Romain de Tirtoff's alias / WED 12-28-11 / Wroclaw's river to Poles / Grounded avian / Y sporter

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Constructor: Louis Zulli

Relative difficulty: Medium

 THEME: ID THEFT (54A: Modern crime, briefly ... or a hint to 17-, 36- and 59-Across) — familiar phrases have "ID" removed, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: SEWANEE (22A: The University of the South, familiarly) —
The University of the South is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Sewanee, Tennessee. It is owned by twenty-eight southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church and its School of Theology is an official seminary of the church. The university's School of Letters offers graduate degrees in American Literature and Creative Writing. The campus (officially called "The Domain" or, affectionately, "The Mountain") consists of 13,000 acres (53 km2) of scenic mountain property atop the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Tennessee, although the developed portion occupies only about 1,000 acres (4.0 km2). // Often known simply as Sewanee, the school has produced 26 Rhodes Scholars and was ranked 32nd in the annual US News & World Report list of liberal arts colleges. In 2009, Forbes ranked it 94th of America's Best Colleges.[6] Sewanee is a member of the Associated Colleges of the South. (wikipedia)
• • •

First, there was this (just 3.5 years ago). Will has said (somewhere ...) that he doesn't mind repeating themes. Apparently, he means it. Lately, it's the late 00's all over again.

With only three real theme answers, this puzzle felt thin. Seems like the kind of theme that could go on forever, to Sunday-sized proportions at least, so getting three just-OK answers wasn't very satisfying. Also, I rarely if ever hear "ID THEFT." If someone stole my drivers' license, I'd say that's ID THEFT. I see that the abbrev. is used to refer to "identity theft" here and there, but still, the phrase doesn't resonate the way it should. Still further, ID THEFT is just hanging there, in this weird slot, with no corresponding symmetrical answer. Dislike.  So, thematically, it's pleasant, but more miss than hit.

Theme answers: 
  • 17A: Gift to an outgoing member of Congress? (LAME DUCK PRESENT)
  • 36A: Dialect coach's slogan? (ACCENTS HAPPEN) — easily the best of the three
  • 59A: European gin mill? (CONTINENTAL DIVE)

As for fill, again, it's hit and miss. It's mostly decent, but BAD ANSWER is just that. Actually, it's worse than that. It's terrible. About as coherent as "OLD TABLE" or "TALL PLANT." I can much sooner imagine someone saying "WRONG ANSWER" than BAD ANSWER as an equivalent for ["You shouldn't have said that!"]. I'd have sent this grid back to the constructor on the basis of that answer alone. And if I was at all wavering on that decision, ODRA would've sealed the deal (49D: Wroclaw's river to Poles). Wretched. Never heard anyone called a COHAB, either (1A: Roommate, informally). Blecch.

Wrote in INGE for 16A: James who won a posthumous Pulitzer, which is, of course, wrong. It's AGEE. But surprise, there's INGE after all down there at the bottom of the grid (58D: "Bus Stop"). Pure malapop (i.e. writing in a wrong answer, only to find out later that it's a *correct* answer somewhere else in the grid). Didn't trust SEWANEE / ADELA, though in the end SEWENEE just looked too stupid to be correct. Biggest problem for me was writing in EDGES instead of EASES (28D: Moves carefully). That one hurt, because EDGES is just as good answer. As a result of my mistake, those damned ASIAN elephants were hard to see.

  • 26A: Y sporter (ELI)ELI Manning also sports an "N" — "NY" — it's on his helmet. [Yes I know this clue is about Yale.]
  • 64A: Romain de Tirtoff's alias (ERTE)ERTE is how his initials ("RT") sound when you pronounce them in French.
  • 6D: Cyber-nuisance (HACKER) — I'd have pluralized this and put it where SEWANEE is. But that's just me.
  • 19D: Grounded avian (EMU) — Also good as steaks, I'm told.
  • 48D: Poet who wrote "They also serve who only stand and wait" (MILTON) — I teach this sonnet every year. Very famous last line. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) says a variation of this line at the beginning of "Psycho": "They also pay who meet in hotel rooms."
When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Tobias Duncan 12:10 AM  

Warning: name dropping ahead.
About ten years ago Edie Brickell and her husband Paul Simon happened into a gallery where I was showing my work here in Taos and bought a piece of my furniture.Over the next few years they became my biggest clients and I got to build much of the furniture for their house in the Hamptons and several other projects.All in all they kept me and my two assistants employed for over a year.They are very nice people and Edie is still stunningly beautiful.I cant say enough good things about them.Art Garfunkel on the other hand has never even called me and is not nearly as talented.Not sure about his wife.

syndy 12:17 AM  

Aside from knowing my AGEE from my INGE I had the exact experience as REX! But as I had AIR instead of ASH my elephants were really camoflaged. DI-AN? Is that elephant with a cream sauce and broccoli?

Evan K. 12:18 AM  

Rex -- you missed a variant of this theme from earlier in the year:

That said, LAMEDUCKPRESENT was a nice touch.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

...and now Milton is suffering from ID theft, and from an educator no less!

SethG 12:36 AM  

In the LA Times last year, too, but the fill was worse for me than the theme repetition.

retired_chemist 12:51 AM  

@ anon 12:22 - Actually whoever the picture is of has suffered the ID THEFT (by Wikipedia).

Easy-medium here. 14A was GUCCI, which led to 1D SGT and soon thereafter to a serious need to fix the NW. Not hard to do....

Lots of names. Getting most of them right the first time helped: ELKE, AGEE, INGE, IRWIN, KILROY, KERR, JEB. Did, Not. Know. ERTE's real name, however. Nor ADELA.

Agree COHAB is not a stellar 1A. It does Google satisfactorily, however, albeit more sexually than "roommate" would suggest. RESOW is just, well, ugly.

Was doing an archival Eliz. Gorski Friday tonight and ADIA appeared with the exact same clue. Is there a name for that?

Thanks, Mr. Zulli.

chefwen 1:40 AM  

Easy medium for me too. Had CPL in at 1D which made my handbag a Pucci (not a slave to fashion) ORA and HAM set me down the PRADA path.

GREEN BAY yesterday and Cheesehead clue today made me feel like I was back home freezing my A## off.

Anon "da bears" fan John from Chicago has challenged me to a wager, waiting to hear what the stakes are, this could be fun.

Adia Cohab Michaels 2:33 AM  

Didn't know SuWANEE so one mistake, knew INGE but otherwise word for word @rex and @Sydney today!!
Love malapops, arent they the most fun weird thing that can happen while solving?

I like that LATKES slipped in by the last day of Chanukah!

Heads up, my pal Neil deGrasse Tyson (who dreams of being in this puzzle himself) is bringing back COSMOS soon, but it will be on FOX, not PBS.

ACCENTSHAPPEN could be the title of a story of my previous lovelife...back when i had one...well, a nonvirtual one.

jae 2:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 3:14 AM  

Medium for me. Wanted SWANEE as in the river. Had ODRA checked as a "Rex will not like this." This seemed about average for a Wed. I know I did the one from 3.5 yrs. ago but .... ??

Have you ever tried to do the syndicated version of a Fri. or Sat. ? Five weeks later it's not all gimmies.

Deb 4:35 AM  

@Jae, I'm curious why you say that. I just recently started solving in real time after doing the syndicated version for daily for seven or eight years and have thus far managed to "complete" a couple of Saturdays ( a feat i managed less than a half dozen times heretofore), but I chalked that up to the fact that it's a lot easier to google an answer from my iPad than it was to get up from the kitchen table where I solved the paper version to run to the computer.

As to the puzzle, my brain wasn't firing on anything close to all cylinders because even though I was pretty sure the revealer was "ID THEFT" long before the theme answers were sussed out, I was expecting common phrases which "stole" words from each other ala the recent 'shape shifters' puzzle. I would have done the puzzle Rex mentions, but the theme wasn't specifically familiar to me after three and a half years. Then again, I bet I can do the syndicated version of these puzzles in my paper five weeks from now and still get a workout. The old gray cells, they ain't what they used to be.

Deb 4:38 AM  

Oops, also @Tobias Duncan - what a great story, and names well worth dropping! I do wish there were a link to your work via your blogger profile. Hint, hint.

88CalBear 4:53 AM  

Every day's an education. I had no idea that NERF was a material. SEWANEE was news to me, too, and I'm trying to care.

Tobias, thanks for the Edie story. Doing the puzzle, I asked what happened to her, and now I know.

I like NPR, but calling it a media giant is a stretch for me. One reason I like it is that I consider it a little guy fighting the big bad guys.

imsdave 6:31 AM  

I had RAGS for RAPS and RESOD for RESOW. Also tried AIR for ASH.

The theme may not be original, but the answers were fun. I liked BADANSWER, but thought ODRA was a little over the top.

Ruth 6:41 AM  

Funny how spaDe, fenDi and praDa all have a D in the 4th position. . .

AnnieD 6:49 AM  

What is it with posting these incorrect pics?

At least this time Rex was critical and analytical without being cranky.

evil doug 7:40 AM  


Had Garfunkel on my flight in the early 90's---I guess it was during the boys' lengthy separation?---and chatted with him a bit before we pushed back. Very pleasant. He quickly shared that he was a fearful flyer, and in my experience that often brought celebrities, well, down to earth as it were. Too bad Alec Baldwin doesn't suffer the same affliction....


ArtO 8:07 AM  

Rex has been criticized (somewhat) lately for crankiness but I must say I totally agree with him today. It's never ID THEFT, nobody says "my COHAB is....", BADANSWER, etc.

As Rex, was also thrown off by EDGES vs. EASES. Briefly, considered BOMBASTIC for Pontifical.

Second the request for Tobias' link.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Chefwen - I will ship you a gallon tin of Chicago's finest Garrett's Chicago mix popcorn ( if GB wins the SB this year. If interested let me know what you offer:

John From Chicago

PS. I am wondering if Will will visit here again today but I doubt it. He does have other things to do than reply to petulant professors....

PPS. Could not agree more with Evil Doug. In fact my dislike for AB is such that I was rooting for the Russians (aka the Soviets) to sink the American sub in The Hunt For Red october.

PPPS. Once was the only non Phoenix Sun passenger in first class. They were all nice and autographed my book even though my reservation caused their trainer to be bounced to coach.

PPPPS. Oh, the puzzle. Did I like it? Yes. I guess that's a bad answer.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

I'm glad no one cares enough about my job to blog about it daily. Yikes.

jackj 8:25 AM  

Since this is Louis Zulli’s first Times puzzle, perhaps I should damp my criticism over the thin theme he has given us.

It cries out for the long verticals to be suffering from IDTHEFT too but, alas, no such luck, unless there is a phrase BADANSW(ID)ER or a word AP(ID)OSTOLIC in the Zulli lexicon.

The trickiest part of the puzzle, for me, was in reconciling the answer to “Mountain ___” with the obvious answer to “Like some elephants”.

AIR and ASIAN just don’t cut it but “Mountain ash” seems like a terrible strain, especially for a Wednesday puzzle.

“Smell that mountain air!” Sure. “Oh, a mountain ash!” Not so much.

Not worth a nit snit though, I guess.

Highlight of the puzzle was the inaugural appearance of KILROY, that ubiquitous, large schnozzed graffiti scribble of WWII. Kilroy’s beloved proboscis dominant image cries out for a Sunday visual. So, what sez you, Liz Gorski?

evil doug 8:38 AM  

Best thing in the Times today is not this puzzle, but rather Maureen Dowd's column. While Mo has rendered herself practically unreadable lately, one day a year her corner of the editorial page becomes required reading: When she invites her conservative brother Kevin to substitute for her.


retired_chemist 8:39 AM  

I don't see the obscurity issue with mountain ash. It was my immediate answer. Apparently there are several pretty much unrelated trees that are commonly called that.

FWIW, the Wikipedia entry for Mountain Ash showed clearly that it should also be called John Milton, since the same photo in Rex's blog appeared with the Mountain Ash entry.

John V 8:58 AM  

Liked the puzzle well enough. Got the theme at 36D. Same issues as @Rex and @Acme re: EDGES, SEWANNEE -- where I had SAWANEE, so a one letter mistake. I filled that cross as a guess and was wrong. Curses.

Kept wanting to write NEW at 31D. Annoying when that happens.

Y sporter made me think THONG, which I cannot explain.

Thought the corner fills were good. Re: COHAB, my favorite acronym from a distant census: P.O.S.S.L.Q., pronounced POS-el Q, the definition of which will be posted later for the benefit of the non-census junkies.

wabbill -- Elmer Fudd's trashy neighbors.

joho 9:00 AM  

@SethG, LOVE your new avatar!

@Rex, John Milton has never looked looked better. Also, agree with your writeup today. And, finally, thank you for Elvis Costello.

I ended up with one error at SiWANEE. I even looked up Ilea to see it refer me to Elis, so I figured I guessed right: not. That is one BADANSWER. If fact, I declare the ELEA/SEWANEE cross a Natick!

LAMEDUCKPRESENT was my favorite.
Congratulations, Louis Zulli, on your debut.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

I'm an idiot....what's the ID part of LAME DUCK PRESENT. I'm baffled.

Horshack 9:12 AM  

OOH OOH OOH! Mr. Parker, Mr. Parker.... I don't think that's a picture of John Milton.

Modern Lingo 9:14 AM  

Just sayin', *Bad Answer* is a common expression of the *My Bad* crowd --- that can't be good.

John V 9:16 AM  

@Anonymous 9:10: Think Lame Duck PreIDent

ArtO 9:19 AM  

@anonymous. Lame Duck PresIDent.

Rob C 9:21 AM  

Not a bad puzzle, but not great either. When a puz has only three theme answers they should really knock your socks off, which didn't happen here. Also noticed the large amount of names, esp. in the bottom half.

It may be the 4 day old egg nog, but I flew through this in nearly record time (I'm not even close to a speed solver though) So I was a bit surprised to see a medium rating.

Z 9:22 AM  

My Best Man's son is a freshmen at Sewanee, so that was easy.
My lodge member was briefly a Moose, but that was quickly fixed.
I have now committed ADIA to memory, despite many attempts not to.
I got the theme at CONTINENTALDIV(ID)E, but it took a little bit for me to parse LAMEDUCKPRES(ID)ENT.

Have to agree with RP on this one. Felt pretty meh the whole way through. Best moment of the morning was the Elvis video. Elvis is King, after all.

John V 9:23 AM  

That would be PresIDent, of course.

quilter1 9:24 AM  

I guess this was just right on my wavelength today, started at 1A and proceeded calmly to the END. Of course it is mountain ASH, I never even considered Air. I did have RAgS before RAPS, but the crosses straightened me out. I thought the theme answers were OK, they gave me a smile to start the day.

Did not ADELA gaze out her window here not long ago? How soon we forget. We don't see JEB or Deborah KERR often, though ERTE is an old buddy.

Drake basketball tonight. Go Bulldogs! Besides the student mascot, we have a live bulldog, Porterhouse, who, as the team comes onto the court, chases a basketball across the court in front of them. My favorite part of the game, often. He's a sweetie, too. But I digress. Happy day, folks, and today is my spouse's B-day.

MikeM 9:24 AM  


@Tobias, nice story. Though I saw Simon and Garfunkel in concert years ago - yes I am that old - and Art absolutely stole the show

@Evil Doug - I got an iPad2 for Christmas and have been playing the game Alec Baldwin could not stop playing on the plane (Words with Friends). Not to defend him, but it is addictive - I was up until 1 in the morning playing some unknown online opponent.

archaeoprof 9:25 AM  

SEWANEE was a flat-out gimme. Wife and daughter both went there.

Beautiful campus on a mountain in south-central Tennessee. First-rate liberal-arts education.

Liked this puzzle very much. For some reason, I just don't seem to remember that puzzle from three and a half years ago...

thursdaysd 9:27 AM  

But the President isn't in Congress! And I was definitely stymied by the ELEA/SEWANEE cross, so agree with @John's Natick call.

Loren Muse Smith 9:33 AM  

Yep - BAD ANSWER and COHAB I didn't like either. And ODRA was just plain mean. Started 1D and
14A with PFC and FENDI, so that hald me up in the NW. As a linguist, I loved ACCENTS HAPPEN. They do! I wish I still had my southern drawl!

John V 9:36 AM  

OT: Change of Venue. For the next couple of months, I will be full time on client site in Charlotte, NC. Any Rex-sters from Charlotte who might share local knowledge, esp where to buy the Times?

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

President. Got it.

Jp 9:40 AM  

Rex you did it again (three and counting). The picture you show of Milton is that of Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipidea.
I did not remember the theme being done before. I got the puzzle done but took quite a while to get the "real phrases" behind the wacky phrases.
Typical Wednesday for me. Solved most without help but needed a bit of Google to wrap up.

Bertrand Russell 9:45 AM  

Anyone else notice that BADANSWER is paired with APOSTOLIC? I've been telling you this for years.

chefbea 9:53 AM  

Found the puzzle a bit of a challenge and DNF. Didn't like cohab but did of course like lentil soup.

@johnV When in Charlotte will you be visiting Wilmington at all? Let me know. As for the New York times..the grocery store Harris Teeter usually has the times and also Walgreens.

John V 9:57 AM  

@chefbea, not like to be in Wilmington, sorry to say. Thanks for the NYT info.

Pete 10:01 AM  

BADANSWER is common parlance in my microscopic corner of the world. However, I've never heard it used with out being immediately smacked by my father, punched in the face by some drunk in a bar, or kicked in the groin by some kid on the playground.

In all cases, I've wondered afterwards what would have been a good answer and never found one. I've always figured out that the action that prompted the question in the first place was iffy, but never found a good answer.

Tita 10:11 AM  

@quilter...yes - I remember not getting ADELA recently, as I didn't get her today...
Also saw NERF very recently, and Ms. KERR has been a regular around here lately.

@John V - are you collaborating with Rex's mis-postings by referring to clues that don't exist? ;)

@MikeM - that was YOU????

double-natick for me - add in UTEP to cause a DNFWG for me.

miffed again by repeated theme 10:13 AM  

LAME DUCK FILL made for an easy puzzle, who knew? Too much crud and now that I know that the theme is only three years old, well, my oh my

SEWANEE is such an UGLI word to look at

caliker - a female Bahstan cat with blotches of colour. captcha that mouse, kitten

xyz 10:27 AM  

@John V

on-line paper free, no puzzle

a puzzle (A-Lite - solvable or print & carry) subscription with archives is about $35 for a year.

If you really want the dead tree, Starbucks, duh :-)

Lindsay 10:28 AM  

Still smarting from the horror of being undone by an identity theft theme at the Boston tournament. That was 8 months ago. Very recently. And better executed than today's offering.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

I'd like to hear Simon and Garfunkel sing "Sewanee, how I love you, how I love you..."
Recently googled Garfunkel singing with his beautiful wife of 20 years, and his son--who's a mini-me of his dad--on Good Morning America. Art gets my vote.

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

Agree with Rex nearly word for word.
Margin notes: Romain ...who?
Progresso makes lentil soup. Not sure about Campbell's.
Shout at concert - Free Bird
Way down upon the Suwanee River.

Too bad a debut didn't have more spark.
Rex, this Wiki joke is too funny. People can be so gullible. I do see that some are (finally) catching on.

John V 10:43 AM  

@redanman I'm that odd creature in NY who goes from one end of the year to another without being in a Starbucks. My NYT and coffee supplier is Bobby at the Rowayton train station.

retired_chemist 11:23 AM  

Let us all pause a moment in honor of Edgar Winter's 65th birthday.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

@Jp. Do you ACTUALLY think Rex is making ERRORS with the pictures?!?!
Where is your sense of humor?

jberg 11:26 AM  

Same error as ACME, SuWANEE/uLEA. Obviously, if I want to be a serious solver I'd better memorize the homes of the Greek philosophers.

@Pete, I think that's the point about "bad answer" - it's not just wrong, it's something you shouldn't have said!

I was proud of myself for getting Erte - had no idea, but the letter count and the initials fit, and somehow it just popped into my head.

But why isn't anybody complaining about OR A? Worst partial ever, IMHO - You'd say "Mac or PC," the A is completely superfluous.

Pete 11:40 AM  

@jberg - That's exactly not the point I was making. When asked why I ratted out a cheater in 4th grade, my answer was that his cheating violated any sense I had of honor, decency and fairness. A perfectly good and honest answer, for which I was rightly kicked in the groin. The problem wasn't in my response to the question, it was the action which prompted the question. There was never going to be a "right" answer to why I ratted a classmate out.

Jp 11:45 AM  

To Anonymous 11:23 AM
Sorry to say but I don't see the humor in posting wrong pictures. If it is meant as a joke it can certainly fool people like me who assume that every effort is made to ensure that the information in the blog is 100% error free.

hugh 11:55 AM  

How is it a wrong picture? Each is an actual snippet of the wikipedia page.

You know Rex Parker is not a person named Rex Parker, right?

enjoying it 12:05 PM  

@Jp if you want to see the humor, go look in the mirror.

dk 12:06 PM  

You know I hate it when bloggers and posters beat a theme or a joke to death. Please show some restraint. Your boorish behavior diminishes us.

Tobias and SFFran back to SF to introduce my sister to the Crossword Fizz.

Hugh, but it is Rex's picture.

Not so happy with this puzzle. It did not carry me over the Wednesday hump (chortle).

** (2 Stars) Take COHAB to rehab

Masked and Anonymous 12:15 PM  

They seem to use vowel-letter(s)-vowel words a lot more in crosswords, than mere mortals such as I do in regular conversation.

Tough to make a new year's resolution to use ADELA, ADIA, ODRA, EDIE, ELEA, INGE, AGEE, IWO, ERTE, ELKE and ELIE more in small talk with the dudes/dudesses down at the grain co-op. Maybe could work EMU, AUNTIE, IRA, UNRIPE, ELI and ERGO in. "Why, hello, Georgia May... you're just lookin' like an unripe emu today! How's your auntie? How's that IRA doin'?" Yup, might fly. Wouldn't get many cries of "ENCORE!", tho.


Alternative clue for IDTHEFT: "Ego trip risk?"

Fave clues: "Y sporter", "What this is, fittingly"

ArtO 12:17 PM  

p.s. to Rex... passed along your astute observation about ERTE to my son who lives in Paris. Neither he nor I ever noted the connection re his given name.

Thanks for the insight.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Always loved the "My Word" version:
"They also surf who only stand on waves".

JaxInL.A. 12:30 PM  

I, too, enjoyed seeing LATKES in the puzzle. Perhaps that's the reason Will picked it for today?

Last night of Hanukkah tonight, and if we don't forget we will have lit candles 7 out of 8 nights, a new record for this family. It can be hard to keep track and stay focused. Last night we lit them with dinner guests from Saudi Arabia. On to New Year and the Rose Parade, which will not be on Jan 1 this year because it falls on a Sunday and there are too many churches in Colorado Blvd.

Rex, I try and try, but Milton is completely opaque to me. Now if you had a link to your lecture, perhaps.

@joho, thanks for pointing out @SethG's new avatar.

@Tobias, yes, please show us your work.

@JohnV, safe travels, though I will miss the distance gauge on your train commute. If you and @chefbea do manage to find a way to meet in the middle of that 200 mile divide between Charlotte and Wilmington, (maybe Fayetteville?), do be sure to take pix.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Dear Rex:

Did you miss "Lame Duck PresIDent," "AccIDents Happen" and "Continental DivIDe"? (Theft of the letters "I" and "D") Or did you include that denouement, and I missed it?

A Fan

Anrea carla mchaels (no i d, get it?!) 2:14 PM  

Even tho I've seen better puzzles, can I defend/she'd light on the construction for a second?
Yes, only three theme answers but they each span the grid, and really there is a fourth in IDTHEFT that doesn't really need a parallel.
And altho IDentity theft is more often heard, it ruins the joke, and ID theft is heard enough to make a nice reveal, better than the one three and a half years ago with NOID, that parses funny and isn't as dead on.

Dropping letterrs makes the phrases much more awkward and slightly less fun aurally, i learned the hard way from a Wednesday puzzle I did with my friend Peter Stein where we dropped SP from phrases, with the reveal SPOUT.

When you add letters, the phrases sound funnier, less curt, hard to explain...maybe because the full phrase is still there in front of you with an added bonus.
This one tho had one that really worked tho, ACCENTSHAPPEN because you could almost "hear" the original phrase "accidents happen" whereas the LAMEDUCKPRESENT is almost there but the phrase is so rarely used, it seems harder to parse whats missing.

This is too hard for a Monday, where three grid crossing theme answers + reveal would be more than sort of could be a Tuesday, but not really with words like APOSTOLIC crossing THREE theme answers! Well done that!
And BADANSWER had to cross two...and tho I agree that "wrong answer" is what we say, it seems that BADANSWER might have slipped under the radar because on "Family Feud" they always clap and say "good answer, good answer" even when nthe answer is terrible.
(once when the question was name a famous Rudolf" one of the family members said "Hitler", I swear to god!)

@Masked and Anonymous
It's intersting to me that uou point out all the dozens of words that start with A in this puzzle. I don't know the constructor and it's his debut, but I suspect when folks now use the computer databases they sometimes opt for the first word offered...and I also personally feel this results in semi-sub-optimal fill...or as @sethg brilliantly coined "awfill" ( I've been waiting to use that!)
And altho i don't think this fill was awful, by any means, there was something about it that wasnt great, again demonstrated by the list M & A put together @ 12:15pm.
And if he HAD relied on a database, than he might have seen that CONTINENTALDIVE Had been used fairly recently, but if he hadn't used computer assistance, than there wouldn't be a way to know, and it was an innocent great minds think alike sort of thing.

That said, I come here to hear what happened to EDIE and relearn the ERTE story, etc...and of course to get that frisson when someone malapops!

fergus 2:30 PM  

How many times will ADELA have to stump me before it's seared into my memory? And I read the damn book, too! (Actually, it was pretty good.)

Now I'm wondering whether APOSTOLIC has the same generally negative implication as Pontifical -- like the views expressed in ED's annual favorite column?

Lewis 2:31 PM  

Had PFC for 1D, which gave me FENDI for 14A, which held me up. Thought "mountain man" and "mountain air" -- never would have thought of "mountain ash".

Congrats on your debut, Louis!

mac 2:51 PM  

OK Wednesday, with lame duck present my favorite. I didn't have a problem with ID theft, but I guess you hear identity theft more often.

I ended up with a mistake: thought "scread" was some Western expression I didn't know, and UTec sounded ok, forgot about Utep.

I had Spade before Prada as well, but Radar's rank saved me there.

mac 3:00 PM  

Had to laugh at "tether", my husband used the word this morning. It was our anniversary yesterday.

Tita 3:25 PM  

@JohnV - btw, congrats on the new post.
You're not alone i your feelings about Starbucks. - I had the same thought re: his train ride...
I've come to rely on his Metro North-based difficulty guage, along with Rex's, foodies, and Sanfranman's...

Eric 3:35 PM  


When using pictures from wikipedia, the picture for the person or subject you are looking at shows up on the right hand side of the page. The pictures you keep posting are of Wikipedia contributors. For example, the picture you used for Milton is actually Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.

Other than that, thanks for your posts. I visit frequently as I am a new puzzler and use this blog to help me understand the stuff I missed and for help understanding the trickier themes. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

Edgar Winter was an error, the two following were an attempt to deny the error. Unfortunately, none of this is "funny", just plain strange and a big turn-off.

jae 4:37 PM  

@Deb - the point I was trying to make was what you said at the end of your post. Trying to redo a puzzle you solved successfully five weeks ago (let alone 3.5 yrs. ago) is not a piece of cake. Memories fade fairly rapidly unless reinforced. Which is why ELEA was not quite a gimmie for me even though I've seen it more than once before.

joho 5:01 PM  

While a sense of humor is not required to blog here, it sure would be great if everybody had one!

@anrea carla mchaels ... LOL at your "Family Feud" anecdote about "Who's a famous Rudolph?" (BTW if you'd been carded today you wouldn't have gotten in!)

r.alphbunker 5:15 PM  

If I want to know what it is like to be a solver like Dan Feyer or Tyler Hinman, I solve a puzzle, wait an hour and do it again.

Jeffrey 5:26 PM  

Every picture on this site should always be a true, accurate representation of the person indicated. Just like the picture under "About Me".

Henny Youngman 5:32 PM  

Rex, I love your posting of the "wrong pictures."

It is classic comedy.

Just like my act.

retired_chemist 5:37 PM  

@ Crosscan - nice to see you (and Youppi) back here.

M07S 6:28 PM  

I was gonna do a rant here about @Rex's pics and how "if you have to explain it, it ain't funny" using lots of "just sayin"s. But ya know, if people aren't reading the blog then shame on them. More pics Rex. (I was hoping to post a wrong pic of @Rex but there is no entry for him on Wikipedia. OMG Say it ain't so! I'm thinking Anrea carla mchaels [no i d, get it?!] might be the anointed one for this). Comments about this, Rexites?

Amos Y Noun 7:07 PM  

if blogging is considered an art form, and we are all interpreting it in our own way, i see the continuation of what was only funny (hilarious) on the first day as a form of punishment to those who dont pay attention. either that or a subtle research project.

i wanted to see edie brickell with the same picture today.
but then i'm obviously still on a monday wavelength because no one has mentioned the answer that i put for Mountain ... Dew. it didnt come close.
thats what you get for reading downs first, and for growing up in the 70s with scary albino album covers in the used bins.
like 'rex' did you say? well, with such a bad memory he'll never be able to memorize all the world capitals.
BTW, on the puzzle, not only was ELEA crossing that E/A town unfair, but the tossup on adele(a) that acme mentioned. that left too many ambiguous vowels and i had 2 blanks when i HTG.

and yes, that is my real name. my parents didnt want me to be confused with everyone else who posts.

Cheerio 7:54 PM  

To add to the bad answer and sewanee discussions... I agree that "bad answer" is a phrase with a distinct meaning from "wrong answer." It's what you say to your teenager if they respond to a question of why they were late getting home with "I was smoking pot with my friends." Vis Sewanee, I am amazed I have never heard of it. I grew up in Academia and spent 10 years professing in it. But, it's those solid liberal arts schools that sometimes carry a low profile. I had never heard of the Claremont Colleges until I went to the West Coast for graduate school (from the East Coast). Maybe it's reminder of what a big country the United States is.

No Big Deal 7:55 PM  

Way too much brainspace being used up on the Wiki pictures here. Call me Rex gets a shot of John Milton and Winters Horseman-ing.

Deb 8:57 PM  

Am I the only one who now wants to know why Jimmy Wales is trying to pass himself off as Kevin Spacey?

@Jae - Thanks for the response. I thought perhaps you were alluding to a current reference in the prime time version being five weeks past in the syndicated puzzle. (E.g., "latkes" won't have the same nod to Hannukah five weeks from now.)

spallu: I'm pretty sure this is the alma mater of the guy who laid my driveway a couple of months ago.

JenCT 9:10 PM  

Of course, Mountain ASH was a gimme for me - pretty tree with berries loved by birds...

@Andrea: thanks for your constructors' perspective - I find it very helpful.

Thought the puzzle was just okay; same criticisms as others had.

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

I thought NERF was the brand name and FOAM was the material.

Dave in Ancaster 8:05 AM  

Factoid: African Lion Safari in Ontario Canada has elephants. Asian elephants...

dui lawyer arizona 3:39 AM  

He's a good candidate. I will choose him if ever.

DJ Stone 2:44 PM  

This is from the land of syndication, so it's probably futile to hope that five weeks from now Rex is still posting faux photos just to lure the - politically incorrect warning here - retards from the tall grasses they're hiding in. Can't begin to imagine what it's like to go through life without having a sense of humor, and frankly, don't want to.

There's a question I have about people who drive rudely, interrupt mercilessly, and live humorlessly. Where do they come from, and why can't they go back there?

And sorry, but I can't lay off here. The poster Jp, who thinks that information from blogs should be 100% error-free? He's apparently never heard the adage about opinions and assholes, and even if s/he has, doesn't understand that in these times you can substitute blog/Twitter for opinion.

Dirigonzo 4:06 PM  

Writing in DST (Delayed Syndicated Time), and I really liked the theme answers - all of them. I guess I'm the only one who wound up with SaWANEE; if I'm going to be wrong I like to be uniquely wrong.

@Bertrand Russell - nice to see you haven't lost your atheistic wit.

Spacecraft 7:20 PM  

Easy...but with a wrong entry, so...challenging? Guess I can just call it medium. I had a natick at ElI; didn't know the down at all, and I finally saw it had to be ELI--for Yale--but I had already put in SuWANEE because I thought that was the way to spell it...and as I said, didn't know the down at all. Don't know where I got "Suwanee" from but there it was. Oh well.
The theme and reveal were very clever, I thought. Despite my BADANSWER, I liked it. I gotta ask, though: "Mountain___" for ASH? And it's only Wedensday? I mean, the crosses make it a no-brainer, but still. That's a Friday clue, maybe even a Saturday.

wrsil: the way the average pro wrestler spells "wrestle."

Sharon AK 7:42 PM  

@ Rex Thank you for the Elvis C video. The music was boring but the visuals were GREAT.
I liked BAD ANSWER. I've heard it said with a bit of attitude.

Red Valerian 8:20 PM  

Out here, temporally-speaking (on DST, or in the TWI-light zone), Wikipedia has stopped posting pictures of people who work or contribute there at the top of their pages.

I thought it was because they'd finished fund-raising, but now I think @Rex deserves the credit! Thanks, Rex! (and thanks for the laughs, though you can't take full credit for the number of gullible people out there)

I liked the puzzle a lot. I don't care that the theme has been done before (though too bad about overlap in the theme answers).

Never heard of SEWANEE, but I knew of Zeno of ELEA (fun guy to use in an Intro Philosophy class--he "proves" that motion is impossible)

Thought for a time that 61D (1945 battle site, briefly) was ETo, but soon realized that CONTINENTAL DEVE wouldn't do.

Also thought 32D (leaf-turning time: Abbr.) would be auT, not OCT.

Did not like COHAB, but loved BAD ANSWER!

Oh, and thanks @Bertrand Russell. You are also a fave for Intro Philosophy classes.

Nogbad 1:54 PM  

I picked up a free copy of China Daily at Beijing Airport on Sat 18 Feb 2012 in preparation for a four movie flight, and found the this crossword. Being new to the style and convention of the NYT puzzle, and a Brit, I found that the 10 hours to Paris were not enough to complete the puzzle. US specials University of the South, Y Sporter and Sun Bowl Stadium Sch helped prevent a first-time completion. I had MUST for Brewer's need whilst over the Gobi Desert, and my elephants were WHITE and ROGUE before I looked out of the window for inspiration. If only I had flown over Korea, I might have had similar inspiration for Radar's rank. Clinger would have been easy (I made a profitable habit of following a racehorse called Corpral Clinger a few years back), but like others I experimented with PFC, CPL and SGT.

I found the theme answers without ever understanding the missing ID part of the clue, so thanks for explaining it. ...and in case you are wondering how I discovered this blog, it was a google on Sommer that led me here, as I was desperate to complete what I have learnt to call the NW.

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