Philatelist George / SUN 6-5-11 / Ancient Cretan writing system / French river department / Biblical breastplate stones / Ike Billy OK Corral

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Constructor: Yaakov Bendavid

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Cagey Answers" — Gs (following Ns) in familiar phrases become Ks, resulting in wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: GUSSET (42A: Reinforcing bracket) —

In sewing, a gusset is a triangular or square piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing. Gussets were used at the shoulders, underarms, and hems of traditional shirts and chemises made of rectangular lengths of linen to shape the garments to the body. // Gussets are used in manufacturing of modern tights or pantyhose to add breadth at the crotch seam; these gussets are often made of breathable fabrics for hygiene when wearing pantyhose without panties. (wikipedia; perhaps the first WOTD related to not wearing panties—another milestone!)

• • •

I found this one clungy, which really should be a word, perhaps to describe something that is clingy, but in a really unflattering way. But back to the puzzle: the theme is very simple, but there is not a lot of thematic payoff, and the non-theme fill is really subpar in many places. Many, many. A theme this simple needs to be perfectly consistent *and* scintillating. You Must Stick The Landing. And yet only a few of these theme answers strike me as winners; I particularly like LADY SINKS THE BLUES, though I'd have had a woman NHL player scoring a series-ending goal rather than a countess bankrupting the team. A few of the others are cute, but then there's ONE THINK AT A TIME, which is nauseatingly ungrammatical, or at least far far out of the language in its use of "THINK"; and KINK OF THE ROAD, which is just bland. But worst of all is BIG BANK THEORY. It is the one inconsistent theme answer, and its inconsistency is twofold. First, every other theme answer is -ING->-INK. To have *just one* that goes -ANG->-ANK is really annoying. Second, uh, there's a stray "G" there. In "BIG." So your title all of a sudden becomes a false ... false ... falsity (I'm channeling Norman Bates here; god I love that scene, with him and Marion and the *&%^ing stuffed birds everywhere—maybe one of the best scenes in that, or any, movie). Your Gs are Ks or they're not. Maybe, just Maybe, if every answer had been -INK, I could've forgiven that outlier. But that's for some alternative universe to know. In this universe: boo.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: How organized philosophers deal with ideas? (ONE THINK AT A TIME)
  • 30A: Highway S-curve? (KINK OF THE ROAD)
  • 51A: Countess bankrupts St. Louis N.H.L. team? (LADY SINKS THE BLUES)
  • 67A: Warning before driving past the town dump? (THIS MAY STINK A LITTLE)
  • 85A: Wayne Gretzky? (THE LORD OF THE RINKS) — a pun I've seen before, specifically in a WSJ puzzle from earlier this year
  • 103A: Being too large to fail? (BIG BANK THEORY)
  • 116A: Singles bar pickup strategy? (A WINK AND A PRAYER)
Lots of Jewishish clues today, with Ehud BARAK and "Fiddler"'s YENTE, and the O.T.'s EDOM and SARAH and ONYXES (65D: Biblical breastplate stones). I had no idea about the ONYXES, but they're an important feature of the high priest's breastplate in Exodus, from what I can gather. I also had no idea about CLANTON (49D: Ike or Billy at the O.K. Corral). Not a name I recognize at all. Would've guessed CLAYTON if HEY had made any sense as an answer for 66A: Cackler (HEN). Other things I didn't know included GUSSET—never seen or heard the word before—and the you've-gotta-be-kidding-me answer of the day, LINN (70D: Philatelist George, founder of the largest weekly newspaper for stamp collectors). I was surprised to find that the Oscar-winning Frank today was not CAPRA but LLOYD (71D: Frank ___, two-time Oscar-winning director).

There was some stuff that I loved, including not one but two ampersandwiches (RANDR, XSANDOS), DUKAKIS (4D: Loser of 1988) curled up with a SPY NOVEL, and the not-heard-from-in-25-years PAM DAWBER (110A: Onetime Robin Williams co-star) (I like that the clue doesn't throw you the "Mork & Mindy" bone but forces you to use crosses to go hunting through *all* Williams's co-stars). ASTHMATIC is nice too (29A: Bronchodilator user). But there was just too much little junk. Everywhere, gunking up the system: EAN, ABRA (99D: Incantation opener), LINN, AIN (93A: French river or department), LINEARA (!?) (98A: Ancient Cretan writing system), ASOK (!!!), ADAIR, TMS, NTS, ADE, ISE, EASER (...). Etc. I do like "OH, GEE" crossing OGDEN, as "O" and "G" are the first two letters, and OGDEN seems like a place where an expression like "OH GEE" might still have some currency ("O.G." also stands for "Original Gangster," which I'm guessing there are precisely none of in OGDEN).

  • 57A: Actor Wilson (OWEN) — FLIP!? Is it FLIP!? No? Dang.
  • 114A: So-called Mother of Presidents (OHIO) — "Mother of Presidents" sounds almost like a slur.
  • 119A: Flying monster of film (RODAN) — always want to spell this guy like the sculptor.
  • 6D: Animals with black-tipped tails (STOATS) — wanted OKAPIS, which, when you think about it, makes almost zero sense. I knew STOATS were weasels, but black-tipped tails—that, I did not know.
  • 90D: Wives in São Paulo (SENHORAS) — One of my few Portuguese gimmes.
  • 100D: Hybrid clothing for women (SKORTS) — one of the great modern portmanteaus.
  • 102D: Actresses Best and Purviance (EDNAS) — Purviance? Really? Let's see ... what era, what era? I'm gonna guess she was big in the '40s ... [Googling] ... whoa, off by 20 years. She was in a bunch of Chaplin films in the teens and '20s. She would have fit right in in Friday's puzzle ...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

may this be the last change-a-letter i ever see.

CY 12:20 AM  

But worst of all is BIG BANK THEORY. It is the one inconsistent theme answer, and its inconsistency is twofold. First, every other theme answer is -ING->-INK. To have *just one* that goes -ANG->-ANK is really annoying. Second, uh, there's a stray "G" there. In "BIG." So your title all of a sudden becomes a false ... false ... falsity (I'm channeling Norman Bates here; god I love that scene, with him and Marion and the *&%^ing stuffed birds everywhere—maybe one of the best scenes in that, or any, movie). Your Gs are Ks or they're not. Maybe, just Maybe, if every answer had been -INK, I could've forgiven that outlier. But that's for some alternative universe to know. In this universe: boo.

What are you going on about, Rex? BIG BANK THEORY was the best theme answer of the bunch by far. Wanting all of the answers to have -ING just because most of them happened to is really nitpicky IMHO, and as for your "stray Gs", who cares about them? The title of this puzzle was "K-->G answers", not "K<-->G" answers.

Had the same thought as Rex about the unusual number of Jewish-y clues; then looked at the composer's name and went, "AH YES".

Also didn't know CLANTON, GUSSET, or LYNN, and had no idea about the ONYXES.

Love the term "ampersandwiches".


ASOK was actually almost a gimme for me. I like Dilbert.

Had Hag for HEN, tEvyE for YENTE, and EDen for EDOM before fixing.

I solved the crossword with a friend today. If I hadn't, I'm fairly sure that the bottom left corner would have done me in. I didn't know PAM DAWBER, GENA Lee Nolin, or PAGO Pago, and I had guessed SAM for DAWBER's first name. Fortunately my friend had heard of Pago Pago.

jae 12:24 AM  

Workman like Sun. Medium for me also. Rex pretty much summed up my take on this one even down to the WOTD = GUSSET (I had no idea). Only serious misstep was ROLL for REEL. Anticlimatic end to a tough interesting weekend.

Noam D. Elkies 12:25 AM  

The noun usage of "Think" suggested by 24A corresponds with what I've read is the source of the idiom "you've got another thing coming", subjected to the same transformation in reverse.

And 98A is not "lineara" but the yet undeciphered "Linear A" &emdash; perhaps you've run across "Linear B".


P.S. Not a great surprise to see "Jewishish" (can an -ish adjective be re- -ish-ed?) given the constructor's name Yaakov Ben-David :-)

P.P.S. I see that CY just mentioned this, as well as Linear A.

Noam D. Elkies 12:26 AM  

Argh, "&emdash;" has a stray "e" — this is what I meant.

KimL403 1:06 AM  

Someone please tell me why ADIN is a score before a win. Is it just because it's 6 am here and the coffee hasn't kicked in or do I need to touch up my blonde roots?

Anonymous 1:17 AM  

Rex - I disagree with everything you said except for your conclusion. This puzzle was just plain flat, lackluster and not fun.

KimL403 - ADIN (Advantage in, in being the server) is a tennis score indicating that the server needs only one more point to win the game.

chefwen 2:16 AM  

I'm sure a lot of us didn't even have second thoughts before throwing down BEETS at 54D, Hi Chefbea.

Loved this one and chortled at a lot at the long ones. Favorite being A wink and a prayer. Oh, I really liked them all. A nice diversion after a difficult Friday and Saturday.

John from Chicago 2:33 AM  

This is the third puzzle of Mr. Bendavid in the NYT and they are all Sunday puzzles.

Rex, on Feb 28, 2010 you wrote about his first NYT puzzle:

Full disclosure: I feel very happy about the publication of this puzzle because over two years ago, Yaakov Bendavid wrote me and asked me to test-solve one of his initial construction efforts. Here's how I responded to that puzzle in February 2008:
You are clearly going to be an accomplished constructor. I look forward to seeing more of your stuff. You'll get in the NYT eventually - I can tell. Everything but the theme felt very, very passable.

Then, just last month, I got the following email:
It's been almost two years since my first e-mail to you, where you gave a fledgling constructor some encouragement. Well, I just had my first two acceptances by the NY Times, both Sundays.

So thanks again for your encouraging words.


And so, as my wife's countrymen would say, I'm pretty chuffed, and am not feeling particularly objective today.

I confess that I have no idea who FRED ALLEN is (40A: "Imitation is the sincerest form of television" quipster).

So, Rex, I don't mind that you were then and remain less than enthusiastic about Mr. Bendavid's puzzles. But what really pisses me off is that you didn't know Fred Allen. Fred Allen was in the same league as George Burns and Jack Benny. They were contemporaries. You really need to understand that there are more things in life that Jon Stewart.

OldCarFudd 6:05 AM  

I enjoyed it. The yet-unmentioned vapour trail was clever.

Gusset has other meaning than clothing. I had never heard of the clothing meaning, but I got it right away. It's a piece glued, nailed, welded, whatever at a place where structural members join at the end point of at least one of them, to spread the load at the joint. I'm familiar with it from aircraft (full-scale or model) construction, when fuselages were built up from wooden sticks or metal tubes.

I still finished with an error - EDen for EDOM. Not knowing the rocket or the kind of card, YAe and SIn seemed as good as YAO and SIM.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:37 AM  

One write-over at 98 A, put in MINOAN B before LINEAR A, sort of a scrambled "right inclination, wrong answer"?

Glimmerglass 7:59 AM  

LINEARA could have been linearB, but HAbg couldn't be right, even in Dutch. (Is that The Hague?) The theme made this pretty easy for me, as the puns were quickly obvious and the long answers gave you a lot of crosses. Rex gives the clothing meaning for GUSSET (he fell in love with the pantyless concept), but the clue suggests a more industrial meaning.

Carol 8:20 AM  

My father used to be an avid stamp collector, and he received Linn's Stamp News for years. I was VERY excited to see that clue!

chefbea 8:50 AM  

When I saw the title of the puzzle I figured it would be about animals or

Then all the inks!!! what did that have to do with cages?? Then the one ank. I was really confused til I got here and read Rex's explanation.

So I really did not like the puzzle...except for you know what!!!!!

SethG 9:00 AM  

I actually thought most of the theme answers were okay, though their cluing wasn't great. Yes, BIG BANK THEORY is a big problem.

joho 9:23 AM  

I don't know, it was kinda cute. My favorite was THISMAYSTINKALITTLE. I agree that BIGBANKTHEORY doesn't fit.

I'm still not sure what a SIM is. I got it but don't get it. I Googled and think it might be referring to a humorist or comic?

Didn't Andrea coin "ampersandwich?"

I wonder if Rr. Bendavid's first name is really Yaagov?

Smitty 9:30 AM  

Anyone else have

I was rooting for MOTHRA (flying monster) but too many letters.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Joho - Sim is the little thing (card) you put in digital camera.

Vega 9:49 AM  

I thought A WINK AND A PRAYER was cute. Beyond that, though, I finished this one just to say I did. But I did throw in PAM DAWBER without a single cross because really, what other co-star counts?

jackj 9:52 AM  

A much too easy one trick puzzle which tries to toughen itself by spattering outrageous entries throughout.

Puffing up that renowned stamp collector George LINN as if he rivals Lady Gaga's notoriety, for example, might be the most insulting.

No doubt, many solvers will also feel such things as HAAG, LINEARA, BNAI, EDOM, CLANTON, PAMDAWBER, etc, etc, etc were totally uncalled for.

Yaakov could be making "Natick" as well known a city in crossword land as AGRA and it isn't a pretty exercise.

Cool Dude 10:20 AM  

CY: Agreed re: Rex's nitpicking. Thanks for chiding him over it first so I don't have to waste five minutes doing so.

Tobias Duncan 10:35 AM  

I had the biggest crush on Pam Dawber when I was a kid.
Gusset was a gimme to this blue collar guy.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

BIGBANGTHEORY actually is consistent with the rest of the clues. Phonetically, the 'ng' sound is distinct from the 'g' sound. A dialect (say, Hollywood Russian) that replaced the phonem 'ng' with 'nk' would not replace 'g' with 'nk'; they're produced two different ways ('g' is a velar plosive, while 'ng' is a velar nasal).

So it's not a letter-becomes-letter rule, it's a phoneme-becomes-phoneme (or sound-becomes-sound) rule.

JC66 11:01 AM  

I liked this one and agree that @Rex was a little too critical.

Even after getting GUSSET, I kept thinking grommet.

Don't many cell phones use SIM cards, too?

Also liked the shout out to @Chefbea at 54D.

fikink 11:09 AM  

Agree with @Vega, PAM DAWBER had to be.

And altho BIG BANG THEORY doesn't strictly fit, it brought my biggest smile this morning.

@CY, I had HAG for the longest time, too.

Amused that you found this puzzle "clungy" @Rex.

@Bob Kerfuffle, respect! for trying MINOAN A.

The puzzle was solid but BIG, imo.

CY 11:15 AM  

@joho, a SIM card is a little card that you stick into a cell phone (or other "mobile telephony device"). Basically, it allows you to carry your account from phone to phone, so that your cellular service is not tied to the phone that you use. I believe that they're more popular in Europe/Asia than the U.S. They look similar to the memory cards used in digital cameras but they are not the same thing.

@OldCarFudd, YA0 Ming is the 7' 6" Chinese basketball player who plays for the Houston Rockets.

So many people seem to agree with Rex about the inappropriateness of BIG BANK THEORY that I feel I should elaborate my opinion a bit more.

The reason I like it is because unlike the rest of the theme answers, this one doesn't feel contrived at all. I can't imagine ever needing to describe the situation "Countess bankrupts St. Louis N.H.L. team", and if I did I would not describe it as "Lady Sinks the Blues" unless I were making a pun, but "Being too large to fail" is a real and topical concept, and "Big Bank Theory" describes it perfectly. The pun is a bonus, not the phrase's raison d'etre.

As for the objections: the puzzle had a title that expressed the theme: K-G answers. Since this title has nothing to do with -INK, I'd consider having all the theme answers contain that letter-group to be a flaw rather than an improvement. I was happy that at least one theme answer managed to find a different way to substitute K for G, and if one is going to criticize the puzzle at all, my criticism would be that it doesn't have enough variety in the rest of the answers.

Re the G in BIG, this is a matter of interpretation. Sure, you can interpret the theme as "Turn every K into a G and vice versa", but clearly that doesn't work (and not just for BIG BANK THEORY--KINK OF THE ROAD would be at least as problematic). Instead, the proper interpretation of K-G answers is that a single G from a common phrase turns into a K to create the theme answer, and that works fine for me.

CY 11:22 AM  

Re the G in BIG, this is a matter of interpretation. Sure, you can interpret the theme as "Turn every K into a G and vice versa", but clearly that doesn't work (and not just for BIG BANK THEORY--KINK OF THE ROAD would be at least as problematic). Instead, the proper interpretation of K-G answers is that a single G from a common phrase turns into a K to create the theme answer, and that works fine for me.

Just reread Rex's objection and realized that I'd mistaken it: he doesn't want every G in a theme answer to correspond to a K in the original phrase; he wants every G in an original phrase to correspond to a K in the theme answer. Forget everything I said about "vice versa" and "KINK OF THE ROAD".

I still stand by what I said about
"a single G is transformed to a K" being a legitimate interpretation of the theme.

Z 11:27 AM  

Meh. (that's teenspeak for what Rex said).

Liked Asthmatic. Threw in PAM immediately, but needed the R to jog loose Dawber. North and South felt like a Monday to me. It took a little effort to get from GUSSET to DISSOLVE as STINK was the last theme answer to fall.

All in all - Meh.

Sparky 11:33 AM  

The two ampersandwiches tricked me as they often do. Had OMEN, not OXEN. Know GUSSET only from sewing. You put it into a skirt for extra flare. Liked THIS MAY STINK A LITTLE best. It stinks when an MD says that. Filled in BEETS with a Hi to ChefBea. Thanks @Rex for the picture of David Niven winking. It's Sunday, it's nice out, I'm outta here.

joho 11:33 AM  

@Flowerlady9, @JC66 & @CY ... thanks for the explanation.

CY 11:35 AM  

Just had a look at The NYT's blog for today's crossword. Discovered that 58-across, "Digital communication? Abbr.": ASL, actually stood for American Sign Language, which is a delightfully clever clue. Too bad I parsed it as A/S/L (chatroom abbreviation for the interlocution: Age/Sex/Location?).

Also of interest, the composer responds to some comments there:

Hi. I'm the puzzle's author. This is my 3rd puzzle in the NYT and each time I learn to be a better constructor from your feedback.

Point taken regarding "...BANK..." being the odd man out. Best to be avoided in the future.

--Yaakov BD
Beit Shemesh, Israel

No BS 12:03 PM  

How is 54 D a shoutout, please?

David L 12:10 PM  

When Rex says it's "really annoying" to have one theme answer with ANK when all the rest were INK, my reaction is that Rex is very easily annoyed. But I guess we knew that already...

RODAN/YENTE was a near Natick for me, but N seemed the most reasonable guess.

Hard to rate the difficulty of this one, because I did it with one eye while watching Nadal-Federer with the other. Seemed like a decent Sunday to me...

David L 12:11 PM  

Oh, and as @NDE points out, there's nothing ungrammatical or far-out about ONETHINKATATIME...

YBD 12:52 PM  

Hi. Thanks, everyone, for your feedback. I feel slightly more raked over the coals than I did with with my other two Sundays last year, but hey, it goes with the territory.

I love constructing (and solving) puzzles; always nice to see the passion of the community.


RMS 1:19 PM  

@John from Chicago--Will someone please explain the rant about Fred Allen? He certainly wasn't 40D on my puzzle today, and I don't get (am confounded by) John's remarks. As for me, I'm 65, know who Fred Allen is, but would not miss Jon Stewart for anything except maybe a chance to meet Kurt Vonnegut. (I know. He's gone.)

Finished my first Sunday without Google (YAY!) and well under an hour, but I did need the check function to figure out Linear A and Haag. I guess that makes it a DNF for some, but for me a victory.

I commented only once before, as Ruth--but I think you've got another Ruth, so I'll use initials. Thanks to everyone on this blog whose comments have entertained me and educated me for the last couple of years as I learned my way around NYTimes crosswords. Thanks to Rex especially.

Tobias Duncan 1:19 PM  

Yaakov , welcome to the underbelly of the underbelly of the crossword world!
I enjoyed your puzzle today and hope to see more from you.
Quick question: why only Sundays?

KarenSampsonHudson 1:34 PM  

Enjoyed this one--- thankful that answers came rapidly on a Sunday that will be busier than I'd like.

chefbea 1:55 PM  

@No BS Look at my avatar!!!! And a while back we all talked incessantly about that red tuber

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Hmmm. The answer to 2D had me stumped for a while. The clue is "Gramatically proper identification" and the answer that fits is IT IS I - presumably in answer to the question, "Who is that?" However, if the question were "Is that you?" then the gramatically correct identification would be "This is he" [or she]. Or, to fit the puzzle, ITS HE. This is a bit schoolmarmish, but nothing invites schoolmarmishness like a clue that contains the words "gramatically proper"! --Crosses soon cleared me up.

Eric Halsey

JC66 2:01 PM  

@No BS

If I recall correctly, a long while ago, BEETS appeared in the puzzle and @Chefbea waxed rhapsodic on this blog about them, a minor kerfuffle ensued and BEETS became known as "the vegetable never to ne named."


I think @John's post is a copy of the one he posted after Yaakov Ben-David's second Sunday puzzle.

I see @Chefbea responded, but I'm hitting Publish anyway (-;

JaxInL.A. 2:43 PM  

@No BS, to chime in, in case this horse has not completely expired, regular Rexworld denizen @chefbea uses a packet of beet seeds as her avatar, and has occasionally provided us with beet-related advice to show that the choice is not random.  (I would only eat beets if I was starving to death, but I don't hold that against her.)

Once again, Rex's write-up photos and videos make me laugh so much that it counter-balances his harsh assessment of the puzzle.  I LOVED Flip Wilson's comedy show, and any (lame) excuse to remind people of his comic genius works fine for me.  I only wish it were a video. The wink, Ike Clanton (who knew?), the Turtles song with all those "gee" lyrics, and of course Rex's beloved dime novel cover: very funny.

I had a GREAT time at my adult class's group B'NAI mitzvah service on Friday, (I very much appreciate the encouragement from many here)) but still missed EDOM. Got the other Jew-y stuff, though. What a wonderful experience.  Now we just have to get through my daughter's next Saturday and I can breathe again.  

quilter1 2:44 PM  

I preached an early service out of town today so I could not get to the puzzle until after lunch, but I'm smarter after I eat anyway. I liked this puzzle once I got the theme and it went faster. I did not like ONYXES even if that is the correct plural, it is awkward. And for the record the breastplate had only one onyx. There was a different gem stone for each tribe of Israel.

That nit out of the way I liked the big theme crosses as I like puns. No objection to BIGBANKTHEORY. KINKOFTHEROAD reminded me of Roger Miller, who died too young. A tip of the hat to @Chefbea. I'm looking forward to some golden beets in the market soon.

mishisuc: what it is like to be a job hunter in Detroit.

YBD 2:47 PM  

@Tobias Duncan - They've all been Sundays so far because the phrases on which I find myself punning are often longer than 15 characters. I find it easier to come up with 7-10longer phrases than 3-5 shorter ones.

D_Blackwell 2:59 PM  


I rarely care for wacky phrase themes; they don't ring my bell. But I do think that this one is about as good as can be found in the genre.

Pay no mind to the -INK / -ANK business. If it weren't that, certain people would then be appalled that two of the six entries used plurals with the key word and that four did not!!!!!

The important thing is that one way or another, no matter what you do, something will be found and there will be hell to pay:))

CY 3:15 PM  

@Eric Halsey: I don't see that "It is he" is a grammatically proper response to "Is that you?"--it works for, say, "Is that Eric?" but it doesn't seem right to identify "you" as "he". The "you" of someone who addresses me is "I" when I speak. That's how I see it, but in any case, this is a definite side-point: IT IS I certainly works for the clue, as you said.

@quilter1, if you are a preacher, I imagine that you are familiar with, e.g. Exodus 28:9, which talks about the two onyx stones on the shoulder straps that held the breastplate.

Rex Parker 3:18 PM  

Today is as good a day as any to remind everyone of the 3-comment limit. Thanks.


mac 3:24 PM  

Just had a delicious roasted beet with my lunch! Hi Chefbea.

I liked this puzzle. I can see the problem some of you have with "bank" but to me that was one of the funniest puns.

Had to semi-guess here and there, but finished in good time with no mistakes (I think, it's too big to check). No empty squares, anyway.

So funny to see: "this may stick a little" in the middle of the grid!

mac 3:25 PM  

Of course that is "stink"...

chefbea 3:37 PM  

@Jaxin LA That packet of seeds is actually a small dish that I purchased at Cracker Barrel years ago while on a trip. I use it as a spoon rest.

Three and out...although Beets usually come 4 to a bunch.

... and you lose some 3:55 PM  

Re: 113D & 125A; EDEN/SIN could work too!

A Canadian Social Insurance Card (SIN Card) is usually granted to Canadian citizens ...

Garden of Eden - Created For Mankind The Garden of Eden is described in Genesis, Chapters 2 and 3.


Anonymous 5:08 PM  

Eden and Sin do not work. Yao Ming is the Rocket from China and a sim card is the only correct answer for 125A.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Maybe a sin card,, but yae doesn't work for Rocket from China.

jberg 5:17 PM  

Yeah, I started with EDEN too, and never did get EDOM, so I finished with an error. And I had DSL for ASL, even though it seemed way too obvious to be right. But was Prince Albert from Saskatchewan? I thought it was Saxe-Coburg, so obviously I was missing something!

The title, CAGEY ... made me think of birds and animals, too - especially since 1A asked about chickens. But I got if soon enough. It would suggest that the K for G transformation is limited to NK for NG, though. A minor imperfection, I enjoyed it.

Despite his misdirection in giving a fake definition, as if it were a captcha or a borogrove, I think Rex meant us to read his comment as CLUNKY.

quilter1 5:21 PM  

@CY, yes but those were on the shoulders not the breastplate. I (k)nit no longer. Going to check out the LAT xword.

Bob Kerfuffle 5:59 PM  

@jberg - Prince Albert, Saskatchewan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -
Prince Albert is the third-largest city in Saskatchewan, Canada.

JenCT 6:31 PM  

@jberg - I also had DSL for ASL; otherwise, found the puzzle fairly easy. Although, like @David L, was working on the puzzle while watching Nadal beat Federer.

New avatar is Peeps - they grow so fast!

Speaking of Jon Stewart, I just have to post a link to his hilarious rant against Donald Trump: Jon Stewart

JenCT 6:36 PM  

Oops - try this link: Jon Stewart

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

All in all, I thought this puzzle was clever, and I agree with @CY and whoever else figured out that the K-G ("cagey") substitution exonerates the seemingly anomalous BIG BANK THEORY. Most of the fill was fairly easy, although I had to Google LINEAR A; also, I wasn't crazy about the "ampersandwiches," especially RANDR. But one measure of a good puzzle is that you learn something new and/or remember something old, and this one satisfied on both counts.

Rex hasn't liked too many recent Sunday puzzles, but I get the feeling that he is a nitpicker by nature and not easy to please. I'm also annoyed that he almost seems to take pride in his knowledge gaps, especially concerning things that happened before 1970! Maybe it helps to be of a Certain Age, but I've definitely run across the phrase "Mother of Presidents" before and have even heard of Edna Purviance, though I've not seen any of her films.

michael 8:59 PM  

I thought this was easy, liked the theme, enjoyed the big bank answer (even if not entirely consistent with the theme). Typical Sunday puzzle (which is a good think/g)

Sharon 9:55 PM  

I liked the "Jewishness" of the puzzle today, which marked the annual NYC Celebrate Israel parade. Very appropriate, Mr. Bendavid! I was surprised that GUSSET was unfamiliar to so many people. Anyone who has spent any time with a sewing machine should know that word.

fikink 10:06 PM  

@jberk, I assure you Rex meant to type "clungy" - I was thinkink of doink my post, transposink the Gs AND Ks.

captcha: nonexcit - a play by Sartre

mac 10:07 PM  

@Jen CT: Can't believe how grown-up Peeps looks!

Anonymous 11:23 PM  


Had Minoan A before changing it to Linear A. Most of the letters are the same. Teri Hatcher convinced me to go with Linear A instead. Had some vague recollection from college archeology course that there were Minoan A and Mycenean B also Linear A and Linear B, respectively.

Estragon the Misanthrope 6:13 AM  

Perhaps it would have been better if the clue had been something like, "Speculation about the best place to borrow a ball point?", where the answer would have been BIK BANK THEORY.

Vladimir 6:17 AM  

Estragon, you idiot, that's BIC, not BIK!

Kip 12:33 PM  

I have the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse to thank for my knowledge of gusset (plates). If you lived in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007, you became familiar with the word 'gusset.' The gusset plates represented one of the architectural features that received some of the blame for the collapse.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

I agree with Carol above: seeing George Linn of LINN's Stamp News was a wonderful treat!

Andy 1:32 AM  

Many of the nitpicks seem very odd to me. I'll give you suffixes like EAN, but a recurring character in Dilbert (ASOK) is hardly arcane knowledge. And for things like philatelist LINN, sure it's a niche, but it's no more obscure than RODAN if you're not into Godzilla movies.

It seems inane to laud the esoteric answers you happen to know and rail against the ones you happen not to.

And not even looking up LINEAR A - boo. It's actually somewhat well-known (as these things go) by virtue of remaining undeciphered even though many samples of the writing have been found.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

By the way " ad in " is a tennis score for the sleepy blogger.

Dirigonzo 11:55 AM  

Unhappy in syndicationland to see @Rex diss-ing "EDNAS" as that was my mother's name, although since she was born in 1912 I guess that actually kind of validates his point concerning the era. Still, you shouldn't be hating on EDNAS.

I finally just gave up on the LINEARA/HAAG and came here thinking I had finished with a 0-1-0 record (no googles, 1 blank square and no errors) but discovered that I had left the EDen mistake in so my error-free streak went in the toilet.

Picked up the theme pretty early on and used it to fill in many of the long answers with few crosses, so it was very helpful. No complaints from me there.

Favorite clue was "Playbook figures", and I love the word "ampersandwich" no matter who coined it.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

My first thought was that the theme answers would somehow include basketball puns. Ironically, the thought I failed to generate was that the Rocket in question was a Houston Rocket.

In my mind the "bracket" at 42a was going to be some type of SET. When I came up with mAtAH at 42d, the other crosses gave me gUmSET. Some sort of dental construct, of course.

Cary in Boulder 4:15 PM  

Aside from the YAE-SIN snafu, my downfall was that very last letter in the SE. I was sure the Fiddler (which I've somehow never seen) character must be YENTL. Or was that something with Barbara Streisand? Anyway, I pondered long and hard about what a SENSL might be.

Shouldn't RANDR been clued as an abbreviation?

captcha=cagai, which is "cagey" in Linear A

Dirigonzo 4:57 PM  

@Cary - There was a recent (for us in syndicationland) discussion among the prime-timers about cluing abbreviations which have become "part of the language", like R and R. I think the consensus was that there should be an indication in the clue for early week puzzles but not necessarily later in the week. Or maybe I hallucinated the whole thing, which happens from time to time - reality is such a fleeting concept when you are existing in a universe that is 5 weeks removed from the rest of the world.

Dirigonzo 5:35 PM  

Just to be sure that I haven't totally lost my grip on reality I checked back and discovered that the discussion about abbreviations took place on Saturday 5/7, which was "yesterday" puzzle-wise for syndicated solvers, but 4 weeks and a day before today's syndicated puzzle appeared and 5 weeks and a day ago in real time. It's no wonder I never know what day it is!

Three and out, as per @RP's reminder.

NotalwaysrightBill 4:45 AM  

Syndi-later even than usual.

Had me a think about it and decided that Rex's dismissal of the bit of wordplay, ONETHINKATATIME, is nauseatingly too grammatical and that the phrase is as much "in the language" as "My Darling Clementine," both the song and the movie (featuring the Earp/Clanton feud), is "in the culture." Outside of smartsy-fartsy Jon Stewart-land anyway.

Imagine that SKORTS are designed such that GUSSETs aren't necessary, with or without panties.

Agree with whomever first questioned the "Caginess" of this puzzle. Unless the constructor was referring to where you would have to put Ghengis Khan's band, with his subject TATARs, Ghengis Khan and the Spuds. Riveting stage show, but stay out of the mosh pit!!!

Unknown 11:45 PM  

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Unknown 8:31 PM  

When you feel like quitting think about why you started. (y)

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