## Sunday, March 25, 2012

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Two-For-One Special" — phrases made up of two words wherein a letter appearing twice in the first word and then another letter appearing once are flipped to make the second word, e.g. TRIVIAL TRAVAIL, where the two Is and one A in TRIVIAL become the two As and one I in TRAVAIL

Word of the Day: FLAT RACES (75D: Kentucky Derby and Epsom Oaks, for two) —
Flat racing is a form of Thoroughbred horse racing which is run over a level track at a predetermined distance. It differs from steeplechase racing which is run over hurdles. The race is a test of speed, stamina, and the skill of the jockey in determining when to restrain the horse or to impel it. (wikipedia)
• • •

I didn't enjoy this one, mostly because I just couldn't get my head around the theme at all. If I had stopped to think about it long enough, I could've pieced it together while I was solving, but a. that's not how I solve and b. it wouldn't have helped me solve any better. I could see letters being switched, but the pattern eluded me. Still, I pushed forward, and was able to put together the answers without too much trouble, just based on the clues and just the vaguest sense of the theme concept. I got the first theme answer and thought switch would have something to do with placement of letters, and then I got three double-letter answers in a row and just couldn't see how they paralleled the first theme answer. Then I thought the TWO of "Two-For-One" just had to do with contiguity ... until I hit DOMED MODEM, where none of the switched letters are contiguous with one another. Exasperating. Maybe interesting conceptually, but no great fun to solve. Fill seems fine, though FLAT RACES is an utterly new phrase to me, and CORNELIA (64D: Caesar's first wife) only ever wanted to be CORDELIA (truly maddening, given how many damn letters they have in common). Thank you for letting me UNBOSOM all of that (47D: ___ oneself (share private thoughts)). . . I think I'm using that correctly. (I know I will never use it again)

• 23A: Ordeal that's no big deal? (TRIVIAL TRAVAIL)
• 27A: Large cloth sign with nothing on it? (BARREN BANNER)
• 29A: Toy hammer? (MATTEL MALLET) — OK, I'm at least a little impressed that theme answers here are stacked *3* high
• 50A: Soft yet easily breakable "Star Trek" creature? (BRITTLE TRIBBLE)
• 66A: Hemispherical computer add-on? (DOMED MODEM)
• 68A: "Ride 'em, cowboy," e.g.? (RODEO ORDER)
• 79A: Big house that's not as big? (SMALLER SLAMMER) CLUEANSWER
• 99A: Goddess of gas? (ETHANE ATHENA)
• 102A: Get part of one's shirt under control? (CORRAL COLLAR)
• 108A: What the Gorgon Stheno does in Greek myth? (PURSUES PERSEUS)
Bullets:
• 19A: Hitchcock thriller set in Brazil ("NOTORIOUS") — I own this and still couldn't come up with the answer straight away.
• 22A: Nation bordering Svizzera (ITALIA) — took a few beats for me to get that "Svizzera" was just Italian for "Switzerland."
• 34A: Ending with sex or symbol (-ISM) — nearly ended with an error because I had -IST here. Thankfully, I was thorough enough to check on 14D: The Andrea Doria, for one, and I was pretty sure STEAT SHIP was wrong ...
• 46A: Gulf of Oman port (MUSCAT)MUSCAT sounds like a person. Took me a few seconds to accept that it was a place.

• 116A: Old Soviet naval base site (ODESSA) — one of those answers I can just throw across based on just a cross or two (in this case, the A). Supercommon crossword place name, esp. as 6-ltr. answers go.
• 49D: Phoebe of "Drop Dead Fred" (CATES) — I saw her very briefly rushing down the stairs of the subway station at Union Square just last week. Also saw NYT reporter David Carr (whom I recognized from the documentary "Page One"), right outside the NYT building, and NY Knicks point guard Baron Davis, who was filming something on the east side of Union Square.
• 2D: ___ Bud, schoolgirl in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" (ROSA) — I had ROSE. Too spot-on, I guess.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Anonymous

Easiest Sunday Times ever for me. Got all the theme answers with only one or two crosses. The fill was perfectly clean, as Patrick Berry's always are.

Workmanlike, but not all that fun. Just the opposite of last Sunday's.

jae

Easy puzzle.  But, what Rex said about the theme. Took me a while to see I wan't dealing with anagrams.  After I finished I had to stare at it a while to figure out how the letter swapping theme worked.  Very clever but the theme in no way helped the solve.  Nice breezy Sun. though.

jae

Oh, and me too for ROSE to ROSA.

Anonymous

I believe ROSE BUD appears in the final, unwritten, chapter of The Myster of Edwin Drood. Serves the bastard Dickens right for being so damned verbose, if he had only learned to write more concisely he might have lived to finish Drood.

Anomolous facts about words, i.e. two words may differ only by switching one letter which appears twice to another letter which appears once, doesn't necessarily make for an interesting Xword puzzle. When the result is BRITTLETRIBBLE, sure, and if you had nine more of these, go for it. When it results in nine DOMEDMODEMs, kick back, open a brewskie and watch the game on the tube, but don't turn it into a puzzle.

The Bard

IAGO: Thou art sure of me:--go, make money:--I have told
thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I
hate the Moor:
my cause is hearted; thine hath no
less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge
against him: if thou canst cuckold him, thou dost
thyself a pleasure, me a sport. There are many
events in the womb of time which will be delivered.
Traverse! go, provide thy money. We will have more

RODERIGO: Where shall we meet i' the morning?

IAGO: At my lodging.

RODERIGO: I'll be with thee betimes.

IAGO: Go to; farewell. Do you hear, Roderigo?

RODERIGO: What say you?

IAGO: No more of drowning, do you hear?

RODERIGO: I am changed: I'll go sell all my land.

[Exit]

IAGO: Thus do I ever make my fool my purse:
For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane,
If I would time expend with such a snipe.
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor:
And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if't be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio's a proper man: let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery--How, how? Let's see:--
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.

[Exit]

ARIEL

Dramatis Personæ

ALONSO, king of Naples.
SEBASTIAN, his brother.
PROSPERO, the right duke of Milan.
ANTONIO, his brother, the usurping duke of Milan.
FERDINAND, son to the king of Naples.
GONZALO, an honest old Counsellor.
CALIBAN, a savage and deformed Slave.
TRINCULO, a Jester.
STEPHANO, a drunken Butler.
Master of a Ship.
Boatswain.
Mariners.

MIRANDA, daughter to Prospero.

ARIEL, an airy Spirit.
IRIS, CERES, JUNO, Nymphs, Reapers: Spirits.

[Other Spirits attending on Prospero]

Bird

Finished this one in good time, but still did not fully understand the theme until I got here. I could not figure out why DOMEDMODEM and RODEOORDER were clued with question marks. I just thought they were anagrams.

Like Rex, I was looking for more BARRENBANNER and MATTELMALLET type answers.

The last square was MUScAT crossing cATES - couldn't remember if Phoebe's last name started with a K or C and didn't bother trying to remember a name of a port somewhere in the Middle East. I don't use that knowledge everyday and it's not something I'm interested in so I don't care to remember it.

@Rex - you didn't want to use the Captain & Tennille's version of "Muskrat Love"?

pk

Behold! A pretty fun Sunday puzzle - even for those of us who work it on Saturday night. What does that say about us, really?

I know, I know, Sunday puzzles are too big and take too much time to solve, but this one was pretty awesome.

Oh, gee, Professor Sharp.

Didn't like loo and latrines in the same puzzle (or any puzzle for that matter.)

Tried Kurkut for Muscat - you know, all the usual suspects.

Didn't know poppies were herbs. Thought they were drugs.

So what is the X-Rated movie? Last Tango in Paris or the Ratso Rizzo one?

Tita

A fun easy romp, just perfect for busy weekend.
Nearly too easy, esp. since I only started last Sunday's puzzle yesterday, finishing it this morning. (LOVED it, btw)

Malapop of a sort - OPium for OPART (It can make you dizzy), then Poppies appear later on.

Had AXis for AXLE, generalS before LATRINES.

UNBOSOM?????

Naticked at eNBOSOM/bATES/MeSbAT (shoulda known better...)
And did I mention I justs drove past the Natick Plaza?

Jenn

Rosa Bud's not that obscure for theatre folk; Mystery of Edwin Drood is a pretty popular musical (especially in the community theatre set).

chefwen

Pretty much agree with our leader on the Ho Hum of this puzzle. Liked it, didn't love it. Got it with ETHANE ATHENA and it was pretty much fill in the squares from then on. Had a malapop with 20D where I filled in green only to find that again at 77D. Green was not even close to the correct answer of OVATE.

Got BRITTLE but not TRIBBLE at 50A, not up on my Star Trek Creatures, so I had to Google that one.

O.K. Sunday, but it didn't blow my skirt up.

Anxious to read what Evil and dk have to say about 47D.

evil doug

Unlike Michael, I'm going to try to work 'unbosom' into my everyday conversation. It might be the greatest word ever.

Behold...
Chest...
On tap...
Ampler...
In bulk...
Slops...
Peeled...
Flab...
Emerges...
Sag.

Well, one would have to unbosom, wouldn't one?

Throw in 'X rating', 'grime', 'ream', 'ate', 'latrines', 'loo', 'gaped', 'tasty'---shake it all up with 'NBA team'---and we've got the latest sports scandal.

Patrick: You make it too easy. I'm trying to rehabilitate myself here, but you're my enabler....

Evil

Deb

@pk, Midnight Cowboy. I was just a kid, but I still remember all the hoopla over the x- rating for that movie, The rating was changed to R at some point and my Dad took my sister and I to see it and I also remember wondering what the heck the X-rating had been about.

orangeblossomspecial

Mamas & Papas version of MONDAY MONDAY seems to fit 46D.

George Jetson's boy, 99D, ELROY may not be familiar to the younger audience.

Vera Lynn was a popular WW2 vocalist who did 115A: "Be like the KETTLE and sing". She's famous for the closing song of Dr Strangelove: We'll meet again.

Anonymous

Does anyone here remember Vera Lynn？

Sue McC

My experience was exactly as Rex described...domed modem and all. Couldn't say it better.

The Bard

Love's Labour's Lost > Act V, scene II

PRINCESS: The effect of my intent is to cross theirs:
They do it but in mocking merriment;
And mock for mock is only my intent.
Their several counsels they unbosom shall
To loves mistook, and so be mock'd withal
Upon the next occasion that we meet,
With visages displayed, to talk and greet.

Glimmerglass

"Read but never post"? Why is that LURK? (I don't know the vodka brand, so the K was only available from LURK. Help. (I also had kATES and MUSkAT),

Anonymous

Isn't there some rule about not having an answer appear as a clue? Answer for 71 A (plus)/clue for 90 A (Plus).

joho

I thought I got the theme very quickly at TRIVIALTRAVAIL. Not. When I realized I wasn't dealing with anagrams for some reason I lost interest in deciphering what was really going on.

I finished the puzzle anyway only experiencing an OHO moment, but never an aha!

Because I am a huge fan of Patrick Berry, I hate to say I was disappointed with this one. It didn't help that last Sunday was such a stunner.

Pete

@Glimmerglass - LURKer is a common blog term, exactly as defined, one how reads the blog regularly but never posts. We've had people name themselves LURKer0 here who've finally became non-lurkers.

@Evil Doug - Addicts always blame their ENABLERs. It's one of the self-delusional lies of the addict. When they truly face up to their addiction they realize there are no such things as ENABLERs, there are only the innocents they've blamed their own weaknesses on. Paradoxically, ENABLERs have to realize that they actually are such.

Bob Kerfuffle

What is the meaning of 101 D, "Outside shot?", THREE ?

JC66

@Bob Kerfuffle

Sparky

Pretty much what @Rex said. BRITTLETRIBBLE was first and after a while I knew if I got the second word I could winkle out the first. But it didn't sing. Mix ups: DiNero/PACINO, ODEnse/ODESSA..

At least I finished. Fri. and Sat. way off my game. However, Closing Time=Lyle Lovett, Lyle Lovett, Lyle Lovett.

Thanks for the photos @Nanpilla and @Tita. Good rest of weekend one and all.

Anonymous

AnnieD

While Barry is one of my fave constructors, this puzz left me kind of blah. Probably because I didn't realize that the double letters exactly replaced the single ones...until Rex pointed it out. That made it a little more clever a theme, and excused domed modem.

But I did have issue with

47D unbosom...really?

88D ironed...I often iron to add creases

103D rats...i've said it, but never snapped my fingers to it

46D Mondays...you don't have to work in an office to dislike Mondays, but I first had Sundays as in all my years of working, I disliked having to be in the office on Sunday a lot more than Monday

@Bob Kerfuffle, in basketball, if a shooter shoots from outside the arc (further from the basket) s/he gets 3 points instead of 2.

ARLENE

This was one of those puzzles where I wondered what was going on and if I would finish. And then it all just happened. I sort of liked that - not just a rapid fill-in, but some random solving along the way. I had MUSKAT and KATE - didn't really know either. I don't Google unless I'm in the mood to, and I'm usually not.

quilter1

I got the theme right away but when the reversed double letter theme began to have variations it didn't bother me. Instead it made it more interesting. I liked this one and finished in my usual two cups of coffee one piece of toast before church time for a Sunday. Liked UNBOSOM a lot.

redhed

Loved it. I did not know the meaning of "lurk" either. I lurk here sometimes, but mostly on Sundays. And sometimes I post, so today I am not lurking.

chefbea

Found this very easy. Had it almost done before we went out for breakfast..then finished when we returned. Got the theme right away.

Didn't get the three answer..but thanx for explaining it.

jackj

Turns out, this was a double “AHA” puzzle for me.

The first “AHA” came when I figured the theme to be an anagram combo for such as TRIVIAL/TRAVAIL and I blithely went about solving the puzzle, since the clues were detailed enough to easily give me both ends of the combos.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to OKS at 119 across. After filling in BRITTLE, I had no idea what the Star Trek creatures were called and the back end of the combo wasn’t making any sense. TRIBLLE clearly wasn’t correct because LOB, BANDIED, LICENSE and EMERGES were all good answers and it seemed to call for TRIBBLE but that wasn’t an anagram of BRITTLE.

DOH!!! No, Double DOH!!!!

The theme wasn’t an anagram combo at all but a letter swap between the two words! And, so there came my second “AHA”, for the correct gimmick and what we had was, maybe, a trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye) puzzle.

Now that I have fully UNBOSOM(ed) myself about my trouble in identifying the theme, let me say that while the puzzle was a fun solve, it was no home run and the official scorekeeper tells me it was only a “Texas League single” for this at bat by our cherished DH, Patrick Berry.

(And, Patrick, now you’ve left me with one of those troubling Zen koans; can you truly “unbosom” yourself when you weren’t “bosomed” to begin with?)

Gill I. P.

Thank the Goddess of gas for Rex's explanation because this made me cheese off. I just put the answers in and didn't even bother to figure out why.
I like P Berry but this puzzle made me work too hard in order to pull out cutesy answers that don't make any sense.
I always thought pigs like the swill rather than the SLOP.

Z

I liked this quite a bit more than everyone else, it seems. I am impressed by the the number of theme answers PB came up with, and DOMED MODEM and RODEO ORDER through the middle is great. Once I sussed out that the two for one switch wasn't just letters, but the letter's places in the words, too, I had that aha moment. This helped me get the front half MATTEL MALLET and CORRAL COLLAR.

Another fine Sunday offering from Mr. Berry in my book.

Joe The Juggler

I liked the theme. I finished the puzzle in 30 minutes (fairly quick for me for a Sunday), but --as happens on occasion--the on-line app keeps telling me it's incorrect. I rechecked everything very carefully, and it's all correct. Anyone else have this problem once in a while?

Ulrich

My advice: If you do not go for speed, take the time to figure out the theme as you solve--makes for a much more rewarding experience. Today is a case in point: After I had my third theme answer, I stopped and scratched my head until I got the 2-for1 switcheroo figured out. Doing the rest was real fun then b/c I could take stabs at every theme answer after I guessed the first word and almost always got it. Again, the secret is: Take your time!

The upshot: I really liked the puzzle and marvel at Barry's ingenuity in finding those word pairs, some of which are really inspired.

Noem D. Alkias

Actually the wordplay in 66A:DOMED_MODEM and several of the other examples is more interesting than the merely cute 50A:BRITTLE_TRIBBLE. Particularly nice is 68A:RODEO_ORDER, switching consonant for vowel, and then finds a way to use a known phrase as the clue.

NDE

quilter1

@Gil I.P: slopping the hogs is a pretty common expression, although many fewer hogs are slopped nowadays with the big hog lots replacing family farms where that was a daily chore and one way to use the whey after separating the cream and milk. I would say the hogs swill their slops.

Gill I. P.

@Ulrich I agree that trying to figure out a theme is half the fun. But when the answers are groan inducing and like @joho said, more of an OHO than an aha,I lose interest. I only finished this because I was bored and couldn't sleep.
@quilter 1. Now I can safely say that I know some swine that swill their slops.

lawprof

Ok. I get those posts between midnight and, say, 2:00 am: you're folks who stay out late on Saturday night. But those between 2 am and 5 am? Work the graveyard shift on weekends? Insomniacs? Who does the Sunday puzzle at these ungodly hours? I'm not being critical, mind you, just curious.

As for me, I grab a cup of coffee between 7 and 8, crawl back in bed and enjoy a lazy Sunday morning with the puzzle until its warm enough outside to go for a long bike ride.

Norm

Liked this puzzle a lot. Never quite caught the precision of the theme, but the near-anagrams made all the theme answers pretty easy. Don't really know why. My brain just seemed to sense the connection for some reason.

archaeoprof

@Ulrich: wholeheartedly agree about taking time while solving. Especially on Sunday.

Enjoyed BRITTLETRIBBLE.

Anonymous

Unlike Rex, I approach each Sunday looking first for the theme. So I pretty much figured out the theme after the first two or three and used that to complete the puzzle. So, for me, there was in each theme answer a puzzle within a puzzle, which was the fun challenge. If I had worked this like Rex, it would have been on the boring side because the puzzle in terms of difficulty was not.

I can't wait to see what my good friend matthew G has to say. He shares my love for Patrick Berry. I certainly hope he's not working again this weekend....

JFC

dd

Just a nitpick, but the cluing of 102A seemed to me to to require an article or possessive of some sort which "corral collar" lacks. Did this bother anyone but me?

@pk "Herbs" are plants with stems that die back at the end of the growing season. Lots of drugs come from herbaceous plants.

John V

Medium here. I love PB puzzles, but this one didn't feel like him. I had the same reaction as @Rex in liming the theme. It felt forced, notwithstanding the creativity.

Off to Brooklyn to see my new granddaughter. See ya all from the tarmac tomorrow.

foodie

Loved it. Clever, fun to do and easy enough to avoid the typical Sunday tedium. Very impressive collection of theme answers!

I went through MUSQAT and MUSKAT before settling on MUSCAT... It means the place of the fall! May be Eden was nearby?

Rube

I'm in the camp that was impressed with the theme density and answers... very creative effort for PB, kudos. Finished this last night after an embarrasing evening of social bridge. Think I'll stick with Duplicate, that way you can embarass yourself in front of your opponents for only a few hands.

Also had generals at first, took it out when no crossings were forthcoming and didn't realize it was LATRINES 'till coming here.

Fun, very doable puzzle. My favorite was GNATS for "Black cloud formers". Thank goodness for MUSCAT or I would have had to make a, (probably wrong), WAG for CATES.

Anoa Bob

Yep dd @12:33, I agree that CORRAL is a transitive verb and its object COLLAR needs some modifier such as "my", "your", "the", etc., to be grammatically correct.

When I was but a LAD (81D) one of my chores was feeding the pigs. The official name of this chore was "Slop the hogs". There was only one slop that they were fed, mostly left-overs from the previous day's meals (for us humans) fortified with some kind of packaged pig feed. So I would have clued SLOPS (41A) as a verb rather than as a plural noun.

Thank you for letting me UNBOSOM. I feel better now.

Anonymous

Anon @ 7:51 - We'll meet again. Don't know where, don't know when.

I want to thank you for making me look her up. That song has caused me an earworm for years, not knowing the singer. I do now.

She's still kicking at age 95....

JFC

jae

@Deb -- It was the scene where John Voight hooks up with Brenda Vaccaro.

@lawprof -- Those times are EDT. My 12am post was actually a 9pm post here in CA.

Anonymous

Silver Bullets:
- THREE: Dang, that was one bewilderin' clue. And I'd just watched OSU beat Syracuse. Funny how the mind don't work.
- UNBOSOM: Archaic. Nowadays = get off yer chest? Anyhoo, had that smell of constructor desperation that I sooo enjoy.
- FLATRACES: automagically DQ-ed, since "flat" was a clue word, @13-A. Do they also have SHARPRACES and NATURALRACES? If so, I'd let it pass. Otherwise...there's that pleasant bouquet, again...

Regular bullet ricochets:
- NOTORIOUS: Don't own it. But I want that. Filled it in with no crosses, tho.
- MUSCAT: Did sound familiar. Like bootlegged bug-juice, maybe. Or like the shrub brush in these parts. Or like my granpappy's weapon of choice. Or like a fragrance for felines.

johnranta

Flew through this one. Got a little stuck on "teakettle" because I thought at first it was one of the anagramish answers.

"Odessa" comes to mind quickly because of the great spy novel, "The Odessa File" (one reason to mourn the end of the Cold War is the paucity of good, modern spy novels).

Does a really flat-chested woman have an "ampler unbosom"?

I agree on ironing and creases, for me the goal of ironing pants was to make a really sharp crease. But that didn't bother me nearly as much as "unloosen" did the other day. When you unloosen something, you make it tighter. Which would have been a much cleverer clue - "do the tighten up" = "unloosen" . Would have had me chuckling...

foodie

MUSCAT reminds me of "Muskrat Love"... A totally silly song that became a hit..

quilter1

@Anoa Bob: thanks for your support of slopping the hogs. Poor hogs today get no variety.

Anonymous

Muscat is a bit more than an obscure port in the Middle East. It is the capital city of an important ally on the Strait of Hormuz and I think is worthy of a place in our general knowledge.

Lewis

I'm one of those who was confused because the theme answers weren't anagrams, but were close. At some point I figured out what Patrick did, but for me it took too much work to suss the answers from that. It was good enough for me that the answers were close to anagrams, which helped me figure out quite a few of them.

Octavian of Odessa

Typically awesome Patrick Berry puzzle -- smooth and interesting all the way through.

His puzzles are among the few that I solve from top left to top right, and then middle side to side and then bottom left to right, as they just seem to flow so well. With others I usually have to hop around.

Unbosom is a fantastic word, showng the versatility of the English language.

Only thing I did not understand is why Borrow had quotes around it to clue CADGE. Can anyone explain that?

Anoa Bob

@Quilter1, I should have mentioned that the slop from the previous day's meals was less tomatoes. Pigs don't like tomatoes.

The trick to sloppin' the hogs was to get it poured into the trough without any splashing back up on me and yet quickly enough so an overzealous pig didn't knock the slop bucket out of my hands.

I used to say "Better than a pig loves slop" to describe liking something a whole lot. Don't use that expression as much anymore.

Ulrich

@foodie: And in German, Muskat means "nutmeg"--must be b/c it was imported from there. And don't forget the Muskrat Ramble with the great Louis Armstrong.

Deb

@lawprof - I'm nocturnal. It was only 3:02 am MDT when I posted, but I was up a couple ( okay, three) hours later than that last "night.". When Rex posts the blog in the morning instead of at midnight, I don't make it here until mid-afternoon when everything has been said so I often don't comment in those cases. ( And I'm just paranoid enough to have thought at one point shortly after moving up to prime-time that Rex was holding off posting until morning because he didn't like me commenting on the blog. I know, I know...as if he even notices!)

chefwen

@lawprof - My comment at 4:29 a.m. EDT was posted at 10:29 HAST.

jackj

johnranta@1:53PM-

You wrote (in part), "one reason to mourn the end of the Cold War is the paucity of good, modern spy novels)."

Suggest you check out Alex Berenson and/or Daniel Silva novels for excellent modern day spy thrillers.

Bob Kerfuffle

@Octavian of Odessa - Since the only "in the language" usage that comes to mind is to "cadge a cigarette," I suspect the use of CADGE implies borrowing with no intention of returning.

mac

Neat, clean and fast Sunday for me - got the trick within two theme answers, although I have to admit to being happy enough with "almost anagram", didn't completely figure it out until after I was done.

Muscat makes me think of grapes and sweetish wine, and also of nutmeg, nootmuskaat, one of my favorite spices.

@dd: welcome.

JaxInL.A.

I can't quite understand the icy attitude to this puzzle. I had a lovely time. I sussed out the theme in relatively short order, realized the two kinds of switches required, and had a nice time filling in most of the theme answers with only a few crosses,

It was not as fun as the conga line or others I could name, but the paired words made me sit back and admire a mind that notices such quirks of our language. My favorite: PURSUES PERSEUS.

I still finished with an error, though, because I was too fast popping in B SHARP for the A Flat clue, and didn't know the football guy was GIBBS, not bIBBS. If the clue had been Harmon's NCIS role, I would have gotten it right off. Why is that show always playing on some cable channel at any given time?

chefbea

@jaxlnLa Love gibbs. We stopped at Quantico on our way back to NC from Ct so I could say Hi!!!

Katie

Rex, I know you do a "word of the day", but have you ever thought about doing a "clue of the day" for your favorite cluing. I really liked "A flat equivalent" for G-Sharp, and there's always at least one little filler that makes you "a-ha!" with a little smile across your face. Would be interesting to see which ones you like.

JenCT

Finished with a mistake at 13a - had B SHARP instead of G. D'oh!

Got the theme answers, but didn't quite get the theme until Rex explained it.

I also own NOTORIOUS, one of my favorite Hitchcock movies - the final scene is a masterpiece.

Liked DORSAL, BANDIED.

NE & SE corners took me the longest.

JenCT

I meant SW corner.

Anonymous

I too had a hard time to figure out the theme, and the letter structure.
Liked the Hollywood answers the best : Phoebe CATES, Al PACINO, TRIBBLES, NOTORIOUS
funniest clue and answer : can of Newcastle : LOO

pk

@Deb - Thx for Midnight Cowboy.

@The Bard - this princess mocks for mock fairly frequently!

@dd - Congratulations on your transition from lurker to poster! Welcome. I lurked here for years, but finally waded right in and have never looked back.

@John V - Congratulations on the new granddaughter. We are expecting our first in July. Can't wait.

frmrlrkr

Easiest Sunday I ever did.

ennienyc

I've never seen Phoebe Cates, but also saw David Carr outside the NYT right after I saw "Page One." He's a smoker so that may explain why he's always outside. Later discovered we work on the same floor. Bill Cunningham of the wonderful "Bill Cunningham New York" documentary also works on this floor (just saw him today, in fact).

Red Valerian

I just loved the clue/answer at 37A: "Potential pet"=STRAY. Right on, Patrick!!!

I liked the puzzle; perhaps that just means that I am not quite as discerning as so many of you, but being easy to please has its rewards. Didn't fully understand the theme, but got it enough to have fun.

Liked the clue for 80D "Can of Newcastle." Had I not had a cross, I would probably have plunked in ale.

Had Tsk for TUT at 7D for awhile, which slowed me down. But I'm with the folks above who aren't aiming for speed. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it ;-)

Had sNiTS for 4A ("Black cloud formers"). Hey, it works.

Also liked 105D "Read but never post" for LURK. I'm sure that struck a nerve or bell or something with a lot of people! (And, yes, welcome @dd. And don't feel guilty! (unless that's what it takes to make you post))

Spacecraft

@octavian: when reading CADGE, think "mooch." It's like Herb "borrowing" Dag's tools and still having them in his garage ten years later.

Well, when I scanned the clue list to this one and hit on 50a, I recalled fondly David Gerrold's hilarious episode, played to the hilt by Shatner &Co. And the image of a BRITTLETRIBBLE just put me on the floor. "Who put the tribbles in the quadrotriticale? And what was in the grain that killed them?" "Why, Captain, they just got all too crowded in there and their fragile bodies broke into smithereens!" OMG I'm still ROFL!

There, now, I have UNBOSOMed myself. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I think I have a new "worst word ever" candidate. Sounds way too close to an operation you hope you never even have to think about. Please retire this abomination immediately.

As to the puzzle itself: I was vaguely dissatisfied with the theme; the twin words are not palindromic, nor do they contain the same letters in the same amount. They're just...really, really...similar. For a bit thereI thought 108a might be PURSUES suppers; most monsters are prepetually hungry, it seems. But that was soon corrected. The SW caused a frown or two, with the expression FLATRACES perfectly acceptable but awkward. If horse racing consisted of half steeplechases and half flats, I could understand the term's use better. There is steeplechasing in the U.S., in Maryland. In fact, almost fifty years ago a jumping phenom named Jay Trump had such success there his owners took him across the pond to run in the Grand National in Liverpool, which is the Masters of steeplechase. I was stationed in England at the time, and the bookmaking fools ran him up to 25-1! I bought my first car off of that mistake.

But I digress. Thanks to PB for a couple of very nice memories--but the puzz itself? Meh.

Spacecraft

P.S. Anybody else notice this was 21x19?

Huston

LOO and LATRINES. Classy! :)

Solving in Seattle

This is going to be quick. This Seattle Sunday is turning into golf weather, so...

Mr. Berry's puzz was easy but fun for me. No UNBOSOMing necessary. Thought ETHANEATHENA (99A) was a hoot! All in all, a well-constructed Sunday piece.

Anonymous

@spacecraft: You got me! Good one! I counted the squares before I realized you fooled me and no doubt many others who do the syndicated version a week late. Totally cancels out my satisfaction at fooling one of the family this morning with the old 'loop a rubber band around the kitchen sink sprayer switch so they get soaked when they turn on the faucet' ploy.

Dirigonzo

What @Ulrich said - exactly!

The Andrea Doria was a Shipwreck before it was a STEAMSHIP and Agent Gold was iRa before he did an about-face and became ARI, and Coach bIBBS ruined my otherwise perfect finish.

And yes, @RedV - a STRAY is indeed a potential pet worthy of consideration!

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