Filmmaker Allen / SUN 6-26-11 / Locale for cattail / Game whose name derived Swahili / It landed Pacific Ocean 3/23/01 / Bygone hand weapon

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Constructor: David Levinson Wilk

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "T Mobile" — Familiar phrases in which "T" switches places with letter next to it, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: GANEF (18D: Thief, in Yiddish) —

n US slang
an unscrupulous opportunist who stoops to sharp practice
[from Yiddish, from Hebrew gannābh thief, from gānnabh he stole]
• • •

I generally like David Levinson Wilk puzzles, and I like much of this. Well, some of it. The theme is Extraordinarily loose, though. I don't like themes with infinite possible answers—the bar is just too low. The only consistency is that a T moves. One space. In every theme answer that movement takes place in the last two letters of a word ... except in PRE-MARTIAL SEX. So no consistency there. T and *any* letter adjacent to it? Whether on its left or its right? Not the kind of theme I'd expect from the Nation's Premier Crossword. Too simplistic. The theme answers are cute in parts, but brief amusement couldn't overcome the overall bummer created by the looseness of the theme. That said, the grid is mostly decent, and it actually took me an above-average amount of time to finish, for reasons I don't quite understand—a nice Sunday challenge. There's a handful of entries I could do without (KLMN, EVENI, GANEF, ETRES), but most of the fill is bouncy, and many of the clues felt fresh and interesting. K.D. LANG will be playing here on July 4 (Q: why would she want to be in Binghamton (of all places) on the Fourth of July!? A: She's Canadian, what does she care?) (1A: 1988 Grammy winner for "Crying"). Nobody loves a FASCIST (pace Sylvia Plath), but I love FASCIST as a crossword entry (68D: Like Mussolini). And Bowie is Bowie is Bowie, and is always welcome:

[79A: 1983 #1 hit with the lyric "Put on your red shoes"]

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Dance seen in a Lincoln Center performance of "Don Giovanni"? (NEW YORK MINUET) — "Dance" in clue, DANCE in "LET'S DANCE" ... but I doubt anyone noticed
  • 33A: "None of the leading sales people came in today"? ("ALL BEST ARE OFF")
  • 40A: Celebration after a 1964 heavyweight championship? (FETE OF CLAY) — maybe my favorite answer
  • 55A: Stirrup? (COWBOY BOOST)
  • 71A: Decide to sleep in the nude? (CAST PAJAMAS)
  • 81A: What whitewashers apply? (IVORY COATS)
  • 88A: Response to the query "Does Ms. Garbo fist-bump?" ("NO, GRETA SHAKES") — wow, that is one forced clue. I guess it beats a clue about Ms. Garbo's not having the dt's.
  • 102A: Love before war? (PRE-MARTIAL SEX)
Most troublesome of the trouble spots, for me, was the area around the KATIE / IRWIN intersection (59A: Scarlett O'Hara's real first name + 42D: Filmmaker Allen). Had no clue about either name—never a great feeling to run into an unknown proper noun collision like that. Couldn't figure out ASCRIBE (had ACCLAIM at one point) (29D: Credit) and would never have gotten to TAE BO from the clue (35D: Judo-like exercises) without significant crosses. The plural "exercises" feels wrong. TAE BO is an exercise routine. Singular. I guess if you take each movement as a discrete exercise, then voila, but I don't like it. I had TOTES in there but took it out (forget why) (49D: Lugs). Had TRIB in there but then took it out and tried TROP ("The TROP" is the name of the Tampa Bay Rays ballpark) (49A: Tampa paper, briefly, with "the"). Throw in the fact that I REMEMBER is kind of an arbitrary phrase (42A: "You don't need to remind me") and OIL PALM is not high on my Familiar Tree list (14D: Tree whose two-word name, when switched around, identifies its product), and you (or rather I) have a pretty thorny section on your (my) hands.

  • 20A: Cry from a balcony ("O ROMEO...") — Nice clue. Sounds general, ends up being (very) specific.

  • 32A: Locale for a cattail (FEN) — Considering I have no first-hand experience with FENs or cattails, I got this remarkably quickly.
  • 68A: Shriners' headwear: Var. (FEZES) — points off for "Var." Bonus points for a "Z."
  • 95A: "Rock 'n' Roll is King" band, 1983 (ELO) — it's a 1983 music kind of day, I guess. First "LET'S DANCE," now this:

  • 1D: Former German chancellor Adenauer (KONRAD) — started with "C," and then adjusted to accommodate K.D.
  • 11D: Country star ___ Lynne (SHELBY) — she did a very fine album of Dusty Springfield covers called "Just a Little Lovin'":

  • 16D: Plane over Yemen, maybe (DRONE) — Great clue. Very contemporary.
  • 17D: College town just off Interstate 95 (ORONO) — the crosswordiest of college towns. Just as MIR is the crosswordiest of space stations (103D: It landed in the Pacific Ocean on 3/23/01).
  • 45D: Bygone hand weapon (BROAD AX) — several years of D&D experience as a kid and I still couldn't come up with this (easily), even with AX in place.
  • 59D: Director of the major film debuts of James Dean and Warren Beatty (KAZAN) — really want to read Schickel's bio of KAZAN. Of course I really want to read a LOT of things. It's overwhelming. I probably shouldn't let it stress me out. My wife and daughter just *read*. Me, I always want to be reading the *right* thing, in the *right* order, at the *right* time. I think I'd enjoy reading more if I just did it instead of thinking about it so much.
  • 72D: Game whose name is derived from Swahili (JENGA!) — I have literally never played this game. It was created in the '80s, but became really popular (as I remember it) in the '90s, when I was not playing games of any kind at all. Not my favorite decade.
  • 85D: Alex of "Webster" (KARRAS) — also [Alex of the Detroit Lions].
  • 88D: Southwest Africa's ___ Desert (NAMIB) — just dawned on me that this is probably related somehow to NAMIBIA. Never heard of the desert before.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 1:35 AM  

I liked it. But I always do. Medium.

Some cool fill, hardly any dreck, fun theme. I am not enough of a purist to want all the consistency some (Rex) do. It was enough to get NEW YORK MINUET and to realize from the title that a T would be moved in each theme answer to create a funny phrase. And I enjoyed them all.

My issues with the puzzle are twofold. First, it seems to me a sort of easy out to use non-English words that have multiple spelling possibilities. G(A,O)N(E,I)F is the premier example - all four combinations can be found by Googling. 28A ALTA could be ALTO, and the latter was my first choice. 21A was MOO SHI (pork) - same thing. Detracts from the elegance of the grid IMO.

Second, I thought sodium AMIDE was a bit off the wall for non-chemists. If the rest of you thought it was fair, then fine.

Had GAMBLER @ 22A, LACTIC before CITRIC @ 86A.

Enjoyed learning that Sting was a BASSIST. Interesting to see ENSNARE in the grid, when it was a common wrong answer for "Trap" earlier this week.

Thanks, Mr. Wilk.

jae 2:08 AM  

I liked it too. Slightly crunchier than medium for me. Took a little staring to to work out SW after putting in RISES, plus the IRWIN area took some extra effort.

@r_c Thanks for explaining why I felt irritated/puzzled when GONIF didn't work out.

@RMS from yesterday. I realized what the diagram was about when I read the headlines this morning. And, yes, a celebration seems right.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

Has anybody ever heard someone say "hang on a mo"? Hang on a sec, O.K. but MO? I don't think so! Has anybody ever seen July shortened to JUL? Yuck! Other than that I really liked this one. Took me a looong time to finish, I'll blame all the little squares and my not so good eyes, Yeah, that's it!

A lot of write overs, big guns before TOP DOGS, doting before DOTERS, and so on... But all in all a fun solve.

Evgeny 4:08 AM  

Don't see how the DRONE clue works. To my knowledge, there's no military operation going on in Yemen that might use drones? Plane over Libya, maybe.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:24 AM  

Another hand up for GONIF before GANEF.

Also, 74 D, BROIL before SPOIL.

Ruth 7:47 AM  

It had to be ALTA to be in gender agreement with BAJA.

exaudio 8:03 AM  

Liked this one, and I thought the Garbo clue was the most fun of all of them. DNF due to NAMIB/MAIDEN crossing in the southwest (big duh when I got the solution) and had SCARF for SNARF in the northeast, managing to convince myself that SIERRAC could be a kind of Nevadan. But overall a fun Sunday.

redhed 8:29 AM  

I too had SCARF instead of SNARF. Never heard it the second way. I agree that overall it was fun.

retired_chemist 8:34 AM  

@ Ruth - the clue said "opposite" so I first thought opposite gender as well.

No BS 9:10 AM  

Namibia (named for the Namib as Rex suggest) used to be called "South West Africa" when it was a German colony, so the clue was pretty clever IMO.

I was so pleased that I knew gonif--a stretch to come up with a spelling variant--so NE fell last, but fall it did.

Liked the shout out to Ken Ken, which I always do as a mental warmup before starting the Puzzle. Fewer aha moments with them, but still, a few!
Fun puzzle.

Be Rignt with you 10:21 AM  

To me, it's *Wait a sec* or *Hang on a MO*, one of several answers that were *off* to me.

Was not on Wilk's (Shortz's) wavelength today, so it was *just* a Sunday puzzle here.


chefbea 10:24 AM  

Got cast pajamas first. Then all best are off so I assumed all T's and s's were switched. So I came to a halt.

Had to google and then come here in order to finish.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Rex's inconsistency on inconsistency continues today but the last time I agreed to disagree so Rex will consistently maintain he is consistent. But this time I agree with Rex. The puzzle would have been better had the T's similarly situated in each theme answer.

@Evengy – The CIA has been using DRONES over Yemen for a long time for spying. Soon the CIA will be sending Predator Drones so it can kill terrorists. Just Google Drones over Yemen.

jackj 10:47 AM  

After a charming Friday themeless a while back, which gave us those 9-15 letter answers, (USSCONSTITUTION and OPENPANDORASBOX, for example), David Levinson Wilk entertains us again with a most punny Sunday.

Funny how memories are triggered as the balcony clue, (for OROMEO), and then seeing Mussolini in the puzzle, reminded me of an elderly Roman friend, years ago, taking me to a building near the Capitoline to recall, with rage, that the FASCIST Mussolini had often preached from the balcony of that building with his hated message, "We want war!".

You can have PREMARTIALSEX as favorite theme clue; mine is the inanely charming NOGRETASHAKES.

joho 10:47 AM  

I liked the title and the puzzle except for RUNTIER. Huh? My dog's RUNTIER than your dog!

I didn't catch the same error that @exaudio and @redhead had as I, too, wrote in SIERRic/ScARF. ScARF down is the same as SNARF down, no?

NOGRETASHAKES was my favorite theme answer.

Fun Sunday, thanks, David Levinson Wilk!

duaneu 11:06 AM  

Is MIR really the crosswordiest of space stations? ISS seems awfully popular too.

Golfballman 11:18 AM  

After 72 years its nice to finally find out that Scarlett's real name is

After 72 years its nice to know that Scarlett's real name is Katie. Learn something new every day. Agree with @chefwen @ just amo

CoolPapaD 11:24 AM  

For the "Tuba" clue, I kept wanting the answer to have something to do with the 1982 Stanford-Cal (39A) game, in which the Golden Bears ran back a kickoff with a number of laterals to win the game, crushing a member of the Stanford marching band in the process, though I believe it was actually a trombone player. Here's a great link:

Loved this - went to sleep last night with the NW in shambles, and with parts of ALLEY and OOP missing (was thinking of a play play, like, say, Romeo and Juliet...). Having PRETEND for 2D kept things interesting for too long.

"GRETA" was my favorite theme answer, and "CLAY" was the last to fall - I was born that year, so I had to rely on most of the surrounding fill.

I would spell it SLYLY were it up to me. SLILY looks so wrong.

thursdaysd 11:29 AM  

Had to google three proper nouns and then check letters in the NE - was sure it was Scarf. None of my three paper dictionaries have heard of SNARF, but it is in the online Merriam-Webster.

Thought there was some nice fill - OROMEO, MAIDENS - and I liked PREMARTIALSEX, FETEOFCLAY and NEWYORKMINUET. I wanted riding BOOTS, though, and there did seem to be rather a lot of obscurities.

Mel Ott 11:34 AM  

I've SCARFed down many a meal. Guess I've also SNARFed down a few but that's a new word for me.

That plus the odd derivation from SIERRA and the odd transliteration of the vowels in GONIF/GANEF made that kind of a Naticky corner for me.

@Ret Chemist @Ruth: I also briefly considered ALTO because it would be opposite in gender as well as elevation.

Isabella di Pesto 11:56 AM  

Never heard of snarf, but scarf? Yes, always.

Didn't like "cast pajamas" since decide to sleep in the nude would be cast "off" pajamas. IMHO.

I thought "penner" was clunky. My spell check underlines it in red. I guess it's a real word, but a clumsy one.

I thought 47D "crib items" would be mobiles--since every crib I've seen has them, and it would have been cool to see that as an answer in this puzzle.

Norm 12:02 PM  

Cute puzzle. I liked it a lot, although the NE and SW were complete stumpers for a long time. CAST PAJAMAS and NO, GRETA SHAKES were my favorites. Didn't think that clue was forced at all, just wacky. And, @retired_chemist, I think AMIDE and AMINE (etc.) show up often enough to be fair game (especially with LTDS making the choice easy this time).

The Bard 12:15 PM  

Romeo and Juliet > Act II, scene II

ROMEO: She speaks:
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this night, being o'er my head
As is a winged messenger of heaven
Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes
Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.

JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

ROMEO: [Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?

JULIET: 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:20 PM  

@duaneu - ISS, for the International Space Station, would certainly seem to be useful in Crosswords, but, according to the WordPlay database, every time ISS has appeared in the Times Xwd since 1993 it has been in reference to an ISSUE of a periodical!@ So MIR wins hands-down!

Tandrea Carlat Mitchaels 1:22 PM  

Oddly there was a whole Elia KAZAN tribute on PBS last night by Martin Scorsese... He's the reason Scorsese made films! It is unusual bec usually you see ELIA in the puzzle, not his last name, so Scrabblicious with K and Z!

Love the name T Mobile and I think not only is it great (greta?) that it moved to the left or the right, I think it could even have just been randomly moved around! It was T MOBILE not just T one step back! CANT YOU HEART ME NOW?*

About to have brunch with the whole West Coast constructor crew to welcome home reigning ACPT champ Dan Feyer!!!
What with Young Tyler in attendance, we will have the winners of the past SEVEN years!
Not to mention THE Manny Nosowsky, creator of 200+ NYT puzzles!
(Throw in the Brown crew who are individually interning out here this summer and it will be one for the books!)
I'll take pictures!

*That's the T crashing Verizon's ad! ;)

mac 1:24 PM  

This one was quick for me, so not as tedious as so many Sunday puzzles. Have to admit that I found premartial sex the funniest.

I needed the crosses for the a and the e, but somehow ganef looks familiar to me.

Let's dance makes me think of Donna Summer.

joho 2:04 PM  

@Tandrea Carlat Mitchaels ...
I am so jealous of your brunch with all the top brainy brass of crossword solving and creating! Please do take pics!

syndy 2:09 PM  

Isn't a snarf when a chunk of something gets stuck up your nasal passage? oww!Interesting puzzle-fun, but not too elegant=a little lumpy I had no problem with the theme-but snarf;slily ;ganef;runtier;dal;gen;WASAT:eveni;whole lotta crap

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

@ACME loves the roam feature of T Mobile?

@Isabella - PENNER is not in the dictionary but the last time PENMAN was in the puzzle Wordplay's Deb Amlen cried (literally) so much about the sexism in that term that I almost think this puzzle was published (to answer Rex's criticism) just to get PENNER published.

@ Retired Chemist - Thx for making me not feel so dumb about AMIDE (Note when you C the ID and switch with the M you get ACME, who at times might be a bit salty).

@Evil Doug - I keep coming back here to read your pithy comments but, alas, so far none today.

Shamik 2:14 PM  

Medium-challening for me at 26:37. Was thoroughly emotionally attached to RISES for LIFTS and so allowed the MAISENS to be fair things. Who knew? Maybe they were fair plays in some Swahili named game?

skylai: aerial jai alai

GILL I. 2:41 PM  

I did this last night sitting along the Sacramento river and enjoying just about everything - especially this puzzle.
I've never hear the word GANEF but I like the sound of it and will try to find a reason to use it.
Also never heard of JENGA.
Hand up for NO GRETA SHAKES for favorite. Not sure I understand KNITS for interlocks.
Another hand up for pictures ACM - have loads of fun!
P.S. Chip Hilton:
I listened vewy, vewy carefully yesterday and didn't hear one single OLE !!!
Good game though - especially the first half.

Lewis 2:51 PM  

After having AFTA two days in a row, I woke up knowing I'd find one in this puzzle. 28A was close to the real thing. But I found it starting with the third A in CASTPAJAMAS, then moving up, then up at an angle, then going right (as if playing Boggle).

Wouldn't have thought of doing that had Rex not found, a little more loosely, MARRIAGE EQUALITY, in yesterday's puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 3:52 PM  

Fun all-day sucker. Thanx, Mr. Wilk.

Crossword History made at the Saturday Stumper yesterday. Clue: "River through Ottawa". Answer: OTTAWA. Har. Love it. Has the precedent been set, puzzlers?

Joe in Montreal 4:03 PM  

I had SCARF too. "SNARF down"? Loved NO GRETA SHAKES. I didn't like all the placenames - town near I95, town on the Hudson, some Nevadans, Penn State Campus site. And is 'ending with' the new 'suffix with'? This is the second time recently we've had KEN for KenKen - some promotion? and we've had SST quite often recently. Meh! (which should be in the Scrabble dictionary)

Sparky 4:42 PM  

DNF. Hand up for ALT-; GoNiF; ScARF. Worst spot NE corner. I guess I just didn't "get it". Kept trying for TE/ET exchanges. Though most words filled in, bored by 3:30 and gave up. Interesting write up and comments. @MAC: I thought of Donna Summers, too. Onward to Monday.

KarenSampsonHudson 5:04 PM  

Liked the theme, like the constructions too. Fun Sunday.

O, Octavian 5:30 PM  

Perfect Sunday puzzle in my book -- not sure how anyone could complain about a single letter of it.

Zippy theme w/ amusing answers; some interesting contemporary and mid-century trivia; some unusual geography, food, chemistry and history. Four stars.

And in answer to the questions on Friday, there is no relationship between ACM and Octavian. Not sure how that rumor got started.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

@golfballman, probably you haven't watched GTWT as often as some of us. Scarlett's father always calls her "Katie Scarlett."

Like most of you, I liked the puzzle but it took longer than usual. Polly

cfxk 6:01 PM  

Has Rex never been to Fenway Park, which sits at the edge of the Fens in Boston?

acme 6:07 PM  

@O, Octavian, hi mom!

@Ret_chem, @Gill I.P., @sparky, @Bob K, @jae
I think I might have written this before, but in Scrabble, you can spell Ganef (preferred spelling)seven different ways:
gonoph (I'm not kidding! Ick!)

Brunch was great, pics to come:
Dan Feyer, his folks and brother, Brown kids: Jonah Kagan and Zoe Wheeler, Tyler Hinman, Jeremy Horwitz (who made that awesome baseball/musician puzzle, Byron Walden (1st anniversary and pregnant wife, Robin, in tow), Myles Callum, Stephanie Spadiccini, THE Manny Nosowsky, Lee Glickstein, Michael Blake, various non-puzzling significant others who would prob prefer to remain nameless...and me :)

Manny who has made 200+ NY Times puzzles was 4 when they were building the Golden Gate Bridge and remembers!!!!!!

Rube 6:14 PM  

I must be getting old as I had PREMARITALart for a long, long time. In fact that whole SE corner was full of things I didn't know. Never heard of Bob Evans restaurants -- must be east coast -- and didn't know Leonard ELMORE, KAVA, or ELO. Should have known the last two from other Crosswords.

BTW, I put down SNARF without a second thought... could be a West Coast term. And, one other thing, Penn State is in College Station -- that's of Nitanny Lions fame. Altoona is, well, somewhere else.

Getting the theme early with NEWYORKMINUET helped the solve and gave me NOGRETASHAKES without any crosses. Still, had three Googles in the SE corner in order to get _SEX in place of __art. I think Rex will approve of that.

JenCT 7:03 PM  

After getting NEWYORKMINUET right away, I struggled with much of the other theme answers for too long.

Same mistakes with SCARF, SLYLY, ACETIC instead of CITRIC.

Got OROMEO and BASSIST easily; didn't know OILPALM.

Looking forward to Monday.

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

I had "knots" for "knits" and left it because Ivoe Anderson is just as well known to me as Ivie.
Also, being forced to choose "rides" over "rises" for "lifts" is asking a lot.

fergus 7:30 PM  

What a trudge through this one, especially the NE corner. Dud Clue for 33A, but I don't know how to unwork the ANSWER? Sunday clothing, inane closings to emails, restrictions on the superlative? Nothing really works.

Z 7:35 PM  

Hands up on all the common mistakes, DOTing, ScARF, RIsES. Fixed them all except SIERRic, getting everything but the "i" from crosses. All in all a fun solve.

@Rube, Elmore Leonard is a crime fiction author with many of his works transformed into movies, the most famous of which is probably "get Shorty" starring John Travolta.

Dan 7:38 PM  

I've got a picture of the SF crew -- see Andrea's post above for the names.

Oh, the puzzle was OK today. Outshined by the LAT, imo, which doesn't happen very often.

Horace S. Patoot 8:03 PM  

Judo and tae bo have nothing whatsoever in common, at all, nothing. That's right, nothing. Judo is essentially wrestling in pajamas, with no blows or boxing-like maneuvers of any kind.

fergus 8:03 PM  

It would have been fun to be a starling near the hors d'oevres table at this gathering ...

retired_chemist 8:27 PM  

@ Rube - Bob Evans Restaurants comprise nearly 570 locations in 23 states, primarily in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, and upper Southern states. All locations are corporately owned, not franchised. (Wikipedia)

Owens Restaurants in TX were identical. Bob Evans owned them, but they are gone now.

David 8:52 PM  

after 8 hours of driving through Massachusetts, Connecticut and back home to Pennsylvania I was near-comatose as I began the puzzle, so I was surprised and thrilled that I blew this in about 20 or so minutes....

only slow spots were the extreme NW and NE, both of which have some cool answers (KDLANG, OROMEO, TOPDOGS). Theme was easy to discern with MINUET, and like others, the funnest answers for me were NOGRETASHAKES and PREMARTIALSEX. Two very quick writeovers in SLYLY/SLILY (yuk) and SEPTA/HEPTA.

mac 11:27 PM  

Bob Evans restaurants are totally unknown in CT. I thought the clue was referring to this Canadian outfit that seems to try to take over the Dunkin' Donuts of this are (including NY), but I just can't think of their name. Donuts.

Got snarf because it was in a puzzle just a few days ago.

retired_chemist 11:46 PM  

@ mac - Tim Hortons.

Don Byas 1:31 AM  

Nailed NAMIB because I recently saw the June issue of National Geographic. It has some great pictures of the NAMIB Desert.
I confidently entered GONIF.

jae 2:05 AM  

@Rube - I believe Penn State is in University Park. Texas A&M is in College Station, unless WIki is lying to me, which is entirely possible.

@Z - Elmore Leonard is also the inspiration for the excellent FX series Justified.

Anonymous 10:58 PM  

2nd on judo vs Tae Bo: Tae Bo was an aerobic kickboxing fad a few years ago and is not similar to Judo. Judo is more like wrestling, centered around throws and is done on the mat, not standing. Tae Kwon Do, on the other hand, involves standing and kicking and punching.

Also the obscure northeastern cities (Altoona, Ft. Lee, and Orono) were very difficult for this Tennessean.

Alton 9:54 PM  

I had no clue what Bob Evans was-I for some reason was thinking it was a supermarket despite filling in Denny's and then wondering why a supermarket would be competing with a chain restaurant.

And go KD! Playing the Anderson Center at Binghamton? Good for you. Enjoyed the first show ever held there.

Red Valerian 5:16 PM  

Syndi-solver here. Greetings from last week, or something.

Enjoyed the solve a lot, with some fun “aha!” moments. (I never time myself—that’d be too depressing.) Was bogged down for ages in the CAST PAJAMAS area, but I finally got it.

Hand up for considering SCARF as good as SNARF, but I had heard of both.

@retired_chemist: I didn’t mind “sodium AMIDE” given the crosses, despite how long it took me to get that section.

Like @CoolPapaD and others, I did not like SLILY. That’s just gotta be a variant (or so say we).

@Lewis: please do not talk about puzzles from other days—the one you are talking about is, I can only surmise, just under four weeks in the future for syndicated solvers (people who solve the puzzle when it appears in their local papers, which is later than when it appears in the NYT). Thanks!

@mac: Tim Horton’s is named after (wait for it…) Tim Horton, a hockey player. This might make a link: Tim Horton. The food would be okay if it weren’t mainly donuts. (ugh)

Like @Alton and others, I had no idea what or who Bob Evans is/was, but at least I didn't think it/he a supermarket. I am learning a lot about the US from doing the NYT crossword!

Like PREMARTIALSEX. ahem… Oh, and also all the other ? answers. Never heard of JENGA, but it looks like fun.

Red Valerian 5:27 PM  

Sorry--try this (or just google it yourself, plus it's not really all that fascinating ;-)

Tim Horton

Dirigonzo 12:10 PM  

I wrote in "bog" for the cattail's locale very early on and never went back to correct it after I finished down in the SW corner, so I had some pretty bizarre results up there.

A comic-strip I read regularly (Big Nate, maybe?) uses SNARF occasionally, so the term was familiar to me.

I went to college in ORONO, as does my younger son, so I smile every time that particular college town appears in the puzzle.

@Red Valerian - I too noticed the "spoilers" in the prime-time discussion but I wasn't troubled by them as I will have long since forgotten the remarks by the time we see the puzzle.

Deb 3:34 PM  

Like cfxc, I was really surprised Rex was unfamiliar with the word "fen." Perhaps he's not a baseball fan? Neither am I, for that matter, but my son's first apartment when he went to school in Boston sat right in between Fenway Park to the rear and The Fens to the front, so "fen" is now the first word I think of when a clue is asking for something swampy.

Another annoyed hand up at A MO, SLILY, PENNER and SNARF. My dead-tree puzzle's NE corner is a mess of inky write-overs. I'm also always annoyed at the word "ensnare." I understand it's a legitimate word, but it just feels very redundant to me in the same way as "irregardless."

FETE OF CLAY was definitely my favorite theme answer - it's simple but somehow elegant.

@Red - Ditto what Dirigonzo said! I could sit and read through, say, yesterday's entire puzzle and six weeks from now I'd still be stumped (particularly since it would be a Saturday puzzle). BTW, I'm a little more than halfway through "Day of Honey," and the main feeling I'm taking away from it is an even more entrenched belief that religion is the bane of civilization.

One final comment/query for Rex, himself. I first found your blog in December of 2004, which I recall because I was visiting my son for the holidays and since his local paper, unlike mine, didn't have the solved puzzle to peek at when you got stumped, I ended up googling which landed me here. Your blog was fairly new at the time, and you only had a handful of comments generally, and you actually responded to me in my six-weeks-back hinterlands a couple of times. Now that your readership has exploded, I assume you don't have the time to read every comment even in real time, so when I comment here as though you "aren't in the room," it's because I suspect you aren't - not because I'm lacking in manners. (Though I sometimes am.)

Captcha=scrich: an onomatopoeia of nails on a chalkboard

Deb 3:50 PM  

Oops - one more thing... Is the syndicated link broken for everyone else, or is it just me? Both yesterday and today it took me to the Friday puzzle from six weeks (plus two days) ago.

Dirigonzo 4:49 PM  

@Deb @ - It's not just you, the syndicated puzzle took me to Friday 5/27 too (but isn't that FIVE weeks plus two days ago?) Maybe that's why the "anonymous" comments are so few today?

And I suspect @RP is always keeping an eye on things here long after the original party-goers have cleared out, although I have no idea how he finds enough time in the day to tend to this blog plus his new FB page and still have a real life - it's incredible!

Anonymous 10:10 PM  

Difficulty for me was off-the-charts hard; in fact, DNF, thanks to an early mistake that I simply could not dislodge: Filmmaker Allen will for me always and inevitably be WOODY. Now that you mention IRWIN, I acknowledge his membership in that fraternity, but to refer to a filmmaker named Allen and NOT mean Woody is to my mind an unforgivable travesty. Shame on you, David!
Leaving the inscrutable NE, I turned to the SE, where I knew KARRAS, and that seven- was either HEPTA or SEPTA, which together with MIR, ANO and ORGS gave me PR_MAR________ for love before war (?). Naturally, I filled in PRIMARY and got lost down there.
Also bothering was SLILY--shouldn't it be SLYLY? I know I have never seen the word "SLILY" in print before, ever. RUNTIER crossing ETRES was like fingernails on a blackboard...I finally realized: I don't want to do this one any more.

Cristinica 10:35 PM  

I liked 59 across, Scarlett O'Hara's real name. "Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O'Hara, that the land means nothing to you?" It's actually just her first name. And her original name chosen by Margaret Mitchell was "Pansy" which would also fit, but not work. LOVE this blog!

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

Okay, I know who Tina FEy is. And I know what a KEy is. So why you gotta mess me up with KENken (?) and FEN(??)?

Some of you puzzle people probably had no trouble with 24d but I was so ticked that that last letter wasn't a Y that I went ahead and left it blank. And N wasn't even on the radar in my head.

Other than that a complete Sunday for me, and a good workout, though I found myself shaking my head at a number of clues/answers (hang on a mo???)

@ CoolPapaD 11:24 AM
Garner's knee was down and Ford's lateral was an illegal forward pass. And now that the Axe is back where it belongs the score of that game has no doubt been correctly changed on the trophy itself to read Stanford 20 Cal 19.

captcha: pecedusl - supplement taken to keep one's pecs regular.

Anonymous 9:20 PM  

This is my first blog post, EVER! Have been doing xwords for a looong time. Found this site whilst googling for an answer. RP was off and Treedweller was doing the writeup. It was the one that started with a mostly blank grid. I have been a faithful lurker in syndi ever since.

Adorable son gave me his IPad and NYT xword app two months ago. So here I am..trying to post a blog!

So far only do M-W in realtime. Can't do Sunday on iPad at all. Too much moving around. So, did this one on paper and really like it, except for scarf/snarf and had no idea 18D was spelled that way.

Now about donuts. We had two Dunkin Donuts in our neighborhood,run by families from India. Those lovely people worked tirelessly 24 hrs a day to bring us those delights. When the LARams moved to town they preferred Krispy Kreme. One Dunkin is now a Pasta Express and the other was torn down for a strip mall. Sadly we now have to get our donuts at the local grocery, and who knows when they were made. Never hot, fresh, ever.

Adorable son's best friend is a policeman and he had stacked donuts at his wedding instead of a cake.

Dang, this has taken over an hour to write. Think I'm finding out why I haven't done much blogging. This little devil keeps fiddling with me.

Dirigonzo 9:40 PM  

@anony 9:20pm - Congratulations on your first post ever! And it was a good one - loved the story of the policeman's wedding with the stacked donuts - priceless!

Your son has given you a terrific gift, I hope you find lots of new ways to enjoy it.

Sorry you lost your Dunkin' Donuts - maybe some hew entrepreneur will reopen one when the time is right (they really are much better than Krispy Kreme.)

Red Valerian 10:22 PM  

Just to mess with the syndi (and general on-line) time warp, I'm back to yesterday after saying today that I'd return in about three weeks. Insert scare-quotes as you'd like.

@Anon9:20pm: ditto to everything @Dirigonzo said. Except, um, donuts are evil. Seriously, congrats on your first post. And, see?, people read it!! I'm a very newbie myself; I can remember the rush of realizing I'd actually succeeded in posting. Then, one of the regulars here suggested that I get an avatar, etc., and that was super easy. Just google 'google blog,' is what I think she said and I did. Anyhow, it weren't hard! And then people will recognize you (oh, that's the person with that great donut story ;-)

@Dirigonzo and @Deb: you’re probably right that I won’t remember any spoilers in the weeks hence. BUT, I also wonder very much about just how memory works. Sure, I might not consciously think that I’m remembering, but mightn’t I be anyhow? I mean, how is it that I usually go back to a page in a book and start reading at just the right spot, but don’t know how I do that?

On the other hand, maybe I'll take any potential spoiler effect as proof positive that I'm getting better at crosswords :-)

As to a problem with the link, I don't know. I always google key bits. (Don't want to see "today's" puzzle early! ;-)

captcha=pongkvag... Korean/Scandinavian video game?

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Look on Google Images for photos of the Namib Desert. Pretty amazing. The animals that live in the desert are interesting too, especially the elephants. Elephants??? Yes!

Sid 8:45 PM  

This puzzle was the dullest Sunday grind in a long time. Bleh.

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

This is a late post, since I save up the Sunday NYT crosswords to keep me amused during my winter sojourns in Mexico, however, wish to point out that the phrase in the U.K. is "half a mo" as in "wait a sec"

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