Conductor Riccardo / THU 5-31-12 / Year Christopher Columbus died / Canada's largest brewery / Record company with a lightning bolt in its logo / "Holiday" actor Ayres / Banking aid

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Relative difficulty: THURSDAYISH

THEME: BANDBOXES (20D: Cylindrical cardboard containers apropos for this puzzle?) — Popular '70s/'80s band and crossword stalwart ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) shows up in six boxes, rebus-style. And those six boxes form an even bigger box. Trippy.

Word of the Day, eh?: LABATT (44D: Canada's largest brewery)
Labatt Brewing Company Ltd. (French: Brasseries Labatt du Canada Ltée) is a Canadian beer company founded by John Kinder Labatt in 1847 in London, Ontario. In 1995, it was purchased by Belgian brewer Interbrew; it is now part of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Labatt is the largest brewer in Canada.
In the United States, Labatt brand beers are sold under license by Labatt USA, which since 2009 has been fully independent of the Canadian firm and a subsidiary of the privately-held North American Breweries of Rochester, New York. (wikipedia)
• • •
Greetings, Rexaholics. Doug Peterson here, sitting in the big chair in the CrossWorld control room. PuzzleGirl was scheduled to appear today, but a tree fell on her internet. I'm serious. That's her excuse. Since I'm the only person who'd believe a story like that, I've got blog duty. In baseball terms, Rex and PuzzleGirl are perennial all-stars, and I'm the guy who doesn't even have his name spelled right on his jersey.

Elizabeth Gorski! I was stoked when I saw the byline on today's puzzle. Liz is one of my favorite constructors, and she came through today. A fun little rebus with a nice revealer. Perfect for a Thursday.

Theme answers:
  • 14A/2D: MELONBALL crossing HELOISE
  • 15A/12D: CHEESE  LOG crossing FELONY
  • 37A/33D: MEL OTT crossing VELOUR 
  • 39A/30D: OCELOT crossing LIE LOW
  • 62A/53D: RELOCATES crossing FEEL OK
  • 63A/50D: COUNSELOR crossing ANGELOU
  • 20D: Cylindrical cardboard containers apropos for this puzzle? (BAND BOXES)

I caught on to the rebus angle fairly quickly. Veteran solvers know that "rebus feeling" you get when answers you're pretty sure are right won't fit into the grid. I broke it open at 37A: N.L. home run king until Willie Mays surpassed him in 1966 (MEL OTT). I knew the answer had to be a full name, since Willie Mays's full name is in the clue. Mel Ott? Bingo! Then I glanced at the center entry and saw the "Cylindrical cardboard containers" bit. Huh? All I could think of were toilet paper tubes. ELO & toilet paper? Every Little Outhouse? Obviously I had a little more work to do before I fully grokked the theme. Turns out that a bandbox is "a lightweight usually cylindrical box used for holding small articles, especially hats." There you go. "Bandbox" is also a term for a baseball stadium that's smaller than average and thus conducive to lots of home runs. No doubt Mel Ott hit quite a few of his 511 dingers in bandboxes.

I better not forget the obligatory ELO video. This one features Olivia Newton-John, so it's worth playing even if you don't turn on your speakers. And if you watch carefully, you'll see her get kicked in the head at about the 30 second mark.

  • 27A: Amount of space in a paper to be filled with journalism (NEWSHOLE) — Love this answer! And I've adapted the concept for crossword construction. CLUEHOLE: all the clues I need to write for the crossword grid I just made.
  • 35A: Year Christopher Columbus died (MDVI) — This was the last answer I filled in. It crosses a couple of tough names in EVIE and MUTI. At least I knew it was probably in the 1500s somewhere.
  • 11D: Nile deity (ISIS) — Nothing to say about the clue, but I like this picture of Isis.
  • 23D: Record company with a lightning bolt in its logo (RCA) — I had MCA here for a while, which made SABERS (19A: Charges may be made with them) hard to get, which in turn made BANDBOXES hard to get. A very Thursdayish chain reaction there.
OK, time's up. Fear not, Rex will be back tomorrow. Unless PuzzleGirl helps him come up with some goofball excuse. ("A raccoon stole my keyboard!") Thanks for hanging out with me on a Thursday. Peterson out.


Dada pioneer, Biblical land whose name means "red" in Hebrew, Nanook's home, Nautical hazard, Juicy fruit, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Constructor: DAVID J. KAHN

Relative difficulty: MEDIUM

I had my crayons handy from the envelope yesterday so I decided to
highlight the theme content. 35% of the grid (black squares included).

THEME: DICK CLARK — (63A Late beloved TV personality) and a long-running television show he produced and starred in, along with a 17A typical opinion about a record on [it].

Word of the Day: CHAVEZ (34A Labor leader Cesar) —(from wiki)
East First St. is Austin's Triboro Bridge.
 I think "Lady Bird Lake" will stick.
Cesar Estrada Chavez (locally: [ˈsesaɾ esˈtɾaða ˈtʃaβes]; March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).[1]
• • •
Hello, all. Once again, this is treedweller giving Rex a bit of a break. I'll get right to it.

Last October, Kevin Der reportedly was moved by the death of Steve Jobs to rush out a tribute puzzle, and Will Shortz's crew made it happen. Commentary here ranged from "loved it" to "nice enough but misplaced on Friday" to "wonder how long it was in the can" to "does anybody else see the arrogance associated with thinking a crossword is an important eulogy?"

Well, Rexworld, The Puzzle listened. Steve Jobs died at 56, and we wondered if WS had his tribute in a drawer. Dick Clark died at the age of 117-1/2, yet this puzzle appears over a month after his death. We've all had time to absorb the blow under more solemn circumstances, so now a lighthearted reminder of an old friend is welcome.  Both the dense cross-referencing and the slightly vague cluing make this just enough of a challenge to be very well placed on a Wednesday.

I still haven't met the solver who says, "I love cross-referenced clues." Some of us enjoy the puzzle despite the annoyance; others get put off and quit. A few finish and complain.

But today I was seriously getting ticked off for a bit. Every clue I read was either daring me to guess with little confidence or referring me somewhere else.  I finally scanned the theme clues, zeroed in on the name, and attacked the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, I misread 65A Saloon choices (ALES) and entered "dyes" instead. Also, my go-to Spanish artist is Dalí.  

But I finally found the terminal K at 58D Nasdaq listings: Abbr. STKS. From there, the theme answers became very easy and I enjoyed figuring out all the stuff I couldn't guess on the first pass. Maybe I'm just giddy with power, but I've had a great time this week. Ask anyone who knows me, I am generally a complete ano. But if every week started the way this one has, I would be ecstatic.
from my copy of Bluebeard.
Yes, I did just figure out captions.

I mean, sure, there's AGASP (64A Audibly stunned). But if I have to have a borderline word nobody uses anymore, I appreciate that it was clued in a fairly undeniable way. Overall, there just wasn't much to complain about. Even the stale bits were rhapsodized with lyrical clues. OPIE is not just some Ron Howard role; he's a boy who liked to fish (1A). Our old buddy, Mel OTT, wasn't just a ball player; he was a Giant who swung for the fences (5D).

Theme answers:
  • 63A Late beloved TV personality DICK CLARK
  • 40A With 14-Across, long-running TV show popularized by 63A AMERICAN BANDSTAND
  •  16A 63-Across, for one EMCEE
  • 17A With 38- and 59-Across, typical opinion about a record on 40-/14-Across. IT'S GOT A GOOD BEAT AND YOU CAN DANCE TO IT
  • 27D With 51-Down, "14-Across Boogie," on 40-/14-Across THEME SONG
  • 36A World's Oldest ____ (nickname for 63-Across) TSARINA TEENAGER
I don't generally presume to comment on construction; I am merely an avid solver (notwithstanding a few pathetic and / or halfhearted attempts). But today the density of the theme was inescapable. We've got the guy's full name, the full name of his biggest show, his job on the show, the most awkward cluing possible for a generic term that describes a part of his show, a nickname for the guy, and a bonus quote theme thrown in for free. Forty percent of the letters in this puzzle were in at least one THEME answer. The quote is very appropriate and inferable. I am not birling when I say I like this puzzle. 

And now, a eulogy from Snoop "NSFW" Dogg (skip to :39 to avoid intro):

  •  45A "Buck Rogers" and others SERIALS— I first knew about him because of the TV series.
  • 48A "Is that ___?" AN O — I'll bet some of you were thinking, "Who says that?" In fact, it's a common phrase used when deciphering captchas. I'll take it over the standard Spanish clue and its associated diacritical awkwardness.
  • Buffalo's Mets-affiliated team BISONS— Even the sports haters should be able to work that out with a cross or two. Still, I am not sure I like the precedent of adding the names of minor-league teams to the crossword lexicon. How about cluing it "Adventurous progeny?" That works, right? Okay, maybe not.
  • 60A Dada pioneer ARP — Would have been a great Cain / Abel misdirect if it were four letters.
  • 44D Right away IN A SEC— this clue feels off. To me, IN A SEC is more, "yeah, after I finish this" than "right away".
  • 15D Comfort SOLACE— Perhaps a final THEME answer?    

Tomorrow we will have a surprise substitute and Our Leader should be back Friday. I hope you've all enjoyed my services as much as I have. I hope you will all reflect on how much work Rex does every day to keep this site going, as I certainly have over the past three days. I hope you will all remember there is a handy link near the top right of this page for you to offer Rex a tangible token of your gratitude. No, Rex did not ask me to say that.

Signed, treedweller, on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Swiss pharmaceutical giant; "Family Ties" mother; Tuesday, May 29, 2012; Do some logrolling

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Constructor: Daniel A. Finan

Relative difficulty: medium

NOTEPAD: The circles in this puzzle are contained in words that form a sequence. Connect these circles, in the order of the sequence, to form an appropriate image.

THEME: Connect the dots — The numbers one to seven are spelled out throughout the grid, each clued to a postage stamp denomination and containing a circled letter. When you connect the circles numerically you draw the BACK OF THE ENVELOPE (39A Location for some quick calculations).

Word of the Day: ROCHE (47D Swiss pharmaceutical giant) —

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. is a Swiss global health-care company that operates worldwide under two divisions: Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics. Its holding company, Roche Holding AG, has shares listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
                                                                       • • •
Hello, Rexworld. This is treedweller again, filling in. In keeping with recent trends toward oddball Tuesdays,  today we get a 17 X 13 grid that facilitates the opportunity for us to draw a picture of an envelope when we finish filling in our answers. It's the sort of gimmick that always draws comparisons to Liz Gorski; I don't think this one will dethrone the queen, but it pulls off the trick without paying too high a price.

Ultimately, opinions on this will probably split along the lines of those who like gimmicks and those who don't like to draw on their puzzles. For my part, I solved without seeing the notepad; I scratched my head a bit trying to figure out what to do with the circles until I looked it up. My best guess was some kind of origami project, so the five-line drawing was a bit of a letdown. Anyway, as I was solving, this it seemed like an oddly shaped themeless that had a few answers that were just some semi-random low number.

As such, I liked it pretty well, though it seemed a little uneven. Like yesterday, the short corner fill was serviceable, at best. A few words seemed a little out of Tuesday's league, like HEMATOLOGY (12D Study of blood), but overall it was a peppy, fun solve with fair crosses. I liked the phrases: RAN RIOT, IT'S OPEN, START IN ON, NOT SO FAST. I was less enthralled with UNSOCIAL, RESOURCE, and POUNDERS

Theme answers: I am not going to type all these.

  • 1D, 11A, 16A, 18A, 44A, 51D, 69A all ask for the price in cents of a stamp based on the year of release and the president appearing on it. FOUR, THREE, ONE, SEVEN, TWO, FIVE, SIX. I will leave the discussion of postage rates for the comments.
  • 39A Location for some quick calculations BACK OF THE ENVELOPE
So the first themed clue I saw was 16A, which elided "Price in cents" and left me wondering if I would need to know some obscure stamp trivia. Despite my youthful efforts to become a Renaissance man, most of my philatelic impulses died early (roughly when I finished the Stamp Collecting merit badge), so I was a little worried. As soon as it became clear I was just looking for low numbers, I began to gain momentum.  Philatelists clearly have a major advantage on this one, though, so all times scored in the NYT applet will include an asterisk in the record books.


  • 4A High beams BRIGHTS — I liked the colloquial nature of both clue and answer. Sensitive listeners should probably skip Evil Doug's comments today.
  • 37D "The Phantom Menace," in the "Star Wars" series EPISODE I — I only mention it to re-post this review, which some of you will remember from when Rex linked to it a few years ago. NSFW language
  • 56A Chihuahua, e.g. TOY DOG — I had to replace "lap" DOG. Whenever I see the word "chihuahua," I hear Les Nessman saying it in my head.
  • 32A Do some logrolling BIRL — I had to look this one up after I was done. It has no business being in a Tuesday puzzle.
I would just like to conclude by saying it is an honor and a pleasure to stand in for one of the greatest writers of our time.
Signed, treedweller, on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Charles of "Algiers," 1938; Powerful D.C. lobby; Early American patriot Thomas; Monday, May 27, 2012; Brits' thank-yous

Monday, May 28, 2012

Constructor: Kurt Mueller

Relative difficulty: easy

THEME: TONGUE TWISTER — Four two-word phrases whose first words form a common tongue twister, RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPER.

Word of the Day: LOEWE (35A Lerner's songwriting partner) —
Frederick Loewe (English pronunciation: /ˈloʊ/,[1] originally German Friedrich (Fritz)[2] Löwe [ˈløːvə]; June 10, 1901 – February 14, 1988[3]), was an Austrian-American composer. He collaborated with lyricist Alan Jay Lerner on the long running Broadway musicals My Fair Lady and Camelot, with book and lyrics by Lerner, both of which were made into films.
• • •
Rex Parker is away for a fwew days, so this is treedweller filling in.

Today's puzzle is a ROCK SOLID (9D Absolutely dependable) Monday. The three-letter corners were almost universally unlovely --- a suffix, a few partials, some initials --- but, then, that's three-letter entries for you. I find it forgivable, for it facilitates fine fill.

I called it easy, but is it Monday Easy? I'm not sure, since I printed this one out, whereas I normally solve electronically. I did slow down here and there, but I don't think any more than usual. If anyone complains about this being unfair, I expect it will be because of the cluster of SINO ANG BOYER just north of center (34A ___--Japanese War, 30D Taiwanese-born director Lee, 31D Charles of "Algiers," 1938). All standard stuff, standing out solely because the structure is so solid.

Penultimate place goes to LOEWE / LEW.  I chose LOEWE for Word of the Day because I always mix up all those Loewe-Loew-Loeb-Lowe words. Still, solvers who love LOEWE might be less likely to like LEW, while lovers of LEW likely lack a love of LOEWE, but solvers who like neither LOEWE nor LEW are likely far and few.

Theme answers:
  • 20A Sterotypical entree at a campaign event RUBBER CHICKEN -- Politicians politely pack it away anyway.
  • 29A One born in the late 1940s or '50s BABY BOOMER -- Weaned post-War, they wanted more.
  • 36A Item carried by an Amish driver BUGGY WHIP -- Mennonites maintain means for masochism.
  • 46A Farmer's wish BUMPER CROP -- Fertile fruits favored over fields that fry and fizzle.
  • 53A The starts of 20-, 29-, 36-, and 46-Across, e.g., when repeated quickly in order TONGUE TWISTER --- I was deliberately not speeding through this, so I paused a few times to consider what the theme was going to be. It was completely opaque to me until this revealer. I got a nice chuckle from it.

  • 24A Brits' thank-yous TAS --  My friend teaches at an English-language school in Vietnam with a bunch of Aussies. This word became one of those office memes there one recent day. They told her it was mostly used by kids Down Under, which I gather was the source of the humor (had to be there, I'm sure). I know the word from British film and literature, but not well enough to say it is or isn't commonly used by adults. Of course, it's one of those three-letter bitter pills we had to swallow, but I still say worth it.
  • 31D Charles of "Algiers," 1938 BOYER — Another one of those old names I see a lot and never remember.
  • 3D ____ Bridge (former name of New York's R.F.K. Bridge) TRIBORO — I seem to remember this drawing complaints once because it was too esoteric, but it always comes easily to me, despite my far-from-New-York upbringing and only a few short visits to The City. It was probably in some TV show(s) I used to watch. Anyway, the Bs in RUBBER CHICKEN had to be crossed with something, and I like this a lot.
  • 45D In phrases, something to share or hit THE ROAD — I was a little surprised this wasn't clued by the book or movie. Cormac McCarthy isn't a Monday name, perhaps, but the movie was pretty big. I was relieved, really, since I never liked this one as much as everyone else seemed to. Maybe I was disappointed that it wasn't more like his other books, almost all of which I love.
  • 48D A little on the heavy side CHUBBY -- I had to replace "chunky" here.
  • 15A Capital of Jordan AMMAN  — This was probably easy for most people, but I am terrible at geography, so I had to skip it until I got a few crosses. Late in the week, this same clue might yield "dinar."
Signed, treedweller, on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


"Lose Yourself" rapper / SUN 5-27-12 / "The Royal Family of Broadway" star, 1930 / "Wanderings: Chaim ___ Story of the Jews" / Saint in a Sir Walter Scott title / "___ my garment and my mantle": Ezra 9:3 / ___ belli (war-provoking act)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Constructor: BYRON WALDEN

Relative difficulty: Pretty difficult, if you ask me

THEME: STATE QUARTERS — Theme answers are U.S. states clued by what appears on their state quarters and placed in the grid with two or three letters per square. [Edited to add that the state names are divided into four parts, ie, quarters. I had a feeling I was missing something obvious in this theme!]

Hey, everybody. Rex is traveling today, so it's me, PuzzleGirl, here with your Sunday puzzle. And, oh my, that was … interesting. As some of you know, Doug Peterson and I typically use the "solve with a friend" option on the NYT website every week for the Sunday puzzle. I don't really like Sunday puzzles because they just feel too darn big, ya know? It starts to feel like a slog to me. So, this way, we get on the computer, one of us solves the acrosses, the other solves the downs, and we usually knock it out pretty quick. Didn't work exactly that smoothly this week though.

Byron was kind enough to make the rebus clear right from the beginning. Well, it was clear that there was some kind of rebus going on, but it was a little more difficult to get a grip on what exactly the deal was. Usually, Doug and I don't chat while we solve and we don't look at the other's clues. If, for example, I don't know a down answer, I wait for him to fill in crosses for me until I can get it. But I don't go reading the across clues in order to mentally fill the letters in myself. But on this puzzle, we ended up chatting quite a bit. And I don't know about Doug, but I found myself looking at across clues, but only to see if one of them was the clue for a state so I would know if my answer contained a rebus square.

So we were kind of going along feeling like we had an idea of how to tackle this one and then I got to PENNSYLVANIA, which uses three letters in each square instead of two and I thought I must be wrong, that it wasn't actually Pennsylvania. But indeed it was. The whole thing was pretty rough is what I'm saying. I assume those of you who sat down and solved this puzzle on paper didn't have the same issues.

Theme answers:
  • 10A: *Patriot Caesar Rodney on horseback (DELAWARE)
  • 19A: *The Great Lakes (MICHIGAN)
  • 27A: *Scissor-tailed flycatcher with wildflowers (OKLAHOMA)
  • 59A: *Covered wagon next to Chimney Rock (NEBRASKA)
  • 66A: *Rice stalks, a diamond and a mallard (ARKANSAS)
  • 100A: *Statehouse dome (MARYLAND)
  • 109A: *Abraham Lincoln (ILLINOIS)
  • 112A: *Racehorse in front of the Federal Hill mansion (KENTUCKY)
  • 39D: *Rocky Mountains (COLORADO)
  • 46D: *"Commonwealth" statue and a keystone (PENNSYLVANIA)
  • 69D: *Old Man of the Mountain rock formation (NEW HAMPSHIRE)
  • 75D: *Lewis and Clark and the Gateway Arch (MISSOURI)

I hate to keep whining but one last problem I had was with the completed grid on the Times applet. We are all agreed that the applet sucks, right? Good. Well, when we finished the puzzle, it looked like this:

I can't even look at that grid and make sense of it because the applet doesn't "do" rebus squares. Luckily, Doug whipped up a jpg from his Crossword Compiler app and ta-da! Looking at That grid makes it look pretty damn awesome. I didn't even notice while solving that all the states are placed symmetrically in the grid. Nicely done, Byron!

I do feel like it would be wrong of me not to mention that some of the fill is pretty far out there. RIPENESS IS ALL is "much-quoted"? (44A: Much-quoted line from Edgar in "King Lear.") There are actually birds called LAUGHING FALCONS? (24A: Snake predators named for their calls.) People have heard of GEORGES DE LA TOUR? (101A: French Baroque artist who painted "The Fortune Teller.") And last but certainly not least: SNORKEL PARKA? (16D: Military jacket with a furry hood.) I must say I am ecstatic to find out that the coats I used to wear during the brutal winters in Fargo, North Dakota, are called SNORKEL PARKAs. I only wish I had known it at the time. (Please don't send me any nasty email about my GEORGES DE LA TOUR crack. I'm sure he's very well-known, left us a treasure trove of brilliant art, and was kind to his mother -- I'm just saying I've never heard of him and that undoubtedly says more about me than it does about him.)

Bullets (acrosses brought to you by Doug):
  • 10A: *Patriot Caesar Rodney on horseback (DELAWARE) — I knew immediately that this was Delaware, because I've seen a ton of Delaware quarters. My friend's daughter was about 12 years old when the State Quarters program began, and she decided that the first quarter, Delaware, would be valuable someday. So she started saving Delaware quarters. And whenever I found one in change, I'd give it to her. Over the years, I bet I've given her at least $25 in Delaware quarters. And I'm still giving them to her. I suspected it might be a scam to get free quarters, but she showed me her collection, and she's got over 400 of them in a box. I'm going to try to recoup some of my losses by telling her that I collect Montana quarters. Maybe she'll give me a few. I picked Montana because I grew up there, and more importantly, it's the only state quarter that features a skull. It matches my awesome belt buckle.
  • 37A: Zales rival (KAY) — My first thought was Jared, because "It can only be Jared." That's the jewelry store founded by the guy from the Subway ads. I have my own version of the Subway diet. I walk to Subway for lunch, and then I don't eat anything because I hate Subway.
  • 44A: Much-quoted line from Edgar in "King Lear" (RIPENESS IS ALL) — Or "Don't eat the green bananas." I know quite a few Shakespeare lines, but this one baffled me. I don't like the "much-quoted" part, because if you don't know it, you feel like a dope.
  • 67A: Old comic book cowboy (RED RYDER) — You probably recognize the name from the Red Ryder BB Gun in "A Christmas Story."

  • 101A: French Baroque artist who painted "The Fortune Teller" (GEORGES DE LA TOUR) — Which translates to "George of the Tour." I guess he was a pro golfer. Seriously, I have never heard of this guy. At least the clue didn't say "Well-known French Baroque painter..." I'm still smarting from that "Much-quoted" business.
  • 106A: "Get Smart" robot (HYMIE) — Entry of the day! Man, I used to love "Get Smart." Hymie's a robot who was built by KAOS, but later decides to join CONTROL. He's named after his father and is "programmed for neatness." Speaking of "Get Smart," PuzzleGirl and I wrote this entire blog while in the Cone of Silence. Maybe that's why it took us seventeen hours.

Bullets (downs brought to you by PuzzleGirl):
  • 7D: Father of the Blues (WC HANDY)
  • 8D: Outgrowth from the base of a grass blade (LIGULE) — Can't imagine I'll ever need to know that but okay.
  • 10D: Handlers of brats (DELIS) — Who wanted BABYSITTERS?
  • 12D: Designer Vera (WANG) — PuzzleDaughter and her friends seem to be into Vera Bradley these days. Totally different Vera.
  • 22D: Athletic awards since 1993 (ESPYS)
  • 26D: Salts (ABLE SEAMEN) — I like the tricky clue, but I'm not 100% sure ABLE SEAMEN is really a thing. I mean, I'm sure there are SEAMEN who are quite ABLE, but it's not exactly what I would call "in the language." See also NURSERY MEN (76D: Greenhouse workers).
  • 42D: E.M.T. application (CPR) — PuzzleKids and I enjoyed a street festival yesterday and had to spend a little bit of time at the First Aid station when PuzzleDaughter stubbed her toe pretty bad. I sorta felt like the EMTs were rolling their eyes at us, but honestly, I'm sure having them bandage her up calmed her down way more than I could have. Poor thing. When we got home she's all "Mom, will you wash the blood off my flip-flop?" Try not to be too jealous of my glamorous life.
  • 49D: Do dos, say (CATER) — I was thinking more along the lines of hairstylists, so this was a nice tricky clue.
  • 57D: Area that's frequently swept? (RADAR RANGE) — In my world, a RADAR RANGE is a microwave oven. (In my world, I spent much of my childhood in front of the TV watching game shows.)

  • 86D: Move toward the middle (INDENT) — And just to be clear, when you move text toward the middle of the page, you use TABS and not SPACES, right? RIGHT?
  • 96E: Like zombies (UNDEAD) — My first thought: "Dead." My second thought: "Waaait a minute …."
With any luck, Rex will be back tomorrow. But you'll probably see me again later this week.

Love, PuzzleGirl (and Doug)


World's largest nocturnal primates / SAT 5-26-12 / Avoid work in Britain / Fictional title sch of 1994 comedy film / Local protest acronym / Andean tuber

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "P.C.U." (46A: Fictional title sch. of a 1994 comedy film) —
PCU is a 1994 comedy film. The film depicts college life at the fictional Port Chester University, and represents "an exaggerated view of contemporary college life...."[3] The film is based on the experiences of writers Adam Leff and Zak Penn at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. //  The story involves preppy pre-freshman (pre-frosh) Tom Lawrence (Chris Young) who visits Port Chester University, a college where fraternities have been outlawed and political correctness is rampant on campus. The film makes heavy use of the political correctness movement as a comedy device. (wikipedia) 
• • •

This one played on the easy side for me, but I can see by the times at the NYT site that it's actually tilting a little tough, so I'm splitting the difference and calling it Normal. I got a couple of good toeholds early ... though, it's weird, the first one involved a series of *wrong* answers. SEX TALK led to Jack-a-LAB led to AMA led to NIMBY (25A: Local protest acronym). Then JUKEBOX (8D: Target of Fonzie's fist bumps) changed LAB to POO (29A: Jack-a-___ (hybrid dog)) and thus AMA to HMO (21D: Subj. in the 2007 documentary "Sicko") and SEX TALK to SEX TIPS (7D: Advice from Dr. Ruth). That's three wrong answers to get my first right answer, and then one gimme (JUKE BOX) to fix all three originally wrong answers. And all in about 20 seconds. I also knew P.C.U. instantly, which gave me CAF (47D: Half-___). That helped (eventually) get me into the bottom of the grid. Everything here felt very much in my wheelhouse. KENOSHA off the "K" (18A: Midwest birthplace of Orson Welles and Don Ameche), CHEX MIX off that second "X" (17A: High-carb party snack) ... answers mostly came quickly. Big hold-up was stupid in retrospect. Had V-E- at beginning of 24D: Like some pullovers and wanted VEENECK. But then got CUB (35A: News newbie), which left me V-EC- and so I couldn't make VEENECK work. But of course that ended up being the answer after all: just spelled V-NECKED. Gah. Lost a good minute or so fumbling around there. Also lost time thinking 27A: Try, informally was FLIER (as in the phrase "to take a FLIER" ... though there FLIER means something more like "risk," but try telling my brain that). Couldn't think of a Rodin sculpture besides The Thinker / Le Penseur (37A: Musée Rodin masterpiece => THE KISS). SPLINES is not in my vocabulary (40D: Thin construction strips). So as you can probably tell, the SW corner (all the way up through V-NECKED) was my most challenging area. But SPIKE (50D: Rail nail) and OCA (58D: Andean tuber) got me PANCAKE (61A: Edible floppy disk?), and I steadily worked my way up from there, with the "G" in FLING / G-SUIT coming in as the final letter.

I should probably add that I liked this puzzle a lot. Bouncy, with interesting clues. AYEAYES!? (63A: World's largest nocturnal primates) Ay ay ay! Wow. That was nuts. The rest, not so nuts.

  • 1A: Accompanier of a thrown tomato ("BOO! HISS!") — Interesting this gets treated as one unit (an "accompanier"). The words do go together; I mean, I had no trouble putting it together. Do people actually say this phrase? Or literally hiss the HISS part? Also, when was the last time anyone threw a tomato, in earnest?
  • 8A: Reddish-orange gem (JACINTH) — word I know only from crosswords. Big, big help today. Got it off the "J-C"
  • 22A: Heart, to Hadrian (COR) — gimme, as was AME (36A: Sartre's soul). 
  • 26A: Avoid work, in Britain (DOSS) — no idea, though I have this feeling it's been in the puzzle before.
  • 64A: ___ Beer Night (1974 baseball promotion that ended in a riot) (TEN-CENT) — I thought it was DETROIT, but that was the anti-disco rally... not sure why clue doesn't indicate that it was held in Cleveland. Seems pertinent.
  • 2D: His opening line is "Tis better as it is" (OTHELLO) — not much question here, as I had the OTH- before ever reading the clue.
  • 5D: Brand with a paw print in its logo (IAMS) — We're a Eukanuba household (same parent company as IAMS, it turns out).
  • 30D: Friend of Pumbaa (SIMBA) — as with so many answers today, I had multiple letters in place before ever seeing the clue, which made them fall quickly. This is why you build off the answers you already have (if you can) rather than jumping around the grid.
I'm out of here for five days. Taking the girl to CO to see my family. Not sure which write-ups I'm doing and which write-ups subs are doing yet. You'll get what you get and you won't throw a fit. Or you will, who knows?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Scarperer author / FRI 5-25-12 / Compass divisions / Home Invasion rapper / First jazz musician to win Pulitzer / 2022 World Cup host / Hinged vessel / Eugene Onegin girl / Lethal injection adminsterers

Friday, May 25, 2012

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: U.N. DAY (15D: Oct. 24) —
In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly declared 24 October, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as which "shall be devoted to making known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for" its work. (wikipedia)
• • •

I never found this puzzle's wavelength. I think I fell into a kind of disappointment stupor early on when I solved a corner or two and realized this had *none* of the spark and sizzle that BEQ puts on display three times a week at his own site. Some of the clues showed tell-tale Quigley wit, and this grid beats most people's themeless grids, but there's way more mundane and lifeless stuff here than I am used to seeing from Brendan. ULTIMAS (15A: Concluding syllables)? AMEN AMEN (11D: "Couldn't aree with you more")? The whole NW corner is really sub-Quigley, all RE-s and -ERs. By the end of the solve I was blanking on stuff that should've come to me quickly. THE PE- and couldn't see THE PEQUOD (19D: "Moby-Dick" setting). MARS- and couldn't (for a Long time) see MARSALIS (35D: First jazz musician to win a Pulitzer Prize). FROZEN D-I- and could get only as far as FROZEN DRINK... needed QUAD (53D: Brown green?) to (finally) pick up FROZEN DAIQUIRI (51A: It might be covered by an umbrella). I think the puzzle was probably just Medium-Challenging, but my time puts it squarely in my personal "Challenging" range. Took me 50% longer than my normal Friday time, though I think some of that extra time is frustration/depression time. STEERS TO? (33D: Points in the direction of) Where's the bam? The zing? INTERNET DATING is nice (18A: Modern chemistry experiment?), but nothing else has any fire, and lots of stuff (OCTANTS, GEODES, INANEST, etc.) just lies there. I guess if I had my own thriving personal constructing empire, I wouldn't give the NYT my best stuff either. Luckily for all of us, BEQ's worst stuff is still well above the NYT's standards. Even this puzzle was relatively enjoyable, U.N. DAY (and DUDE UP, and the like) notwithstanding.

Lots of trouble getting started, with AS NEEDED somehow ending up the first thing in the grid. INTERNET DATING came reasonably quickly and allowed me to get into that NW corner, but the NE corner proved *much* harder. U.N. DAY? No way. ULTIMAS? Noooo way. C SHARP!? That clue is cute, in retrospect, but *ouch* (8A: Key for someone with 20/20 vision?). STAT and HIT IT (as clued) were really hard to get at (9D: Yards, e.g. + 10D: Command associated with numbers). The only way I got in there, finally, was by sussing out RANG TRUE (from just the -UE) (12D: Seemed right). Clues on ASPS and MRS., also wicked (fun, but tough) (23D: Lethal injection administerers + 27A: ___ Fields). I just wish the fill, all around, was as good as the cluing. Had no idea a STEIN was "hinged" (25D: Hinged vessel, often). Couldn't get David DUKE(S) out of my head at 26D: 2001 British Open champion David (DUVAL). OCTANTS, no hope (56A: Compass divisions). Even EVE was tough (41A: Threshold). Never read or saw "Lonesome Dove," so GUS wasn't coming any time soon (44A: Lead character in Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove"). Thought the [Herb that causes euphoria] was C--NN- (because my [hinged vessel] was a STENT, not a STEIN at first), and so wanted what I later realized was SENNA, which is a plant ... oh, man, I was in the weeds (CATNIP). For the life of me could not think of a country (or city, or any geographical location) in five letters ending -AR for 39A: 2022 World Cup host (QATAR). Thought Christmas tree bases were covered with SHEETS (mine usually are), not SKIRTS (46D: Christmas tree base coverings). No matter how many times I see his name, Brendan (...) BEHAN means nothing to me (21A: "The Scarperer" author). He's the same as that composer LEHAR, i.e. just a guy with -EHA- in the middle of his stupid name. My only real gimmes in this grid were JASMINE, SUNNI, and ICE-T (31D: "Home Invasion" rapper) / TEEN. Everything else took real, only occasionally pleasant work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


1969 Cream hit / THU 5-24-12 / Hot corner Yank / Commercial district / Capital known in literature as Thang Long / Youngest golfer to shoot his age in PGA event

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Constructor: Derik Moore

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "CROSSROADS" (62A: 1969 Cream hit ... or a hint to the seven "mathematical" clues in this puzzle) — answers are American cities; clues are written [number + number], representing the two ROADS that CROSS in each city

Word of the Day: RAMAL (9D: Of a branch) —

The Ramal, is a metro line, part of the Madrid Metro, with only two stations and a total length of 900 m. "Ramal" in Spanish means "branch". The line opened between Opera and Norte on 27 December 1925. At that time Norte was the main railway station for trains going to northern Spain and this short metro line was built to link the Norte railway station with line 2 of Madrid metro.
However in 1995 the Norte railway station was renamed Principe Pío because most long-distance trains traveling north were now terminating at the new Chamartín Station. The Norte station still has RENFE services, but it has been scaled down and only local trains stop here. Part of the former station complex was converted into a shopping centre. Also in 1995 Lines 10 and 6 were extended to Principe Pío to interchange with the Ramal. The Ramal uses 4 car trains of CAF Class 3000.

Read more:
• • •

Very, very easy. This is one of those puzzles where any sparkle it possesses is a result of the cluing—here, the "mathematical" bit. Otherwise, it's just random American cities. I'm guessing this started as a list of just that—American cities. Since virtually every major American city will have two major "roads" (i.e. numbered highways) running through it, all you really need to do is figure out which cities you can make symmetrical. Why this city and not that city? Who cares. Just plug in cities. That's how I solved all seven theme cities—I just substituted the clue [Major American city] for every equation and had precisely no trouble with any of them. Thankfully, the grid is a 78-worder, which means that the fill is not especially taxed by the relative density of the theme. In fact, I cringed only once, albeit hard—at RAMAL. Talk about your outliers. Maybe ALEPPO (20A: City of Syria) or FIONA Apple (22D: Apple on iTunes) is a *little* off the beaten path, but at least they are in someone's language. RAMAL!? I know a little Latin and still was like "RAM- ... IC? AL? There's an adjectival form of RAMUS now?" (RAMUS itself being pretty outré to begin with). Several online dictionaries define RAMAL as "Of or relating to a ramus." Thanks, dictionaries!

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 65 + 20 (BIRMINGHAM)
  • 4D: 55 + 40 (MEMPHIS)
  • 11D: 5 + 10 (LOS ANGELES)
  • 40A: 75 + 20 (ATLANTA)
  • 30D: 29 + 80 (OMAHA)
  • 44D: 75 + 94 (DETROIT)
  • 28D: 35 + 10 (SAN ANTONIO)
Still don't get how TONER is found on a drum (45A: It may be found on a drum). Is a "drum" a part of a printer? I'm guessing yes. Had some trouble coming up with SCALER (10D: Tackle box item) and went through a whole WCS / LAV / LOO thing at 41A: London facilities. Otherwise, straight shot.

  • 53A: Carpentry item in a common simile (DOORNAIL) — "simile" part is cute, but it also made getting the answer terribly easy.
  • 13D: Jungle camping supply (MESH) — I assume this is like netting? To keep out mosquitoes? I wrote in a terminal "S" and had to fix it later—one of only a small handful of write-overs. 
  • 52D: Syrian strongman (ASSAD) — Why are tyrants so damned crossworthy? OK, I'm thinking mainly of IDI AMIN, but still—I'd be happy to never to see this guy's name in the grid again.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


1978 Nicolette Larson hit / WED 5-23-12 / River past Ciudad Bolívar / Renault model of 1970s-80s / So-called Gateway to the Pacific Rim

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Constructor: Eric Williams

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: OBI-WAN KENOBI (36A: With 39-Across, Jedi master first seen on 5/25/77) — he was played by ALEC GUINNESS in "Star Wars" and EWAN MCGREGOR in those other horrible movies. Oh, and he fought DARTH / VADER (53D: With 9-Down, villain faced by 36-/39-Across) in "Star Wars"—classic LIGHT / SABER battle (45A: With 31-Across, favored weapon of 36-/39-Across).

Word of the Day: Lauren TEWES (46D: Lauren of "The Love Boat") —
Cynthia Lauren Tewes (play /ˈtws/; born October 26, 1953 in Braddock, Pennsylvania), known simply as Lauren Tewes, is an American actress best known for playing Cruise DirectorJulie McCoy on the sitcom The Love Boat beating out over 100 other actresses for the role.[5]Tewes was replaced on the series by Pat Klous in 1984 after a highly public battle with cocaine abuse, although she did reprise her role as a guest in a 1985 episode as well as in a 1997 episode of the sitcom Martin and a 1998 episode of the revival series Love Boat: The Next Wave. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is what happens when you observe that ALEC GUINNESS and EWAN MCGREGOR have the same number of letters. Not sure how you can love or hate this one. It's just full of symmetrical trivia. The end.

I have to say that VIN DIESEL (18A: "The Fast and the Furious" co-star) and Lauren TEWES (46D: Lauren of "The Love Boat") are kind of miscast. Unless they were in one of those damned prequels, which I have no reason to believe (or doubt).

"Hey, that looks expensive. It must've COSTED AREAR" (me trying to make those answers usable)

Honestly, I don't know what to say here. It's a puzzle. A very easy puzzle (I said 'Easy-Medium' only because with trivia puzzles, you get *very* slowed down if you don't know the trivia, and EWAN MCGREGOR may have given some solvers some trouble). I did not know RED DOG meant that "blitz"—weird, as I've watched football for a long time. I also stupidly had the NAVIES on land as ARMIES at first (6D: Combatants at Trafalgar). I think my combatants were at Trafalgar *Square*. Otherwise, aside from some stupid eye-skips that had me reading wrong clues, this one put up no fight. I did misunderstand "drive" at 24A: Fix, as a drive (REPAVE) at first. And I just had to trust that COSTED was the thing the clue says it is (52A: Figured the price of). Couldn't remember Vice President John Garner's middle name, mainly because ... Vice President who?  (eight years, FDR's VP). This was an overly name-y puzzle with some ugliness in the middle (NOLDOLNOS!). But mostly it was just ... there. Mostly competently filled. Nothing to rave or complain about.


  • 13A: 1978 Nicolette Larson hit "___ Love" ("LOTTA") — wow, it's like this puzzle knew when I first began listening to the radio incessantly. Total gimme. 

  • 7D: River past Ciudad Bolívar (ORINOCO) — because of the Enya song "ORINOCO Flow," I associate this river with Ireland. 
  • 36D: Answer to the old riddle "What's round on the sides and high in the middle?" (OHIO) — and people say riddles aren't funny or remotely entertaining. Wait, people don't say that. I say that. How 'bout [What Zeus said in the middle of having sex with yet another nymph]?
  • 48A: Issuance of Pontius Pilate, e.g. (DECREE) — "Issuance?" Sounds like the clue was going for some kind of bodily discharge. 
  • 59D: So-called "Gateway to the Pacific Rim," informally (LAX) — flown in and out of there many, many times, and never heard that. But then I've never been to the Pacific Rim. Wait, is NZ Pacific Rim? If so, I'll be using this alleged "Gateway" in a little over a month. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


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