Chaplin chapeau, SUN 5-22-2011, Button ridge, King at Karnak, Pull-up pullers, Lyonnaise sauce ingredient

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Constructor: BOB KLAHN

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY! — From notepad: The New York Public Library turns 100 on May 23.

Word of the Day: CAUSERIE (Informal talk) —
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Causerie (from French, "babble") is a literary style of short informal essays mostly unknown in the English-speaking world. A causerie is generally short, light and humorous and is often published as a newspaper column (although it is not defined by its format). Often causerie is a current opinion piece, but it contains more verbal acrobatics and humor than a regular opinion or column. In English, causerie is usually known as "personal story", "funny story" or "column" instead . . . The content of causerie is not limited and it may be satire, parody, opinion, factual or straight fiction. Causerie is not defined by content or format, but style.
• • •

Hello, all. Rex is still beyond the reach of civilized internet society, so I am treedweller filling in. Which is unfortunate on many levels. First, I am already on the record as one who frequently finds Sunday puzzles a laborious task, and this is even an oversized grid at 22 X 21. Next, the NYT applet put me in a grouchy mood from the outset by 1.) teasing me with a NOTE that turned out to be only slightly more enlightening than 2.) the title of the puzzle, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEWYORK PUBLIC LIBRARY!” which 3.) forced Bob Klahn's name off the title line completely and left me to wonder which B was pissing me off the whole time I was solving. I had to look it up in AcrossLite later. It was not the one I was thinking.

Add the fact that this is just the sort of puzzle I hate, and you've got one biased reviewer. I am trying to be careful about how I express my displeasure with this puzzle. I respect the work of Mr. Klahn and Mr. Shortz immensely, and this is a pretty clean grid. I can't find quite the right adjective—somewhere between pedantic, pedestrian, and prosaic. It reminded me of one of those lists of 100 Great Novels we're all supposed to have read. I always score really poorly on those. And I'm an English major. I mean, why do they always have seven Dickens novels (96D, Dickens's Mr. Pecksniff; 120A The handle of Charles Dickens's . . . ) but nary a Cormac McCarthy? I'm not saying everything I read is high culture, but I read some good stuff that never gets me any points on those damn lists.

So, you see, I'm a little grouchy. You might even say TESTY (132A Irascible). And, as I mentioned, I hate these puzzles where the theme is a collection of trivia about a specific event or entity. The only people who are going to know these things are the curators of the library and some of the staff, and maybe their mothers. And probably Norbert Pearlroth. So, for the rest of us, like, half the puzzle is basically going to be inferred from crosses. Now, that doesn't really turn me on, but it's kind of a reverse meta sort of thing I could appreciate from a distance. But so many of the the crosses are either obscurities (27D Wales, in medieval times--CAMBRIA) or Canonical (52A “The Creation” composer--HAYDN, who became obvious as soon as I got the ___DN). And then there's intentionally vague cluing that makes even the things you know seem iffy (62D Words of worry--OH DEAR). That's a fine thing in a puzzle, but somehow all together it came out a lot harder than a typical Sunday.

Which is fine. I like hard puzzles. But when everything in there is either too vague or too specific, it doesn't leave a lot to go on. The clues for the mundane words seemed to be needling me for my inferior education. Yes, I am lousy at geography. Do I have to be reminded in Borneo, China, Andalusia, Llulliallaco, Karnak and Pont Neuf? The things I knew proved wrong. "Hines of jazz" is not Earle, but FATHA (105A). Granted, it should be Earl, but still. Not sonic wave, but RADIO. "Communication syst. for the deaf" (124D) is not ASL (American Sign Language), but TTY, which, apparently, stands for “teletypewriter.”

So I did not enjoy myself. I hope and expect many of you did enjoy yourselves, but I did not. And I haven't even mentioned the DOLP (Double Obscure Latin Phrase) at 126A Without digressing / 110D ___dignitatem (AD REM / INFRA). But obscure is always relative, and that can happen in any puzzle. Just my bad luck.

The thing that really made me want to declare a 105D FATWA on this puzzle was the cross at 24A The Library's . . . and 11D “Jabberwocky” birds. This is a theme answer I could never guess and didn't know, but I gamely played along and chipped away at crosses until finally I had SUBTITLED A PAtIOTIC SONG crossed with BOtOGOVES. I guessed the riddle. I saw the gimmick. I still missed it. Botogoves sound just as good for the “Jabberwocky” birds as BOROGOVES (and I'm still not sure they shouldn't be some kind of doves). Coin toss, I lost.

Theme answers: OMG I can't believe I have to type all this out!
  • 24A The Library's rare first-edition printing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is, to its publisher's chagrin, ____ (SUBTITLED A PARIOTIC SONG)  We've already covered my problem with that. So now we have a bit of info on an item in the collections. 
  • 43A Norbert Pearlroth spent 52 years of 60-hour weeks in the Library's Reading Room collecting material for ___ (RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT) So we have a bit of info about someone who spent a lot of time there.
  • 69A The Library's Special Collections include one of George Washington's creations, ___ (A HANDWRITTEN BEER RECIPE) So we have an item that is in a collection. I thought the ships were hale for awhile, so I was looking for something like bee livers. Except even that would not fit.
  • 97A The Library's Periodicals Room was the source of most of the excerpted material in the first issue of ____ (READER'S DIGEST MAGAZINE) So we have a bit of info about how the collections have been used.
  • 120A The handle of Charles Dickens's ivory letter opener, in the Library collection, is ____ (THE PAW OF HIS DECEASED CAT) So we have . . . hell, don't ask me what that is. I suppose it's better than the paw of his live cat.
Turns out that's actually closer to one-third of the puzzle, not half. But the clues account for the remainder. It's just too much.

But enough whining. There were things I liked.

  • 66D You may get them in a bunch (KNICKERS) — I spent a lot of time trying to make this "bananas." When that didn't fit, and I was sure 78A Have Something was "eat" and not AIL, I tried "crackers," begrudgingly. When I finally figured it out, it made me snicker. See also
  • 3D Stretchy garments (TUBETOPS) — I gather most men like these better than most women.
  • 59A This is not going anywhere (STAYCATION) — One of a very few entries that brought us into this century, along with
  • 82D Where “Parks and Recreation” is set (INDIANA)  — I was disappointed when “Pawnee” was wrong, but I can only blame myself for not knowing which state it was in. I like this partly because I have a little crush on Amy Poehler.
  • 50D Barnstormer (TROUPE) — I only knew this as something to do with flying planes through buildings. I really wanted "pilots" or "aviators" or something. I never knew it could refer to the group that put on the show. 
  • 118A Button ridge (KNURL) — Talk about opaque . . . I must have read that clue 90 times with nary a hint of what it was asking for.
Signed, treedweller,
on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


jae 3:56 AM  

Treedweller, I feel your pain on this one. A major struggle for me and I too ended up with an error. BOROGOVES I kinda knew but I still have problems with spelling Bil KEANE's name, so, I had KEENE. INFRE seemed fine to me. Maybe next time. (Oh, and that &$@! NATICK ruined an error free week). I did like this more than you did, mostly for the trivia factor. I'm a sucker for obscure facts. Nice write up!

jae 3:59 AM  

Also, did anyone else try CHITCHAT for 2d ??

CY 4:06 AM  

I found this very hard for a Sunday. For one thing, the theme wasn't helpful in solving the puzzle. For another thing, there was a lot of tough fill.

I didn't manage to solve this one. The clues that got me were 59 across/60 down (really wanted STAGNATION for 59 across, but BOSC ruled that out--but didn't come up with STAYCATION, and didn't know YARE) and 110D/126A, 130A: didn't know INFRA or AD REM and misspelled KEANE as KEENE.

Things that I didn't know but either got from crosses or managed to guess right: CAUSERIE, SOCKO, (John) JAKES, the "party" meaning of "wingdings", ORIBIS, LIDOS, KNURL, FATHA (Hines).

Some things I guessed wrong at first: OkapIS for ORIBIS ("small African antelopes), RuSH for RASH ("torrent"), DIVidES for DIVORCES ("splits"), wRoTh for IRATE ("inflamed").

Didn't like the clue "besides" for YET. I see that Merriam-Websters def. 1a for "yet" is "in addition : besides "--I don't like their definition either. Substitute "besides" in the phrase they give: does it make sense? No.

jesser 4:23 AM  

Good job, Treedweller. And my thoughts pretty much exactly. I recorded a big fat DNF, and I'm glad I didn't have to write up this monumental clunker. I am a squirrel, and I was baffled.


CoffeeLvr 6:12 AM  

Yes, when the whole point of one of the theme answers is an obscure mis-spelling, well, what's a solver to do? I consulted the check function.

I did find that two and a half of the theme entries fell in one big swoop: RIPLEYS..., READERS DIGEST..., and HANDWRITTEN, uh, what? I did enjoy figuring out what the RECIPE might be after that end appeared. BEE? Let's see, BEEf, who needs a recipe for that in the generic sense? BEEt, well, I know who that would please. Of course, the elixir of life, BEER!

Wrong answer that I was so sure of was pucE, reddish purple, at 125A.

@treedweller, great job with a tough subject. You are a TROUPEr! I agree, FATHA is just unfair, especially with the odd cluing for APHID and TREND.

CoffeeLvr 6:14 AM  

Oh, I also had a less than charitable thought for those people who only do the Sunday puzzle and claim it is the hardest: you want hard, take this!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:27 AM  

Just a glance at the clue and 43 A was a gimme.

But 60 D, YARE - a perfectly good word in English since the 12th Century! - I never heard of it, and it doesn't look or sound right even after looking it up in the dictionary!

imsdave 6:34 AM  

I guess I'm in the minority today. Enjoyed the trivia and the workout. Fun to have a Sunday with some teeth.

@BobK - I know the word YARE from 'The Philadelphia Story' - I always hear Katherine Hepburn saying it whenever I see it.

Oscar 6:45 AM  

Once I saw the constructor, I knew my Check button was going to be getting a workout. Glad I had that option, otherwise I'd probably be working on this until next Sunday.

Thought the theme was cute (albeit dry), and the clues were closer to what a Sunday puzzle *should* be. Most Sunday's are just too damn easy.

OldCarFudd 7:42 AM  

Yup, it was tough, but I knew it would be when I saw the dreaded K name. And yeah, I got caught by that Natick. And I tried diverges before divorces. But I enjoyed it. It was fun teasing out those trivia, and it felt good to finish, despite the Natick.

Glimmerglass 8:09 AM  

Also misspelled KEANE. An obscure Latin Natick is unfair, but I guessed the R correctly. Rats. (I had Dickens' pet rat for a moment.) A dull puzzle, but I liked the trivia.

jemini 8:23 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle greatly. Getting the trivia answers were like solving an easy mystery. I thank K for the workout.

JenCT 8:37 AM  

Ah, The Wrath of Klahn!

Found the puzzle to be uber-Naticky; too many obscure entries for me.

@imsdave: Wish I had your solving skills!

Anyone else think SNICKERS for 66d? I was imagining those Halloween big bags...


Just wouldn't give up on ASL for 124d, I was so sure it was correct.

Got lots of the puzzle, but ultimately DNF.

mitchs 8:50 AM  

I'll concede every objection listed (especially the made-up bird crossing a typo) and still thank Mr. Klahn and Mr. Shortz for a tough Sunday! I enjoyed it.

aratorb 8:51 AM  

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I loved this puzzle. The cluing and fill had a retro feel -- lot's of clever word play, and minimal proper nouns. Bravo to an old master.

mmorgan 9:33 AM  

Been away, traveling and busy, little time for puzzle, no time for the blog.

Strongly disliked this for all of the reasons stated. I have rarely if ever felt this way about a puzzle.

Hope everyone has been well!

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I just got around to last week's puzzle and, while I got "table or boot" I didn't understand it either so checked out the blog for what it meant.....nobody knew. So I googled it - it's a computer term!

Smitty 10:00 AM  

@treedweller You had me at Causerie.

For some reason, the last few days I've been DNF'ing with ONE LETTER left - I could either go through the alphabet or just hit "Reveal"

Today's letter was the "R" in the PARIOTIC/ BOROGROVES cross.

Always a letdown after a hard solve.

PS I was ok with FATHA since I couldn't think of any Mullah Edict that started with an "E"

redhed 10:00 AM  

DNF, Did Not Enjoy. Finally came here and felt vindicated. Good write-up.

claude 10:25 AM  

TABLE OR BOOT is not a computer term, you just didn't understand your google.

DBGeezer 10:32 AM  

STAYCATION got me. I'm surprised it only had one comment on the blog. I guessed it was some strange chemical condition when a CATION was immobilized somehow. After reading the blog I still didn't know so I needed Wikipedia to tell me it was vacation when you stayed and didn't go.
Anyone else bothered by this one?

capcha: mistoe - 'Hey, girlie,' he drunkenly said. 'Tha's mistoe. Gimme a kiss!'

jackj 10:34 AM  

The estimable Norbert Pearlroth would surely recognize treedweller for "Lengthiest Review of a Puzzle He Hated". Fun write-up!

Bob Klahn had to summon his inner Maleska to complete this one, CAUSERIE, CAMBRIA, BOROGOVES, KNURL, etc, etc, etc,.

Despite the questionable stuff,there was a lot to like, especially learning a new, apt portmanteau word, STAYCATION, (even though we needed the dreaded YARE('s) "Y") and KNICKERS (in a bunch) was a treat.

Whether solvers will enjoy learning new fun factoids or feel they were subjected to a painful slog, I'm agnostic except to observe that a Bob Klahn crossword is always a special event.

Blue Stater 10:52 AM  

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Crossing a French (unclued as such) obscurity like CAUSERIE with a typo has to be the Natick Of All Time.

GILL I. 11:02 AM  

I always look forward to the Sunday puzzle. I take my time, drink a Bloody Mary or two and get my husband involved (he of the don't get your KNICKERS in a twist!) and this didn't disappoint.
Loved SOCKO, KNURL and was glad treedweller chose CAUSERIE for WOTD.
God bless poor Norbert Pearlroth's little heart. Talk about having too much time on your hands!
I did have beet at 69A instead of BEER. Hmmmm, I wonder why ;-)
Thank you treedweller; good write-up and B. Klahn for some fun.

exaudio 11:14 AM  

DNF, theme was kinda dull. The NYC Library is 100 years old, or just the building? I can't believe New York didn't have a library before 1911.

retired_chemist 11:21 AM  

I liked it. The Wrath of Klahn notwithstanding. It took a while and the "challenging" designation is fair. The theme answers - loved finding out these trivia. Would also love to see them on Jeopardy - never happen.

The typo was fun- well clued with "to the publisher's chagrin." I started (after getting the crosses in the east) with NOT TITLED A PA(t)RIOTIC SONG. Then I noted the missing t, and AHA! That broke open the NW, which I badly needed.

Took some crosses (the story of this puzzle IMO) to remember BOROGOVES, those mimsy old birds. There was a puzzle a while back with Jabberwocky words clued by their definitions (April 8, 2010 - Matt Ginsberg) - also fun.

Thanks, Mr. Klahn.

retired_chemist 11:29 AM  

Oops - had wanted to say thanks to treedweller for a very good writeup and didn't. So now - THANKS!

David L 11:51 AM  

Definitely hard, in a typically Klahnish manner, for a Sunday. Toughest bit for me was the far SE corner, where I began with ASL for TTY, ONASLOPE for ONASLANT, DIVERGES for DIVORCES...

Who is MUGSY at 19D?

I recollected BOROGOVES from the poem, but is it an established fact that they are birds? Says who? It's a nonsense poem, and as far I can see those mimsy borogoves could be birds, snakes, ferns, hairdressers...

And RASH for 'torrent' seems iffy to me. You can have a rash of, say, carjackings, but I wouldn't call that a torrent. Anyone know a good example where they could be interchangeable?

Norm 11:54 AM  

Ooh, major fail here, even knowing BOROGOVES. Had YES for 10D and NAMBRIA for 27D, so for me, The Star-Spangled Banner was SUBTITLED AS A RIOT IN SONG. Seemed perfectly legit, except little pencil man didn't agree. And, I won;t even try to explain how Dickens's letter opener was THE PAW OF HIS DECEASED GNU, save that it involved DIVERGES rather than DIVORCES and a failure to proof carefully.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Agree with treedweller completely no fun at all. Tried to google jabberwocky and all it says is jubjub bird. So how obscure do you have to get to make a puzzle hard but fair? Will? Same with canbria. Loved the knickers clue. And 124d a total shaft job. Golfballman

chefbea 12:12 PM  

Great write up..terrible puzzle!! DNF
Really hated it

mac 12:14 PM  

If this were crammed into a 15 x 15 it could easily go out on a Friday. Challenging is right for a Sunday. Fun write-up, treedweller, I could almost hear you speak here and there!

That said, I loved this puzzle. I happen to like new facts, new words, a mix of old-time crosswordese and newer terms (love staycation), and basically I like Bob Klahn's puzzles very much. I'm halfway through his "Wrath" collection, it always comes on trips.

@jae: I also considered chitchat for 2d, but the French term was not a problem. Neither was ad rem or infra, somehow. Anybody have old bag for 40d? Only just realised I do know what SWAK stands for.

@treedweller: I won the dice toss, then messed it up by having Carney at 35A... I did not grow up with that Jabberwocky thing, a great disadvantage.

I thought "bluesy" was fantastic, after trying to think up an Italian term for a while.

Thank you, Bob Klahn et al.

mac 12:17 PM  

@norm: reading your post made me laugh so loudly, tears are running down my face....!

OISK 12:32 PM  

Since I often dislike the pop-culture infused puzzles that Rex and others enjoy, it is no surprise that I really enjoyed this Sunday's puzzle. I messed up a square, writing "stagnation" (a real word) instead of "staycation" a term I have never seen before, and forgetting to fix it when I got the "c" from bosc. But that is a minor quibble. No "rappers," no need to know who fronted for Herman's Hermits, no need to know who Aunt Bee's nephew was...liked seeing my last name in the puzzle, although I have no idea who Leonard Cohen is, or was.

Arundel 12:35 PM  

Ooof! This one was a slog, even solving in tandem. Stan and I went at it random, and in Across Lite the grid was too big to be visible on my netbook. Our process was so random that Mr Happy Pencil took us completely by surprise. It wasn't difficult to chip away at the small stuff, but who knew BOROGOVES were birds?

There's a lot of trivia in this one to consider: honeydew and APHIDS, CAUSERIE, where to find Llullaillaco, and that detail of Dicken's letter opener. In our house we were all disturbed by that. The feline family much prefers the paw of Norm's gnu!

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Man, I miss Rex.

No offense, but this writing is pedantic, prosy, and pedestrian.

OISK 12:44 PM  

Always interesting to me how one man's puzzler is another man's gimmee, but a few people complained about the "honeydew" clue for aphids, which I got immediately, (entomology was an interest of mine growing up) and Cambria was obvious (to me) as well. At some point in my life I also memorized "Jabberwocky." On the other hand, two Friday's ago, Mr. Parker's fastest solving time ever, was one of my slowest, and included several errors...

chefbea 12:47 PM  

@mac yes ..I too had old bag

PuzzleNut 12:48 PM  

Loved this one. If only all Sunday's were this challenging, requiring crosses all over the place (that's why they call it CROSSword puzzles, isn't it?). I recall many years ago that Sunday's WERE usually challenging (or maybe I've gotten better). That said, I guessed wrong at the BOtOGOVES cross, but otherwise everything else finally fell. I say finally, as this had practically nothing filled for the longest time. Slowly, though, I was able to work one area and another, with the theme answers carefully disguised for most of the solving experience. My last fill was JOSH, which was a long way from my first answer, RIDE. Kept on trying to make the DIVI??ES into a word, which never did happen. Seeing the JUDGE was a fitting ending to the morning.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

i also had subtitled as a riot in song....when i came here thought pariotic meant as a parody until someone explained it was a typo. tried okapi, bag which i thought mean spirited, not that old bat is nice, thought spinmeisters were public relations (pr)and thought it a beef recipe. thought bench warmer was the b team. also considered Jaw of his pet something or other. usually sundays raise my spirits after saturday's dnf but not today! well happy b'day library; love you anyway.

No BS 1:00 PM  

Well, in fairness, "publisher's chagrin" does suggest a glaring error in the publication, but I didn't come up with "pariotic". That was because I had "yes" instead of "yep" and I was thinking it was subtitled "as" something." Thought perhaps "riotic" was a archaic form of riotous, maybe? Oh well. Otherwise, hard but satisfying in my opinion. You would possibly forgive a tribute to a library for being a bit on the pedantic side.

M07S 1:00 PM  

I'm not nearly as sharp as most of the people in this group. I google a lot...but then I read the Wiki and learn new things. If the puzzle doesn't cause me to use every possible resource then its not for me. This was a good one. @DBGeezer - thanks for the staycation explanation. I too thought of some kind of stationary cation.

Stan 1:03 PM  

Never could have finished this alone, for all the reasons people have mentioned. But as a librarian and (ex-)New Yorker, of course I loved it. The arcane facts seemed perfect for the dusty archives and secret vaults of NYPL, a great institution.

joho 1:10 PM  

Defintely harder than usual which, to me, is much appreciated on a Sunday. Somebody mentioned that too often Sunday is too easy so you're just filling the blanks ... there's no struggle, no learning and no sense of accomplishment and yes, even jubilation in the end! I loved it!

@imdave, I'm with you regarding Katharine Hepburn ... I'll never forget her delivering that line.

@Norm, you are hilarious! I was grossed out by the THEPAWOFHISDECEASEDCAT until you made it GNU!

Thank you, Bob Klahn and Will Shortz .. this is what a Sunday is supposed to be!

CoolPapaD 1:18 PM  

One of my favorites in a long time (I think - I tend to really like most of 'em)! This was nothing if not tough, but imparted a great sense of pride upon finishing. My only error was a misspelling of a misspelling (I wrote ..PATIOTIC instead of PARIOTIC), having never heard of a BOROGOVE. I do remember hearing about the unfortunate subtitle a while back.

Total (correct) guess on the R in ADREM/INFRA.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Leonard Cohen!

syndy 1:27 PM  
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Martin 1:31 PM  

@Blue Stater 10:52

"Causerie" is an English word with French etymology, not a French word. It would be a serious editing error to signal it as foreign. Unless the dictionary calls it a foreign word (normally italicized) it can't be signaled. The same is true of indicating "archaic," "obsolete" or any other such descriptor. Solvers often think Will Shortz has more latitude than he actually has.

retired_chemist 1:32 PM  

@ David L - go to the link I gave and you will see all or most of he Jabberwocky lexicon. Including BOROGOVE. Carroll called them, parrot-like ("an extinct kind of Parrot. They had no wings, beaks turned up, made their nests under sun-dials and lived on veal.").

But of course he also penned "[a word] means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

I trust you are not frumious.

No BS 1:38 PM  

I've had family and friends working at Argo's home, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, all my life. Here's a page on Argo and the Titanic from WHOI's amazing site: ARGO .

Tobias Duncan 1:42 PM  

I only opened the puzzle because I figured Andrea or some interesting guest would be sitting in today.
I dont know what it is about sunday puzzles that put me off but I am right there with Treedweller.
Actually I think I may just hate all things Sunday.

I am off to drown my sorrows in home made strawberry kefir.
Write up was a bright spot today, thanks Tree...

Z 1:51 PM  

With nothing but borogRove and ICBM in the north, I finally read the wikipedia entry to jog DERBY loose. That opened it up some, but after still more slogging, I finally gave up and came here. It's rare that I finish Saturday, to not finish Sunday was a little frustrating. Also finished with GAWPS/PNURL. Never saw the error as it was all from the crosses.

joho 1:58 PM  

Oh, I forgot to mention, I had DIViesup before DIVORCES. Am I the only one?

@Treedweller, I also forgot to say: thanks for your write up!

Mel Ott 2:09 PM  

I really liked this puzzle. A bunch of interesting little factoids that were all new to me. Needed a lot of crosses to get the theme answers, but that's what crossword puzzles are supposed to be about.

Hand up for the OLD BAG.

Mel Ott 2:15 PM  

PS: I expected them to figure out a way to work the lions into the puzzle, but I guesss that's too much of a New York thing.

CY 2:18 PM  

@joho: It's usually spelt "divvies up".

M07S 2:19 PM  

@joho...I had diviesup too...before I looked it up and found out it is divvies up...with two V's. Wonder who's "the decider" on spelling it that way?

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

@Mac SWAK means Sealed With A Kiss

r.alphbunker 2:37 PM  

It took a while for me to realize that PARIOTIC was a misspelling of "patriotic" but when I realized that a typo had legitimately made it into a NYT puzzle, I loved it. I had to google the bird to get the R.

So my verdict is Wrah, Wrah (as in the Wrah of Klahn)

edmcan 3:11 PM  
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edmcan 3:13 PM  

@ ChefBea-I agree completely. Hated it, dnf :-/

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

Learned something about the quirky items & facts of the NYPL and was driven crazy figuring out the typo.
NYPL is one reason to love NYC and USA.

Two Ponies 3:52 PM  

I don't get the Times on Sundays but I had to drop by to see who the guest host was. Well done @ treedweller!

Shamik 3:59 PM  

Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!! Enjoyed the write-up; loved the comments; immensely enjoyed the puzzle.

Definitely a challenging Sunday at 30:38. Loved the trivia. Loved the obscurity. Loved that this is what a Sunday puzzle should be.

@norm: Loved Dickens' deceased GNU. Much better visual than his dead cat. Just glad he didn't merely amputate his cat's paw and leave the cat gimpy just to make a letter opener.

One of my favorite expressions is to not get your KNICKERS in a knot. Some bunch. Some twist. Guess mine knot.

Great puzzle and a so-make-me-laugh bunch of comments. Not a "meh" in the knot, er...bunch.

Skua 4:03 PM  

@Mel Ott: Seems like they had neither the Patience nor the Fortitude.

syndy 4:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel Ott 4:26 PM  

@Skua: Perfect.

foodie 4:27 PM  

For a while, I had BBQ in response to "Do some grilling". That gave me Q as the start of 66 down and I had CK in the middle. So, what might you get in a bunch? QUICKIES, of course...

LENTIL SOUP is something I love to make. If you start with the Progresso kind, stick it in your blender before heating. Then add olive oil, lemon and ground cumin while warming it up. Five minutes et voila!

@Treedweller, my sentiments exactly.

Rube 5:01 PM  

Both hands up for DNF. Had multiple Googles in order to fill the grid. Usually find that Sundays are an unenjoyable slog. This was just unenjoyable. Guess I'll never be satisfied.

My guess, as I remember, is that the last time we had YARE, both @Imsdave and @Joho commented on the Hepburn quote. Trouble is that I couldn't remember the word. I too had DIViesup, but unlike @Joho & others, didn't look up the spelling.

Had many contentions such as KNURL as "button ridges". Have seen "Knob ridges" before, but not "button". Also, would say that "Spruce" is NEATen. What's a SOCKO? (Never mind.) Forgot SWAK. Never heard of BOROGOVES, but guessed "R" correctly.

@CoffeeLovr, I too had puce.

Oh well, as I say, DNF. Sole enjoyments were the lack of pop culture and minimal proper nouns in general.

syndy 5:11 PM  


chefwen 5:14 PM  

I was going to throw the towel in last night but suddenly the stubborn in me kicked in and I was able to pull it off with new eyes this morning. Can't even guess how many write-overs I had, embarrassing! Said to my house guest "I learned a new word today, CAUSERIE".

A challenge, no doubt, but I feel like I just had a good workout, yeah!

CoffeeLvr 5:24 PM  

@Foodie, I add garlic and Tabasco sauce to lentil soup, which I learned from my Dad. I will try your approach next time, as I love cumin. Thanks!

As for Progresso in the puzzle, I had "minestrOne" in place quite confidently on my first pass through the grid.

If my early morning comments didn't make this clear: I liked the puzzle and the Sunday challenge. The theme answers were interesting, not word play.

Masked and Anonymous 5:33 PM  

We solved this beast in stages. Opening salvos began around 9:30 am. Finally tamed it at 4:15 pm. Came and went as we pleased, between meals, quilt design, lawnmowing, golf-watching, non-Washington beer drinking, etc, etc., filling in the cracks.

To add demoralization to longevity, puz put up a really ferocious last-stand battle, near the bottom. KNURL/NEAT and ADREM/INFRA were especially "nasty spots", as Monte Python would probably say.

Was hoping for the Apocalypse Now tribute today, but at least it was a tribute. And a near apocalypse, for the likes of solvers like us. Happy birthday, you old library; we'll try to keep it quiet.

Martin 5:35 PM  

@Blue Stater, 10:52
"Causerie" is an English word with French etymology, not a French word. That means that signaling it as foreign is verboten for an editor.

The Cambrian period, Pre-Cambrian, Cambrian explosion, etc. are so-named because the best-exposed rocks in Great Britain from this important time for the development of life on Earth, half a billion years ago, are in Wales.

retired_chemist 5:38 PM  

This puzzle may hold the record (if anyone keeps tabs) for being the most polarizing of the year. Seems NOBODY found it meh, and the liked-its and hated-its are pretty well balanced. I think there are more of the former but I am not anal enough to count.

jackj 6:05 PM  

@retired_chemist- I suspect your rough estimate is correct and, for a fascinating comparison, I've just finished reading the 42 comments on this puzzle at the Times blog and not one commenter hated the puzzle.

(Hope this comment is within Rex's rules).

KarenSampsonHudson 6:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
KarenSampsonHudson 6:45 PM  

"Causerie"--a fun word, to drop in literary company, perhaps. I agree, this puzzle is best done by Curators of the library , some of the staff, and their mothers. I found the answers to be the most obscure I've run across in my (rather brief) history of doing the Times puzzles. The answers one could infer, and the crosses, were not numerous enough to prevent more frustration than I can tolerate! :-(
I did learn something, although I'm rather unsure about what occasion would warrant any causerie about the use made of the paw of Dickens' cat.
To sum up: ARRRGH!

JenCT 7:03 PM  

Just as an aside:

Many moons ago, when I worked on Madison Avenue, I would go sit on the steps of the NYPL and watch as a mime (good-naturedly) made fun of the people walking by.

It made for a funny lunch hour with great people-watching. Wonder whatever happened to that mime?

chefbea 8:17 PM  

@foodie thanks for the easy recipe. Will have to try it

davko 8:34 PM  

Didn't at all mind the obscure bits of trivia that I would otherwise have only discovered taking a NYPL docent tour, which I wouldn't consider doing in a million years. That is, in part, what puzzles are all about! The alternative would have been better-known, "meaningful" snippets of Americana better suited for Jeopardy. No thanks.

Had never run across the SWAK acronym before, and not being familiar with either Bil KEANE (130A) or the term AD REM (126A), ran aground in Arizona. Guessed right on the PARIOTIC portion of 24A, but yes, it could have gone either way given the Jabberwocky birds, about which I didn't have the foggiest (BORO- just sounded better than BOTO-)

@joho: You're not alone, and I would have done the same, but was able to nail down ONASLANT (95D) early, locking in JOSH (113A), thus avoiding the trap.

A refreshing challenge for a Sunday, a day I'm rarely humbled (abased?) by any misses.

treedweller 8:56 PM  

Thanks for all the kind words. I hate to be such a complainer, but I found myself in The Chair and I had to call it as I saw it. Congrats to BK for a puzzle that certainly pleased a lot of folks, my grousing notwithstanding. Thanks to Rex for the chance to be the King by proxy. It was fun, but I will enjoy not having to write anything about the next several puzzles.

Janet 8:58 PM  

@Jen CT The mime moved to the steps of the Met Museum.

This was hard, but there were moments when it broke open and the fill took shape.

Staycation arose in last two years, a byproduct of poor economy. I got it, but husband solving alongside was stymied.

Not a favorite, but did finish.

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

So glad I found this blog post and got to see that others found this to be a particularly difficult puzzle.

michael 9:44 PM  

Well, constructor Klahn lived up to his reputation, A rare dnf on a Sunday for me. Couldn't get the ne, had yes instead of yep and wasn't close to figuring out pariotic.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle.

treedweller 10:11 PM  

Oh, and I meant to say, I also hear Katharine Hepburn when the word YARE appears, only I spell it YAR. One more pain in my ass that I can't really blame on anyone but myself.

jberg 8:57 AM  

This is ridiculous, posting the next morning - I was involved in a couple events yesterday that kept me from the puzzle, and the blog is so interesting I have to jump in, even if no one will see this.

Loved the write-up, but also loved the puzzle, even though DNF because I had OKAPI at 49D. I knew it was wrong, since Okapis are not at all small, but having it there made me forget that I had to fix things in that block, so I didn't.

Anyway, I would have had an error, with YES/AS A RIOTIC SONG. I actually started withYUP at 10D, but SNARE fixed that, so I went to my second choice, YES - boring, I though, but never thought of YEP. I agree, the typo was a bit Natickal; as for nautical, I don't know how I knew YARE, but think maybe it was in one of the many Horatio Hornblower novels I read as a youth. I was also glad to be reminded what INFRA DIG stood for in full.

Dismayed, though, to learn that there was no Ripley (24A); I guess in those days the thought was that the public wouldn't go for "Pearlroth's BELIEVE IT OR NOT") So things have improved, as has the public library system. @exaudio, I don't think there were any public libraries, in NYC or elsewhere, before Andrew Carnegie got them going in the early 20th century. There were libraries, but one had to be a member, and pay an annual fee, to use them. The main one in Boston, the Boston Athenaeum, is still going strong.

Btw, I've seen a lot of African antelope, and a lot of GNUs, for that matter, but have never seen or heard of an ORIBIS, so that was educational!

Now off to solve today's puzzle.

hazel 10:02 AM  

even if it is monday, i'm weighing in on the fact that i thought this puzzle was unbelievably awful. pedantic. and just a total crapfest. "solving" the obscure trivia going across reminded me of a half-@$$=£ acrostic without the benefit of any cleverness to help fill in the blanks. just a pile of obscure downs. sheesh.

crunchy in the way pine cones are crunchy. no thank you.

TimJim 10:34 AM  

Liked it, though DNF due to STAYCATION/ORIBIS. A few too many obscurities as others noted but enjoyed the workout and the trivia in the theme. Agree with those who say this is what more Sundays should be like.

Jenny 7:01 PM  

This one really put me in my place. Big fat DNF slog. Glad both that some really loved it, and to read that plenty of others had so much trouble as to not enjoy it, like me... I do love a puzzling challenge, but this was a nest of Naticks for me. Oh well!

Lois 8:23 PM  

David L:
There is an explanation of some of the words in Jabberwocky somewhere in the text of the Alice books. Sorry for the vagueness of my defending the answer - but although it's a nonsense poem, borogoves is the correct answer.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

Also failed because of "okapi/oribi" crossing "staycation" (a cocked-up mess of a term if ever there was one - no, never saw or heard it before this puzzle). All else fell into place somehow.

tracy 6:15 PM  

I'm not saying anyone should have known YARE, but it figures in the Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn movie The Philadelphia Story.

tracy 6:23 PM  

I got YES in lieu of YEP, which yielded AS A RIOTIC SONG. Frankly, I don't consider myself wrong. Noone could be expected know a typo, so if you get plausible answers for the downs that don't otherwise mangle the theme typo, I think that counts. After all, Riotic Song seemed more embarrassing to the publisher, for implying that the fort's defenders weren't Patriots but just rioters against the authority of the returning British crown.

I'm taking credit for a finish.

tracy 6:29 PM  

@jberg - the fact that Mr. Pearlroth worked as a researcher in no way implies there was no Ripley or that the name Pearlroth wouldn't have been successful at a time when many large department stores had Jewish names (Kaufman's in my parents native Pittsburgh, Myers in my native Springfield.)

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

Treedweller, you sound bitter. I thought this a very clever puzzle and enjoyed puzzling out the long answers. Just because you don't know Pawnee is in Indiana, you don't need to get your knickers in a bunch.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Actually I enjoyed this puzzle, even though I needed more help from Rex to finish it than normal. The theme clues were perhaps the most original and interesting I have seen in a long time. Congrats to Bob Klahn

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Staycation is a word I have been using a lot as the gas prices go higher and higher.

Dirigonzo 5:20 PM  

It's the first nice day in a long time in my corner of syndicationland and I spent way too much of it on this puzzle. The grid filled in very slowly for me and then I was left staring at "...APARIOTICSONG" and no matter how I parsed it I couldn't make it seem right. So I came here in defeat to see where my mistake was, only to learn that I was right all along. Does it count if you have a right answer but think it is wrong? There should be a word for that.

nednpat 12:09 PM  

The birds in Jabberwocky were Jubjubs. They were to be feared as the frumious Bandersnatch was to be shunned. We don't know anything about the Borogoves except that they were mimsy.

This puzzle was a two-person, two-day deal. Liked it.

Just discovered this site and Treedweller. We'll be back.

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