Balcony playwright / SUN 7-10-11 / Paolantonio of ESPN / 1862 invasion battle site / Mount for god Neptune / Fruit for lagomorphs

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Constructor: Ben Pall and David Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "BODY ENHANCEMENT" — familiar phrases have (circled) letter added, creating wacky answers, clued "?"-style; circled letters are implanted in each familiar phrase, *and* spell out IMPLANTS, *and*, when connected, form the unmistakable profile of a (fake?) boob. Just connect the circles in a gently flowing line. It's there. I think. And yet ... it's a bit imprecise ...

[Update: I just got a tweet from ... someone who would know ... and she said: "@rexparker [...] There is no picture. I repeat, no picture." And yet I've drawn a very convincing picture with my circles. Interesting. Roughly half my friends do Not see it / buy it. Other half do. Best comment was from a well-known constructor: "It looks more like what you think it looks like than last week's looked like an ice cream soda."]

Word of the Day: GAUSS (61D: See 88-Across [10,000 61-Down]) —

The gauss, abbreviated as G, is the cgs unit of measurement of a magnetic field B (which is also known as the "magnetic flux density", or the "magnetic induction"), named after the German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss. One gauss is defined as one maxwell per square centimeter; it equals 1×10−4 tesla.
• • •

Is the NYT trying to save ink by getting rid of constructor middle initials. Peter A. Collins was Peter Collins earlier this week, and now David J. Kahn is simply David Kahn? Odd. Anyway, Ben Pall is a teenager, if memory serves, so a puzzle about boobs is perhaps not so shocking. It's an odd theme, not very complicated or dense, but oddly effective. I didn't think much of it all until I read the circles and drew a naked lady on my puzzle (best "you have to draw on your damned puzzle to figure out what it's all about"-type puzzle Ever). That drawing almost makes up for the avalanche of unpleasant, OOXTEPLERNON*-pleasing short fill I had to HEC through. I mean hack. Hack through. HEC NOI UTILS SASES BAHS ERI DEMIT ITE REE DAH STER SNEE ISI OCTA, to name a gigantic handful. But a boob in profile is a boob in profile, so +1.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: What a poltergeist investigator does? (COUNTS NOISES)
  • 30A: What the tired waiter provided? (LIMP SERVICE) — that clue could've gone in a Completely different direction.
  • 40A: Fruit for lagomorphs? (RABBIT PEARS)
  • 56A: Disorderly poultry workers? (CHICKEN FLINGERS) — I've seen too much footage of poultry "farms" to give this the smile it probably deserves.
  • 75A: Attempts to climb a mountain range? (TAKES ON THE CHAIN)
  • 90A: Sad sports headline in a Providence paper? (BROWN BEATEN)
  • 116A: Churchgoers, sometimes? (PSALM READERS)

Cluing felt slightly more difficult than normal, though this was offset by the relatively straightforward theme. Never spell ANTIETAM right (I always go "-TEM") (24A: 1862 invasion battle site). Thought "Mount" in 25A: Mount for the god Neptune (SEA HORSE) was referring to a mountain. I'm a casual but regular ESPN viewer, so SAL Paolantonio was a cinch ... except for the part where I wanted his name to be SAO (45D: Paolantonio of ESPN). Couldn't remember Ron KOVIC at all and had to rely almost entirely on crosses (58D: "Born on the Fourth of July" hero Ron). Went looking for all the usual playwrights with 71D: "The Balcony" playwright and found none. Don't think I knew Jean GENET was a playwright. Not sure I've ever read anything by him, now that I think of it. My favorite clue of the day was 74D: Stale Italian bread? (LIRA). Should've doubled down and gone with [Stale French bread?] for ECU.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*For definition of OOXTEPLERNON, see FAQ (above).

P.S. Anyone who wants to get creative and draw on his/her puzzle is heartily encouraged to send pictures to me at rexparker at mac dot com.


Image 1: From Jim P. who adds, understatedly: "Doesn't quite work"


Anonymous 12:07 AM  


Sometimes you are too much. I emailed Izvestia to see if they agreed with you and they replied they did.

foodie 12:09 AM  

I dunno, Rex... I think the boob job mellowed you out.

It was kind of an odd Sunday :)

syndy 12:50 AM  

I don't really expect much from sundays-especially when they come with circles! did someone think that without the circles we would not have been able to parse the theme? Did not the title kind of give it away?Found this more LIMP than BUOYANT and 120 across twitched my eyebrow a bit.Also REE REA ROO ROE a mini theme?

Anonymous 1:06 AM  


Anonymous 2:27 AM  


Rube 2:33 AM  

I was not at all impressed with this puzzle. None of the theme answers even made me smile, with the possible exception of PSALM READERS. E.g. you can "take it on the chin" but in what universe is TAKES ON THE CHIN used? RABBIT PEARS was particularly bad.

@RP has already mentioned some of the crummy fill, and there's more. Also, there was too much pop culture for my taste... always a good reason for my dislike of a puzzle, unless the crosses are good, and they are not here.

There were some high points 'tho such as EROICA and FRODO and, as Rex pointed out, "Stale Italian bread" = LIRA. For us geeks, 10,000 Gauss = 1 Tesla is also a plus.

BTW, raise your hand if you watch Fox news and know who GRETA Van what's her name is.

jae 3:34 AM  

Dang, I didn't know I was supposed to connect the circles.

Had this at easy-med., but I had KOVAC for KOVIC having no idea about Germanic legal code. So, DNF on this one.

@foodie - Odd seems right given the connect the circles part. I thought this was OK for a Sun. until that.

@Rube - I know who GRETA is from the Daily Show.

mac 4:26 AM  

@Rube: I know Greta from an interview about her facelift.

I was sure Rex was going to complain heartily about "honorers" at 122A!

Thought this was a fine Sunday, with a funny theme. No instructions in the IHT so I didn't draw. Hilareous if that was meant to be done.

My husband better not call me dearie!

evil doug 5:16 AM  

"Is the NYT trying to save ink by getting rid of constructor middle initials. Peter A. Collins was Peter Collins earlier this week, and now David J. Kahn is simply David Kahn?"

Andrea's not going to like the sound of that....

"That drawing almost makes up for the avalanche of unpleasant, OOXTEPLERNON*-pleasing short fill I had to HEC through."

Never thought I'd see the day when a gimmick connect-the-dots deal salvaged your opinion of an otherwise substandard puzzle. Well, at least you were measured enough to say "almost".

Never on Sunday

Bob Kerfuffle 6:12 AM  

Cute puzzle, IMHO.

I confidently entered GENERA at 71 A and had an empty space left over. Glad I didn't have to choose a plural for octopus again!

Glimmerglass 8:15 AM  

Well, if last week was an ice cream soda, this this may be a Vargas breast. But seriously, the "i" and the "s" simply do not fit the female form. The theme was relatively dull, even if the implants did spell out IMPLANTS. Guessed correctly (this time) the common "i" in the Natick KOVIC/SALIC. Medium is about right for me, too. Not a great Sunday main puzzle, but I always have fun with the Cryptic Crossword (this week's second Sunday puzzle). I'll look forward to that.

Cool Dude 8:51 AM  

@Glimmerglass: The cryptic is fun, but since I've been attempting (and largely failing at) the Independent cryptic, along with working my way through some old Cox-Rathvon puzzles from the Atlantic, I find the NYT cryptics (vis-a-vis the Independent) too easy and (vis-a-vis the Atlantic) uninspired.

However, it looks like they do publish Cox-Rathvon-authored Atlantic-style puzzles in the WSJ sporadically (biweekly?). I've downloaded a stack of them and am excited to get to work.

foodie 8:57 AM  

I got my dead tree version this morning and, on an otherwise naked grid, I filled the circles and connected the dots. It made me laugh out loud even though I knew what to expect. Wow... What a stunt to pull, especially if you're a teenager!

So, I've landed where Rex did... Wisely...

mac 9:06 AM  

@Glimmerglass: such a coincidence. Never heard of Vargas before my husband pointed out his name on a WWII pin-up poster in an air war museum not far from where we are in Holland.

Smitty 9:48 AM  

Too many annoying "See Bla bla across (or down)"
clues for me...

The rest of the clues just felt like odd choices ...

Flinging chickens is disorderly?
Does a "practicing" (hone) a skill mean the same thing as refining it?
Senders of some Christmas gifts = "Aunts" (or anyone else on the planet ...)

DBGeezer 9:57 AM  

Could someone please explain how a WET NAP is a picnic amenity?

evil doug 10:10 AM  

A wet nap is a moistened towelette.

Not to be confused with a wet dream, which is another sort of amenity.


JC66 10:33 AM  

Didn't even notice the circles when solving yesterday. Saw them before reading the blog this morning and grokked IMPLANTS. Never considered drawing on the puzzle and loved that @rex did (as well as his and other's comments regarding resulting image.

Never watch Fox News but know GRETA from CNN's coverage of the OJ Simpson trial.

exaudio 10:43 AM  

Bad case of arexia today, because I had trouble and could not conjure up Happy Pencil Guy no matter what, but it was all worth it for chicken flingers. Maybe you have to have had kids ordering off the children's menu at restaurants for 12 years each to enjoy it.

chefbea 10:50 AM  

Did not like the puzzle. Didn't know we had to draw on it.

And again we have vodka!!!

Of to a car show/flea market. I'll be looking at fleas while husband looks at cars

Z 10:57 AM  

Thanks, @Evil. After we've all cold-SHOWERED we should all become PSALMREADERS to atone for thinking that a puzzle with Buns, ASSETS, MOISTURE, and WET NAPS might contain a drawing of a boob.

Norm 11:39 AM  

I thought this was an amusing little puzzle. RABBITPEARS, in particular, made me laugh. And, LIMPSERVICE? I know I've been to that restaurant!

dk 11:40 AM  

It was the breast of times. At least its not the wurst of times.

Did the puzzle! Did the drawing! And while muttering we have gone to HEC in a hand basket, I SHOWERED myself with the grapefruit juice that came out of my nose.

I might try an Origami experiment after I find a swimming hole.

*** (3 Stars) My LOL moment of the week.

600 11:40 AM  

What an amazing clip of Fleetwood Mac! Usually I keep reading while playing the clips; this time I sat mesmerized. Thank you very much for that.

My time on this puzzle was VERY long; for me it was challenging, though I can't really see why. The things I didn't know were, as often said here, inferable. Still, I finished with no Googles, and I'm pretty proud of that.

I had a couple of questions yesterday that made me feel pretty stupid, but I've decided not to change my name. (Kidding. I never really gave that option credence.) I read this blog for a couple of years before I finally got the nerve to comment just a week or so ago, so I'm not letting a couple of bloopers get me down. As for this puzzle, I loved the clue "works" for OPERA. Why? Until I finished and looked it up, I had no idea opera was the plural of opus. Since one of my goals is to learn something every day (hopefully more than one thing) I'm good to go!

One more thing: How did "didn't just spit" as a clue for SHOWERED pass the breakfast test? Am I missing something? Yuck!

@Rube--I absolutely never watch Fox, but know Greta from all the aforementioned sources--AND she had her own show on CNN even before the OJ trial.

JaxInL.A. 12:14 PM  

@600, glad you realized that no one judges your questions and decided to stick with the moniker.

I only just (finally) figured out that Buns can be hairDOS. Could NOT figure out why that was right.

In the end I HTG for Ron KOVIC. Sigh. Pretty obscure when crossed with SALIC law.

But Rex's schoolboy drawing description (and consequent implied giggling) really made this write-up a treat. I don't know anyone whose real parts look anything like @JimP's graphic. Unless they were wearing one of those torpedo bras from the 50s. Or Madonna's bustier.

Peter Sattler 12:20 PM  

Regarding the theme, you should note that the " implanted" letter is inserted into a body part: NO(I)SES, LI(M)P, (P)EARS, etc.

Does that make it better?

(sorry if this has been mentioned already. Typing on the run.)

Norm 12:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 12:26 PM  


Blogger Norm said...

@600 I think "spit" and "showered" were referring to rain ... I hope. That was the way I chose to take it at least.

@Peter I totally missed that and don't think it's in any of the above comments. That IS another level of ingenuity that calls for snaps for Ben & David.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Just wondering - shouldn't the SEA HORSE clue have a question mark? Or is it literally Neptune's mount?

Sparky 12:33 PM  

Googled. I'm tired of trying to be a purist. HEC Ramsey brings references to Rex Parker in Dec. 2010 and Dec. 2006. Checked 19A to confirm what I had. And looked in my Leonard Maltin for KOVIC. First theme CHICKEN FLINGERS. Dawned late that circles might actually have some reason so put letters in margin for big ah hah. Regarding the drawing, we are not amused.

thursdaysd 12:55 PM  

That took me a while. I got the theme after I changed PSALMsingERS to READERS, and noticing that the extra letter went in the body part did help.

But, several names I didn't know. Luckily I remembered SALIC from a book I read a long, long time ago, which helped with KOVIC, but the SW was a pain. DONHO/IDOL/GINA/LIL were all guesses.

Not only did I want Neptune's mount to be a mountain - or an island - but I wanted the Black Sea dweller to be a fish.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

'Splain,pls, 10d: dos for buns?

WesIsland 1:23 PM  


Buns is referring to hair dos....thanks to @JaxInLa -- could not figure it our myself.

Deb Amlen 1:28 PM  

Re Jim P's drawing: Well done, but if that was truly the result, I'd be asking the plastic surgeon for my money back. I'm in the camp that believes it was more of a "suggestion" than an outright draw-on-the-grid-to-find-a-surprise-boob thing.

Good thing, too. Pat Merrell blushes so easily.

chefbea 1:41 PM  

@Peter Sattler...thanks for pointing out the body parts. Makes it a much better puzzle!!!

DannyB 3:19 PM  

@Peter Sattler . . . Thank you as well for this insight. It LIFTS my esteem of this puzzle much more than the implied implant. We have certainly had a couple of cubist Sundays . . . I tend to connect the dots with straight lines. . .

RMS 3:23 PM  

When we have the comment "this post has been removed by the author," does "author" refer to the writer of the post, or to Rex? Just wondering if, for example, I'd be able to remove a post of my own if I changed my mind about it. Don't see how . . .

Vega 3:27 PM  

Yep, Kovac seemed more like a name to me than Kovic, so I didn't get the gold today. And I'm afraid I don't really care, boob or no boob.

edmcan 3:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
edmcan 3:52 PM  

this puzzle was a real slog for me. Bleh. Glad it's finished. OOXTEPLERNON indeed!

Anonymous 4:16 PM  

It was actually easier for me to figure out the clues that were body parts with a letter added and work from that direction for a lot of this puzzle!

jackj 4:20 PM  

So Will and Ben and David decide to give the rubes a cheap thrill by concocting a puzzle called BODY ENHANCEMENT, which "enhances" various body parts with the letters I, M, P, L, A, N, T, S, to make punny, if lame, theme entries.

Then, to cement the thrill, they circle the IMPLANTS letters and allow the solver to find that connecting them will present a distinct, if crude, breast (implant?).

Yuck, yuck, yuck; a real knee-slapper here, no?

Oh well, boys will be boys, right, Executive Editor-In-Waiting Jill Abramson?

Nothing to see here folks, just pushing the crossword envelope a bit; just move along, please.

chefbea 4:20 PM  

@RMS if you want to remove your post, just click on the trash can

mac 4:30 PM  

@RMS: I think you need to get a Blogger account (and the red and blue name thing) in order to be able to remove something you have posted. When Rex removes something, it's just completely gone.

RMS 4:32 PM  

@chefbea--Thanks. I don't have a trash can in the system I use (just the name at the bottom after "Choose an identity"--no google account or OpenID whatever that is), but at least now I understand that some do, and they are removing their own posts.

thursdaysd 4:36 PM  

I just learned, via a random tweet, that July 10th was TESLA's birthday, 155 years ago.

CoffeeLvr 5:02 PM  

This was a slow solve for me, but not a slog. When I got stuck I re-read the title and looked at what I had - saw that the circled letters were inserted (implanted!) into body parts. That helped a lot with the rest of the grid.

Solved on paper, since I saw the circles early on, and expected to be drawing something - no, not that, Rex. So I had one letter wrong - I don't know much about opera, therefore did not know Verdi's "ERI tu." I was thinking of battery POsTs as something connected by wires. Oh, well. Of, course, if I had solved in AcrossLite, I would have had to use assistance to find that error.

I got IMPLANTs this winter - replacement lens for my cataracts.

quilter1 5:38 PM  

Played with granddaughter after church so just finished the puzzle. It was amusing, but of course I didn't get circles or a note on my Accrosslite printout, so I never saw implants or whatever the boob shape is.

Anyway, I had Nev instead of NEB for the Colorado neighbor for way too long so BROWNBEATEN was my last fill.

treedweller 5:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaxInL.A. 7:10 PM  

@RMS, if you sign up for a free Blogger account, which is pretty easy, then you, too, will have the little trash can when you look at what you have written. It's pretty easy, and then when you make a dumb mistake and only see it after you press Publish, or when autocorrect "fixes" something for you, you DNA change it and no one will be the wiser.

RMS 8:08 PM  

Mac and JaxinL.A.--thanks for the information. I'll look into that. I'm certainly no stranger to dumb mistakes, and the ability to erase would be helpful.

Learn or DNF 9:11 PM  

EROICA at 54 appearences, ERI tu at 33, are staples.

Learn 'em!


CoffeeLvr 10:03 PM  

@P>G>, I did learn EROICA from crosswords. Maybe I will remember ERI tu for next time, maybe not. Maybe you will have more to say about your experience instead of knocking someone else the next time you post.

Anonymous 11:39 PM  

It's so clearly a boob, but unfortunately for me, a man boob.

Sorry 9:01 AM  


Not inteded as a *knock*, and not directed at you, just a general comment to several newer posters.

Didn't have time for long writeup, and, perhaps, should have ended with a ;).


Anonymous 3:43 PM  

And I thought *I* had a dirty mind !

Unknown 8:14 PM  

Re Sunday's 7.10.11
What's an editor for Will? To correct mistakes. There is no such word as "genuses" The plural of genus is "genera"

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

The dictionary says there is such a word as "genuses".

nurturing 12:18 AM  

Rube wrote "RABBIT PEARS was particularly bad."


I thought it was nostalgic, reminding me of a succession of rabbit ears my dad bought for better TV reception during my childhood.

As a former ballet dancer, I should have gotten "bun" sooner than I did for hairdo!

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

AM I the only one (and my three friends) who has no idea how DAH and Morse T are related? .

Dirigonzo 6:59 PM  

From syndicationland, where the party moved to poolside this beautiful summer afternoon. I would have loved any puzzle today, given the setting in which I solved, and I found nothing to dislike about this one. Until I came here and discovered that my local rag apparently CENSORED the puzzle by eliminating the circles, so the *implants* were invisible and I missed the chance to do my own rendition of the boob drawing. That's OK though, since like an earlier poster I'm a straight-line kind of artist so I'm sure the results would have been pretty bizarre.

@anony 6:02 PM - the morse code signal for the letter "T" is one dash (-), which is often spoke "dah", while dot (.) is spoken as "dit". So "SOS" would be spoken dit-dit-dit, dah-dah-dah, dit-dit-dit. Maybe this helps?

SharonAK 2:40 AM  

Agree with Dirizongo. Fun puzzle. thought the theme answers were at least Ok and a number of other clues and/ or answers made me smile.
My paper misspelled the title, but after getting two theme answers mostly by crosses I saw the body parts with letters added which helped with solving.
Surprised at the generally negative comments.

Anonymous 5:24 AM  

Good, clever puzzle. Ben Pall's intellect is frightening; he's the one who made the die cube--complete with O's EVERY place a pip appears. Not only to fit in eight theme answers--and not only on top of that to have the extra letters spell out the theme word-- but to arrange those letters into that shapely shape!! Almost too much to imagine.
Sure, there's some junky fill; c'mon, man! Look what they acheived! AMATI, EROICA and NUTCRACKERS for us music lovers, to say nothing of the stacked eights in the NE and SW. Lots of fresh stuff: SEAHORSE crossing WASHLOAD and KOVIC/DIVOT, for a few. Pick the nits with AFLARE (wince!) and SASES (double wince!), but overall, this grid deserves much more than LIMPSERVICE (tee hee). Count me as one of your HONORERS.

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

"Genuses" is NOT a word, no how, no way, under any circumstance. Nice going Will.

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