Eucharist plate / SUN 2-19-12 / O Henry bad guy who became Hollywood/TV hero / First letter of tsar in Cyrillic / Mexican shout of elation / 1991 book subtitled When Lion Roars / Ottoman officer

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Constructor: James F. C. Burns

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Core O'Nations" — theme answers have the names of countries buried in them

Word of the Day: MONTY Hall (109A: Hall of fame) —
Monte Halperin, OC, OM (born August 25, 1921), better known by the stage name Monty Hall, is a Canadian-born MC, producer, actor, singer and sportscaster, best known as host of the television game show Let's Make a Deal. (wikipedia)
• • •

A rare Sunday where I completely finished the puzzle (in 10-something) without having any idea what the theme was. I looked at the puzzle title a couple times, but nothing clicked, and nothing tricky seemed to be going on with the theme answers, so I just never gave the theme a second thought. Generally, I'd think you want your Sunday puzzle theme to be more ... foregroundy. Announce itself a little harder. This played like a giant mediocre themeless. Seems like the type of theme that would've been done before, a lot. Maybe I'm wrong. Do the countries have anything in common? Is there some pattern? I don't see anything. Just random countries. Countries don't touch every word in the theme answer, but embedded words almost never do any more, so I've given up hoping for that level of perfectionism. Theme answers were OK, except for SUNKEN YACHT (Treasure, Gold, Ship, etc. ... all actual phrases. YACHT?) and GARDEN MARKET. Is this some regional variant of "Farmer's Market?" One interesting feature of this puzzle—an inversion of the normal Across-to-Down theme answer ratio.

My only significant screw-up, and the only memorable moment of the whole solve, really, was when I confidently dropped in LATTE for 3D: Drink with foam on top (LAGER). That reeks of intentional trap. Well, it worked. Kept me tangled up for many seconds.

Theme answers:
  • 21A: Show of affection (A HUG AND A KISS)
  • 102A: Place for produce stands (GARDEN MARKET)
  • 50D: On the level (FAIR AND SQUARE)
  • 15D: Unofficial discussions (INFORMAL TALKS)
  • 26D: Trip up, perhaps (CATCH IN A LIE)
  • 44D: Sea salvager's quest, maybe (SUNKEN YACHT)
  • 30D: Makes an extra effort (TAKES PAINS)
  • 46D: Like always (AS PER USUAL)   

I made a puzzle once that could've gone MARIANO or MARIANA, so that word I remember (here, with the "S" on the end) (19A: Island group that includes Guam). Couple of alphabet clues I knew nothing about, but both were reasonably inferrable (well, TSE wasn't inferrable, exactly, but after TS- I felt strongly that the clue was just an attempt to give shopworn TSE a new outfit) (27A: The first letter of "tsar," in Cyrillic) (44A: Like "vav" in the Hebrew alphabet = SIXTH). Among the answers I got by dint of my Crossword Muscle were PASHA and PATEN. I have heard the name "CISCO KID" a lot over the years, but I realize now that I have absolutely no idea who he is, in any context (38A: O. Henry bad guy who became a Hollywood/TV hero). I saw a Gene Wilder movie called "The Frisco Kid" once. Any allusion / parody was lost on me. I wanted A GAS GAS GAS at 4D: "Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's ___" and (at first) DADA at 33D: "Swans Reflecting Elephants," e.g. (DALI). I know the exclamation "ARRIBA!" exclusively from Speedy Gonzales cartoons (49D: Mexican shout of elation). Despite liking cartoons, I never saw "The Lion King." Everything I know about that movie, I learned from crosswords. Sadly, until today, everything I know did not include either TIMON (63D: The 82-Down in "The Lion King") or MEERKAT (82D: African mongoose). Speaking of lions, that was a semi-tough clue on MGM (103D: 1991 book subtitled "When the Lion Roars").

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:16 AM  

Solid easy Sun.   Just a hint zip (CISCOKID, WAWA, MIA) but getting the theme helped and the clunker count was low, although, SUNKENYACHT and GARDENMARKET seemed a tad off to me also.

Bonaventure is either a Saint or a hotel for me.

Noam D. Elkies 12:37 AM  

Like always = as usual. What does "per" add except a soupçon of Latin pretension? Granted, in 46D it adds PERU, but for any other purpose, please drop that suPERfluous preposition.

CoolPapaD 12:41 AM  

Don't get to do the puzzle as often as I'd like these days, so this was a nice treat.

Wonder if the clue at 59A was changed to be more topical, or an eerie coincidence. Sad, needless...

Posing the Monty Hall problem to a group of intelligent people never fails to start a lively debate. I've seen colleagues engage in shouting matches about how the others have NO idea what they're talking about - much fun! Wikipedia has a pretty good entry on this.

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Hey Noam - Could you quit using those little apercou's or whatever they are? This was about the tenth time you've made me clean off my monitor to get rid of the dust under a c. Enough already!

FearlessK 1:06 AM  

Also lager before LATTE, and estate before MADRID (nice clue on MADRID, even though those two errors clogged up the NW for a good long while. Liked the tied answers: WALTZ/MATILDA, PONTI/LOREN, TIMON/MEERKAT. Enjoyed the illustration of the Monty Hall problem; thanks, Rex! But I'm mystified by the spelling of YENTE, which I've confidently spelled "yenta" since childhood. WHASSUP?

Acme 1:07 AM  

Hey! Who else lives in Phoenix?! Gonna meet quilter tonight! Come join us!

chefwen 1:08 AM  

Like Rex, did not see the theme until after I was done, not in 10 minutes, more like 100. Went back and just stared at the long ones until all the countries popped out at me. I don't think the theme would have helped me with the solve. Husband was a little downcast that I didn't need any input on his part.

@Lesley - Was done before wine-thirty.

I must have watched a few episodes of The CISCO kid. All I can remember is "Oh Pancho, Oh Cisco" at the end of each show as they were walking with their horses.

chefwen 1:11 AM  

@Leslie - Sorry, I spelled your name incorrectly, won't happen again.

Acme 1:12 AM  

I meant @shamik!
Sunday evening 6:30-7 ish Grace Inn in Ahwatukee...
Write to me off @rex pls!

JoeTheJuggler 1:19 AM  

I did much better than usual on this one. Finished correctly in ~20 minutes. I think I relied heavily on getting the theme right off the bat.

I very much liked the interlocking clues (WALTZ/MATILDA, MEERKAT/TIMON and PONTI/LOREN).

Anonymous 2:29 AM  

Meh. I call Natick at MontE/academE, as evidenced in your Word of the Day. Also, heard of Jabber, but never Gabber.

chefwen 3:13 AM  

@Anon 2:29 - A jabber is someone who punches and Gabber is someone who runs off at the mouth. I just had a GABBER as a two week guest, I called her (not to her face) Chatty Patty, but she was sweet.

evil doug 5:20 AM  

Let the stereotyping debate begin:

Pancho, the dumb but lovable sombrero'd sidekick, and his signature line: "Let's went, Cisco!"

But I believe they stayed on their side of the border, so no 'illegal' discussion will be required....


evil doug 5:33 AM  


Anonymous 6:30 AM  

I got it from crosses, but what's up with "Bonaventures e.g." = masts?

foodie 6:39 AM  

Yes, on the easy side. And while I did figure out the theme early on, it did not help or change the solving experience.

Lot's of exotic birds flying all over this one... TERNS, MACAWS, ROC, Swans...

Weird way to clue NAUSEA!

I had (a work-related) dinner with DEAR ABBY's sister, many moons ago-- Ann Landers. She did not seem amused when people wanted to discuss her famous sibling.

When I was a kid, Sophia LOREN was the star I most wanted to look like. Good choice! She's managed to grow old beautifully.

FearlessK 8:06 AM  

@anonymous: from Wikipedia:
A bonaventure was the fourth mast on Larger 16th century galleons

AnnieD 8:31 AM  

Easy one for me. Checked the theme part way through and it did help me with one answer. I had SUNKEN CHEST at first, but when I saw the KEN I figured it had to be followed by YA which led to yacht.

Also first put in CAKE for RICE at far a highlight for long wedding receptions.

M07S 9:01 AM  

When Cisco and Pancho were waiting for the bad guys, Pancho always had to sneeze. Cisco would put his finger crossways under Pancho's nose to stop it. It works and I still do that today when I want to supress a sneeze.

Could someone clue me in on 34A Back to front? IER

Sue Mc 9:26 AM  

I liked this one a lot. Pretty much got the theme from the title. Same snafu with LATTE/LAGER. Was fun!

Glimmerglass 9:36 AM  

Hello, everyone. I'm back from 2 weeks in Egypt. Did you miss me? (Probably not.) Today was not a great puzzle to come back to, but I'll catch up on the Fridays and Saturdays I missed.

JC66 9:37 AM  

FAIRANDSQUARE seems to be a long way to go for Iran.

@ M07S


Leslie 9:45 AM  

MO7S, it just hit me: "frontier." D'oh!

Chefwen, I was wondering if you saw my comment yesterday. :-)

I, too, fell into the "latte" vs. LAGER trap.

Knew the CISCO KID, but didn't know he'd originated in an O. Henry story. Interesting!

Leslie 9:52 AM  

[serial post] By the way, does anybody else get the idea that the captcha is automatically making you do it twice? I swear I double-check my first one, but it gets rejected and the second attempt is accepted.

Joe in Canada 9:59 AM  

Who says "DEBTS" in the Lord's Prayer? I don't mean that rhetorically - is it actually used?
A GARDEN MARKET is (in my experience) a stand at the end of the drive near the road where a gardener, who might also be a farmer, sells produce from their garden, as opposed to an area where farmers put up stands in proximity, etc.

Loren Muse Smith 10:08 AM  

I liked today's pain-free puzzle, I'll wager many enjoyed it. While I found it neither way too hard nor way too easy, there was much I left blank for a while. I agree certain fills were strange (SUNKEN YACHT, GARDEN MARKET). My struggle was the NE, which I navigated slowly (by my Timex I counted 10 minutes).

Thanks, James. This was one palatable puzzle!

Pete 10:17 AM  

@Joe in Canada - They're many variants on the Lord's Prayer based on religious sects, whether you take a 200 year old version or a modern one, etc. DEBTS = Trespasses.

The Monte Hall problem keeps me up at night every time I see it. The uncovering of an empty cup provides no information to the contestant, so how does that action change the probability? I understand that the solution is that the contestant picks one cup, then is essentially offerred the opportunity to pick the other two cups, hence changing the probability of success from 1/3 to 2/3, but there's some flaw in my thought process which refuses to accept that. I know it's true, but I refuse to accept it. Hence my perpetual headaches.

jackj 10:18 AM  

Congratulations to James F. C. Burns on his debut puzzle for the Times!

Even without any warning one can sense a new constructor just by the feel for the cluing and realizing the answers are just slightly “off” from where we would expect them to be in the normal course.

Like ESCARGOT, clued as “Pricey hors d’oeuvre” or NAUSEA, which skips on by the expected Sartre clue to give us, “Something gotten at an amusement park, maybe”; these are good examples of such wrinkles in today’s cluing.

(Along the way, there were also a couple of clues which were likely familiar to a certain blogger/constructor we know, when CORPSE and TWEEN popped up, each last being used in a Times puzzle by our own #31. Mr. Burns’ TWEEN had the exact same clue as Rex’s, but Rex’s CORPSE was referenced as a “Zombie, essentially”.)

The highlight of the puzzle was not the eight theme entries, (which were hiding country names, as the puzzle’s title implied), but rather the delicious, heavenly imagery of repentant solvers, in the dark as to the “Lord’s prayer word” and ironically thinking to themselves, “OMG, OMG, how does that prayer, go? ‘Our Father who art in……..?’, OMG!, I can’t remember it!”

But, there was no help from Mr. Burns, who had inserted a crossing clue that is the proverbial clue from Hell, (or, in this case, a clue for the ages), of “Middle parts of Japan”. Huh? Say what?

But, when the prayers were answered, and the grid was filled, and the prayer word turned out to be DEBTS, which allowed the Japan clue to shine brightly as OBIS, hopefully there were a few more “OMG’s” in praise of a nice little gem of construction.

Welcome, J. F. C. Burns and thank you.

Tita 10:24 AM  

Disappointingly meh Sunday, theme-wise...

DNF with Natick: OBERLIN/LAE, and other really stupid mistakes, like YENTe, CISCOKeD.
And the LAtte/LAGER redirect.

There was lots of fill that I liked:
SPLAT for bug in windshield
Donnybrook / MELEE - both great words.
And MONTY, of course

Fabulous redirects, like Appropriate for PINCH

MATILDA made "My Zelda" the test pattern of my mind - Al Sherman and his parodies, many of which I never knew were not the real songs...

And liked being directed towards that DALI painting. I did not know the painting, but got DALI immediately, as who else but he would entitle a painting so?
Is there any other artist whose name is conjured up simply by virtue of the titles of his unseen paintings?

quilter1 10:24 AM  

The Frisco Kid and the Cisco Kid had no connection. The first was a good Gene Wilder/Harrison Ford western, and the second was a 1950's Saturday morning TV western. My maiden name is Francisco and I and my brothers were the Cisco Kids all through elementary school. On Saturday mornings we would ride the arms of the couch through all the Saturday morning programs.

@Joe in Canada: yes, DEBTS is legit. Different Protestant groups use it, such as the Presbyterians. I always goof this up when doing pulpit supply outside my denomination. And, from what I understand, DEBTS is closer to the meaning of the Aramaic that either trespasses or sins.

Easy puzzle, no nits to pick with it.

@Acme: wish I was in Phoenix. My daughter is there and so are you.

quilter1 10:26 AM  

Make that "than" either tresspasses or sins. Proving I'm not a robot affects my proofreading.

Peter Sattler 10:28 AM  

Did anyone else really dislike the form of the clue for 45-Across: "Aussie 'girl' famous for 55-Downing"?

The "gerunding" of the partner entry (55-downing) seems cheap and clunky, highlighting the fact that you couldn't figure out a way to get the complete original phrase into your construction.

Also, the rest of the clue is off as well. Can you call the title character of a song a "girl" -- even in scare quotes -- when it's not a girl at all, and isn't the person in the lyrics who is doing the waltzing?

Just awful, like the non-theme, the made-up phrases (GARDEN MARKET, etc.), and the proliferating abbreviations (RVER, TPKE, etc.).

chefbea 10:31 AM  

Found this very easy!!! Realized the theme early on with fair and square.

Hand up for latte/lagar.

Rainy day here. Guess I'll stay in and make some more tissue cozys.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

@joe in canada. Presbyterians have always forgiven their debtors.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I think Cisco kid was a radio program first, like the lone ranger, remember listening to them as a child, but never knew the OHenry connection

joho 10:44 AM  

You can always tell who's visiting when you hear "trespasses" during the recitation of "The Lord's Prayer" at a Presbyterian service.

For some odd reason the first thing I noticed were the 4 black squares in the corners.

I join the crowd with LAtte before LAGER. Other than that this was easy sailing on my soon to be SUNKENYACHT.

Congratulations on your debut, James!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Can anyone tell me why this puzzle isn't just flipped across the NW/SE diagonal to put the bulk of the theme entries where they belong, in the acrosses?


Wow, the things I don't know 10:52 AM  

Wiki has a good entry on Waltzing Matilda. "Matilda" is a knopsack, "Waltzing" is treking around. No girls, no dancing. Who knew?

Gratituous Scottish Slur 10:55 AM  

@Anon 10:32 - As Presbyterianism started in Scotland, I question the accuracy of your statement. 'Cause, you know, they're notoriously careful about money those Scotts.

GILL I. 10:58 AM  

Rex's first and second sentence mirrored my thoughts exactly. I'd add the word "foregroundy" as well, but I would never have come up with probably my favorite word of the year.
I liked this puzzle for several reasons. the cluing was clever and made me go HEH more than once. Real MADRID 18D (my all time favorite soccer team) Lime RICKEY (ugh drink)68A and the House of GUCCI 87A (I had mirth).
I knew there were some O'nations lurking and I found it in my favorite country SPAIN. Andale, andale!
@joe in Canada: "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...." Said every single morning for 8 years before marching back into the classroom.

r.alphbunker 11:00 AM  

Made rapid progress until being blocked for about 7 minutes by the incorrect LAtte in the NW. Once I let go of the latte and grabbed the puzzle was finished as fast as I could type.

I overlooked the fact that I had left the O of SON (77A One of two deliveries?) blank earlier because I didn't understand the clue so I finished with a blank square. I now understand that the clue is referring to having either a baby girl or a baby boy.

Bird 11:03 AM  

Meh. As @rex said - Not the best use of theme fill, but I've seen worse.

I stopped when I could not complete the NW. I had A__E_ANDECARESS (ESTATE for MADRID, OLEOS for OLIOS) and my brain just would not function. I read the sports section then went back the puzzle and finished.

I left LATTE/LAGER open until I got the u-g-l-y RVER.

Hand up for disliking SUNKENYACHT and GARDENMARKET.

I loved watching Gilda doing Baba WAWA on SNL. Hilarious. Nothing beats the original Not Ready for Prime-Time Players.

r.alphbunker 11:10 AM  

Here are the result of a CAPTCHA experiment I just did.

If I entered the word with the black blotch correctly and deliberately entered the second word incorrectly my post was accepted.

However if I did the opposite and entered the blotched word incorrectly and the other word correctly my post was not accepted.

What appears to be happening here is that we are helping some OCR program recognize words. The unblotched word is the word that the OCR program wants to recognize. The blotched word is meant to prove that we are human. This is a classic example of crowdsourcing.

Z 11:17 AM  

The "debts/trespasses" thing reminds me of an old observation from my hometown - Two Dutchmen a church, three Dutchmen a schism.

Hand up for LAtte before LAGER.

The puzzle seems just okay to me. Sometimes I come here and discover some insight that I missed that changes my mind. Apparently no such insight today.

@Evil - perhaps a new T-Shirt?

Z 11:29 AM  

FYI BEQ fans, the bonus puzzle in the magazine is by Mr. Quigley.

Norm 11:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 11:32 AM  

I wonder if Matt Ginsberg's crossword puzzle solving program Dr. Fill
would have recognized "Swans Reflecting Elephants" as the title of a painting? It certainly would not use the logic that you did to get the answer.

What would be interesting is to count every virtual keystroke that Dr Fill makes and compare it to the keystrokes that a human makes. Maybe even produce graphs comparing the machine and human.

I once wrote a program to remove sandhi from a Sanskrit text that required over 1 million lookups in a Sanskrit dictionary. This is not what a human would have done.

Norm 11:32 AM  

Even before it went to the two-word captcha, I was having to do it at least twice. The new system is horrible. Half the time I can't make out what one or both words and have to refresh multiple times to get something recognizable.

Mediocre puzzle, in my opinion. A lot of work for no real thrill. Evil's comment was more entertaining than anything in the puzzle, although not quite up to yesterday's "pasties."

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

According to Wikipedia, the poor man’s World Book, Duncan Reynaldo, who played the Cisco Kid on TV, was born in Romania. “In 1934, he was arrested for illegal entry into the United States, but eventually was pardoned by President Franklin Roosevelt and returned to acting.”

That was probably the last time an ILLEGAL played a Mexican….

Anoa Bob 11:53 AM  

If the puzzle has clues/entries of a nautical nature, I figure it's bowling in my lanes. Bring it on. But I've never heard of 79A MASTS called "Bonaventures".

That immediately sent me to google where the first six pages showed hotels, resorts, a saint, a brewery, a cemetery, several schools and a funeral home, among other things, but no masts.

Don't have a problem with 44D SUNKEN YACHT though. (Had YAwls at first.) There are lots of yachts in the world. Some do sink. Some do get salvaged.

Hope I can solve the captcha. This one looks like a combo of the Greek alphabet with an ancient petroglyph thrown in for good measure.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

I had LATTE too. Didn't help that they sometimes serve lattes in those same tall glasses that a pint of lager comes in.

Sir Hillary 12:18 PM  

Thank goodness there was a cross-reference at 41D, or I might have kept LATTE at 3D forever. Mind you, there have been days where a pint of latte would have been welcome.

Funny...unlike for Rex, for me the title gave away the theme before I filled in a single square. It made the solving experience a little more anticipatory, which was fun. It also allowed me to place the non-phrase SUNKENYACHT solely off the EN.

ARISTA was timely, Clive Davis being so much in the news with Whitney's death.

Toughest clue for me was 44A. Favorite clue was 109A. Seen it many times, but I still love it.

Shamik 12:46 PM  

I'll drink a LATTE long before I drink a LAGER. But then I prefer a red or amber ale.

@JFC Burns: Congratulations on the debut puzzle.

Found this one to be an easy Sunday stroll. Nothing momentous. Nothing to make one chuckle or aha. A reason to sit and drink more coffee.

@Purple Guy: Haven't seen you on the blog in awhile. Don't you live in Phoenix? Looking forward to dinner with ACME tonight. It'll make up a wee bit for not getting to Brooklyn.

jberg 1:05 PM  

Writing on my iPhone, and no captcha is visible. We'll see. I got the theme with UGANDA, it did help with PERU and KENYA. main holdup was even for DREW at 33a.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

I think "Malta" is in 15D, making nine theme answers in total. I don't think many of us give a second thought about Malta, in general--or maybe even a first--but for the love of Sam Spade, I think it has to be in there!

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

I loved The Cisco Kid and Pancho--played by Duncan Reynaldo and Leo Carillo when I was a little girl...I remember my father sent me an news article reporting Duncan Reynaldo's death.
"Goodbye amigos. See you soon!"

David 1:27 PM  

Another hand way up for LATTE over LAGER, which had me contemplating the incomprehensible BHUT AND A KISS, as well as the barely less IDIOTIC Mint latte, which would give MINCE as the slang for appropriate and HEE for HEH. Fortunately I saw the light at FABRIC and then the A HUG start to that themed entry.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

The correct spelling is RENALDO. Sorry I copied the wrong spelling from a previous comment...

Liz 1:36 PM  

Funny, I did the whole puzzle without even noticing that there was a theme. Thanks for clearing up "ier" for me. That was a head scratcher. Overall, though, pretty easy for a Sunday.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

@LMS - Very clever. Spain, Germany, Norway, Chile, Greece, China, Mexico, and Nepal all embedded in your post. Did I miss one?

JenCT 2:06 PM  

Wrote in LAGER right away; didn't have the LATTE mistake.

Knew CISCO KID from the song by War.

My biggest holdup was plunking in MYNAH instead of MACAW for 51d.


Found the puzzle to be kind of....meh. Sorry, James Burns.

DigitalDan 2:27 PM  

As a 7 year old, I was able to sit on the lap of Duncan Renaldo, in full Cisco garb, play with his silver bullets and everything. Closest I ever came to celebrity. Leo Carillo came to town a year or so later, but he wasn't so nice.

Pete, the opening of the empty door DOES convey information. It tells you that of the two empty doors, you know where one of them is. That gives you enough of an edge that your chances rise to 2/3. Of course, Monty claimed he knew this well, and never offered quite that easy a choice.

skua76 3:01 PM  

For some reason I didn't care for this one, something I don't say often. Most of it was easy, but the theme didn't grab me (or help when help was needed). One plus--I dropped in LAGER straight away. But I had natCH for 41A which made me think that 9D would be HESITAte, obviously the wrong form. And I struck out with 87A since I wanted yABBER or jABBER for the gossip and didn't know Carlo PONTe.

And then I was frustrated at first by Rex's Monty Hall took me a third glance before I remembered how this whole thing applied to the show. AHA! Thanks...

quilter1 3:03 PM  

@Digital Dan: I am so freakin' jealous! Signed, @quilter1 aka The Cisco Kid.

Lewis 3:17 PM  

Hand up for mynah before MACAW.

Even though MATILDA isn't a girl, it is a "girl", and even though Matilda doesn't actually do the dance known as a WALTZ, it is known for WALTZING, so I think the clues are perfectly fine. I actually enjoyed solving that pair.

The theme was so so but I liked how it was called core o' nations.

I loved the clue for 41A. Some meh, some freshness. I'm looking forward to seeing more from you, James Burns.

Isabella di Pesto 3:47 PM  

Wouldn't "forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors" be more of a "Banker's Prayer?"

archaeoprof 3:57 PM  

RE: DEBTS or trespasses. The difference comes from the New Testament, where the Prayer appears twice. In Matthew, the Greek text says "debts"; in Luke, it says "trespasses."

Sorry to have to admit I didn't see the theme until I came here.

Bungerting Baloner 5:22 PM  

Kind of a disappointing puzzle, less challenge than usual and a pretty much "nothing" theme. Worthy more of the LA Times than the NYT...

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

re the Monte Hall problem, maybe it would help to remember that the elimination of the empty cup is not random; Monte knows where the prize is located and his choice of cups to be removed is based on that knowledge. So the contestant does, in fact have that additional information when given the choice to switch or not. If he stays with his original choice he still has the original odds of winning, but if he switches he knows that the odds are now one out of two.

Pete 6:39 PM  

@Anon 6:05 - No, the odds aren't 1/2 after the one empty cup is removed, it's 1/3 if you stays with the original choice, 2/3 if you switche, even though there are two cups, one prize.

The key is to not take the bait thinking that you've been provided info when you haven't. The experiment as it plays out is exactly: pick one of three, then choose if you'd rather pick two of three. Monte's just showing you which of the two you picked is empty, because you know there's at least one. The trick is that the decision takes place before Monte shows you the empty one, not after.

Wood 6:43 PM  

@ anon 10:49: OMG, how did you see that?!!

And @ Loren Muse Smith: Brilliant! And even more so, for not pointing out in your post how clever you'd been. That must have taken at least as much work as solving the puzzle itself!

In awe.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

remebered Cisco Kid, but forgot what he looked like - there is a Youtube clip of the show's opening.

Tita 8:05 PM  

@r.alph...I just read your link - I'll be competing against a computer?
Hey - I didn't know that when I signed up...!
Would be very interesting to analyze which clues are the "gimmes" for Dr. Fill as compared to us non-robots.

@lms - quite cool!

Ulrich 8:19 PM  

@Pete: In order to make the result also intuitively plausible for me, I drew the tree of possibilities, and then it became perfectly obvious (architects always like to draw while they are thinking!)

Birdwatchers: Don't forget the Maltese falcon!

Loren Muse Smith 9:55 PM  

@anonymous and Wood - it was really hard and gave me a new-found appreciation/gratitude to constructors. It was challenging enough to embed words in whatever sentences I could contrive. I can't imagine hiding words in phrases that would constitute an acceptable theme entry.

wyonative 3:14 AM  

I'm adding my post way too late today. I kept hoping that coronation is somehow important to all the embedded nations, but I don't think that's the case. Would have made the theme pretty interesting.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

How does "tied" = DREW?

JenCT 11:24 AM  

@Anon. 11:14: from the Free Online Dictionary: draw, drew: To end or leave (a contest) tied or undecided.

Joney 4:38 PM  

What does "neap" mean? And how does it fit the definition in 57A?

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

@Joney - NEAP tide

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

@Wow, the things I don't know 10:52 AM:
"Wiki has a good entry on Waltzing Matilda."

Which amazingly never mentions Burl Ives. Everyone else who ever sang the song seems to be in there, though...

Spacecraft 12:06 PM  

Hard to believe Rex and I can be so far apart one day and so nearly congruent the next. Hand up for LATTE--and yes, that created difficulties. But that was the only spot, and my only writeover.
In sharp contrast to yesterday, these clues were at least fair, though a couple were "juuust a bit outside," as Uecker liked to say: I don't like "summarize" as a clue for WRAPUP. A wrap-up may indeed include a summary--or it may not. It should have read "summarize, maybe." A fine point? Perhaps, but this kind of thing is how communications break down. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Using a language with tens of thousands of words, it should be possible.
The groaner was "Real_____." Oh, okay, this is the TWO-syllable "real." Ball two.
Also like RP, I frowned at GARDENMARKET. I don't remember ever seeing anything called that, but I guess it's all right because the answer was so easily inferrable with crosses. That, and the first themer AHUGANDAKISS, were my two favorites. A country spanning three words: bravo! but again like our fearless leader, some of the theme answers slipped right by me. Only after visiting this page did I see CHINA (another three-worder!), KENYA or SPAIN.
Lots of fun stuff here; enjoyed the mini-themes of WALTZing MATILDA and TIMON the MEERKAT, but best of all was the uproarious Radner creation Baba WAWA.

P.S. Nice to see our old buddy Ehud in a clue instead of the puzzle.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I learned three things from watching the news this morning while solving this puzzle:

1. Using a ubiquitous Asian treat such as a fortune cookie as an ingredient in Jeremy Lin-inspired ice cream is racist and commanding of an apology. But only if the fortune cookie bits were used intentionally, because...

2. should never apologize for an unintentional gaffe, such as accidentally spilling wine on somebody or mistakenly burning some Qurans, as an apology would give the appearance of some sort of deliberate wrongdoing.

3. The Oscars will be televised tonight on ABC. I'd like to thank the ACADEMY for helping me spell MONTY correctly.

I picked up the theme only because of the title. And the theme did help me with a couple of the answers, though I probably would have gotten those answers anyway.

NE was the toughest for me becuase when I saw G _ _ _ _ FUL clued by a word I'm unfamiliar with I went straight for GODAWFUL. That kept everything else in that section at bay. And I could not remember Clara's name for the life of me until (I find this fascinating) I finally wrote out CLARA _ _ _ _ O _ horizontally. Then BARTON jumped out at me, GODAWFUL became GRACEFUL (like a ballerina), yadda yadda yadda, pen down, 100% score.

Dirigonzo 4:31 PM  

With its KEEL (70d) being vertical and its MASTS (79a) horizontal it is no wonder that the SUNKENYACHT went to the bottom - the darned thing pitchpoled!

Mary in Oregon 1:11 AM  

We recited "forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us." ... 8 years of Catholic school!

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

I don't understand why no one challenges Rex when he claims to have finished the puzzle in 10 minutes. Surely an impossibility if you are reading each clue and taking the time to enter the answer by hand or on a computer. If you had the puzzle in front of you, completed, and were merely copying the answers, then yes, 10 minutes. But a tabla rasa, no way!

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