Japanese native / SUN 4-8-12 / Lurid 1979 film about John Dillinger's girlfriend / Athlete wearing calligraphic D logo / Cockney greeting / Ex-senator Bayh / Sasquatch's kin / Letter seen twice in Philadelphia / Stone-pushing Winter Olympian / 1997 Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones flick

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Constructor: Daniel A. Finan

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "In-Nuendos" — Answers follow pattern "___ IN ___" but are represented by a description of the word in the second blank, INside of which are circles containing the word that belongs in the first blank.

Word of the Day: AINU (99A: Japanese native) —
n., pl., Ainu, or -nus.
  1. A member of an indigenous people of Japan, now inhabiting parts of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands.
  2. The language of the Ainu.
[Ainu aynu, person.]

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/ainu#ixzz1rPFUC99H
• • •

Oh boy, non-contiguous circles! This should be good! ... is what I didn't say when starting this puzzle.

Interesting idea, but the preposterousness of the actual answers made me mostly dislike this one. I think "IT'S TOLD USING A WATCH" basically killed any affection I might have had for this puzzle. Audible groan! Literally, I emitted an audible groan. Also, no one has ever called "wool" "sheep's clothing," facetiously or otherwise. WTH? Some of the longish answers are interesting (see esp. PARCHEESI, MEAT-EATER, HONEYDEWS) (114A: The Royal Game of India; 85D: Tyrannosaurus rex, archetypally; 7D: Breakfast items often eaten with spoons), but then there's stuff like TREF, AINU, 'ELLO (90D: Not kosher; 99A: Japanese native; 91D: Cockney greeting) ... Kind of a wash. If you thought the theme cute, I envy you.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: 1997 Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones flick (AFRICAN-AMERICAN) — this is where I got the theme, and it took some doing. Got very hung up in the north, with PEST for TICK (12D: OFF! target), SUM for ARE (9D: Total), and ESCAPED for VACATED (8A: Left). Figuring out that "MEN" was in the circles got me ARE, and things righted themselves from there. Sped through puzzle after that.
  • 36A: Preventive measure, proverbially (IT'S TOLD USING A WATCH)
  • 51A: Headstone phrase (TREATY RESULT)
  • 69A: Lurid 1979 film about John Dillinger's girlfriend, with "The" (COLOR FOR VALENTINE'S DAY)
  • 88A: "To be on the safe side ..." (JUDGE'S MATTER)
  • 101A: Golf ace (THE LONELIEST NUMBER)
  • 121A: One who looks friendly but isn't (WOOL, FACETIOUSLY)
  • 67A: Athlete wearing a calligraphic "D" logo (TIGER) — 2-0, thanks for asking! First game was a nail-biter, next was a delicious blow-out. So happy baseball season is underway and Verlander and Cabrera and Fielder all look magical.
  • 79A: Letter seen twice in Philadelphia (PHI) — Greek letter, that is.
  • 97A: Stone-pushing Winter Olympian (CURLER) — At least the clue didn't say "athlete."
  • 130A: Spouse's acquiescence ("YES, DEAR") — this clue actually creeped me out a little. 
  • 13D: Ex-senator Bayh (EVAN) — he was a darling of the Dems at one point. Not sure what's up now.
  • 52D: Sasquatch's kin (YETI) — "kin"? Yes, insofar as they are both non-existent, sure. I guess they are also "kin" of the unicorn.

  • 72D: "Game of Thrones" protagonist ___ Stark (NED) — can't bring myself to read this. Wife says "don't bother" but then keeps reading ... she's weird that way. I'm reading Patrick Rothfuss's "The Name of the Wind" (vol. 1 of the Kingkiller Chronicle). If you are at all into all that fantasy / Hobbit / Harry Potter / whatever, you *must* read this guy. Fantastic. I'm not generally a fan of the genre, but this guy can Write.
  • 102D: Percussion instrument with a pedal (HI-HAT) — One H didn't give it to me. Two Hs did.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:19 AM  

And the INN-U-ENDO jokes start in

jae 12:23 AM  

I guess I am to be envied. I liked this one circles and all.  Clever theme where the circles really helped the solve.  No real problems so easy for me. The last two theme answers were the best.  Don't remember seeing FACETIOUSLY in a puzzle before.

It took a while but learning AINU finally paid off.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

So, "stereotypically" now means something that never did, nor ever could, happen? Or did TRex's lurking among mankind jump over into pseudo-reality, joining the Yetis and Bigfoots?

Tita 12:36 AM  

Loved the idea...really cool gimmick...but...

Totally forgot to look at the circles. Might have finished if I had...
ArOd for ALOU kept me from finishing. Actually hit Wordplay since Rex wasn't done, and saw her talk about hints in circles...duh...came back and finished.

Too many sports clues, too many of which were random 4 letter sequences...ArOd crossing MErO - MEwho? ODOM? You're kidding me, right?
@Tobias - what are we to do??
Even the BORG is mocking us!

Other randomness - Multipurpose = UTILITY? Is a UTILITY knife a multipurpose knife? Isn't any knife a multipurpose knife?

Otherwise, same as Rex...
But mostly just mad at myself for missing the damn circles, and therefore the coolest part of the theme...

Noam D. Elkies 12:40 AM  

These days kettledrums/timpani usually have a pedal (to raise or lower the pitch). Yes, so does a 102D:HI_HAT.

Tita 12:45 AM  

Shoutout to Karen, our resident Curler! (Ignore Rex's anti-curling snark...)

And let not my annoyances keep me from loving clues for GEESE, UMLAUTS, LEEWAY, SCOOP....

Feliz Pasqua...

chefwen 3:41 AM  

Started off at a good pace in the northwest and thought this was going to be as easy as last weeks Sunday until I came upon the theme answers and didn't pay attention to the circles. Was gobsmacked until I sussed out AFRICAN/AMERICAN (MEN)

After that it was still rough going and a bit of a slog.

Not my favorite Sunday puzzle, but I finished without a Google and that is an +. Loved 130A can never hear that too often

chefwen 3:43 AM  

a plus not an plus. Grammar Wendell?

jae 4:00 AM  

@anon 12:33 -- I'd like to hazard a guess as to what you are talking about:

First, the clue reads " archetypally."

Second, the answer is MEATEATER not MANEATERS.

Does this help???

exaudio 5:27 AM  

Liked it a lot, glad Rex is a Tigers fan.

Deb 5:39 AM  

I see the trick in every theme answer but JUDGES MATTER. Help?

mac 7:07 AM  

@Deb: judge's matter: case. Just in case.

I danced around the theme for quite a while, just filling in everything that was a gimme. When I did figure it out at Men in Black, I found it a bit convoluted and a slog, but all in all a good solve.

Had the hardest time with Yeti, wanted Erie, and in the SE, Ava. To me Ina Gardner is the Barefoot Contessa! Never knew about the movie and last name connection.

Arlene 7:09 AM  

JUDGES MATTER is "case" so it's "Just IN case"

dk 7:10 AM  

Sunday. FIE!

Anon at 12:19 AM, as a neuroproctologist I know every innuendo, so just HUM a few bars....

** (2 Stars) too strung out on Easter Candy to appreciate the theme. Off to rehab... aka the gym.

Happy Easter peeps!

quimby 7:11 AM  

@Deb, I believe that's meant to be JUST in (case).

r.alph bunker 7:12 AM  

Finished with DENADi but otherwise a quick Sunday. However I had to Google for Lady In Red before I got the theme.
@Deb A judge's matter is a case

joho 8:00 AM  

It took me forever to see the theme. When finished I made a list of the circled letters thinking what in the world do these words have in common?! Then a STITCH in time came to me along with a big AHA and I got the rest in NSECs.

@Rex, of course WOOL is sheep's clothing, it's what they're wearing.

The actual puzzle was easy but figuring out the theme took some time so I liked it.

Biggest trouble spot for me for some odd reason was backPACKS, RUCKsacks, KNAPSACKS!

Thanks, Daniel, fun Sunday. And, Happy Easter Day everybody!

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Rex: get over yourself. See 89D. This was interesting and fun.

Glimmerglass 8:24 AM  

Finished the puzzle, then looked at the circles. As soon as I saw MEN in [black], I caught on. Up til then, I though maybe there was a movie called "African American." (And perhaps 121A was a slam on Virginia Woolf.) I don't get out much. However, when I saw the gimmick, after the fact, I rate it about a six (out of ten) on the cuteness scale. @Noam D. A hi hat is two cymbals mounted parallel on one stand so that they can be clashed with a foot pedal (or hit with a drumstick).

Sue McC 8:28 AM  

Enjoyed it. WOOL FACETIOUSLY is kind of clunky, but works. Ditto Mac on Ina and Barefoot Contessa.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Would somebody help me GETACLUE as to how 9D Total equals ARE. Seems odd that this wasn't an Easter themed puzzle.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

@mac. It's Ina Garten, not Gardner.

@anonymous 8:43. "two and three are five" = "two and three total five"

Charles 9:44 AM  

Even after having figured out how the theme was supposed to work, I had to struggle to understand most of the clue/answer pairs. When I finally got them I found them all very satisfying.

I loved it, even though it took me quite a while!

JenCT 9:57 AM  

Blew through the top of the puzzle, but came to a screeching halt on the bottom. Would've helped if I had gotten the theme...

Had KNIT SOCKS before KNAPSACKS (whaaa?), ASHE before BORG.

I thought YES DEAR was cute; it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, I think.

Happy Easter!

JenCT 10:04 AM  

Seeing FOWL and ROOSTED reminded me that our new batch of 6 chicks should be hatching Tuesday or Wednesday; though I've learned not to count on them before they hatch (think I heard that somewhere?)

I'll change my avatar then.

GILL I. 10:08 AM  

I figured this might induce a groan or two but I really liked it. Perhaps it was the family effort that made it enjoyable.
I was half way down when I (we) figured out that theme at 69A Lady in Red!!!! I looked at that clue for ages thinking it was some sort of Valentines massacre. Rest in Peace - TREATY RESULT was my favorite.
Some favorite entries were GET A CLUE, BAGS IT, VAMOOSE and HI HAT,
@Mac et al. I too had INA. Her filet of sole marnier is the simplest most delicious recipe I've tasted.
Off to sing All Things Bright and Beautiful.

archaeoprof 10:14 AM  

Easy, yes, but an unusually clever theme.

Happy Easter, one and all.

jackj 10:23 AM  

Sunday loving puzzle-maker Dan’l Finan is back and determined to create much confusion among his solvers by requiring theme answers that have no apparent relationship to their clues.

By virtue of the title we can expect to have “IN” as part of the resolution of this quandary but meanwhile his puzzle might as well have been clued in Esperanto for all the sense it is making. “To be on the safe side…” clues JUDGESMATTER. Huh?

It all became clear after the grid was full and there was time to determine that “IN”, with the circled letters, gave us the means to bind this pudding called IN-NUENDOS and, in fact, we were treated to such marvels as JUST IN CASE, the clever spawn of JUDGESMATTER, (and six others, equally clever).

Brilliant or bonkers? Color me as full of late-blooming, grudging respect for this construction, so I vote brilliant, especially because the puzzle also featured such wonderful entries as UMLAUTS, BAGSIT, LEEWAY, VAMOOSE, ARCHIVE and YESDEAR.

A tour de force, Daniel! Thank you.

Lindsay 10:26 AM  

Of course I highlighted all little circles in one color, and the remainder of the theme answers in another color before otherwise setting pen to paper ... and I still didn't get the theme. At All.

Well eventually I got it. After I had entirely filled in the grid and stared at it a while.


chefbea 10:27 AM  

Too tough for me. Couldn't get the theme til I came here. DNF

But I did notice the shout out to Karen from the cape. Haven't "seen" her around for a while

Martin 10:32 AM  


Great work decoding that Tyrannosaurus rex snark. I was mildly curious about this Rant That Made No Sense, but never got close to "maneater."

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Loved that "There is A GOD" crossed "EVOLVE".

Just sayin'.

Happy Easter.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

What, no Happy Easter!? Snarky, really snarky.

This one falls into the Rex category of I LOVE THE THEME BUT NOT ITS EXECUTION, I guess.

This puzzle kind of grows on me. The longer I think about it the more I appreciate it. Maybe Rex should take longer to study the puzzle before commenting on it.

I also think all the theme answers work. As for wool being sheep's clothing, that's the very expression -- a wolf in sheep's clothing -- and, of course, that's what sheep wear -- wool (facetiously, of course).

Happy Easter or Passover, whichever you are celebrating today, everyone....


Charley 10:50 AM  

Filled almost whole grid and never figured out this theme. Had to re-read Rex's explanation 3 times before I got it. Too obscure for my taste.

Nakitab 11:05 AM  

Clever cubed. I loved this puzzle.

David 11:18 AM  

Loved the puzzle and the theme. Picked it up with AFRICAN AMERICAN/MEN IN BLACK, and I always love it when grabbing the theme early on is an aid in solving the other big clues. Often in early/mid week puzzles the revealer is shown after quickly solving.

Shamik 11:26 AM  

@chefwen: Agree that the puzzle appeared to be one where every word would fall like a Monday and was initially disappointed.

Color me one to be envied because I really liked this puzzle. For me it was medium-challenging and finished a whole cup of coffee while solving. (Can the time actually picking up your coffee cup and sipping really need to count towards total time?)

Norm 11:37 AM  

Very cute theme. I especially liked STITCH in (time), which was where I got theme and allowed me to make sense out of 22A, since just about any "date/actor's movie" clue is whatever the opposite of a gimme is, as far as I'm concerned. Did not like FACETIOUSLY in 121A, but it was close enough (and I can't think of a more accurate word that would fit).

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Loved this puzzle!
Very clever!
How do you NOT know AVA Gardner??

Thanks, Mr. Finan

Norm 12:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 12:05 PM  

@Shamik: Unless you turn your brain off while you're taking that sip of coffee, I think the time has to count. But, I will support an initiative to permit one to turn the clock off during a trip to the kitchen to top off the cup with some fresh hot brew. ;-)

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

I liked it too. For once used circles and theme to help solve, instead of figuring it out afterward.

FACETIOUSLY is (?) the only word in English with all vowels in order.

Joe The Juggler 12:26 PM  

Can someone explain DAP (the stone skipping clue)? I got it from crosses, but have never heard of it before.

I kind of liked the theme in principle. Would like to see it done more cleanly.

Karen from the Cape 12:40 PM  

I'll happily agree to being a non-athletic curler. But a lot of training is required at the top levels of the game to develop precision and balance. (FWIW, Olympic archers and marksmen may not count as athletes either.)

Not only read Name of the Wind, but I have a signed copy of it. (Pat's an official Nice Guy.) On Tor.com there is an insanely detailed reread of the series so far, picking up several connections I hadn't seen.

Masked and Anonymous 12:44 PM  

@31: U envy me. thUmbsUp.

afrogran 12:54 PM  

I have to go with Charley's comment. I finished the puzzle with little difficulty - but was still puzzled over the theme at the end. I had to read and RE-READ Rex's explanation before being able to understand.
It was very convoluted - but one has to admire a brain that can concoct such deviousness.
Happy Passover or Easter everyone!

fiddleneck 2:18 PM  

When I successfully post, I thought, it takes me immediately to create your own blog. I can't get back. I wanted to point out that 123 down should be Fie. Did I? 3 times?

fiddleneck 2:22 PM  

I guess I meant wolf facetiously.

ANON B 2:55 PM  

I don't care what anyone sez(66D).
The theme was brilliant.Not only
the "in" part but also to fit them
in symmetrically and most of all
to have thought of such a posibility.
I don't know what others get from
doing xwords, but my enjoyment comes when I smile at a clever
answer and think how clever
the constructor was.
Dan Finan, my hat's off to you.

Azbert 2:57 PM  

Quit carping, Rex. This was a great puzzle.

ANON B 2:58 PM  

Or should I have said my finnan haddie's off to you?

Noam D. Elkies 3:14 PM  

@Glimmerglass: thanks, but yes, I know what a "hi[gh] hat" is; I was just pointing out that it's not the only percussion instrument with a pedal. (For that matter a vibraphone or celesta has a pedal too, which serves the same function as the piano's right pedal.)

Joe in Montreal 3:22 PM  

anon at 12:25: you act rather abstemiously with your list. Or perhaps abstentiously.
Rex, yeti and sasquatch are similar, and perhaps fall in the category of cryptozoology rather than fantasy. Unless they were killed off arseniously.

Lewis 4:04 PM  

@rex -- writeup made me laugh; especially liked your comment about curlers.

I neglected to look at the circles, but with the title of the puzzle, and after 22A, I figured it was "in" phrases, and thought of the phrases without the help of the circles. Circles would have made it easier, but they weren't necessary. Figuring out the "in" phrases was actually easier than figuring out the answers.

@jackj -- you always write as though to a mass audience. Do you write about crosswords in a blog and then copy it here? Just curious -- I most often enjoy your observations, by the way!

KarenRackle 4:23 PM  

Joe the Juggler: I had to go to the dictionary for DAP (46A) -- "to cause to skip along the surface of water" -- who knew?

JaxInL.A. 4:24 PM  

Nice to see you again, @Shamik. It feels like a while since you've posted here.

I finished the puzzle resigned to the idea that the theme answers would not make sense to me and I would have to figure out the theme when I was done. Once I sat back, I had that nice aha! that is reason we do these things. That made it fun. I liked it a great deal.

Masked and Anonymous 5:37 PM  

@dk... Couldn't find any peeps in the puz. Did spot an egg.

Happy Easter.

@67-A: Didn't know that Tiger wore a "D" logo. For Double-bogie?

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

The theme confused me. I tried mightily to relate the theme answers to the word in circled letters. When that did not work, I just solved away and figured it out post facto. I was interested in seeing "pseud," as "pseudo"

jberg 8:15 PM  

Jeez - we read this blog because of Rex's acerbic wit, and then people complain that he's not cheerful and positive. Don't ever change, Rex!

I couldn't figure this one out. I had all the answeres (except AROD for ALOU), but couldn't see the theme until I came here. So I didn't like the puzzle until I was about halfway through the commments. By now, I think it's great.

Except maybe PSEUD at 59A. Using it without the O is phony.

ANON B 9:44 PM  

masked and anonymous @ 5:37

In case you really don't know-
The D is for Detroit. The Tiger
is not Woods.

Tita 10:20 PM  

@Shamik...best way to not get penalized on time is to not care about it!
Second best way is to use r.alph's app - you can set a default "inactivity" time, and you can force it into pause time...so if you really want to, you can pause it every time you lift that cup!

@JenCT - I want to raise chickens!! Is this your first clutch, or are you an old hand?

Anonymous 10:47 PM  

Anonymous 10:48 -
Re: "[There is] a God" crossing "evolve."
Thank you for noticing that, and pointing it out.
Such clever readers of Rex's entertaining blog. Even if the puzzle's a bust, the commentary never is.

Cathelou 11:00 PM  

@glimmerass: Same reaction to AFRICAN AMERICAN (yet another film I don't know), then finally saw the theme.

Came here thinking @rex would love this as much as I did--first Sunday I've enjoyed in a while. Not too many awful crosswordese and just enough challenge to the theme to make it fun--plus a welcome break from "wacky phrases." But in general I think Sundays are geared to folks like me--not ever going to make it into tourneys or construct puzzles, can get through Fri. & Sat. eventually & sometimes without Google. Can see why this might not be as much fun for the more advanced crowd.

Rube 11:48 PM  

Just got around to this puzzle so I'm late today. Had the entire grid filled and still had not figured out the theme. Was thinking that because these theme answers are so obtuse, there has to be some brilliant connection here... and then, yes, suddenly it dawned. Ingenious. What a marvelous puzzle.

As great as the puzzle is, the best part is the paucity of pop culture. Sure, there's CCR and ELO, and probably a few others, but ELO is a standard, and I'll give you CCR as it's easily gettable from crosses.

Wendell, huh. Bet you didn't know there's a wendy.com.

abnorma 1:44 AM  

I seem to remember the game being called "PaHcheesi", not "PaRcheesi". Anyone else?

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Loved Jennifer Nettles/Lionel Richie duet- thanks.

JenCT 10:26 AM  

@Tita: we've had chickens for about 20 years now...email me if you want to chat about it. :-)

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

I second ANON B 2:58 PM. Unlike puzzles with unhelpful themes, this one's clue elements interact better than any NYT crossword I've seen in years.

And I learned something about myself. The puzzles I have disliked were often those I couldn't finish. I didn't get all of this one, but wow, what a concept. Have some of you others also been afflicted with sour grapes syndrome?

http://kazakhstanii.blogspot.com 2:19 PM  

Loved this one! No googling, made my flight from JFK to Austin go by in a flash.

nurturing 5:14 AM  

@abnorma, I've seen it both ways. When I was young it was my favorite game and the Milton Bradley box said "Parcheesi". At a church rummage sale back then, I saw one from a different manufacturer and it was written Pahcheesi.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

re: 21-D....if "org." is the abbreviation for "organization", shouldn't the answer be "assn." not "assoc.", which I thought was the abbreviation for "associates" ?

Sarah L. 1:24 PM  

I liked this puzzle- anyone remember The Daptones, a musical doo-wop group? Sarah

Spacecraft 11:54 AM  

This theme requires a bit of brain calisthenics, IMO. First, the clue refers to a common saying: [something] IN [something]. The first [something] is spelled out with the circled letters--but the second [something] is defined, somewhat awkwardly, by the entire entry. Sorry, but WOOL is not "FACETIOUSLY" called sheep's clothing. JUDGESMATTER? Well, I guess that's a CASE, all right--but what an odd phrase to describe it! I think Mr. Finan's reach has exceeded his grasp somewhat.

This plus some end-week cluing made for some slogginess, so I have to give it a medium-challenging.

@Tita: Your confusion over UTILITY is easy to understand using "knife," but becomes clear if you use "baseball player." Every club has that UTILITY guy who can play several positions JUSTINCASE a starter gets hurt.

Solving in Seattle 1:24 PM  

Google and I had fun solving the puzzle without getting the theme, then I had my aha moment with the circled letters of 36A and was able to sus out the rest of the theme answers.

Daniel, this was one clever and fun way to spend an hour.

Off to the golf course (60 degrees in Seattle today).

capcha: xtreled. What I was after figuring out Mr. Finan's theme.

rain forest 2:47 PM  

Lots to like in this puzzle, especially the theme. Hence, I am to be envied, apparently. Every theme answer sang for me. No groans, audible or otherwise (can there be an inaudible groan?). Given the long theme answers, lots of 3 and 4-letter words were unavoidable, but for the most part they were just fine with some excellent cluing. Clever and witty, in my opinion. "Wool, facetiously"--worth the price of admission.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

I could see the gimmick developing at 88a, and 121a. Confirmed it with THE LONELIEST NUMBER. Fairly easy filling in the grid after that.

One error: had HOOK for Pan handler. As in Peter Pan handler. Over-thought that one.

Thanks for that T. Rex tune. Here's a better one.

Dirigonzo 6:15 PM  

I loved this - but then I solved it while basking in the sun at 48d. (The pool has not been uncovered and as far as I know there could still be ice in it, but the sun was unseasonably warm.) I was struggling with the theme answers until my 43d suggested I take a look at the circles I had already filled in, and the phrases I had wanted all along became apparent - epiphany!

I read recently that a new fossil discovery has scientists thinking that T-Rex may have had fuzzy down - who knew the fearsome monster was fluffy? I think he's still a MEATEATER, though.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Finished with only one wrong letter... (that's good for this dolt!) Bah. In my syndication land, the puzzle is titled "THE INSIDE DOPE" by Lynn Lempel and dated 04/22/12. So "IN" was part of the theme, eh? Took me reading this column at least halfway through before understanding the "theme"... yuk! The circles and theme answers were just amalgams of words that had to be solved by crosses.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

I wish the blog would put the DATE of the comment as well as the time. My "10:36 AM" is happening on April 22. The last previous one was "6:15 PM", presumably sometime between Easter and today.

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