Brit's bumbershoot / SUN 12-18-11 / Newsman Marvin Bernard / Lumber collector in park / March sisters' creator / Springtime calendar hunk

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Again?" — "A" is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: bumbershoot (17D: Brit's bumbershoot = BROLLY) —
An umbrella.

[Alteration of UMBRELLA + alteration of (PARA)CHUTE.]
• • •

Again? Yes, apparently. Add a letter, wackiness ensues. Adding an "A" is the most minimalist form of this theme that I've ever seen. Alterations are so slight as to be barely perceptible. Most of these are more "mild smile" than "genuine laugh"—only TONY AROMAS is truly amusing, though RUNAWAY MODEL is also decent. This is the kind of puzzle that makes me wonder why constructors get paid $1000 for Sunday puzzles when weekday puzzles fetch just $200. Never, ever, ever has a Sunday puzzle been five times better than your average weekday puzzle (pick a weekday, any weekday). It's not five times as big and certainly doesn't take five times as long to construct (not even close). Also, audience for the puzzle is not much bigger—my traffic is usually highest on Sunday, but not by much, and it's not *five times larger*. Pay scale in the world of NYT puzzles is all screwed up. It's nuts. No idea what the rationale is. I'm not sure there is one. I usually find Sundays among the duller of the week's puzzles, and if the theme doesn't Really sizzle, or if the theme answers aren't exceptionally inventive, then the puzzle just feels long. I mean, relatively long. This one took me 11 minutes.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Dislike of the son of Mary, Queen of Scots? (KING JAMES AVERSION)
  • 31A: Catwalk no-show? (RUNAWAY MODEL)
  • 45A: Soft-spoken prayer ending? (GENTLE AMEN)
  • 48A: Build a publishing empire? (AMASS MEDIA)
  • 66A: Practical joke used on squirrels? (PEPPER ACORN)
  • 87A: What sweaty dancers create at an annual awards show? (TONY AROMAS)
  • 90A: Rush to get on the train? (DART ABOARD)
  • 103A: Where worms don't last long? (AROUND ROBINS)
  • 116A: What black holes swallow to bulk up? (ANABOLIC ASTEROIDS)    

There was some inventive fill and cluing in this puzzle. I enjoyed MR. APRIL (!) (28A: Springtime calendar hunk)—a bit arbitrary (I suppose MR. anymonth is acceptable fill now) but there's a creativity to this answer that, as a sometime constructor, I admire. I like the very contemporary clue on SYRIA (54A: First Arab country to have sanctions imposed on it by the Arab League) and the cryptic clue on BAT BOY (101A: "Lumber" collector in a park). The only real nutso thing in the puzzle was the bumbershoot / BROLLY thing. Rare that I don't know a word in the clue and don't recognize the answer either. DUNED seems a slightly awkward word (awkword?) (105D: Like much of Fire Island's shore). Tripped on 44D: FEMA part: Abbr. (EMER.) when I hastily wrote in AMER. (helps to think about what acronyms actually stand for before just throwing down an answer based on instinct). Geoffrey the Giraffe used to be in ads for TOYS 'R' US, but I haven't seen him in years (72D: Geoffrey the Giraffe's store). Our TOYS 'R' US was badly damaged in the September floods. Not sure if it's recovered or not. Never heard of either of the KALBs referred to in 84D: Newsman Marvin or Bernard. Other than that, not much more to tell.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:27 AM  

Not awful, not great. Easy-medium pedestrian Sun. I liked the recent add a "Q" a lot more. I knew bumbershoot was an umbrella (from Mary Poppins?) but had never heard the term BROLLY. Went through MEIN and MODE before MAKE at 1d.

Not even twice if you go by total number of squares.

syndy 12:28 AM  

ANABOLICASTEROIDS is a life time achievement! just awesome.only trouble I had with this sweet baby was the SCOUT-KALB-ERNO--BATBOY smash-up;not helped that I had BEAVER for 101(more than once).WEB/BROLLY were my first two entrys and just sailed on ,tacking back and forth.lovely just lovely.insidently did you know that when Mark Twain was published he was paid by the word-it was common then

jae 12:38 AM  

Oops, that should have been MIEN.

The Bard 1:38 AM  

Hamlet > Act III, scene II

HORATIO: Here, sweet lord, at your service.

HAMLET: Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation coped withal.

HORATIO: O, my dear lord,--

HAMLET: Nay, do not think I flatter;
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--
There is a play to-night before the king;
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death:
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And after we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.

AV 1:51 AM  

@ Rex: On why constructors get $1000 for a Sunday, vs. $200 for a weekday, here's one theory:

Hardest part of constructing a Sunday 21x21 is coming up with those last couple of theme entries (you usually have a couple of terrific seed entries, then you cobble up a few more good ones, but that last one is a dud which you hope Will will consider acceptable!). Then you have to make sure there are no repeat words, that every corner (and there are many more isolated corners/segments) is clean, etc. And then comes the cluing, which to me is the most painful part of a Sunday puzzle, especially if you try to come up with fresh clues. (I am amazed at how Peter Gordon and others do this regularly)

Add to all this the reasonable probability that the puzzle may get rejected (after all this work), and I have summarized this constructor's aversion to creating Sundays.

So, although the pay is much higher, it is usually much easier to pick your best few theme entries and create a weekday puzzle (assuming the lengths will fit in a 15-er)! The exception is if you come up with a great theme that doesn't work on a 15x15; then, you have to buckle down and build the Sunday.

I guess I am also making the point that while the ratio of Sunday $$ to weekday $$ may appear high, the absolute $$ are so low that one can't make this a profession unless you are extremely prolific and amazingly good - and there are but 5 (?) constructors who can pull this off.

Bottom line: Just as it is a slog for solvers to go through some of the Sundays, it is as much of a pain for a constructor to create one.


p.s.: I did like today's Merrill, thanks to the ASTEROIDS and KING JAMES! Amazing what a single letter can do to bring a smile while solving!

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Sundays are always a slog for me because of the little, itsy, squares and my messed up eyes, but I enjoy every minute of them. This one was no exception, every long one brought a smile as did a lot of short fill. Liked the NEONS/EONS crossing.

@Masked&Anon - A nice gentleman named Bob over at Oranges place hooked me up to http://www, You can get the L.A. Times puzzle to play online or download and print in Across Lite. No commercials, no fuss, no muss. Prince of a guy.

AV 2:31 AM  

p.p.s: Oops, I misspelled Merrell! Sorry Pat!

Rube 3:05 AM  

Personally, I enjoyed all of the theme answers, particularly the KING JAMES__ and AROUND ROBINS. Also was impressed with the SYRIA clue for it's current relevance... no long holding time for this puzzle.

I'll bet virtually everyone had heAD before LOAD at 106A. Had DAshABOARD before DARTABOARD, too. Know nothing about STJOES. Biggest hang up was wanting U. of romA for Bocelli's school. Got the wife a couple of his CDs for Christmas. I'm a big fan of him and am hoping she will be also. (I'm getting tired of her Josh Brogan CDs.)

Must remember that CATT woman. Have seen her several times.

@chefwen, you're a wonder. That Chicago Trib website is great. I really dislike change for the sake of change, vis-a-vis the LA Times.

Good, not great, puzzle.

solasoletta 5:04 AM  

I knew "bumbershoot" but I thought that WAS the British word for "umbrella." Go figure.

Doris 6:56 AM  

C'mon, KING JAMES AVERSION was genius, especially for us atheists. However, from a literary standpoint, it's the ONLY version worth reading and should still be read for its many appropriate and beautiful idiomatic contributions to our language and for general cultural knowledge, if nothing else.

MaryBR 7:04 AM  

Also had DAshABOARD first - took me a while to unravel that but pretty smooth sailing all around with this puzzle. Like Rex, don't have much more to say!

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

Easy and fun, but unremarkable. So I have no remarks.

Glimmerglass 7:43 AM  

@chefwen: Thank you so much for the LA Times puzzle site. I think I'm going to enjoy it. Have you tested out two skill levels? I'll report later. NOTE: the URL should have a dot, not a comma, after www.

Rex Parker 7:49 AM  

AV, that's all well and good, but the question wasn't "is a Sunday puzzle worth more?" (it is), but rather "is it worth FIVE TIMES what a weekday puzzle is worth?" (it. is. not.).


Glimmerglass 8:01 AM  

@chefwen. The Chicago Trib.

OldCarFudd 8:08 AM  

Rex, you're looking at a skewed population. Almost everyone who does the M-F puzzles religiously and
comes to your blog also does the Sunday puzzle. The converse, I'm sure isn't true.

AV, thank you for your post. It's always interesting to hear from the pros.

Funny how we live in different cultural universes. Brolly was a gimme for me, but I'd never heard of Tony Roma's. Rex, since you're married to a Kiwi, 1A must have been a gimme for you, as it was for me. How many folks can say "Land of the Long White Cloud" in Maori? Or, as the feistier Maoris like to cal it now, Land of the Wrong White Crowd.

I enjoyed the puzzle.

Linda 8:08 AM  

Rosins up a bow? is that "bow" as in bow and arrow or the "bow" of a boat?

jberg 8:13 AM  

On the pay, I really doubt whether it has anything to do with the work involved, or even with how many more people do the Sunday puzzle, but only with the gross sales of the Sunday paper compared with the weekly ones.

Anyway, I loved KING JAMES AVERSION and ANABOLIC ASTEROIDS, and AROUND ROBINS after I got over the idea that Geoffrey must have s TOY shop.

My worst problem was that I wrote in NUt for 76D, "Core," and couldn't see it as doubtful, so I was really stuch for 90A. Had to look up Rubik's first name - also had to look up the ALCOTTs, even more embarrassing - so FWG for me.

I want some of those PEPPER ACORNS, though to get even for the raids on my bird feeders.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

@Linda - Think bow for a Violin, Viola, Cello or Bass.

Smitty 8:41 AM  

@Rex - thanks for Bat Boy...that's exactly who I pictured.
@Solasoletta - me too on Bumbershoot.

FloridaPerry 9:06 AM  

I tripped into runaway model and fell into the theme. From then on I actually enjoyed it. Only problem is I finished the puzzle before my coffee.

joho 9:25 AM  

@Rex ... Awkword ... I love it! I'm going to use next time I see one.

I appreciate Patrick Merrell's considerable talent but found myself getting that "filling the blanks feeling" doing this one.


jackj 9:29 AM  

Not much to get excited about in this rather run-of-the-mill puzzle.

The theme seemed mostly vanilla, with the exception of RUNAWAYMODEL and those two theme entries which gave us a touch of class with KINGJAMESAVERSION and a smear of sleaze with TONYAROMAS.

Such was the puzzle; not deserving of Sunday's big bucks.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  


What is the acronym FWG? Thanks

Tita 10:05 AM  

@Rex - thanks for that tabloid pic - I think that's actually me in my Mini evading the SQUADCARS...

I just loved the minimalism of this theme. Yes, it was easy-ish, but the smiles brought by each theme answer is worth it!
Don't know if those ANABOLIC ASTEROIDS are my favorite, or AROUND ROBINS...(just loved the clue for that one too...)

Liked AARP above DDAY, and lots of other clues starting with A.
Brolly and bumbershoot are both great words.

ARTISAN for mosaicist was too random, and hated DUNED.

I'm asking for a RUBBERMAN for Christmas... MRDECEMBER, perhaps?

Most interesting discussion about "perceived value". OldCarFudd...good point - totally skewed population here...
@jberg - I'm quite sure that your explanation is right...follow the money.

JC66 10:13 AM  

Having grocked the theme early on, I stared at MRAPRIL for too long a time trying to figure out what/who MR PRIL is.

Anyone else?

Agree with @ jberg as to why Sunday puzzles pay 5X more.

Eric 10:16 AM  

Hit one wall. "Rush to get on a train" I used DASHaboard which still seems better to me

Z 10:18 AM  

I was at the wrong end of the Pacific for 1A, guessing aleut. This made the north a mess and a slog. Also never did figure out ANABOLICA STEROID until coming here. A video game clue would have helped me.

I buy the circulation argument on the pay issue. An accountant surely has more influence than WS on how much constructors get paid. At $114,400/year for constructors, I wonder what the profit margin is. Of course, what incentive other than treating people right does the NYT have to increase pay? In my experience, organizations do not act out of any sense of moral obligation, but only based on the bottom line.

Z 10:21 AM  

anon@ 9:31 - FWG - Finished with Google?

Here In Franklin 10:24 AM  

Geaux tigers!

Masked and Anonymous 10:25 AM  

@chefwen: Outstandin'!!! California puz, here I come. Thank U mucho. Now could you whip the WordPlay blog back into shape? I still read Deb's write-up, but they need to re-route the comments thru the Chitown Tribune, too, or somethin'.

Re: NYTPuz: Kinda interesting, how such a subtle "A gain" changes the meanings as much as it does.

I heard somewhere that the pile of SunPuzs at the Shortzmeister's is the smallest pile by far, despite five times the bucks reward. Just sa... oops.

Moreover, Masked and Anonymous also 10:35 AM  

P.S. @#31: You did this whole wazoo in 11 minutes?!? That. ain't. natural. It took me 7 minutes, just to get a cinnamon roll smudge off my 6-Across clue. Snort.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

@Z Thanks - that makes sense.

Mel Ott 11:12 AM  

I did not like last week's puzzle because I found it dull and tedious. This week's puzzle has virtually the same theme, but I loved it. Some interesting fill and theme answers that produced a bunch of pleasant 'Aha' moments.

KING JAMES AVERSION was pure genius.

LOL'ed at the last two clue-answer combos:

"Where worms don't last long?" AROUND ROBINS!

"What black holes swallow to bulk up? ANABOLIC ASTEROIDS!

This just shows that this kind of puzzle can be done well. Thanks, Mr. Merrell.

ArtO 11:13 AM  

Regarding relative pay for weekday vs. Sunday, why not a sliding scale for weekdays in line with their difficulty?

GILL I. 11:14 AM  

I think putting a price on anything we may or may not enjoy is so subjective. There have been plenty of Sunday Puzzles I would have paid 5x the going price. Liz Gorski is one of many constructors that comes to mind.
I enjoyed this puzzle. Maybe it's because it was a group effort with friends and family and we were having a lot of fun. Perhaps the environment changes your perception of likeability on a given puzzle.
Almost all of the theme answers evoked a memory or two and many a chuckle. The favorite was PEPPER ACORN followed by ANABOLIC ASTEROIDS. At 33D, t..d went in without a flinch. A bumbershoot is really U.S. slang. Brits do say BROLLY though. Strange, and I don't know if it's stoicism, laziness or what, but Brits (especially men) rarely use one.
I'd like to see "boerenkaas" clued for a Dutch cheese some day...

PanamaRed 11:38 AM  

@chefwen - Thnaks for the heads-up on the LA Times xword. Had been doing it tediously on another site, yours is much better.

Enjoyed the Merrell puzzle today - thought it was very cool.

Had MODE before MAKE, HOPI before ZUNI.

I hate most uses of the expression NOPROBLEM - as when I order a meal at a restaurant, the waiter says NOPROBLEM. Of course it's no problem - it's your freakin' job!

Just enjoyed a rack of Tony Roma's ribs last night.

Norm 11:47 AM  

I think that Matisse puzzle with the boat picture was easily worth five times a daily. There have been others I have marveled at as well. Just sayin'

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Found this one pretty easy however did not get Mr. Happy Pencil when I finished the grid. After a quick perusal, realized that there is not a University of Piss...that would be Pisa.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

I think you get $1000 because the Sunday paper costs $5 (research has shown that some buy it just for the puzzle). Plus, a good portion of the online subscribers sign up primarily so they can get that Sunday puzzle without getting the huge paper and inserts.

The Sundays might not be 5x as good as the dailies (is a $100 bottle of wine 5x better than a $20?) But they create a nice profit for the Times, and it's nice that the money is getting back to the constructors.

I don't think speed solvers enjoy Sundays as much as the savorers. Anyway, I'm not so sure why you'd care about the pay unless all your Sunday ideas are getting rejected ; )

JaxInL.A. 12:54 PM  

Favorite crossing: ZUNIS / ZANIES.

NOMAR Garciaparra now plays for the Dodgers, which I only know because I like to go to the stadium once or twice each summer.

According to an interview with Will Shortz linked at the Wordplay blog, the shortest stack of waiting NYT puzzle submissions is actually Monday (ruled over by our beloved ACME). @M&A, By that reckoning, Mondays should pay best.

I have no theory about the M-F vs. Sunday imbalance, but it seems that Will pays what the market will bear. Folks want to be published in the Times, so they keep sending in good and even great puzzles for the tiny compensation offered. Not fair, but it seems to work for the paper...

Signing off to listen to the NPR Weekend Edition puzzle. Long anagrams today.

600 12:59 PM  

I'm with those who really enjoyed this puzzle. I liked the theme answers and got a smile from every one. TONY AROMA was the hardest for me. No Tony Romas in my neck of the rural woods.

I didn't find this puzzle easy (wish I could figure out where the AcrossLite timer has disappeared to!) but I certainly did like it. My favorite theme answer was KING JAMES AVERSION, but I agree with @syndy that ANABOLIC ASTEROIDS is a lifetime achievement.

Caught the theme at RUNAWAY MODEL and, in a very substantive way, found that knowing it helped me a lot as I moved through the puzzle. That has happened before, but not often.

@Rube--I did have dash aboard before DART ABOARD, but I didn't have head before ROAD. Now I feel kind of proud for throwing ROAD in with no hesitation.

ROAD was apparently a smart move. Here's a dumb one: in absolute desperation (knowing it couldn't really be a word), I wrote "eraseur" in at 108A rubber man. So is it a new kind of malapop when, after MASSEUR revealed itself, I found ERASER in the same quadrant?

@Rex--I love "awkword." Now THAT's inventive, especially at midnight when I figure you're writing this blog. And the batboy picture--loved that too.

As soon as I post this note, I'm going to try that link, @chefwen. Thanks in advance.

Finally, I promise not to mention my missing AcrossLite timer again. Three days in a row and no one knows what might be up. So I'm thinking it's my computer. What a big surprise.

armen--how a pirate ends his prayers?

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

@jaxinla: Actually, Nomar Garciaparra retired and spent last season doing TV commentary. We Bostonians keep up with our former heroes!

Lewis 1:30 PM  

I was thinking tAUpE instead of SAUTE for 74A and that slowed me up. Otherwise, a nice, fairly satisfying blue collar puzzle...

mac 1:42 PM  

What a nice, light Sunday puzzle! No slog whatsoever.

Got the theme right away with one of my favorite answers, King James' aversion; next favorite was around robins.

I loved the Simpsons' puzzle, with Homer's letter to Lisa, so much, I put it on the cork wall in my studio. I know many people who only get the "week-ender", Fri-Sat-Sun NYT, delivered, so they only do the Sunday puzzle (if they puzzle at all).

I knew the word brolly, but never heard bumbershoot.

Hey, first time Rembrandt's last name was spellen right!! Thank you, Patrick. @Bard: thank you, as well for your contribution, always love it. @Rex: awkword is a keeper.

@Rube: hand up for dash aboard. Funny, I can't stand Bocelli's voice and love Josh Brogan's, but then I usually dislike Brogan's choice of songs...

hazel 1:50 PM  

Jax - you haven't been to a game in a while, as Nomar hasn't played for the LAD since 2008. Time flies! and he's the kind of guy who is going to be remembered as a Red Sock/x (?) more than a Dodger, anyway.

I liked this puzzle wheich I did in the middle of the night during a bout of insomnia. ANABOLICASTEROIDS was hands down my favorite. Although I kinda liked most of them - sort of unusual.

regarding money, there's no rhyme or reason to how its distributed in our society. Wah wah wah. But the sunday paper costs alot more than the daily, so its good that there's some trickle down!

JaxInL.A. 1:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 1:54 PM  

@mac - and you ought to know...
I had a writeover becausee I have been beaten into RIIN by too many crosswords...

btw - kudos to you for being able to solve at all, much less with such mantery, in your non-native language...that is an amazingly hard thing to do.

JaxInL.A. 1:57 PM  

@Hazel and@Anon 1:16, is is really that long? They all run together, I guess, when you go for the atmosphere rather than following the team. I still usually have fun, though.

Hey, it got me the answer, didn't it?

Masked and Anonymous, Strike 3 2:43 PM  

@JaxInLA: Yep. That must be where I read about SunPuz bein' the shortest stack of all. It was in part 2 of this:

Thank U for the reminder. Need 'em. Just went upstairs, and had to sit there for ten minutes, until I thoughta why I came up there. "In the 40's", plus some.

So everyone agreed, then, that you just about gotta give these theme answers an "A"? And I ain't just sayin' that. [Whoops ... did that one count?]

M07S 2:44 PM  

Some comments:

50D Clue...Bro. From "The Word" column by Erin McKean, "Bro has been used as a colloquial abbreviation of the word 'brother' for hundreds of years -- the OED has a citation from about 1660."

The LAT puzzle today had the same theme. Albeit their add-a-letter was E.

The LAT puzzle can be conveniently downloaded via Ephraim's Crossword Puzzle Pointers, a site mentioned on @Rex's blog.

quilter1 2:45 PM  

I liked this theme and puzzle. I laughed at every theme answer. Knew both BROLLY and bumbershoot as Grandma used bumbershoot. I, too, had DAshBoard before DART. Also had ST.JOhn before STJOES, HindERS before HAMPERS, and due to just remembering wrong had shaw before KALB though familiar with both.

I don't think a Sunday puzzle is necessarily better because bigger, or better than a crunchy Thursday or Friday. I agree the pay difference is probably market driven by newspaper sales.

I like being able to work Sundays over coffee and cereal, go away and come back and finish over lunch. So unless it is a real stinker, taking my time is where the pleasure lies.

Favorite theme answers concur with other commenters--KINGJAMESAVERSION, ANABOLICASTEROIDS, PEPPERACORN. We give our squirrels corn and when it is gone they come to the French door and peer in.

Saw a very nice production of Amahl and the Night Visitors today.

AZ 2:50 PM  

@600 - On my Mac in Preferences, under the "Tools" tab is an on/off option for the timer. If "off" is selected the timer disappears. Switching to "On" brings it back.

TC 2:51 PM  

@Z: re: $114k a year (when you add up the daily stipends) for constructors; yes, good money but in the scheme of things NYT is getting way too good a deal IMO. Pay for teachers comes to mind--far less than the value they bring to the world. If the constructors somehow banded together they could double this easy--$228k/year would still be a drop in the bucket for NYT total budget.

william e emba 3:07 PM  

Bumbershoot is American, BROLLY is British. I knew of BROLLY from reading British comics. Specifically, Warrior magazine way back in the 80s, original home of Alan Moore's Marvelman and V for Vendetta. And also, Big Ben, the Man with No Time for Crime! Rather brain-damaged, highly delusional, and definitely bizarre, his trusty BROLLY was an important crime-fighting tool. What a hoot!

JenCT 3:22 PM  

Had to take a break from the dismal Giants game...

BROLLY/TORY held me up - no idea, guessed at the Y and was correct.


@Tita: LOL MR December/MASSEUR

@chefwen: I'm sure you know this, but Across Lite lets you print on two pages, which really helps with the eyes...

GILL I. 3:39 PM  

@600: I wish I could help but I'm useless with computers. I have a PC and I just click the off/on button that appears.
Maybe our friend @Glitch is reading and can help you. Good luck!

Mama 3:45 PM  

I believe Josh is Groban, not Brogan...

sanfranman59 4:01 PM  

Weird, "the universe is calling you" moment of the day ... I sit down to do today's crossword in Starbucks and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is playing overhead. I say to myself, "Gee, that's a nice version of that song. I wonder who it is?" My computer tells me it's Diana Krall. I say to myself (yes, I talk to myself way too much), "Hmmm. I was just telling someone how amazing Shazam is and I used as an example that it was not only able to identify "My Funny Valentine" for me the other day, but correctly identified that it was Diana Krall's version. How the heck does it know that it's her version vs. the other 5,000 singers who have recorded that song over the years?" So I finish my puzzle and who does Rex include in his write-up? Yup ... I think it's time to get me some Diana Krall.

Incidentally, for those of who care about the numbers I post Monday through Saturday, I've intermittently been recording Sunday's solve times for about 9 months. I've only got data for 27 puzzles, but today's has the 3rd and 5th fastest solve times for the Top 100 and All Solvers groups. So it definitely falls in the Easy category by this measure.

And in support of Rex's point about Sunday puzzles, there are fewer online solvers on Sunday than there are even on Saturdays. So there certainly don't seem to be more eyeballs on the electronic version of the Sunday puzzle than there are other days of the week. I'm no constructor, but it seems to me that it would be much easier to create a Sunday than a NYT-worthy Monday (I know I'm preaching to ACME's choir here).

600 4:22 PM  

@AZ--Thanks. That seems like one more reason to buy a Mac next time.
There's no preference choice for me, and under "options," which I do have, the indication is that the timer is on.

@Gill I.P.--Thanks for the sympathy. My problem is that the little on-off button is gone. Maybe @Glitch will show up.

Or maybe I'll have to learn the pleasures of leisurely solving, which many on this blog prefer anyway.

M07S 4:41 PM  

@600 On my PC version of ACL, I click Options then the Tools tab and a box comes up with "Across Timer and Scoring add-on V1.1". Select this then click the Enable button.

AZ 4:46 PM  

@600 - Help Page says:

Problem: The timer does not appear anymore.

Solution: First, use the Options command in Across Lite to select the Tool preferences and ensure that the Timer is installed (there should be a list item for the Timer). If the button below the list reads Enable, then click on it and see if the Timer appears. If the button says Disable (which means the Timer is enabled) and you do not see the Timer, then follow the instructions below.

The timer window can be moved and placed relative to the Across Lite window. It moves whenever you move the Across Lite window to keep the same relative position with respect to the Across Lite window. Sometimes, when the Across Lite window is moved towards one of the edges of the computer screen or the video resolution is changed, the timer may be placed outside the visible screen. To test this, move the Across Lite window towards different edges of the screen as much as you can and see if the Timer appears at the far edge. If it does, drag the Timer towards the Across Lite window and place it over the Across Lite window or close to it. Now move the Across Lite window to where you would like to work with it.

600 5:17 PM  

First of all, thanks again to all of you who've tried to help.

@MO7--Thank you. I have that too, but the button says "Disable" so that means the timer should be there.

@AZ--I have no idea how you found this help page; I've bookmarked it for future reference. I feel sure that this is where my problem exists. So far I'm having no luck moving the window around. The timer just will not appear, but I'm certain this IS the problem, so I'll just keep trying. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

And thank the rest of you too. I really do love this blog, and not just when you're going out of your way to help. But that's nice too.

mac 6:09 PM  

You're right, @Mama. Sorry.

hazel 6:20 PM  

@jax - I completely agree with you - pretty much nothing beats an early season afternoon at the ballpark, atmosphere-wise!!

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

@Timer Losers

On a PC,
run: regedit
..HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Litsoft\Across\Lit Timer

Look at xoffset, yoffset.
Set these to something what will appear on your screen, e.g. 100, 100.

Close regedit.

Is it there?

600 6:57 PM  

@Anonymous--YES! YES! YES!!!!

But I must ask: I followed your directions exactly, even to the 100, 100--and I had no idea what I was doing. But I did it and I have the timer and I am elated. But the xoffset and yoffset used to be 1204 and 754. Have I messed something else up?

Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you!

And thanks to everyone else for indulging this conversation, so tangentially crossword related.

quilter1 6:57 PM  

@chefwen: thank you, thank you for the Chicago Tribune link. I had given up on the LA Times as I could not get the puzzle to print out correctly (missing pieces) and I hated the ads. Why fix something that ain't broke? I got the puzzle and finished while, ahem, candying fresh pineapple. For Grandma's fruitcake cookie recipe. I'm not sure they make candied pineapple any more, at least I couldn't find it in either the grocery or specialty stores, and no time to order online. It was dead easy and tastes great.

Anon 6:21 8:10 PM  

@600 - No, the points 1204, 754 are off your screen. At somepoint, somehow, you must have moved it there, lost forever off your screen. You just put them back where they need to be.

Matthew G. 8:17 PM  

Totally with Rex on the pay scale. Nonsense. If I skip any day's puzzle, it's Sunday. Too Much Puzzle. The people who treat the Sunday puzzle as the icon of puzzledom are suckers, I tell you, suckers!

Never heard of Tony Roma's restaurant, so I had no clue what that theme entry was based on. I thought maybe I missed a clue elsewhere and it was based on Tony Romo. I liked KING JAMES AVERSION and chuckled at AROUND ROBINS because of its clue, but otherwise, today's minimalism didn't turn my crank.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

i read this frequently, partly because i love the sometimes sideways referenced 80s videos that i grew up with, and partly because i cant finish a late week puzzle, but also because of the npr quality of the commentary from the community. as with many of my intellectual friends, there is broad knowledge but little understanding of finance.

the NYT barely makes any money at all, and has been cutting the quality of its reporting to stay out of bankruptcy, to which it will succumb soon regardless. if it bases its policies on opinions of the 0.0001% who live and die by the most arcane details in its crossword puzzles then it certainly will face bankruptcy sooner.

most people in the real world appreciate the sunday puzzles more than rex does. this is highly correlated with people who fill in the cells in the magazine rather than online. its not all about providing the most enjoyable 4 minutes of the day to the .0001%. the vast majority of these people cannot finish a sunday puzzle, but they are familiar with tony romas.
and it is this majority that keeps the times in business.

Anonymous 10:12 PM  

Can someone explain 38d for me? How is "unidentified people" ONES? I had DOES there first, and I still think that would be a better answer.

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

i also put DOES first.
but as soon as i entered ROARED AT, i quickly changed it to ONES.
ONE is a nonspecific reference to a person eg, "one should not dis sunday puzzles", as opposed to "rex should not dis sunday puzzles".

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

I found this to be one of the easiest Sunday puzzles ever. I'm no wizard, and it's rare I can simply fill in one answer after another without pausing to contemplate anything. That was pretty much the case today. Still, the theme answers were fun to reveal, if not necessarily terribly challenging.

I value EVERY Sunday puzzle five times the daily ones. I miss many a daily, but will never miss my Sunday fix.

DigitalDan 1:02 AM  

OK, so I need help with something. What makes the asteroids anabolic? In fact, they are not, whether a black hole swallows them or not. This makes the answer bogus.

walia 1:30 AM  

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BigSteve46 1:23 PM  

As others have pointed out, Sunday is the day when the largest percentage of normal people turn to the crossword puzzle, in the printed newspaper with a pen or pencil in hand. I am sure that this is - regrettably - a steadily declining number of people, along with the people who still check old fashioned printed books out of their old fashioned neighborhood libraries. Eventually the on-line, tivo-ing speed puzzlers will eat us up and spit us out, but, as in the words of Sergeant Slaughter, "until that time, Eustis, until that time," we old farts abide.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

I push crosswords all the time, I'm a teacher of high ability elementary school kids and we just finished a month of challenging analogies in crossword form and now we're doing some from the NYT website. Crosswords aren't going away on my watch!!!!

Dirigonzo 11:21 AM  

I loved this puzzle, especially the little tip of the hat to us syndicated solvers on Christmas day with "For UNTO us a child..." at 64a.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

The Beach Boys' Do It Again would have been a nice inclusion.

Sue O 12:54 PM  

As a casual Sunday-only solver who checks your blog religiously upon completion, I loved this puzzle. As a Brit-born, former-Kiwi-now-US citizen, several of the clues were gimmes. I thoroughly enjoyed the theme clues. Got sidetracked by the dashaboard, like many others, until I figured out the red roses.

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