World Factbook publisher / SUN 10-9-11 / Title character in love with Elvira / Duke Rocky's manager/trainer / Cartoon character last name Hoek / Setting of castle Rocca Maggiore

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Grin and Parrot" — "B" -to- "P" sound changes in familiar phrases (with attendant spelling changes), creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: LUTSK (59D: Ukrainian city) —
Lutsk (Ukrainian: Луцьк, translit. Luts'k, Polish: Łuck, Belarusian: Луцак or Луцк, transliterated Lutchak or Lutsk) is a city located by the Styr River in northwestern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Volyn Oblast (province) and the administrative center of the surrounding Lutskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city is also designated as a separate raion of its own within the oblast. // The estimated population was around 206,000 (as of 2007). (wikipedia)
• • •
Noticeably more challenging than your average Sunday puzzle, but with very little payoff for the effort. You get these weird phrases like DEFENSIVE PAX—awkward stuff that can't even be clued in a funny manner. SECRET PALATE ... they just don't quite make sense much of the time. I'm used to BEQ puzzles that make me laugh or say 'wow' or both. This didn't quite do either. Biggest struggle by far was the far NE corner, which I just couldn't solve for a while. The base phrase is ... some kind of bower? DARK? Chattering bird = DAW? Raised hand ... ? World Factbook publisher? WTF? I ended up with an error. CIS (!?!?!) and YES instead of CIA (publisher????) (26A: World Factbook publisher, in brief) and YEA (18D: What a raised hand may mean). Grievous. Only got as far as I did because I eventually remembered Jack Bauer from TV's "24." That corner's gonna mess at least a few people up.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: Détente as a means of self-preservation? (DEFENSIVE PAX)
  • 40A: Make a homie's turf unfit for habitation? (POISON THE 'HOOD)
  • 67A: Lay out some newspaper copy the old-fashioned way? (PASTE ON A TRUE STORY)
  • 95A: Rhombus on an award? (PLAQUE DIAMOND)
  • 112A: What a mysterious restaurant critic has? (SECRET PALATE)
  • 4D: Getaway where Italian pies are consumed? (PIZZA RETREAT)
  • 66D: Awards won by shrimps? (PRAWNS' MEDALS)
  • 16D: Strength required to lift a car? (JACK POWER)
  • 77D: Where your opinion on "One lump or two?" counts? (SUGAR POLL)    

Lots of "how the bleep am I supposed to know?"-type clues. LUTSK? Pfft. Duke EVERS!? (28D: Duke ___, Rocky's manager/trainer)! Nuh uh. NED Jarrett (81D: Nascar Hall-of-Famer Jarrett), ERNANI (51D: Title character in love with Elvira), the fact that some castle is in ASSISI (10D: Setting of the castle Rocca Maggiore), all big WTFs. I object to U OF A (78A: Tucson sch.). Maybe locals call it that, but I've never heard University of Arizona called that in the wider (sports) population. U OF M is way way way more plausible to me, and I've never seen that in the grid either. IT HELP is something I've never seen in a crossword before (39D: What PC gurus provide). Feels reasonably in-the-language. I like. Why was there a concert for DIANA 10 years *after* her death? (101A: Concert for ___ (2007 event))? This made no sense to me. No idea what Patch Media is—just guessed AOL from crosses (117A: Company with Patch Media). No idea about REN's last name (106A: Cartoon character whose last name is Höek). Talk about obscure. Still, not hard—cartoon character, three letters ... REN is going to be near the top of my list of potentials. Too many things like CUE WORD (?) (64D: Last thing a fellow actor says, maybe) and NA NA NA (?) (98D: Refrain bit) —probably real things, but only barely. Overall, this one gave me a decent workout, but not much in the way of happiness.

  • 33A: "The ___ Bride" (Rimsky-Korsakov opera) ("TSAR'S") — "ALEXI from LUTSK, you're on the air." "Uh, yeah, hi Casey—could you play "The TSAR'S Bride" for my girlfriend YVETTE in IONIA? Thanks.
  • 88A: Shiny, hollow paperweight (GEODE) — a common crossword word, and a gimme that helped a lot with the thorny middle of the grid.
  • 116A: 1968 live folk record ("ARLO") — I knew this before I even looked to see how many letters it was. Crosswordese dressed up as arcana.
  • 122A: Court nobleman in "Hamlet" (OSRIC) — not the most prominent character, but I had to rely on him once for building a grid, so I'm mildly fond of him.
  • 87D: Berry in some energy boosters (AÇAI) — faddish South American berry now found in everything. Health benefit claims are hyperbolic (as are most health benefit claims, I guess). There are these seeds being marketed under the name SaviSeeds. "The richest source of Omega-3 on the planet." They taste great, but I think they're probably just super-expensive snacks for the excessively health-conscious. I keep wondering if they are going to be the new AÇAI
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Modesty Blasé 12:24 AM  

As you point out, there was some 'not great stuff' here, but I really enjoyed that it was a bit more challenging (albeit with so much arcane and obscure fill) and I appreciated SECRET PALATE, POISON THE HOOD as well as some others.
I got a few smiles out of it.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

BASED ON A TRUE STORY is just wrong - the area at a newspaper where stories, art and ads are, or were, put on the page is paste-up - don't recall anyone saying paste on. And to hear that called old-fashioned. Yikes. Compared to pagination, direct to plate, and whatever else is out there, I suppose - but to me, hot type and letterpress is old-fashioned.

I also found the puzzle somewhat more difficult than usual for a Sunday. Even when I had some of the theme answers in, or mostly in, I wasn't seeing the theme.

The Bard 1:14 AM  

Hamlet > Act V, scene II

OSRIC: The king, sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes
between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you
three hits: he hath laid on twelve for nine; and it
would come to immediate trial, if your lordship
would vouchsafe the answer.

HAMLET: How if I answer 'no'?

OSRIC: I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.

HAMLET: Sir, I will walk here in the hall: if it please his
majesty, 'tis the breathing time of day with me; let
the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the
king hold his purpose, I will win for him an I can;
if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits.

OSRIC: Shall I re-deliver you e'en so?

HAMLET: To this effect, sir; after what flourish your nature will.

OSRIC: I commend my duty to your lordship.

HAMLET: Yours, yours.

[Exit OSRIC]

He does well to commend it himself; there are no
tongues else for's turn.

HORATIO: This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.

HAMLET: He did comply with his dug, before he sucked it.
Thus has he--and many more of the same bevy that I
know the dressy age dotes on--only got the tune of
the time and outward habit of encounter; a kind of
yesty collection, which carries them through and
through the most fond and winnowed opinions; and do
but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out.

Fitz 2:59 AM  

Re: 37 Across - Obviously "many" churches are SPIRED... but "most"???

chefwen 3:47 AM  

This one was truly a slog for me. Finished correctly, but it was a hard row to sow. Had so many write overs that the finished product was very hard to decipher. Not my favorite! Sorry Brendan! I did love SNIVEL @ 72A, my dog Skippy does that well. It garners him many treats.

jae 3:57 AM  

Finally, a tough puzzle this weekend. The LUTSK area was especially tricky. I liked it. Parsing the theme answers was good for some smiles.

Anonymous 4:27 AM  

Yeah, and we were supposed to remember a super-loser from 1996? KEMP.... Had GLOBE for the shiny, hollow paperweight; GEODEs are dull- looking unless sliced open.
IN A WINK? In a twinkling, or quick as a wink.

Rex is right--NE was a bear. JAYs are noisy and obnoxious, but they do NOT chatter. Had DAW, making WEE the meaning of a raised hand; hey, it worked in school.

Rex Parker 6:27 AM  

Definitely considered WEE.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

I thought that this was one of least enjoyable Sunday puzzles that I have ever done. I slogged through it, but got no satisfaction.


Anonymous 7:49 AM  

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.... That's what this puzzle felt like. No "aha" moments, no laughs, just sighs of relief when a word finally fit. No fun.

Glimmerglass 8:38 AM  

Jack Bauer (TV's "24"). This Sunday was really hard, like a long Thursday or Friday. The puns were extra groan-y. Got through it with one error (cis for CIA) but it took twice as long as usual.

CFXK 8:40 AM  

If we would all just become more Puritanical and less hedonistic, we would have greater appreciation for puzzles that give us a strenuous workout but little happiness.... ;)

Sarah in VA 8:44 AM  

Rex, I'm going to be honest here, in what I hope will be some constructive criticism. I realize that you have a steady following of people who love you and agree with you, so I am not trying to start a fight. But I've been considering posting something for weeks and I feel like I just have to do it. Your Sunday puzzle write ups feel like they've "lost that loving feeling."
I don't know if my standards have gotten lower or if you are getting pickier, but I have to say I am tired of coming on here and reading you pick apart almost every Sunday puzzle. It seems like this used to be a forum for you to be funny and joyful about the puzzles. Now (like today) it feels like more of a fault-finding mission.
I bring this up because I want to encourage you to think about whether you still enjoy doing it. If week after week of Sunday puzzles are slogs to you, maybe you need to step away from Sunday write ups?
Again, you don't know me and I have zero authority to tell you how to live your life. Just felt like piping up and reminding you that you seemed to have much more fun/joy/light-heartedness in you Sunday posts. Maybe the real problem is that the Sunday puzzles have changed to not suit you or Will Shortz is losing his touch. (I'm not enough of a connoisseur to really make that call.)
I am still amazed by your intelligence and appreciate you maintaining this blog.

joho 9:03 AM  

Oh, for heaven's sakes I didn't see that I had CIs until just now.

I figured out t he P to B theme at PRAWNSMEDALS and sort of enjoyed finding the other theme answers after that. At least this wasn't an easy fill-in-the blanks kind of Sunday, if not the most sparkling example. I think pun lovers will groan happily while those not so fond of them might grimace.

I was really surprised to see Jack Bauer as the basis for a theme answer, wouldn't think he's mainstream enough.

Well, its time to PIZZARETREAT, enjoy your Sunday everybody!

jberg 9:26 AM  

OK, I loved the theme myself -- precisely because they were such bad puns, barely fitting the sound of the original. Come on, PRAWNS MEDALS? PIZZA RETREAT? How can you not love that!

I had a lot of trouble with this one, for two reasons:

1. I got JACK POWER right away, just as a literal answer to the clue - but had no idea who Jack Bower (or, as it turned out, Bauer) was - and since this was obviously a theme answer, it kept me from seeing the theme as P to B.

2. SacRED worked really well at 37A, with 4 obviously correct crosses, so it took me for ever to figure out 38 and 39D. Finally got ALEXI, and that made PLAZA obvious, so IT HELP was my last (but not CUE) word.

I also tried integer for 56A, but that was silly. I think NATURAL must be something about dice, right?

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

T or N are two options? What am I missing? I Get Y or N. I get T or F. Help!

M07S 10:02 AM  

@Anonymous 9:48 TORN between two choices...not T OR N. I need help with PIZZARETREAT. Oops, just came to me BEATS A RETREAT I wasn't very fond of the theme and didn't find it hard enough for a Sunday.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

It seems to me that so many puzzle makers these days fill in their clever clues with stuff they get from the internet (ironic since that's how we're communicating right now), and come up with clues they themselves would never be able to answer.Give me Patrick Berry any day-who relies on his own brain in creating amazing puzzles.Check out his work at the WSJ.

jackj 10:23 AM  

Not BEQ's best, perhaps, but still a fun Sunday solve with delightful groaners to ease the pain of some rather iffy fill. PRAWNSMEDALS smells like a charming Edmund Gorey creation in the making.

BEQ drove me up a wall for a time as "Sharp irritation" seemed to have only one proper answer, PINCH. When I finally gave in and hit upon PIQUE all fell into place and the rest filled up INAWINK.

Not a trophy puzzle but still a keeper. Thanks, BEQ.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

What is ETO, answer for 53 across?? We got it but have no idea why it's right! Thanks in advance!

GILL I. 10:43 AM  

I will PARROT @Rex and raise a RAZZ.
I actually started out liking the puzzle then got to SECRET PALATE and JACK POWER and well, the rest became a fill in the blank effort.
NANANA goes today to one of my favorite constructors.
I think I'll go back to Carmel and TRIP on some OSTER(s) and PRAWNS.
Maybe @Sarah in VA can join me.

Rex Parker 10:43 AM  

ETO = crosswordese. European Theater of Operation. DDE's command, in case a future puzzle asks you.

chefbea 10:46 AM  

I agree..a tough Sunday puzzle. Got the P to B switch but what in the world is a Beats a retreat. Should I read it Beets???

Love dressing place and light on the stove also sauce thickener and blender maker.

jmorgie 10:49 AM  

yecchhh. no payoff -- not interesting. too many WTFs.

Donkos 10:49 AM  

ETO = European theater of operations. There were two Theaters in WWII, the other was the pacicific theat of operations.

This was a difficult puzzle and all of the puns were real groaners. Can't say I enjoyed this one...

David 10:56 AM  

like joho, got the theme way down in the SE with PRAWNS MEDALS, even though I figured there had to be a P for B substitution going on. The top themed answers were thorny enough that even with a likely theme solution it took a while to get any of them.....SECRET PALATE was by far the easiest, pretty much every other took some crosses and some thinking...

Like others, biggest struggle for me was the NE, and the middle with ERNANI, CUEWORD and INAWINK (originally had ONADIME), but none of this was easy, which is fine with me.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

I second the anonymous above who found this Sunday puzzle one of least enjoyable he or she had ever done. At age 80, I've been doing Times crosswords for 60 years or so, and have kept at it lately to fend off the gaga fairy. After this one, though, I think I'd rather have alzheimers.

r.alphbunker 11:05 AM  

Getting all four down theme answers to intersect across theme answers must have been hard to do.

UOFA brings to mind the uproar caused by UCAL on BEQ's blog a while back.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

ALEXI is not the dimunitive of any Russian name, it is a proper name. The diminutive of Alexander is Sasha.

600 11:32 AM  

Wow, @anonymous at 11:04--that's REALLY hating it! (Thanks for the smile.)

And Wow, Rex! I never saw you jump in to answer a question before either! By the way, please don't stop doing Sunday write ups! What would we do without them?

Okay, so the puzzle. What about seven as a clue for NATURAL? Like @JBERG, I figure it must be something about dice, but don't really get it.

The one I really don't get is how "Can't beat that contract" equals "I PASS." Wouldn't one sign a contract that can't be beat?

I found this puzzle extremely challenging. It took me longer than a normal Sunday, and in the end I had to Google twice, for ASSISI and EVERS. Once I got those two, the crosses fell. But the puzzle chewed me up and spit me out. One of the first DNF's in a long time. Hanging my head . . .

Finally, can someone tell me where the "rules" for this blog are? I'm pretty sure I broke one yesterday, and @mac called me on it. Rightly so. But I've read the FAQs and everywhere else I think I'd find the rules, and I'm having no success. I mean, I figure they're mostly common sense, but are there written rules anywhere?

David L 11:34 AM  

Is CUEWORD really a thing? Why would it be the last thing your fellow actor says?

I also don't understand why seven is NATURAL.

I thought this was surprisingly rough for a BEQ creation.

Mel Ott 11:35 AM  

I don't want to make any categorical statements because of the possibility of regional pronunciations, but:

It seems to me that all but two of the puns retain the vowel sound in the punned word. First at 24A I pronounce the latin word for Peace to rhyme with 'pox' not 'backs'. Do others say it differently?

And I don't think the vowel sounds in 'Bronze' and PRAWNS are even close. Again there might be a regional pronunciation that I have not heard.

Or was the constructor not aiming for consistency in the vowel sounds?

@Chefbea: I think the more or less familiar phrase is BEAT A HASTY RETREAT. It does sound odd without the HASTY.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

fyi regean was man of the year 1981

walesa was person of the year

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

A bowler that aims for the ONE PIN is only going to get good at converting splits (or not).

hazel 11:39 AM  

Couldn't find one thing about this puzzle that I liked. Just double-checked the grid. Nothing. Can't explain why in the world I stuck with it.

@Sarah from Va - just pretend @Rex no longer writes up Sunday puzzles - and don't come and read them. Problem solved!

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

I finished this one but like so many before me it was a slog. I know BEQ thinks outside the box but sometimes he's to clever for his own good. @ Sarah if you're unhappy STOP READING the blog. GBM capcha morki, mindy's pet name for mork.

chefbea 11:41 AM  

@600 think of the card game Bridge. There are contracts in bridge and if you don't pass

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

"U OF A" is what the Arizona kids cheer at Pac-10 (now Pac-12) basketball games, while their team is destroying the Cal Bears. So the clue/answer is fine, but the inevitable result of the game isn't.

Larry the lurking Golden Bear.

archaeoprof 11:54 AM  

Another cis/CIA error here. Last entry was STYX, because I missed the 80s in grad school and raising kids. Not sure I've ever heard of "Mr Roboto." Maybe I'll download it from iTunes. Thank you again, Steve Jobs.

skua76 12:02 PM  

Whew! Quite a struggle, but if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't have finished. Finally had to google a bit in the west to get EZER, I too had SacRED for 37A and then wanted agorA for 38D. I really hesitated to put in BAHTS for the Thai money; I spent some time in Thailand and never heard the S added to make it plural. 600, nice looking dog!

Z 12:16 PM  

Hand up for a slog.

CUEline before CUEWORD. PInch before PIQUE. eVade before AVOID.

NE was first to fall for me, my DNF was the NW. EZra is more familiar of a name than EZER. EVERS? I have seen Rocky exactly as many times as I've seen ERNANI, but I've at least heard of Rocky. And UOFA? Really? Blech.

@Mel Ott - I have heard PAX pronounced both pox and packs, so I think regional is right. Bronze to PRAWNS was more than close enough for punning purposes to my ear, as well.

@600 - Let's see - no "argumentum ad hominem," please. Avoid false accusations by googling (or yahooing in my case) before making accusations of error. Three comment posts a day max. Share the ironic/apropos captchas when they appear. There may be more, but these seem to be the major ones I have deduced.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

i thought it bizarre treat so was pretty confused. also wanted yorik for osrik. didn't enjoy this one. parrot doesn't sound like bear it so i guess any twisting of the vowel sounds is ok in the context of this puzzle.

afrogran 12:54 PM  

I generally hate 'punny' crosswords, as the answers can be too iffy. Did anyone else have problems with the SW corner? The only part I couldn't complete.
BTW - anyone else have a self-imposed rule NOT to google anything you don't know? I try to keep myself honest, with guessing and general knowledge.

600 12:56 PM  

@skua76--My dog appreciates the compliment. Thank you.

@chefbea--D'oh! I don't play bridge, but I've certainly heard of contract bridge and know about bidding from pinochle--so I should have figured that out! Thanks for telling me.

@Z--Thank you. Only the three- comment limit was less than intuitive for me. I had seen others say "three and out," so I should have known better yesterday! Oh, and while the captcha thing isn't intuitive, it certainly is an amusing addition to the blog.

Finally, @Jberg and David L--I couldn't find it at first, but under "Craps" on Wikipedia, I discovered rolls of seven and eleven are naturals. Who knew?

Badir 1:04 PM  

Unlike most people, I found this one pretty easy--in fact, it was my 8th fastest Sunday _NYT_ crossword ever. I didn't have that much trouble with the puns, and I feel like I've seen the "World Factbook" a bunch of times in crosswords, so CIA was a gimme. My only WTF entry was ERNANI, but the crosses looked solid. I wasn't sure about either AVERY or EVERS, but the V looked much better than any other possible letter.

I had a couple of chuckles, so I didn't mind doing this one at all.

captcha betedor: where the bull comes out at a French bullfight.

jae 1:18 PM  

@600 & Z - Probably should add "don't take Evil Doug's bait" to the rule list.

@Badir - If you use mailing labels in your printer you proabably own an AVERY product.

Masked and Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Yep. I, two, had one miscue in this puz and it was CIs/YEs. CIS=the new USSR, kinda ... right? They are certainly entitled to their own Worldwide Factbook, I reckon. Wrong again, M&A- (and 31-) breath. Snort.

Pangram! Yay! Toot toot. Thumbs up, Quigdaddy!

Stan 1:58 PM  

We thoroughly enjoyed this one -- much more interesting and harder to guess than a simple letter substitution. PIZZA RETREAT, POISON THE HOOD and PLAQUE DIAMOND were the best. I say 'prawns' like 'bronze' but when a puzzle is titled "Grin and Parrot" you already know the sounds don't need to match precisely.

Thanks, Brendan.

Rube 2:47 PM  

Hand up for CIs & YEs. Usually I complain about Sundays as being a "slog" and gripe about puns. However, I'm on vacation and found this enjoyable and chuckled at somed of the puns. Tough, but DNG.

Got the theme early on at PRAWNS MEDALS. However, still got stuck in the SE and had to wait until this morning to finish.

Was surprised at #31 not knowing ERNANI because I'd seen this answer at least twice in the past year or so. Turns out, it must have been in the LAT or elsewhere. BEQ has used this two other times in the past 18 years, but not since 2001. A gimme for us opera buffs.

Would swear it should be shaNANA, as in the refrain from "Get a Job" but shaNANA NA nanananana also works.

quilter1 3:10 PM  

Did not get to the puzzle until lunch, but I am a fan of BEQ and worked away, happily loving puns. My last entry was JAY. I think the grid looks kinda cool. I agree BAHTS should not have the S. I secretly hoped it would be Piss ON THE HOOD. I'm a bad girl today.

syndy 4:28 PM  

I have to admit to being terrified of BEQ so I did not expect to finish so the fact that I did is just amazing! Not understanding the answers is par with me for a Quigley so no surprize (jack BAUER?oh oh oh)I fixed the YEA/CIS thingy but is that the CENTRAL INTEL poeple? what are they up to?I like puns but I would have liked getting these.

Clark 4:49 PM  

We did this puzzle using the Chicago Barcelona Skype connection. We found the puzzle easy and fun, but intercontinental skype puzzling is always fun. Roxie the dog likes to pose for the camera, and Obi the cat contributes to the general party atmosphere by yowling it up. I thought PIZZA RETREAT was very good.

Scott 5:16 PM  

Toughest Sunday I've seen in my very short solving career. Just about the entire top half of the puzzle killed me.

600 5:38 PM  

@jae--Excellent rule. As one who has succumbed at least twice, maybe three times, I will avoid the bait in the future. (I had to erase "try to avoid." "Do or do not. There is no try.") I always feel fairly silly after biting anyway.

AND it's three and out for me . . . for sure!

Lindsay 6:10 PM  

I'm not the biggest BEQ fan (which makes me an ingrate, as I work the puzzles on his site) but I must stand up for this offering.

Apart from no idea about Jack Bauer, the themes amused me. POISON THE HOOD? SECRET PALATE? DEFENSIVE PAX? Funny as far as I'm concerned. Granted, SUGAR POLL is lame. And ERNANI is awful. But PIZZA RETREAT makes up for both.

Very, very summery here. I just got back from a paddling race, and the course was shortened up by a mile because the beach was so crowded with sunbathers that there wasn't any parking where we had planned to set up the finish line.

October in Maine!

miriam b 6:16 PM  

@Anonymous 11:15: Agreed. Alexander and Alexei (with an "e") are separate and distinct names. Diminutives of Alexander are Sasha and Shura (the latter being my father's childhood nickname). Diminutive of Alexei is Alyosha, as in Bros. Karamazov.

captcha: pentess = a female prisoner

Lindsay 6:17 PM  

Sorry, I've just visited Orange's site, where she kindly explains SUGAR POLL, and I must retract my verdict of "lame." I was thinking it was some sort of weevil.

This is what happens when you spend the afternoon paddling your brains out.

KarenSampsonHudson 6:24 PM  

I agree, Rex---an exercise but not a pleasure. I live in the west, and here it's called "Arizona," never "U of A", unlike U of M, alias Michigan, alias (to its legion of Wolverine followers), Blue. (BTW: 6 and 0 and counting under new coach Brady Hoke!)

Lewis 6:32 PM  

This one somehow was right on my wavelength-- which hasn't happened much in my short crossword career. I just kept filling in blanks, here and there, and in a good time for me, it was done. It did not feel old and moldy like some Sundays do. The puns didn't help me solve the puzzle, but I thought it was a clever idea, and brought a couple of contented smiles.

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

I did better than usual for a sunday, didn't look up anything (Though had a few mistakes and didn't realize the b for p until I read the comments)

Dona Elvira and Don Ernani are characters in Don Juan

fergus 8:37 PM  

Someone mentioned a reference to dice for the Seven, for one--NATURAL. Hope that's better than my guess of Seven Wonders of the Natural World??

mac 8:48 PM  

Medium-challenging for me, too. Spoof on puns? I had to try a real NY accent to make some of these words sound alike. Saw BEQs fingerprints all over the place with nice and unusual clues.

Had a hard time getting rid of Sasha and Misha for Alexi, especially since I wanted Tec Aid for IT help.

Snivel is a great word.

@600: I wasn't giving you a hard time. It was MY three and out.

william e emba 8:52 PM  

I liked it. Whenever the theme helps me solve the puzzle, I get an extra kick out of the puzzle, and I needed to think my way through most of the puns to complete the puzzle.

I frequently use the CIA World Factbook, so it didn't even occur to me this was a stumper.

The most famous ALEXEI (to use the usual English transliteration) was the hemophiliac son of TSAR Nicholas II and heir to the throne. His disease brought Rasputin into power, and so was probably a major influence in SPARKing the Russian Revolution.

Since his mother was named Alexandra, and his grandfather was Tsar Alexander III, it may be BEQ and WS assumed his name was actually "Alexander". As others have pointed out, it doesn't work that way. For example, his grandfather Alexander had a younger brother Alexei.

william e emba 9:01 PM  

I had no trouble remembering JACK KEMP. I would not remember him because he ran as Dole's running mate. No, that's too forgettable. I remember him as the original influential tax cut maniac of the 80s. He very strongly influenced Reagan.

JaxInL.A. 9:20 PM  

I resisted BAHTS for the longest time, as I've always heard baht as both singular and plural. One baht, ten baht. Thanks, @skua76, for confirming my impulse.  

As others say, Alexei, Alexi, Alexis, though variants of each other and of Alexander, are all their own names, not diminutives, as far as I know.  Like @Anon 11:15, I thought I was very clever popping in Sasha there. 

@foodie, thanks very much for posting the link to Ulrich's charming photo book yesterday.  I miss his comments here, too. It's lovely to see his life through his lens.

Speaking of which, nice to @TheBard back today.

@acme, I nearly snorted my tea when I read your comment yesterday about "counting watching all of Joon's appearances, esp the one with the High Holidays category, as a papal dispensation not to have to attend services today." I don't have a cool name like Hilarius, but I hereby absolve you. I went plenty for both of us--two different congregations, all day.  Whew! But rewarding, nonetheless.  

English spelling is a bizarre hodge-podge. I had my arguments with this puzzle, and that NE corner defeated me in the end. Still, once done, I liked very much that none of the "P" theme answers had a spelling anything like the "B" originals. To wit: 

24A: (DEFENSIVE PAX) Defensive Backs, as in football
40A: (POISON THE 'HOOD) Boyz N the 'Hood, 1987 song by Easy E and 1991 film directed by John Singleton.
67A: (PASTE ON A TRUE STORY) Based on a true story
95A: (PLAQUE DIAMOND) Black diamond
112A: (SECRET PALATE) Secret ballot
4D:  (PIZZA RETREAT) Beats a retreat
66D: (PRAWNS' MEDALS) Bronze medals
16D: (JACK POWER) Jack Bauer, character in TV show 24
77D: (SUGAR POLL) Sugar bowl

miriam b 11:35 PM  

And let's not forget Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky and Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin.

Detour 11:59 PM  

I did this puzzle in record time. LONGEST record time, that is. Started last night. When I came back tonight I was sure the clock had to be wrong (and I wasn't even close to done)! What @Rex said about the NW and all the difficult fill. Unlike @Rex, I liked the theme and the puns. Thought JACK BOWER had something to do with Euchre. Hand up for SASHA as a nickname for Alexander.
I'll tell ya I'm wary of a BEQ puzzle from now on. I'd like to see him on Jeopardy! Better yet, how about a crossword constructor's Jeopardy challenge?

Anonymous 1:59 AM  

Please pass on to author and Mr. Shortz: Alexi is not a nickname for Alexander. Alexi (or Alexei) is a different name, not a nickname... The nickname for Alexei is Alyosha. The nickname for Alexander is Sasha. Thanks. Soomeone has probably already pointed this out, but just in case....

Octavian, Based on a True Story 2:12 AM  

Jammed through this pretty fast but didn't get the punchline completely until I came here. I guess a puzzle based on "BP" is appropriate on a day when that's all the Rangers and Tigers were able to accomplish due to the rain. (that's "batting practice" for you non-sports types.)

@Anonymous - having worked as an editor in many old fashioned newsrooms, I would consider "paste on" just fine. in olden days, before pagination, the slot editor (head of the copy desk) would press the Film button on a final version of a story (called ''copy'' at papers). the story would emerge from a machine downstairs as dark letters on thin white paper called "film." you would run the film through the waxer and hand it to the "printer" in charge of that page. in a union shop especially he was the only one allowed to cut it with a razor, and then "paste" it on the board (a piece of heavy paper). we worked on super-tight deadlines because the last page had to go in at 11:00 pm so that it could be turned into a negative, transmitted to the printing plants, burned on to a metal sheet as a positive, taken out to the press room, screwed onto the German press, where it then made a reverse image on the inker, which then hit the paper, turning it back into a positive image that could be read. papers were then assembled and baled and put on big company trucks, which rolled them out to distribution centers, where they were picked up by your paper delivery guy in a beater pick-up. it was crucial to get it to that last spot by 3 am because those paper guys all worked 2nd jobs and if the papers did not arrive on time he would just scram and head off to his other job. then in the morning we would hear it from customers. the whole process was so Rube Goldbergian it's amazing that they were ever able to deliver the paper at home for just 25 cents.

i often think that if the Internet had come first, then someone would have come up with the idea of printing it every day and delivering it to your house in oversized paper form, and that would be an amazing service you would pay $1 a day for. "imagine! you don't have to read the news on a tiny screen, it's totally mobile, and you can actually see pictures 12 inches wide! wow, cool! nice app."

those old boys in paste-up shop saved our butts a lot of times by catching misspellings or grammatical errors. however when it came to deadline, they were merciless. editors always wanted to hang onto the boards as long as possible to double check the heds and jumps (i.e., See page 7) but the printers used to say, "If the headline doesn't spell F**K with two Ks, then it's going in.''

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

First, the other theater from ETO was CBI, for China-Burma-India even though most of the fighting was on Pacific Islands. Second, I can't resist the thought that 107 could have been a theme with clue "Leafy standard" and answer saladpar.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

My husband and I like to take turns doing the Sunday puzzle. We hand it off to each other when some frustration sets in. This week we had to pass it back and forth a LOT.

Some random comments: "poisonthelawn" would have been more appropriate given the turf referenced in the clue. What the "Ipass"? And "soli"? Really?? Too much scraping the pun intended. :)

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Have never been a fan of Quigley's work- I just don't relate to his tone and style. This one was the most insufferable I've seen in the last 10 years. Not fun.

Anonymous 3:11 AM  

FYI: I think Reagan was actually 1980's "Man of the Year," though the issue came out at the beginning of '81. Walesa was officially '81's "Man of the Year." Though there were some individual exceptions before, the title was officially changed to "Person of the Year" in 1999.

nurturing 10:02 PM  

I agree partially with 'anonymous' at 11:15 AM - Alexi is not a diminutive in Russian that I've ever heard.

However, in naming the diminutive of Alexander as Sasha, 'anonymous' shows limited knowledge of Russian diminutives in general.

No name has only one diminutive! In fact, Alexander has so many that one loses count. There's Alik, Alek, Sasha, Sanya, Sashlik, Sashenka, Sashilya, Sashok, Choura, Chourik, Chouroshka...just for starters. Any family member can make up their own diminutive for any name, as well.

Alexei (more often than Alexi) is a proper name, as 'anonymous' stated. One of it's diminutives is Lyosha.

I thought it would be a slam-dunk clue for me, but I was left scratching my head even as I wrote Alexi, wondering how this could possibly be the correct answer.

nurturing 10:16 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
nurturing 10:20 PM  

I wrote my comment above before reading all the other posts that followed 11:15.

I see that the same question has been addressed a few times. Instead of trashing my post above because of the duplication of info, I'll just leave it to further drive the point home!

Also, let me correct my incorrect use of the apostrophe ("it's"). I am appalled at my error since this is one of my pet peeves. I don't know what I was thinking I was writing that made me insert it.

Dirigonzo 1:58 PM  

From syndiland, this puzzle should have been titled "You don't know Jack" for me (instead of "Grin and Bear it" as it was apparently incorrectly named in my paper)as I stalled on the JACKxxxxxx answer for far too long. Of course I contributed to my difficulties by sticking with answers that I *knew* were right until they couldn't be. In the end I finished with the CIs error, but the puns still made me grin (and bear it). Thank you, BEQ - I love it!

And now, RPDTNYTCWP 5 years ago on this date (a Monday puzzle):

- Solving time: 5:40 "OK, now that I'm done complaining, I will say that this puzzle still had its merits: a couple of Pantheon words, both spellings of axel/axle, and a clue that included the phrase "yo mama." So my five minutes and forty seconds were not entirely pleasure-free." Early Rex was pretty tough on this Paula Gamache creation.
- Quote without context:"It never ceases to amaze me what white people thought was funny in the middle of the last century."
- @Orange, @howard b and two others commented, and early Rex engaged them in a dialogue which included this: "I have a soft spot for Steve Allen because he has appeared and been referenced numerous times on The Simpsons, which, as you can see, is the filter through which I see Everything." That explains a lot.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Spacecraft here. Hand up for slogfest, and for the error at CI(s)A. Who SABE? Anyway, here's some stuff that slogified today's entry:
XSOUT. This may be the poster child for horrible.
UOFA. No. It's UA. Not known outside of crosswords as UOFA.
NANANA. Hey hey, goodbye. Please.
SENTTO. Clue was "Mailed." Not "mailed at" or "mailed for," (admittedly, both very awkward phrases) but just "mailed." So the word should be SENT. Period.
ERNANI. The "opera buff" calls this a "gimme." I wonder. Poll 100 opera buffs and see how many have ever heard of ERNANI. Wanna bet on less than half?
The theme was kinda cute, with the double twist in the title, "parrot" standing for "bear it" and also for "sounds like." But overall, what we have here is more work than play. Just so you know, guys, I retired a while back.
Work I don't need. I do these so my brain doesn't rot, but as someone has already said, Alzheimer's is starting to look good.
BEQ gets however many points you award for a pangram (I hope not many).

Dirigonzo 3:59 PM  

One more thing: did no one else want SPAnKS at 30 a, Symbols of a budding romance? I knew it wasn't right but come on, that's a great answer!

@Spacecraft - I respect your right to hate the puz but I'm pretty sure that Alzheimer's is much worse. Always enjoy your comments, though.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

Finished with three errors (squares 49, 55, 152). I'll take that as a Not Bad.

I thought of HANK before JACK. (could have been clued Propane for a Hill?), but I suppose that Bauer's less of a household name.

I remember the other Jack (KEMP) as a Bill.

Now back to yesterday's (9/10) puzzle, which currently has me in a head lock.

Deb 10:35 PM  

Once again, huge thanks to you, Rex, for making even a crappy puzzle a good experience. I love the conversations here! However, I'm short on time (Dexter needs watching!), so @Octavian, I'm making a note to come back and read your description of old-time printing.

The puzzle itself: Ugh, ugh, UGH. Really didn't like it. NO joy whatsoever. As usual, that's partly my fault for not picking up on the P/B switch, just the punniness. (Spell-check doesn't like "punniness," but spell-check can take a flying leap.) The NE that Rex already tore apart was made yet harder for me after confidently penning in "five" instead of A NAP. The whole thing was just a slog.

Now, about the BAHTS: My husband is Thai, and we've visited his family there for weeks at a time and I always, always say BAHT to indicate either singular or plural quantities, so I was sure it was wrong, too. But my husband said it's actually the correct ENGLISH translation. Put simply, English grammar requires the S. We would say "five dollars," not "five dollar." In Thai, there is no equivalent of the s-pluralization - "five" (or whatever quanity) serves as the only notice of pluralization. So, if you were actually speaking Thai, you'd not pluralize it, but if you're speaking English, you do.

@Dirigonzo - Loving these little time capsules. I hope Sarah in VA sees it and realizes that perhaps she's viewing the past through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.

Kimetha 2:33 AM  

I agree with Sarah from VA said there is NO happiness associated with puzzling in this blog. My husband and I enjoyed this puzzle as we do most of the Sunday NYT mag. puzzles. Some are harder than others obviously but we almost always ENJOY working the puzzles. What a radical concept!! We come here for answers and we try to shrug off the negativity. I think Rex and his sycophants enjoy criticizing too much and to admit enjoying the puns and puzzles is not considered hip. Rex's never ending angst and disappointment is always unpleasant. We will find another puzzle blogger that does not go out of their way to rip the puzzles apart. I applaud you Sarah for speaking up. I wish I had sooner.

Anonymous 7:37 PM  

not one of quigley's best. bfv

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

Okay, I'm here to settle one question. If you live in Tucson, or anywhere near Tucson, particularly south of Phoenix, it's U of A. Period.
I freely admit, when I first moved here years and years ago, U of A did sound a bit odd, and I hadn't heard it used before (I didn't know where Tucson was either -- imagine my horror when I found out it was in the stinkin' hot desert near the border and not in the northern mountains where I wanted it to be).
I had an amused/hated relationship with this puzzle, with lots of huh?s. But U of A is correct.

Del Taco 3:30 AM  

lame puzzle
very forced clues and awkward answers
no fun

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