Makes like Chuck Berry / THU 8-2-12 / Doodlebug / Revolution brings it / Relatives of currants / Original Dungeons & Dragons co. / Non-deluxe sofa covering

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Constructor: Xan Vongsathorn

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Duck, Duck ... Goose!" — Five rebus squares get DUCKs before the final answer gets GOOSEd.

Word of the Day: AXILLA (16A: Armpit) —
The axilla (or armpit, underarm, or oxter) is the area on the human body directly under the joint where the arm connects to the shoulder. It also provides the under-arm sweat gland. (wikipedia)
• • •
Long-time-lurker, first-time-blogger Tyler Clark filling in this Thursday for Mr. Parker. I'm no speed demon–no Mario ANDRETTI (17A: Racing legend who voices a character in "Cars"); today's puzzle took me 17 minutes, but I suppose if I have any place of note in the crossword community, it's that for the last couple of years I have organized a crossword tournament in Youngstown, Ohio, which has the likely distinction as the only puzzle event in the country with a cookie table.

Not too tough, thankfully. I'm glad I'm not blogging last week's Thursday w/uu puzzleOY VEY (35D: "Oh brother!"). I landed the first theme answer as I filled in the northeast, starting with SLALOM (18A: Take turns skiing?) and then knocking out most of the downs, starting with a guess at NAS (9D: "Illmatic" and "Stillmatic" rapper) before arriving at 14A: Kind of session. I only had one or two letters, but my gut just told me this was a DUCK rebus. Whether that meant we were dealing with fowl, cuisine, or paint ball maneuvers, I had yet to discover. For some reason, though, until I ENDED (49A: Open-____), I could not figure out the X, as in OXLIKE (10D: Strong, say) and AXILLA–hence our word of the day.

Once I saw the DUCKs were part of both across and down answers, the rebus squares came pretty quickly. And I laughed out loud when I got to the clincher. Let's take a look...

Theme answers:
  • 1A: SITTING [DUCK] (Vulnerable one)
  • 8D: [DUCK]PIN (Something short found in an alley)
  • 14D: LAME [DUCK] (Kind of session)
  • 26A: PEKING [DUCK] (Dish often served with hoisin sauce)
  • 22A: [DUCK] WALKS (Makes like Chuck Berry)
    Did NOT know this one; just got some crosses and guessed.
  • 22D: [DUCK] SOUP (A cinch)
  • 36D: DEAD [DUCK] (Toast, with "a")
    I first read "Toast" as a verb, but JOLLY GOOD FELLOW seemed a bit long, and I had to get 53-across first to read the clue correctly.
  • 53A: DAISY [DUCK] (Disney character with long eyelashes)
    Even though–or perhaps because–I was born in Orlando, I keep wanting to read this answer as Daisy Duke.
  • 50A: [DUCK] BILLED (Platypus-like, in a way)
    Fortunately, I watch a lot of Phineas and Ferb on The Disney Channel with the kids.
  • 50D: [DUCK] POND (Centerpiece of many a park)
  • 56D: MON[GOOSE] (Animal in a Kipling story)
    Is this in The Jungle Book, or something else? It's sad that I only know the Disney animated film. You're probably sensing a theme in my cultural awareness at this point...
  • 68A: [GOOSE]BERRIES (Relatives of currants)
    I had CHERRIES here, before I realized this was the final theme answer.
OBLATES (43D: Monastery residents who have not taken monastic vows) was another stumper for me. The only monastery-related word I knew that fit was ABBOTTS, so I went with that until I could no longer justify it, then filled in OBLATES on crosses alone.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor visits Yankee Stadium
  • 54A: "Catch Me If You Can" airline (PANAM) — Delightful, if atypically jazzy, score by John Williams in this film. 
  • 28A: First name on the Supreme Court (SONIA) — I've gotten accustomed to ELENA being the go-to Supreme Court first name with ALITO the popular last name.
  • 37A: Something you might pick in Hawaii (UKE) — Somehow I read "Pick up" and argued with myself between LEI and TAN before WONKA (23D: Candy man played by Depp) set me straight.
  • 45A: Doodlebug, e.g. (LARVA) — Given my failure with AXILLA, you may have guessed that life sciences are not my strong suit. I missed the fact that a doodlebug might be a real animal and was picturing someone drawing on a notepad and talking on the phone. This is your bonus WOTD.
    The antlion larva is often called "doodlebug" in North America because of the odd winding, spiralling trails it leaves in the sand while looking for a good location to build its trap, as these trails look like someone has doodled in the sand. (wikipedia)
  • 20A: Word with house or song (SPARROW) – Again, life sciences fail. While I might associate the bird sparrow with a singing bird, I'm not sure I had ever heard of the house sparrow or song sparrow.

Signed, Tyler Clark, Fan of CrossWorld


Pooloniousmonk 1:53 AM  

I liked this puzzle. Another pan-vowel. That makes about 70 in a row, but I am not counting. I almost had a natick, but I have a system for resolving them. I think about it, and put in the letter that makes the most sense. I suppose I should test the efficacy of my system by putting in letters without giving the matter any thought and see how that compares to my special thoughtful approach but my research grant from DARPA has not yet come through. I do believe, however, that this system of thinking about a problem crossing and putting in the letter that makes the most sense is a good one and I commend it to all.

Oh yes, and a nice write-up. I thought it was interesting, and your reference to yesterday's vowel challenge resonated.

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

As a Minnesotan, I solved this puzzle very confused as to what a MONGREY DUCK and GREY DUCKBERRIES are.

Deb 2:15 AM  

Cute puzzle, nice write-up. I had never heard of a cookie table or an insect-variety doodlebug, so it was fun to learn about those things.

I threw in Elena instead of SONIA without even thinking, but the crosses cleared that up quickly. Also had MONduck and duckBERRIES, which obviously made no sense, but other than having heard people say DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE!, I have utterly no clue what it means or refers to.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

Finally made it home and it sure feels good. OY VEY, it sure is toasty in the middle of this fine country of ours.

Caught on early on with PEKING DUCK, one of my favorite things to eat. LAME DUCK followed shortly thereafter. Remembered AXILLA from previous puzzles.

This is the only island that the MONGOOSE wasn't introduced to help kill rats. Plan kind of backfired when they decided that eating ground laying bird eggs were tastier and easier to find. Kauai is fiercely protective of it's sea birds and MONGOOSEs are strictly verboten here. I don't know if some were smuggled in by chicken haters or if they were just stowaways on some CRAFT but they have trapped and killed two in the past few months. Early in July I was slowing for construction work and one darted across the highway right in front of me. I called the Invasive Species Hot Line and spent about half an hour answering questions as to the description of the unwanted guest, from the shape of his/her ears to body length vs. tail length, etc. More traps will be set in the area.

A fine DUCKy Thursday puzzle, thank you Xan.

retired_chemist 2:20 AM  

After all those DUCKs, which I figured out early on, I started with MONDUCK/DUCKBERRIES until I recalled DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE. laughed out loud when I got it. BTW Wikipedia also mentions the Minnesota GRAY DUCK version referred to above.

A fun puzzle and basically easy. Had ELENA (Kagan) instead of SONIA (Sotomayor) at first for 28A. Both 5 letters, 3 vowels and 2 common consonants. We oughta be seeing both of them often.

Parsed 65A as NEWER A - WTF? Looked again - D'oh! Never head of PLEATHER and was a but surprised when Mr. Happy Pencil didn't object to it.


jae 2:56 AM  

Nicely done Tyler.  AXILLA I knew but....Dang!  DNF two days in a row.  I'm probably due for an EEG.  I knew MONduck (that one I should have known) and duckBERRIES didn't look right, but I didn't change them until I confirmed my suspicions with google.   Then GOOSE dawned.  Very clever and mostly easy for me except for the part where I DNF.  That's what I get for assuming this was a run-of-the-mill rebus.  Nice one Xan, you got me.

And, I have this image of Ralphie running around in circles in the Simpson house saying DUCK....but never getting to GOOSE.

Andretti Carla Mongooses 3:00 AM
Laughed when I saw GOOSE, bec I'm back home in Minneapolis...

Years ago, while living in San Francisco, I met a woman named Heidi who would not believe I was from Minnesota and not a New York Jew.
(I swear, I've never lived there, tho my dad was from Brooklyn, my mom from the Bronx...mixed marriage)

So she suddenly blurted out, "Duck...Duck..." and I shouted back "Gray Duck!!!!!"

My Minnesota bona fides were established and we went on to become friends.
(I felt like one of those captured German spies who had to name the members of the '38 Yankees, or whatever.)

Had lunch today with the lovely and scarily talented Andrew Ries, who has the most authentic Minnesota accent I've ever heard...
(Those of you who didn't check out his rose garden puzzles when he sub-blogged should do so!

One other Duck Duck Goose story...

On "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" a few years back, a guy sitting in the hotseat got a $100 question asking which word follows "Duck...Duck..."

In addition to the "correct" answer GOOSE, was the choice "Duck".
So, thank god he wasn't a True Minnesotan, bec that would have been a plausible answer!

Anyway, loved this puzzle. Can not believe how many words/phrases have DUCK in them, Xan masterfully found ten. I'm INAWE...Beautiful!!!

@Tyler Clark-not-to-be-confused-with-Hinman
Great write having two WOTDs...and YouTube Chuck Berry doing a DUCK Walk and you will realize you probably do know what that is after all!

@Doug Swedish-Sounding Peterson,
A (One revolution) DAY later, I'm still chuckling over IMOKYOUREOK.

These reveals lately are punchy and fabulous!!!

syndy 3:37 AM  

YUP this one was pure DUCKSOUP...until it wasn't! very easy but the DUCK DUCK GOOSE was so sweet it couldn't be resisted.In very early medival times OBLATES were often children whose parents had dedicated them to the monastary at birth.

Leroy Parquet 3:42 AM  

Why a duck? Why a no a chicken?

Unknown 5:45 AM  

@Leroy...exactly what I was thinking.

Love those Rebuses....keep them coming.

Great write-up, Tyler. I don't solve for speed either, just for fun especially that very satisfying A-HA when I discover that the puzzle is a rebus or that after wondering what a sparrot is, i change 47A from yell at to bellow...and VOILA...there it all is. Then from some lost corner of my brain came the little voice reminding me that I knew the word oblate but probably hadn't seen it and certainly not used it in the last 20 years. A-HA indeed.

Great Thursday all around.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Kipling mongoose = rikki tikki tavi

Z 8:06 AM  

OY VEY. Big fat FWWA (finished with wrong answers). MOoduck/duck berries/oO REALLY. That's bad enough, but I also have yELL OW/OyLATES and AXILmA/AmONG.

I was so focused at the end on Kansas, the last region to fill, that I never went back around the grid to consider OyLATES and AXILmA. I like to think I would have cleaned those two up. oO REALLY seems perfectly sarcastic to me, though, and a MOo DUCK seems likely for a children's story. What I know about berries comes from crosswrod puzzles. So, with no Mr. Happy Pencil to alert me to my error in the paper version, I think MOo DUCK was staying no matter what.

Nice puzzle.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

59 DOWN! My Astronomy 101 tells me that ONE REVOLUTION is a YEAR. One ROTATION is a DAY. Two very different concepts, no?

Sue McC 8:19 AM  

Loved this! Super easy for a Thursday. I got the theme right away with SITTING DUCK PIN, and that helped with the rest. And, magically, the G of MONGOOSE was the last letter I entered and it made me smile. I admit, when I encountered the first couple theme answers I thought something like "he built a puzzle around DUCK???" but by the end he had won me over.

Lindsay 8:23 AM  

Got SITTING/duck/PIN, then chicken/SOUP/WALKS (not familiar with the Chuck Berry oeuvre), so I was slowed down by looking for different kinds of fowl, not just ducks. PEKING/?/LAME might have clued me in sooner, except I had 13D As ONe instead of ALONG, thus the NE was my last corner to complete.

On the other hand, looking for a variety of birds means I didn't fall into any MONduck trap.

orangeblossomspecial 8:31 AM  

Thanks to @ Leroy Parquet at 3:42 for the Marx Brothers routine.

An old radio skit involved Joe Penner "Wanna buy a duck?"

Guy Mitchell sang 20D "SPARROW in the treetop".

evil doug 8:39 AM  

After my year of pilot training, my new bride and I had to endure three months in Little Rock in C-130 school. When I ordered my phone service, the sweet young Arkansan with Bell heard "Doug" as "Duck"---probably a perfectly normal nickname down yonder---and that's how my bills were addressed. (My classmate there, also bound for Dyess AFB after training, made sure that the call-sign "Duck" survived for the next five years of active duty.)

38A "Self-gratifying episode" and 61D "Organ that's sensitive to vibrations" could have gone a whole 'nother direction....


Loren Muse Smith 8:48 AM  

I joined this site last December, I think, and back then it would have taken me a while to figure out today’s trick. But thanks to the discussions here, to ACME’s tutelage, to the write ups (thanks, Tyler, Rex, and all the others), I took one look at this Thursday grid and knew instantly that something was up.

Early erasures:
cherries – duckberries – GOOSE BERRIES, twist – DUCK WALK (clever, clever gimme W there), rooms – WARDS,armed – eared (huh?? I’m open-eared?) – ENDED. Terrific misdirects.

How ‘bout “self gratifying episode” crossing “question of self doubt?” Nice. And OYVEY, AYE, OLE – yeah!

@retired_chemist – your NEWER A is funny. Can someone get Hester a NEWER A?

The fun theme brings back vivid memories of sitting on the black top at Rivermont Elementary, willing Jan Stott to tap my head and quietly say, “GOOSE.” I was faster than she was.

goose gossage 8:49 AM  

As pointed out in NYT Wordplay,
Duck Duck Goose is a children's game.

joho 9:00 AM  

@evil doug I hereby dub you evil duck!

I got the rebus quickly at LAMEDUCK and happily solved from there. The only place I had trouble was like @Z with yELLat but that mistake was shortlived.

Discovering GOOSE was the icing on the rebus cake! In fact, that final touch literally GOOSEd the theme.

This was a lot of fun, thank you, Xan ... well done!

And thank you, too, Tyler, for your great write up.

WesIsland 9:12 AM  

If you'd like to know more about mongooses on Hawaii, I did a blog about them when I lived on the Big Island:


(We've since recently relocated to Charleston, SC.)

jackj 9:21 AM  

DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE? And three more DUCK(s) and then it’s PLEATHER? Really? NOREALLY? OYVEY! I thought this was meant to be a kid’s puzzle, maybe a “Jack and Jill” reject but a kid’s rebus nevertheless, so what’s the Raison D’ETRE here? OBLATES, too? Huh!?

Why, it was enough to make one shout, BELLOW even, especially when the constructor only sprung for a ONE SCOOP sundae (and with Willy WONKA looking on). For shame, Xan, for shame.

When I finally got GOOSE(d) between MON and the BERRIES, things began to lighten up somewhat and the paddling of DUCK(s) were less a bother but there were still the Zen riddles to be dealt with, EGOTRIP or ICESKATES; ANSEL or ANDRETTI; ANI or EREI; SONIA or IRENE; AXILLA or LARVA and the mother of all imponderables, “Was there really a DIARIST other than Anais Nin?”

Lots and lots of fun, Xan; a clever theme and wonderful fill, too. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Carola 9:28 AM  

Some EGO TRIP for me - not! Until I came here, I'd ranked the theme as ONE-SCOOP, half way between OY VEY and IN AWE, because I completely missed the GOOSE. (Feel OXLIKE, as in "dumb as an.")

Loved PLEATHER, DRESSY, ANDRETTI, NO REALLY and even those OBLATES, who apparently have been hanging out with Hecuba in some recess of my memory for decades without my being aware of them.

Thanks for the fun write-up, Tyler. Xan Vongsathorn, I'll try to be ready for your CRAFT next time! :)

evil doug 9:34 AM  

Here you go, Joho-------->

evil duck

oldbizmark 9:42 AM  

i found the lost wednesday puzzle. this was easy... too easy. yesterday was stupid hard.

dk 9:46 AM  

Greetings from Utah where coffee is still legal.

Well I finally get who DEADDUCK is toast. As Andrea posts I grew up playing DUCK DUCK GOOSE and when I came to MN and worked with children at THe Wilder Center (named after you know who) I learned they ended DUCK DUCK with gray duck. As a New Yorker I of course thought -- are these people so flippin stupid they have to call a goose…

Had yelled for BELLLOW till the SPARROW bit me.

🐍🐍🐍🐍 (4 snakes for the MONGOOSE) Xan a Thursday that was just plain, not TWOD, fun.

Not an Astronomer 9:47 AM  

To 8:11 AM Anon: One of my dictionaries define reolve as rotate, which means the words can be used interchangeably. Alas, in the world of crossword cluing technical terms are sometimes used improperly.

dk 9:47 AM  

replace who with how please and thank you

John V 10:03 AM  

Fun theme. DNF East: TWOD/OYVEY/LARVA triple Natick. Also, kept wondering what a DUCK berry/MONduck might be. Just did not see the theme.

Here is an eternal truth, so pay attention. Put in a 14 hour day that ends at 10 p.m., get up at 6 to do a Thursday puzzle and ... OY VEY. Frustrating. Great puzzle; wish I'd had more puzzle synapses available, but so it goes.

Okay, end of pity party. EGO TRIP tonight -- US Air to CT.

Milford 10:06 AM  

Very fun puzzle, thank you Xan.
I found out what happens when you try to watch the Olympics while solving a Thursday - at least in my case, you forget it's Thursday, get half-way through, get stuck, and then think hey, genius, it might be a rebus. Duh. Figured it out on DAISYDUCK.
DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE was played on days in elementary school gym class when the teacher couldn't think of anything actually athletic to do. It usually made me very anxious, because it was more of a blood sport where instead of getting lightly tapped on the head, you would get shoved in the back or cuffed in the ear. Plus, there was always the ridiculousness that who someone tapped with goose Meant Something (eg he likes her, visa versa, blah, blah, blah). So, intense overall.
Thanks Tyler for the write up. Anyone providing a cookie tray sounds like a cool dude.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Fun puzzle. After I got duckbill the rest was pretty easy. Not even a google

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

One thing in life that's always amazed me was the inability of people to recognize the singularity of their upbringing. An example would be Romney, who swears he's a self-made man, though he was provided with a moral code that making money was the be-all and end-all of business, an education which reinforced that, and a bankroll to get started. He wasn't self-made, he was created to be what he is. At the other end of the spectrum are those with horrible upbringing who insist on dragging that ethos into their present, even though they've achieved their way out of it.

On that note, I'll spend the rest of the day re-examining my life, based on the fact that I've been denied/spared any knowledge of Duck, Duck, ... Goose as a child's game.

GILL I. 10:21 AM  

The puzzle was a puzzle for me. I put all the ducks in order and came to a halt with MONGOOSE. I wanted to somehow fit QUACK into that little berries corner.
Was just not liking this at all since I've never heard of DUCK DUCK GOOSE.
Then I read @Andretti Carla and I'm even more confused as I'm trying to figure out the joke because I know there is one. Then @Z talks about a MOO DUCK but, thank you @retired_chemist for that clarity.
So I go back and draw a little circle on my paper with the GOOSE at the bottom and thought "well I'll be a blue nosed gopher."
Good fun puzzle - good fun write-up.

r.alphbunker 10:37 AM  

Nice puzzle that did not put up much of a fight. Got SITTING[DUCK] right away and then I checked 68A to see if there was any rebus symmetry and was "rewarded" with [GOOSE]BERRIES. So the theme was water birds? Anyway as the puzzle proceeded DUCK kept showing up so I finished with no errors not understanding what the lone GOOSE was all about. Googling fixed that.

Pete 10:42 AM  

I've decided to skip work and stay home today, possibly with my head under the covers.

A flock of birds decided to roost directly above my car last night, and my door handle is totally encased in bird droppings. Totally. I'd blame the ducks and geese, except they don't roost in trees.

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Very fun! My solving experience seemed to be a little different though because the first rebus square I got was the goose. Next came duck-billed and I was off to the races.
I've never heard the gray goose thing.
Don't know what a duck pin is. As in bowling?
@ jae, I had the same Simpsons moment. Ralphie is hilarious.
Evil Duck! Love the new avatar and the story that spawned it.
I've never seen anyone pluck a uke. Strum yes. @chefwen?

Tita 10:46 AM  

Never did Monday, haven't finished Wed, haven't even started Thursday...
I picked the wrong week to quit puzzling/blogging...

Because I have just signed up for Lollapuzzola!
Hope to see y'all there...

Bob Kerfuffle 11:19 AM  

Re: 43 D -- Now we know why Planet Earth is not yet a Heavenly Paradise -- It is only an OBLATE Spheroid.

Carola 11:42 AM  

@Milford -
I'm totally with you on the dread-and-anxiety-provoking elements of DUCK DUCK GOOSE, its high humiliation potential only exceeded by Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Drop the Clothespin in the Bottle.

jae 11:44 AM  

Here's Ralphie

Loren Muse Smith 11:53 AM  

@Milford and Carola - No! The absolute BIGGEST pressure was being picked to run in a hotly-contested game of Red Rover! How humiliating when you couldn't break through, hitting those arms and just bouncing back on your rear.

Good times.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

As Gill I. P. hinted, more recognition should be made of the placement of the rebi squares.

Especially for those unfamiliar with the game, kids would sit in a circle, and the one who is it goes around the outside of the circle tapping each kid on the head - duck, duck , duck...

When he says goose, he has to continue all the way around the circle while being chased by the goosed kid, and he is safe if he can make it back to the spot where the goose was before getting caught.

Then the goose is the next one to play.

So the ducks (and goose) are arranged in a circle, and the rebus squares have symmetry - an admirable achievement.

Hand up for MONduck/duckBERRIES btw.

Good write-up too, but perhaps it is sparrow house/song, not the other way round?


Numbers Guy 12:05 PM  

liked it alot, but was thrown off by 20D clue which i didnt like.

i dont understand why it wasnt "Dandy man played by Depp" with 23D just 2 away.

though that would have made one wonder - when did he do a biography of adam ant, which also fits.

V. 12:20 PM  

Twod? What's a twod, I kept thinking. And then it jumped out at me. In threed.

Oy vey.

retired_chemist 12:34 PM  

I had not noticed that the DUCKS and GOOSE are arranged appropriately to the game. What a blast! Thanks, RT AKA Anon 12:01.

JFC 12:47 PM  

@r.alphbunker - What are we going to do with @Anon JLB?

jberg 12:47 PM  

I started with ONE SCOOP and it all filled in nicely except for the East - had to go away for awhile before I finally saw TWO D (somehow I wanted that plane to have something to do with TWA), then it was all clear. A few minor problems - tWistS before DUCK WALKS, StockS before SHARES, but it was smooth - and the final goose was hilarious. I've picked gooseberries, so it wasn't hard to get, but still hilarious.

And I was listening to a Song SPARROW while I solved, so that helped! (Tyler, you may know the house sparrow as "English sparrow," if that helps).

By the way, where's Rex? All these guest writeups are fun - but did he get so excited by his success Tuesday that he's spending all his time constructing now?

Mel Ott 12:50 PM  

I don't know whether this is the derivation of the usage, but a couple of decades ago the Giants had a defensive back named Elvis Patterson who was nicknamed "Toast" by his teammates because he was "burned" so often, i.e. beat for a touchdown or a long gain. It wasn't long after that I began hearing phrases like "I'm toast" or "He's toast", meaning a goner or DEAD DUCK.

GILL I. 12:50 PM  

Well, because of this puzzle, I started looking up all the other games I've never played. @LMS Milford and Carola I think I may have you beat...The very first game (and last) I played was Spin the Bottle. I think I was about 14 and had never been kissed. I was a newly babtized Yank and this was supposedly the hottest game in town and if you wanted to "belong" you had to play it. Well, my first spin landed on an 11 year old. I think I scared the crap out of him (he probably ended up as a politician) because I threw my arms around him ala Dorothy Lamour in her Road to...series. He missed my up-turned puckered mouth and slobbered in my eyes. To make matters worse, he started crying....

JFC 12:51 PM  

I would say that I have never heard of Duck Duck Goose but then Deb wouldn't believe me, so I will only say that I have never heard of duckberries....


DigitalDan 1:24 PM  

"Catch Me If You Can" Broadway Score, by Shaimann and Wittmann who also scored the great music in the TV series "Smash", is one of the best in recent memory, in my opinion. Show didn't run very long, though. Apropos nothing, I guess.

Sparky 1:33 PM  

Liked this puzzle. Thanks Van. Alas, DNF. Had vaguely heard of DUCK DUCK GOOSE but it never registered. Never played it. Had duckBERRIES. Games provoke not such great memories. I was always poorly coordinated. Pat Sullivan, much quicker than I, would yell "First," and I'd be the steady ender even though it was my jump rope. Boo Hoo.

Got it with DAISYDUCK and waddled to DUCKWALKS. Big Ah Hah when I saw the theme here. I've been caught more than once on TWOD. Liked clue for SLALOM. Never heard of PLEATHER and even thought another DUCK might go in there.

Interesting story @chefwen, Thanks for the Ralphie @jae. Good write up Tyler.

See you on Lexington Ave. @Tita.

Bird 1:46 PM  

Great write-up Tyler and great puzzle Xan.

Clever theme and a nice treat with the Rebus squares arranged in a circle with GOOSE at the bottom. However I needed to rewrite that bottom square because once I discovered the Rebus I just started writing DUCK in the obvious squares. Of course, MONDUCK and DUCKBERRIES didn’t make sense.

Other corrections included REALLY(?) at 9A, ELENA at 28A, START at 31A and CHANGE at 65A.

@Evil – LOL at new directions for 2 clues

Tomorrow is Friday!

Clark 2:14 PM  

I am back from a month-long trip to foreign places with very little internet access. I kept up with the puzzles, but I was always many days behind. Jet-lag definitely affects my crossword abilities.

When I was a kid I figured out that if you followed your "duck, duck, duck . . ." with a mono-tone "goose" — rather than shouting out "goose!" with great emphasis, the goose would not even notice that I had said "goose" until I was already all the way around the circle. I was undefeated from that point on.

Lewis 3:18 PM  

The puzzle was harder for me than it was for a lot of you; I found the clues to be tricky. Eventually things fell. I really did like this puzzle. It felt fresh.

sanfranman59 3:43 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 15:38, 18:55, 0.83, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:40, 9:22, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Loren Muse Smith 3:46 PM  

@Gill I.P. - hilarious story!! The coup de grace is the crying part!

I have some Spin the Bottle stories, too, but my non-puzzling mother now follows this blog. Kind of creepy. Hi, mom,

My husband, son, daughter, and I used to go outside for a spiritied game of Four Square after supper - the kids were in middle school. Less than one minute into the game, it never failed to get really, really competitive and ugly and someone would finally quit, disgusted.

I played Kick the Can growing up, and we still play it at our farm. I can still do an impressive Commando Dive/Roll into hay that's about to be cut.

jackj 4:05 PM  

Gill I. P.@12:50PM-

Now, if you had given him the Virna Lisi treatment instead of the Lamour grope, he might have hustled you into the broom closet and it could have been cheers, not tears.

Terrific story; thanks for sharing it!

Stevlb1 5:16 PM  

Even I thought it was easy!

Mighty Nisden 5:20 PM  

Had ido for 41A forever which gave me colD DUCK which sorta makes sense. Once I got rid of that the rest came easy.

What with watching the olympics every night until midnight (Without the DVR I could never watch so much of it) and the total lack of enough sleep, the only thing I missed was the GOOSE. duck BERRIES sounded wrong as did MONduck. Ug. But never got the DUCK DUCK GOOSE connection.

Good Job Xan!!

I always love Thursday puzzles.
The only regret was that turDUCKen (a chicken wrapped in a duck stuffed into a turkey then roasted) wasn't in there!

RTWhite 6:10 PM  

Hi Tyler!

Nice job on the puzzle commentary!
Are you going to be at Pittsburgh next week?

Bob White

Tita 6:46 PM  

Cookie table!! I must hie me to this tournament...I brought a batch of my delicious Cheater Squares to the Westport tournament...and alas, don't have enough advance notice to bake them for Lollapuzzola...

Just loved this theme - Got the DUCKy part of the theme straightaway at 1A/8D and smiled, then laughed out loud as I entered GOSSEBERRIES, which I recently read were related to currants.

Refused to consider anything other than NXS when confronted with N_S and a rapper clue, so DNF, since I had no idea how to resolve xXILLA.

DEADDUCK was my last theme entry, caus I couldn't let go of the verb.

@Clark - so clever! So I take it you also dit not break out in a run when you quietly said "goose"...who knew tehre was so much strategy and depth to that game!

Thanks Tyler, thanks Xan.

Milford 7:39 PM  

@lms and @carola - yes, Red Rover was another game of high anxiety for me! More painful than Duck, Duck, Goose, too.

@Gill I.P. - loved your Spin The Bottle story/confession. Growing up is just filled with humiliation, isn't it?

@Clark - Yes! Your strategy was absolutely the way to do it. There was also the technique with the one being tagged goose where you lunged and tried to ankle-grab the tagger, and not waste valuable time getting off the ground.

retired_chemist 7:49 PM  

I never knew DUCK DUCK GOOSE was a contact sport....

Sandy K 8:06 PM  

Really enjoyed the theme and the write -up today!

Loved the rebus, didn't realize where it was going until I hit MONduck...?

So glad I read Rikki Tikki Tavi with my 5th grade class! Aha- MONGOOSE! DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE!
So fun!!

Loren Muse Smith 8:20 PM  

No one has even mentioned DUCK DUCK GOOSE's cousin, "Drop the Handkerchief" - a big challenge in my Brownie and Girl Scout days. I dominated.

Carola 8:22 PM  

@Gill I.P. - Wonderful story!

Evan 8:59 PM  

Checking in late, but all I can say is....well done, Xan. Even though I swung and missed on one square in the grid (the GOOSE square), I just have to applaud at how clever that is.

I hope to see others at Lollapuzzoola on Saturday.

chefwen 9:19 PM  

@Two Ponies - Not a Ukulele player so I looked up "How to Play a Ukulele" by Roy T. Cone, found out that is is plucked or picked using either your thumb or a felt pick. Learn something new every day!

Tyler Clark 1:16 AM  

Hi Bob, Didn't know about the Pittsburgh tourney next week. Thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately, I'll be out of town, but I'll keep it in mind for the future! Cheers, Tyler

Anonymous 1:16 AM  

Twod cooked my goose; the rest was ducky.

Explanations are welcome.

sanfranman59 2:53 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:28, 6:49, 0.95, 28%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:12, 8:57, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:43, 11:47, 0.99, 53%, Medium
Thu 15:56, 18:55, 0.84, 22%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 4:59, 4:38, 1.08, 75%, Challenging
Wed 6:16, 5:54, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 9:34, 9:22, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Tita 8:46 AM  

@Anon @ 1:16...

Anonymous 10:49 PM  

You are correct. I thought the same thing. Even if the words are synonyms in common use, when referring to the unit, DAY is a rotation and YEAR is a revolution. Tsk Tsk.

Spacecraft 11:54 AM  

@acme: I remember that Millionaire show, and remember the horror of thinking: OMG if that was me up there I'd have to blow a lifeline! I had NEVER heard of such a thing! So when I came to the SE I knew that, symmetrically, the 68 square should be a rebus. OK, I could buy duckBERRIES, but MONduck??? And at last, the memory of that show came back, and IMSET.

Took me a while wrestling with some Disney character __ISY_ before the aha! hit, so I have to give it one of my reverse ratings: a medium-easy. Once onto the fowl play, I finished pretty fast.

There's so much wonderful fill here--and such bad clunkers, too. I hate TWOD and the dreaded Roman numeral nonsense. It's also littered with partials (SOA, GOTA, EREI) and an obscure acronym (TSR).

But for the rest of it, not a bad price to pay. I'll just mention three of them, centrally connected: if I'm on an EGOTRIP, SHOULDI BELLOW? Good stuff, Xan.

rain forest 1:34 PM  

There's an indecipherable capcha lurking down there, but I'll persevere.
Fun puzzle, and like yesterday's reveal, the "clincher" was brilliant. I had "monduck" in there and thought, well if there's a mongoose, why not a monduck? And then it hit me. Good laugh. Good puzzle, and even the RRN was OK figuring it out.
Now to see if I'm a robot, or not. Robot. One more try.

Dirigonzo 4:24 PM  

I had the two ducks on the west coast in place when the goose showed up in the deep south and I thought, "Oh cool - duck, duck goose". I didn't even suspect there were 3 more ducks waiting to be discovered and things got remarkably easier when I opened my mind to the possibility that I wasn't done with the theme answers.

Folks around here don't "Go in circles..." when we ICESKATE - we go any direction we damn well please.

DMGrandma 6:16 PM  

I'm one of apparently deprived people who never encountered Duck, Duck, Goose. Unfortunatly, I've also never seen a duck pin. Thus, when I got GOOSE at square 68, I figured, to fit what seemed to be a symmetry of rebus squares, it also belonged at square 8. So, I have the unhappy distinction of ending up with a SITTINGgoose hatching a goosePIN! Alas, also never played Red Rover. But I'll smile and try to carry on!

Dirigonzo 8:37 PM  

@DMGrandma - at least you get extra points for originality; many others reasoned that square 68 should be the same rebus as all the other and wound up with MONduck/duckBERRIES. And I think a SITTINGgoose would be just as vulnerable as a SITTINGDUCK as they both would be an easy (and illegal) target for hunters, which I believe is the origin of the term. I have no rationale for goosePIN, though, so you're on your own there.

Anonymous 9:55 PM  

Sorry, another late/syndicated comment:1st)Pleather=Plastic Leather, i.e. Vinyl/Naugahyde
2nd) Another Variation on the Duck/Goose thing: 2 Golfers out on the course. A waterfowl flies by & 1st golfer says to the other, "A fine looking duck." The other argues,"No, it was a duck." Over a few holes, this disagreement goes on, "Duck","Goose", etc. Finally on a late hole, the 1st golfer hears another yell,"Fore", & tries to warn his partner, "Duck!" The other replies, "Goose!" Smack!!!

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

Stupid me. Obviously "the other argues", "goose."

HC Visigoth 1:18 PM  

[In my Werner (son of Otto) Klemperer voice]:


(Because "Clarrrk!" sounds too much like Shatner, you see.)

Here's why: first off, obviously I'm a denizen of syndi-land.

Went through the puzzle at a nice clip, got the theme (I thought).

Made it down to the southeast, and thought, "Huh. 'Monduck'? Is that a thing?"

Googled it, and one of the top hits was this here page, so I thought, "Aha! It is a thing!" and (without reading the actual page yet) declared victory, still slightly puzzled as to what the theme was. You know: "Why a duck?"

But if Rex Parker says there are monducks, clearly there are monducks in the world.

Settled down to read all about it... .

So, congratulations: "Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle" is, it appears, now the official Google Home of the Monduck.

Dirigonzo 1:26 PM  

@HC Visigoth - that's hilarious. I think Rex should put that on the banner at the top of the blog: "Official Google Home of the Monduck".

BClub 7:54 AM  

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thank you once again.
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