Guest post / THU 12-01-11 / Get excited

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Constructor: Elizabeth A. Long

Relative difficulty: Medium / Challenging

(Screenshot from the excellent XWord program. Seriously, get it.)

THEME: JACK — rebus

Word of the Day: SHADRACH (One of a Jewish biblical trio) —
a companion of Daniel who, with Meshach and Abednego, was thrown into the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar and came out unharmed. Dan. 3:12–30. (
• • •
(Meshach and Abednego complete the trio. Hey, that's 8/7/8! Make it into a puzzle!)

Speaking of being thrown into a fiery furnace, I, Tyler Hinman, am here to "fill in" (har!) for Rex, who has stepped out on a diplomatic mission. You might know me from my blog and the snark resulting from compulsively solving puzzles I don't necessarily enjoy. But never mind that; what did I think of this one?

Answer: I liked it! With rebuses being such an attractive challenge for constructors and the natural "jack-in-the-box" tie-in, it feels like I should have seen or done this one before, but I don't think I have. Anytime I get a "why didn't I think of that?" feeling from a theme, it's usually a good sign.

Theme answers:
  • Table staple, of sorts (BLACK[JACK])
  • Eschewer of fat ([JACK]SPRAT)
  • You might find one at a sawmill (LUMBER[JACK])
  • Stick pulled from a pile ([JACK]STRAW)
  • Brandy made from cider (APPLE[JACK])
  • One in a corner ([JACK]HORNER)
  • British standard (UNION[JACK])
  • Figure often mentioned by meteorologists ([JACK]FROST)
  • With 39-Across, apt title for this puzzle (JACK IN / THE BOX)

The grid pattern had me suspecting a rebus early on; surely something was going on in that tight middle section. While my overall suspicion was correct, that area contained no oddball squares, and was probably less open in order to accommodate the J and the X. Ms. Long made an interesting constructing decision in ending one word with the J and starting another with the X rather than the other way around; the latter certainly seems easier. I'd be interested to find out how that all fell into place.

The fill around a rebus is sometimes tricky, but it's mostly good here, even with a Z thrown in for good measure. And it comes in at 76 words; rebuses often take advantage of the maximum of 78. I deemed this Medium / Challenging because while the bottom two thirds fell smoothly enough, I actually had quite a bit of trouble at the top. Hey, I like a little challenge; gives me high hopes for some satisfyingly tough brutes tomorrow and Saturday.

  • Open (UNSTOP) — Had UNSNAP here; that one hurt for a while.
  • Untested (NEW) — Ditto for RAW. Argh!
  • Diversion with 81 squares (SUDOKU) — Where do you come down on the sudoku vs. crosswords debate?
  • Bounce back and forth quickly (PINGPONG) — I know Will would prefer TABLETENNIS, but that's not really a verb.
  • More unctuous (OILIER) — "Unctuous" is fun to say.
  • Sch. in Pocatello (ISU) — As a sports fan, I tend to accept schools in puzzles in correlation with how prominent their athletic programs are, so I didn't care for this one. (And before you ask, RPI has two national championships in Division I hockey, thank you very much.)
  • 1998 film "Waking ___ Devine" — I lived in England when this came out; it was just called "Waking Ned".

  • Addis Ababa is its capital: Abbr. (ETH) — This isn't a great entry regardless, but I'd much rather see it clued as "Old verb ending" or some such than an abbreviation one never really sees.
  • Domicile (RESIDE) — This is one of the clues that gave me fits; had no idea this could be a verb.
  • Nonlibrary reading (PORN) — Not according to crack investigative reporter Carl Monday! (I'm not linking to that video because I don't want to get this blog flagged again. You can Google it.)
Well, that's an odd note on which to go out. Oh well. Rex will be back tomorrow. OR WILL HE???

Signed, Tyler Hinman, Regent of CrossWorld


Anonymous 7:40 AM  

The black and blu crossing in the northwest corner is particularly elegant. However, lumberjacks don't work in sawmills, they work in forests. And, even confirmed by the crosses I found the often phonetically-spelled hajj to be troublesome as hadj. Otherwise, terrific puzzle.

Z 7:40 AM  

Ditto on most of T.H's issues - UNSnaP, wanted raW, easy south, tough north.
First word in was KAL, so I had the reveal before any of the rebuses. Had all the JACKs in place but still struggled through the north.

ANNALIST is a new word for me. That didn't help.

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

Entertaining write-up. I'd rate this Thursday "medium." Got slowed down by zipCODES.

jberg 7:52 AM  

Somehow, I had the NE and SW completely blank with everything else filled in - not so much that they were harder, but they weren't very connected with the rest of the puzzle, so nothing led me into them. Once I got the theme they were easy, but that came late.

Also, where does the BOX come in? Is that just the grid as a whole? I wanted the rebuses to make a box, maybe in the four corners - or maybe the little 3X3 boxes scattered throughout the puzzle to spell words when you went around the edges (thought the one with 26 in the SW corner might be ' a sheet' for a moment), with the boxed in central letters making a word. Guess that would have to be a Saturday.

Writeovers: UOI before ISU, wAsHED before BATHED.

I guess you might find a LUMBERJACK in a sawmill if it was a portable one set up in the woods, and it did say "might." Until I got the theme, I was looking for something like 'gimbels,' whatever they might be.

Nice writeup, Tyler, thanks!

SethG 8:03 AM  

Rebus was easy to find with JACK SPRAT, but that upper right corner was tough. Over half my time was there. Really nice reveal.

15 years of Hebrew school, I know Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the song.

Thanks, Reg!

evil doug 8:30 AM  

Speaking of porn:

xmen=John Holmes and others.

If you can't find it at the library, soon you can get your x-rated jollies at 35,000 feet: "Hotels around the world have it, so why wouldn't we?" Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said.

Or once again you can enjoy blu porn right here in the crossword, in keeping with the week's theme:

Firma lumber poler
lies over
hosed oilier box analist. [Whats that? Oh, my bad---never mind---errata...]
Needle dopers bathed alma, mariah, lana.



joho 8:40 AM  

I thought both SUDOKU and PINGPONG were shout outs to Will.

LOVED this puzzle! Original rebus theme beautifully executed. Thank you, Elizabeth Long!

And thank you, Regent of Crossworld, for a great writeup and especially for the dramatic chipmunk.

jackj 8:44 AM  

This puzzle fell out of favor for me at one down when “Ray preceder” turned out to be BLU rather than the hoped for MAN and then 68 across seconded the thought when “Part of a meter”, which clued NEEDLE , exceeded the bounds of reason or fun in trying too hard to give us a ”clever” misdirect.

The rebus entries were obvious and unexciting and trying to make some of them “cuter”, like dumbing down meteorologists to presenters who would blithely declare, “(Jack)FROST nipping at your nose”, just doesn’t play.

Not all was lost, though as there was the clever cluing of ERRATA (“Bad spells?”) and the delightful conjoined clues at 33 and 35 down which gave us TKOS and RBI, but, then, a special highfalutin insult, unctuous, seemed to lose its elegance when turned into OILIER.

Not a strong offering for the all-important Thursday puzzle.

FearlessK 8:46 AM  

Maybe it's just another cranky day, but: lots of easy 3's in the center of the grid made the JITB clue obvious, then the rest of the puzzle revealed very quickly, too much so for a Thursday, I thought... And if we're cluing DeNiro, must it be with the Fockers? argh. Wanted VICTOR (11D) and RAW (30A) instead of what I got (EDISON/NEW), so NE was reluctant at first.

Now feeling less cranky (is the morning java finally kicking in?) enjoyed the nursery rhyme references at 6D/69A (why so many Jacks in nursery rhymes?). Enjoyed your review, Tyler, and @evil's comment (why so much porn this week?)

quilter1 9:00 AM  

Got the theme early and it was easy from there. I liked it. It felt fresh and humorous.

Thanks for filling in, Tyler. Good job.

imsdave 9:04 AM  

Beautiful puzzle - thank you Ms. Long!

Pretty much the same solve as Tylers (thanks for filling in) - easy bottom half, not so much on the top. Felt like a genuis filling in MAN (ala jackj) which really obscured the great clue/answer BLACKJACK.

ANNALIST just looks creepy to me.

That said, a full 5 stars in my book.

syndy 9:14 AM  

Like @Quilter1 got the theme early and rated this one very easy-so I was thrilled to see a Medium/Challenging! my main writeover was SHADRACK.Thanks for the write-up Tyler and excellent job-excellent clips.

John V 9:18 AM  

Fun puzzle! Easy/Medium, about the same time as yesterday.

Go the rebus when I had a partial 36A JACK__, saw APPLEJack and the SW just fell. Seeing Jack in the corner, initially was thinking the theme would be JACK IN THE CORNER, but a) that makes no sense and b)doesn't fit, so I naturally ruled it out.

Initially wrote in CURSES for 18A, for ERRATA. Wanted air quotes around "Singer" Carey, but that's just my snark of the morning.

Favorite clue 1A, had me thinking salt, pepper, and so on.

No ugly fill! Great puzzle!

Tita 9:42 AM  

I had victOr (as in RCA Victor - His Master's Voice) for too long.
NE was last to fall, just staring at A_NALIST and wondering what I could popssibly have done wrong...
Not knowing r or N for LA_A didn't help.

@Fearless - my thoughts exactly re: DENIRO.

Smiled at LUMBERJACK, and then again with Tyler's video - thanks for that!
Too bad not all the JACKs were people.

Had SPRATt at first, not knowing it was a rebus. Love the reveal.
Nice puzzle, just challenging enough to require staring at it again this am over coffee to make the final light bulbs light.

Coming here is like attending a Crossword Appreciation much to learn about construction and solving... !!

P.S. Waking Ned Devine is one of my favorite movies!! That made me smile too...

Whacker 9:43 AM  

Union Jack in the SE was the key for me. Was too slow picking up Blackjack. Great fun.

Still hate anything with HADJ as the answer as there seems to be an infinite number of ways to spell this word. It just ain't right.

Porn is not "reading" by any stretch.

Rex Parker 9:45 AM  

This was just OK for me. Too easy because of the symmetrical JACKs, and too highly segmented in the middle (tons of short fill, an awfully high number of black squares). FLEETO is some borderline fill ... but I liked the dynamic duo of SHADRACH and PINGPONG.

Thanks, TH


hazel 9:49 AM  

I thought this puzzle IDEA was super cool. Jack has been with us since the 1300s and has taken on all sorts of meanings (at least 15 definitions at and has otherwise been incorporated into all sorts of words (crackerjack, amberjack, carjack, jackass, phonejack, on and on and on). the use of 3 characters named JACK seems a little uninspired(?) given there are so many jack options - but I still v. much liked the solve, and like others found it super easy. I really like JACKINTHEBOX (the reveal, not the restaurant).

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Any Deadheads here to appreciate the two different Dead songs in the puzzle? The one at 13D jumps right out at you, but there's also one at 54D.

Tobias Duncan 10:19 AM  

I love APPLEJACK and I loved this puzzle.
Nice to see Tyler at the helm today.

ELS = loop loopers?? I dont get it.

@ RW Bush you must be a youngin. My first exposure to pornography was a paperback with a lurid cover that some kid found in the back of the bus on the way home from school one afternoon.After that I read a chapter a day aloud on the hour long ride to school and answered questions as best I could.
That was what passed for sex ed in New Mexico back then.

Lindsay 10:19 AM  

Don't have much to say about the puzzle that hasn't been said, so I'll tell a UNION JACK story ....

Some years ago members of my rowing club flew to England to spend a week rowing on the Thames. The club president brought little American flags for us to fly fom our shells, and a Union Jack for our British guide/boat wrangler to fly from his shell.

So one day we're all rowing along, and the marine police come buzzing up to our guide and tell him he's not entitled to fly the Union Jack unless he has the queen on board. Andrew said fine, he'd take the flag down when we stopped at the next lock (there are locks every three miles or so). But the police weren't satisfied, and made him put ashore immediately to remove it.

Have a good Wednesday everyone.

thursdays 10:21 AM  

Much better time than usual on a Thursdays for me, and DNG, although had ScA before SKA -and SHADRACk before SHADRACH. Also UNSeal before UNStop, and I'm another with curses. I got the reveal before the rebuses.

I had problems with EATERIES for Bistros and HOSED for Flimflammed, and ANNALIST sounds made up, but otherwise this was fun.

John V 10:23 AM  

@Tobias re: Loop Loopers. Chicago elevated trains -- Els -- go around a section of downtown Chicago known as The Loop.

jesser 10:25 AM  

Nice writeup, @ Tyler! I'm excited about this puzzle because there's a guy here at work who loves to say, "You don't know jack!" I'm hoping he'll say it to me today, and I will hand him the puzzle (it's in my sheaf of papers) and walk away without another word. He probably won't say it today. Bastard.

Hope everyone has a Happy Thursday. I'm gonna have a busy one!

Jamistre! -- What a ska gay man might have, as opposed to a jamistress.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  


I'm from the UK originally, and I think your boat was probably flying the "Royal Standard" and not the Union Jack. The Union Jack (or Union Flag) is simply the flag of Great Britain, and as such can be flown by anyone in the UK.


r.alphbunker 10:44 AM  

I fell for the bait at 5D and initially had heinz instead of KNORR. If I had been solving on paper I probably would not have written it in because I really felt that it was a setup. If the clue number had been 57D I would have felt differently. Had DiNeRO instead of DENIRO for a while. I must have been subconsciously applying the "i before e except after c rule". _STRAW told me that this was a rebus but did not know what kind of straw it was until I got the revealer.

Whacker 10:44 AM  

Tobias Duncan you are absolutely correct.. Not about me being young, unfortunately, but the great treasure it was finding an old sun baked Playboy in a field and sharing with fellow Owl patrol members of Boy Scout Troop 65. Easy to remember because the year was '65. Thanks for that!

Also, the lumberjack song... Monty Python always a good call..

treedweller 10:55 AM  

ANNALIST made me think of "Arrested Development"

retired_chemist 10:55 AM  

The rebus came much more easily than my usual. Accordingly my time was better than the usual Thursday. Easy, but probably medium for the non-rebus-challenged.

Hand up for VICTOR @ 11D, abetted by RAW (as in recruits) for 30A and SODA @ 24A. Also for the HADJ/HAJJ ambiguity, WASHED @ 15D, ERRORS @ 18A, and, briefly, OUZO @ 40D. I often confuse the drink and the pasta. Would be fun to try them together....

Liked 68A NEEDLE. Needed ALL crosses and a forehead-smacking D'oh to rid myself of the ideas it was an obscure metric unit of length.

Thanks, Ms. Long. Well done.

archaeoprof 10:57 AM  

Nice to see JACK HORNER in the corner.

Raw/NEW and unsnap/UNSTOP here too.

Nice writeup, TH!

Sally 11:06 AM  

I liked this puzzle, mainly because I got the reveal right away. Jack in the box made better sense to me than yesterday's "ONE". But it did feel more like a Wednesday than a Thursday puzzle. Liked the write-up too, Tyler.
"Annalist" was annoying!

BTW, what is a jackstraw? Thanx.

Arlene 11:19 AM  

This one was interesting to me because I started it last night (I print out from the NY Times online version)- and just couldn't finish last night - got the "Jack in the Box" but couldn't go further. I thought to myself how horrible - it's only a Thursday - I should be able to finish it. So this morning, I started fresh with the paper version, and plowed right through it - done! The only thing I did differently was leave a blank on HA_J - and then one thing led to another. Well - you all know how that is!

GILL I. 11:24 AM  

I thought this was a tad easy and a bit humdrum for a Thursday rebus. I do like seeing my alter ego "Jack" though. I wonder why he got to into so many words? My favorite is jackanapes.
@Tita: I too love the movie "Waking Ned Devine." I've probably seen over 10 times. One of my favorite lines: "Find the winner and make sure we are their best friends when they cash the cheque!"
SHADRACH reminds me of the longest word I had to learn to spell: Nebuchadnezzar.

Anoa Bob 12:23 PM  

I grew up in an area with lots of sawmills so when I got the rebus trick I was trying to remember something I had seen in a sawmill with JACK as part of the word/phrase.

When LUMBERJACK filled in, I was surprised. Yep, you might find one in a sawmill. You also might find a nuclear scientist or a bowel of banana pudding in a sawmill, but it's not where you would normally expect to find any of these.

And what the heck is a JACK STRAW? The first couple Google pages didn't help.

Paul B. 12:28 PM  

Jack Straw seems to be another name for Pick up Sticks.

You know, some sawmills are adjacent to the woodlands, are owned by the same people/company, people come and go through the main gate, sawyers and lumberjacks alike.

David 12:34 PM  

@anonymous 10:04, my love of the Good Ol' Grateful Dead actually saved me at 13D. I had the JACK and the W, so old Jackstraw from Wichita came to mind, so I played with it and it worked with all of the crosses.

and as for 54D -
"Good Morning, Mr. Benson, I see you're doing well...
if I had me a shotgun I'd blow you straight to hell"

Lindsay 12:35 PM  

MAS --

Out of curiosity I googled before posting the anecdote, and in this link

found the following:

"The Union Flag is worn at the masthead of a ship to indicate the presence of the Sovereign or an Admiral of the Fleet .... it is still officially a flag of the monarch, rather than the Union.

'Civilian use is permitted on land, but non-naval/military use at sea is prohibited .... It remains a criminal offence .... to display the Union Flag (other than the "Pilot Jack" – see below) from a British ship."

So I guess that's what the police were getting at.

Two Ponies 12:37 PM  

I'm a rebus fan but didn't really care for or about this grid.
The NE would have been much easier if I had ever heard of Shadrach. Crossing that with an actor I've never heard of made the choice between alma and dura hard to make.

tptsteve 12:45 PM  

Not much to add, other than a horrible mistake at 16A to slow me down- had UNSHUT.

@SethG- thanks for the Satchmo link.Best part of the day so far. (Never heard of the trio despite my years of Hebrew school)

Unknown 12:48 PM  

A Carl Monday reference! I am every so glad I came to see Tyler's guest blogging today. I had almost forgotten about that classic clip.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:50 PM  

Excellent job on short notice, Tyler!
Enjoyed the write-up.

Mel Ott 1:07 PM  

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were the Chaldean names given to the three young men who were cast into the furnace of fire in The Book of Daniel and miraculously survived. Their Hebrew names were Hananiah (חֲנַנְיָה), Mishael (מִישָׁאֵל) and Azariah (עֲזַרְיָה).

There is an old Christian devotion that begins "Let us sing the song of the Three Holy Children, which they sang as they blessed the LORD in the furnace of fire."

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I don't understand 32D. Any explanation?

Tobias Duncan 1:36 PM  

@John V
Thanks John, I would not have gotten that in a million years.I was actually starting to think it had something to do with cursive capitol Ls like Laverne had on her sweaters in Laverne and Shirley.

dk 1:59 PM  

As the penitent man of posting I will leave BLU and PORN to others.

Agree with Rex.

I liked BATHED over rehab. And it is nice to know that PALL is a coffin cover as I will use next time someones says: "cast a pall over..."

*** (3 Stars) I (hater of rebus and SUDOKU LOSER) liked the JACK theme... but it could have been darken THEBOX given the number of blanks.

miriam b 2:01 PM  

@Anoa Bob: I hope I never see a bowel of banana pudding in a sawmill or anyplace else.

Fun puzzle, but easy IMHO.

Tita 2:05 PM  

@Anon @1:23-
In Innsbruch, Austria, they speak German. "Ich", as in "Ich bin ein Berliner", is the fist person singular.

(Stop calling me a jelly doughnut...)

And yes, r.alph - trilingual +, depending on how you count...some might tell me I'm really only a the years pass, none of them are improving!!

John V 2:08 PM  

@Anonymous 1:23p.m. 32D, I, in Innsbruck, is Ich, German for I.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  


I believe Innsbruck is in Austria, where German is spoken. I, in German is ich, as in "Ich bin ein Berliner."

Tita 2:09 PM  

Oh - hand up for not knowing JACKSTRAW - in fact, I put in pickup, as PickUp Sticks was a game I played as a TOT.

Tita 2:15 PM  

Kind of patehtic, but only reason for this post is to report the capcha...

A country in lower Mess O'potamia with lots of strip joints...

r.alphbunker 2:19 PM  

Wasn't that what Kennedy said when he visited Berlin in the early 60s? I read somewhere that a Berliner is the name of a jelly doughnut so what some Germans might have heard was "I am a jelly doughnut." Especially if he said it in a coffee shop. Is there any truth to this?

baker 2:22 PM  

jelly donut

Lewis 2:22 PM  

I never heard of Shadrach, I don't think it came up in Hebrew school. Yet with just a few letters I filled it right in, so it must be lodged somewhere in my subconscious.

Liked the clue for ERRATA and I liked the use of PINGPONG. For the most part, the puzzle was straightforward and relatively easy for a Thursday IMO.

Nice breezy writeup Tyler!

Chip Hilton 2:23 PM  

An enjoyable, clever puzzle. I did notice that I had a much higher number of single-letter erasures than usual - don't know why.

Interesting how crossword convention makes LANA more note-worthy than Natalie.

afrogran 2:27 PM  

Very easy rebus for me today, but I like to think that's because my skills are improving.
The only word whose meaning I didn't know before was 'pall'. I know about 'casting a pall over' ...but did thought it meant a fog or miasma, so have never looked this word up.
I learned something today.

TC 2:32 PM  

Didn't see it in any of the comments--BOLOS for some ties? Got it through crosses but still don't get it.

Annalist sharach michaels 2:39 PM  

Loved the bouncy writeup Tyler!
It may have seemed familiar because Pete Muller did a JACKINTHEBOX puzzle for Elisa's tourney in LA two or three years ago...extra sweet because his son is named Jack...but i can't find it.

i had lots of trouble with the NW as I had aNteUP and couldn't get beyond MAN Ray and even had Ban Ray, confusing it with Raybans...tried fLa Ray, thinking it might be a sports team...uck, such a mess...

Then, in a total moment of synchronicity, my cat BLACKJACK ran across my feet,eh voiila, puzzle solved!!!

I'm with you,loved that little JACKHORNER is sitting in the corner...lovely touch, Elizabeth A. Long!

Hand up for not knowing STRAWJACK, nor ANNALIST.

And pays -to -be -Jewish only mildly rang the SHADRACH bell
(VERY funny, young Tyler for a puzzle idea...maybe I'll give it a stab for my Jewish puzzle book that continues to sit on my floor unfinished for 3 years, perhaps that is the key I need!)

By the way, even tho there are tons of Jacks to choose from, and it's a common word in many expressions, I'm shocked anyone would call this uninspired!!!
People's expectations at timeso have gone wildly out-of-control on this blog!

hazel 3:13 PM  

@acme - the only part of the puzzle that i found to be uninspired was the fact that 3 of the 8 jacks were simply the 1st name of nursery rhyme characters - regardless, i still found the puzzle fun to solve. And also agree w/ @archaeoprof that JACKHORNER in the corner is cool.

Thanks for your opinion on my opinion - kind of a bleedover on the meta discussion!

chefbea 3:20 PM  

Very busy day so no time to work on the puzzle. Got apple jack and jack horner right away but then had to put the puzzle down. Just got home and too tired to finish.

Anoa Bob 3:47 PM  

@Miriam b: "I hope I never see a bowel of banana pudding in a sawmill or any place else." point exactly! That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tita 4:23 PM  

@r.alph and baker...yes, and yes - er - no...
snopes has it right - it IS proper to say it the way he did, though the phrase does in fact have those 2 literal meanings. An early example, perhaps, of media spin...

fikink 4:25 PM  

@jackj, I, too, wanted MAN Ray.

Fun puzzle for me and needed the easier side of Thursdays, today. Still getting my sea legs.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego learned long ago in Lutheran school.

Snappy review, Regent.

sanfranman59 4:25 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 15:07, 18:59, 0.80, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:06, 9:17, 0.87, 30%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

Wordplay today introduced its new format which should cause the comments here to double....

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

John V and Tobias -- The Loop was named that because the L tracks form a loop around the original downtown Chicago. Over time The Loop has expanded to cover the larger downtown and downtown is now this area plus Michigan Ave north of the river and several blocks west of the river....

jae 6:44 PM  

Pretty solid rebus Thurs.  MIDWIVES at 15a and OPT at 62d were my only major write overs, so, easy-medium for me.  I liked it too! LANA Wood was on the local news recently commenting on the death of her sister.

syndy 7:38 PM  

@tc a BOLO tie is a string tie,usually with siver grommets on the end and soe fancy piece that slides up and down to tighten it. IT's usually western wear.

Noam D. Elkies 7:49 PM  

Nice idea, largely enjoyable, as was the writeup — thanks! My first [JACK] happened to be the one in the SE corner, since I started solving around 63A:OILIER (which incidentally is as fun to say as "unctuous" albeit in a different way), and it helped fill in the rest of the puzzle.

Yes, the pairing of the 33D:TKOS and 35D:RBI clues is neat, making those entries much better than each would be in isolation.

I have no problem with 48D:FLEE_TO (much as it looks in the grid like a frisbee brand or a mutant Speedo). As for 28D:ETH, it's late enough in the week to clue it as Ð or ð, which by my lights is better than either the old verb ending or the country abbrev.

Going from the U at the end of 49A:SUDOKU, my initial thought was the unlikely GO-MOKU, which could (but doesn't have to) be played on a 9x9 board. But I didn't fill it in because go-moku, like go, is played on the corners, not inside the squares. Good thing I didn't, because the apparent confirmation of the O and K might have taken a long time to unwind. I don't care much for sudoku, and entirely approve of Will's decision in favor of the more interesting and varied KenKen.


Mike 8:24 PM  

Tyler Hinman found this medium/challenging? I must be better than I thought! One of the reasons I love this blog is that I've learned that the top solvers actually go through the puzzles about the same as I do, fall into the same traps, have the same hard parts. The only difference seems to be they are about 100 times faster than I am.

oldbizmark 9:06 PM  

i am a schmuck. could not come up with BLU ray and the cross BLACK and had a big DNF after pretty much breezing through the rest. For some reason BLU did not come to mind when I saw ___ Ray. Oh well. Anyone else have that mental block?

retired_chemist 10:05 PM  

@ oldbiz - quite the opposite here. Despite not having anything that uses blu-ray it was what first came to mind for a 3 letter ???-ray. No others (X, alpha, beta,gamma,..) I could think of had 3 letters.

mac 10:08 PM  

The regent did a great job! Liked the puzzle, but it was easy-medium for me. The Union Jack opened it up, then I found all the boxes. Some write-overs: log-ons, unsnap and raw.

Lies over was a little lame, but there was plenty I enjoyed in this puzzle.

@Joho: thought the same thing re Sudoky and pingpong!

Annalist showed up through crosses. When you think about it, analist would be creepier.

sanfranman59 10:29 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:34, 6:50, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:32, 8:52, 0.96, 45%, Medium
Wed 11:56, 11:48, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Thu 15:05, 18:59, 0.79, 19%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:40, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Tue 4:30, 4:34, 0.98, 51%, Medium
Wed 6:13, 5:51, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:50, 9:17, 0.84, 26%, Easy-Medium

Acme 6:19 AM  

Didn't mean to call you out specifically, guess i didn't read your comment as carefully as i should have and by the time i wrote mine, yours had morphed into a feeling that some found this uninspired...
that said, did confirm with Pete Muller that he did this exact theme as NYT Sunday a couple of years ago

Cheerio 12:12 PM  

I loved this puzzle. The "domicile" as a verb made the whole thing.

I really hate KenKen. Or more precisely, I hate the 4x4 and 6x6 versions that are in the weekday paper. They seem insultingly easy. I do them and get mad at myself for doing them. The 7x7's are OK.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I thought this was pretty easy.

Started with LON and then suspected SPRATT at 6d. In an attempt to confirm that I worked across with TEETER, DOTED and rather quickly found THE BOX which led to JACK IN.

At this point I had the entire middle section filled with no rebus (which I had suspected from the grid layout), so I decided the theme answers were simply going to be famous Jacks. That confirmed 6d for me so I went back and entered SPRATT and just as I finished crossing that second T the "aha" hit me that this was indeed a rebus.

So JACK-SPRAT was the instant writeover, and after that the rest was a breeze...except for that NW corner. I couldn't figure out what _ _ L _ _ JACK was supposed to be. Yes, LON--my very first answer--was written in the wrong spot. Doh!

@acme 6:19 - I clearly remember that Sunday puzzle, which I think had all of these words and then some. FLAP and LO are two that I recall. Surprised there hasn't been more mention of it here.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Spacecraft here. I enjoyed this one, pretty much. Couldn't make headway in the north; drifted to the SE and the gimme (PLEASE gimme her!!) MARIAH, thus to AMF, PREOP and...sure looks like APPLE...AHA! Applejack was my aunt's favorite.
Revisiting the other corners, as well as the center, was now no problemo. I did have a few glitches: ROWER for POLER, WASHED for BATHED--and the last, NADIR for NOSIR, was my undoing. I thought the tie was a BOLA, and "domicile" as a verb just LIES OVER my head. I stuck in RAW and hoped that EDIDOR was some weird early record company I'd never heard of, and RESIDA was some sort of Hisapnic thingie.
Two letters from perfect, but I still liked it. After all, beside 47d, it had a shout-out to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Plus my favorite table game! You go girl!!

painga: the S&M version of REALLY don't want to knock that tower down! (Or DO you?)

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

Speaking of analists, I used to work for a proctologist. When I asked him why he chose that particular specialty, he said "Darlin', there's gold in them thar 'oles".

Dirigonzo 6:45 PM  

When one thinks of the phrase "the annals of history", "annalist" makes perfect sense. Brook Benton had a hit single with "Shadrack" in 1962, which is the only reason the word was even vaguely familiar. I love pasta so I'm not sure why I decided ORZo was right at 40d and that produced the strange non-word PINGPiNG which seemed just plausible enough, so I left it in.

Red Valerian 2:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Red Valerian 2:55 PM  

Oops, just posted comments about Friday's puzzle, which didn't seem a good idea.

Thanks, @Dirigonzo, for "annals of history"--that helped.

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

When I was a kid, my dad often said, "Shadrach, Meshach and ToBedWeGo."

Byron Trist

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

OH, fer cryin out loud.

Apparently some like this puzzle for the fuzzy clue DOMICILE. But as a verb, it does not mean RESIDE. It's more akin to verbs like ASSIGN, BILLET, or HOUSE (howz).

An army might attempt to domicile its troops, but it cannot "reside" them -- without incurring a battle with me and a phalanx of semanticists.


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