peace signs.

Enjoyed the write-up and frolicking dogs.

I skip M-W 2:19 AM  

For me this was v. smoov and easy; too bad no Pynchon in it, @Benny, or at least none that I saw. Oh wait, the V-2 is featured in Gravity's Rainbow. ....

@Stephen, I learn my pop culture from x-wds, so Xena was a gimme.

As to heth, Wikipedia: "Ḥet or H̱et (also spelled Khet, Kheth, Chet, Cheth, Het, or Heth) is the reconstructed name of the eighth letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as Phoenician ḥēth , Syriac ḥēth ܚ, Hebrew ḥēth (also khet or chet) ח, Arabic ḥāʾ ح (in abjadi order), and Berber."

@Seth G: One more V not in theme words,: elevon, Tivo.

Had to study dog pic closely to see the two, as well as real Rex

David Pearce 7:52 PM  

Anyone here get their puzzle through Times Reader 2.0 and NOT get their Sunday puzzle, like me? See my comment / question in Monday's comments. Thanks, and Thanks, Rex.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

Hut 1, hut 2, hike. Accordingly, "spanned" became "stanned" became "stained." "Vinca vine" thus became "viica vine" and because that would not work, "out in LA" became "out on LA, thereby creating "voica vine."
A "voica vine" "out on LA" makes more sense to me than "hup."

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

This was a fun puzzle. I also enjoyed seeing pic of you and your dogs in snow whiteness :).

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Might someone be able to explain to me the "Fatuous" and "McCabe" clues?

57D is "Warren Beatty title role with 56-Down" which turns out to be "MCCABE". 56D is "Inane" which turns out to be "FATUOUS". I'm completely missing the connection here.

Any help?

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Enlarge your font. FATUOUS is 55D, MRS (Miller) is 56D. It's a movie.

joshman10 2:12 PM  

Rex! Just wanted to say I love reading your Sunday puzzle blogs. A couple years ago I started doing the crosswords from the free 'Metro' newspaper while in my college classes. Got a couple friends to start doing them too, and we'd compete and help each other to solve them. One day while talking to my Gram, she mentioned attempting the NYT Sunday Puzzles. A year later I've improved my skills, granted, it takes me all week to do the Sunday puzzles [I now work full-time, so I play around with it while on break]. I've been so close to solving puzzles completely, this was another close call, except the SW [eleron?] and mistaking "chivied" for "privied", haha. Needless to say I'm always a week late to read your Sunday puzzles, but I love them! Keep up the great work :)

Marc 6:38 PM  

"Who is V ?
What is V ?
Where is V ?
Why V ?"

If you're referring to the clue at 104 Down, V is the Roman Numeral for five.

This was an easy one for me. The theme was clear right away and the theme answers were obvious. It did take me a few minutes to piece together VESTAL VIRGINS (and for shame, I am a Roman history buff). The NE corner was a little tough, and I was stumped by "hack" at 97 down, not knowing the Congolese river in the cross.

"Hack" can have so many meanings --- I started with "stand", as in "I can't stand it!" (I can't hack it.) Hack can also mean a cough, or breaking into a computer system, or it can mean a taxi. Or... it can mean cut, which was the last thing to occur to me.

Nice puzzle; surprised to find out it was harder for some as I am really not a great solver. I guess I just got lucky on this one.

NotalwaysrightBill 7:12 PM  

Syndi-paper straggler.

Fun Sunpuz. I like the unibrow over the eVilly grinning face.

Never heard of GAS-X, but that's what it had to be, so I finished.

It's snowing again here in Minnesota and my own dogs, Mac and Angel, just came in from a romp. When they arf! arf! at me when they mean FEEDME, I always hear a little SEYMOUR, FEEDME at the end.

Canyonlands National Park is a great place if you like camping and hiking around in some terrific scenery.

Time to shovel the driveway.

Matthew G. 7:49 PM  

I'm a week late, because I was too busy last weekend to do the SunPuz then. But wanted to come and make too comments:

(1) Loved the puzzle as a whole, but

(2) Hated the clue for NONUSER. "Teetotaler" refers to non-drinkers, and NON-USER refers to people who don't use drugs. Yeah, I know, "alcohol is a drug," but you know what I'm saying. Nobody refers to alcohol "users."

Okay, back to the present.

Dirigonzo 9:11 PM  

Puzzle-solving is usually a solo event for me so it was great fun having a non-puzzle friend join forces with me to take this one down. The theme was a great help to us, especially in the NE corner where so many had difficulty. Last letter in was the "V" in CHIVIED/VINCAVINES so that's when we flashed the V for Victory sign.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

to anonymous @ 11:19 AM -- the NYT Crossword Puzzle Dictionary - 1977, second printing, has "heth" as a "letter" answer

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

Just Googled Gas-X (53D). Found it's "the trusted leader in gas relief." Never heard of it. (Maybe 'cause I don't live in the USA.) And so hard a hard time letting go of the more obVious, "Gen-X."

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