Elephantine walker in Empire Strikes Back / SUN 10-21-12 / Fictional Miss Jane / Warner who played Charlie Chan / Bambi villain / University in Center Valley Pa / Cash back from online purchase / Persuasive Dr Seuss character / Port from which Amelia Earhart left on her last flight

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Constructor: Caleb Rasmussen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Bypassing Security — puzzle note:

This puzzle's grid represents a sealed vault and its well-guarded surroundings. After completing the crossword, start in the upper-left corner and find a safe path to an important item. Then determine where to use this item to access the vault and its contents.  
To enter the contest, identify the following 10 things: a) the name of the "important item," b) where to use it, c) seven hazards to avoid, and d) the contents of the vault. Each of these things is named by a single word.
When you have found the 10 words, send them in an e-mail to: crossword@nytimes.com. Twenty-five correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Oct. 23, will receive copies of "The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzles 2013 Weekly Planner Calendar" (Andrews McMeel). Only one entry per person, please. The answer grid will appear next week. The winners' names will appear in the issue of Nov. 4. 

Word of the Day: W. AVERELL Harriman (11D: Diplomat W. ___ Harriman) —
William Averell Harriman (November 15, 1891 – July 26, 1986) was an AmericanDemocratic Party politician, businessman, and diplomat. He was the son of railroad baronE. H. Harriman. He served as Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Trumanand later as the 48th Governor of New York. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952, and again in 1956 when he was endorsed by President Truman but lost to Adlai Stevenson both times. Harriman served President Franklin D. Roosevelt as special envoy to Europe and served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and U.S. Ambassador to Britain. He served in numerous U.S. diplomatic assignments in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He was a core member of the group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men." (wikipedia)
• • •
So, a contest.

Will requested that I not give away any contest-related information about the puzzle, which essentially means not showing the grid or talking about the theme ... so ... how 'bout them Tigers?!

I will publish the completed grid on the website's Facebook page on Tuesday after 6pm—good for the nearly 2000 of you who have LIKED that page (19A: Gave props on Facebook). Also, I will probably go back in and add the completed grid to this write-up, I guess.

Here's what I can say:

I found this much harder than your typical Sunday. Total Hail Mary at TAL / AVERELL (10A: Chess champion Mikhail / 11D: Diplomat W. ___ Harriman) and [that European capital] and AT-AT (100A: Elephantine walker in "The Empire Strikes Back"). Plus, the segment just south of the the NW, with its multiple ... tricky spots ... was virtually impossible for me to get. I had to wait on about four different squares in there for a good long time. Stumped on:

  • 4D: Concludes
  • 35A: Soft scent
  • 35D: Crop holder
  • 51A: BlackBerry features
Can't give you any of those answers, 'cause ... 'cause.

Also, I misspelled AVON LEA (88D: Setting of "Anne of Green Gables") as AVON LEE and was stuck wondering how HES could be the answer to [Boasts]. No idea how I remembered OLAND, but I did (39A: Warner who played Charlie Chan). Well, sort of. Needed a few crosses to jog my memory.

Never heard of ANEROID (75A: Kind of barometer) or the answer to 121A: Predatory insect, but that may be the only complete stumper of the day. The other stuff that "stumped" me, I at least recognized once I got it. Yes, even LAE (60D: Port from which Amelia left on her last flight). Even, very vaguely, ESSIE (38A: Actress Davis of "The Matrix Reloaded").

Overall, I thought the puzzle ... interesting. Clever. Mildly tough / annoying to solve, but conceptually bold. Seems like a very tough puzzle to construct (surely someone will call it "a tour de force!"). As stunt puzzles go, it's alright. Aiight. This is essentially how I felt about this constructor's last puzzle (also a stunt puzzle), and how I will likely feel about his next puzzle (also a stunt puzzle), which comes out Thursday, which I know only because its theme was (stupidly) leaked and published on a website last week. It's a theme that a friend of mine claims to have done already, but I've never seen it done, so it'll be new to me, which is (mostly) all that matters.

I can't give you the correct answers to the contest, but I assume I can give you the wrong answers. So here's one: SLOT. Seems a very, very good answer to me, but I'm 99.99999% sure it is Not Correct.

And now...

  • 13A: Highland fling participants (LASSES) — I assumed this had something to do with stump-throwing or whatever happens at the Highland Games. Caber-toss? Yep, that's what I was thinking of:
  • 53A: Secretary of labor who became a Supreme Court Justice — Oh, didn't know this one either. Infer infer infer.
  • 74A: Gabrielle of volleyball and modeling (REECE) — if I hadn't known her, center would've been Way harder than it already was.
  • 102A: Historical figure in Isabel Allende's novel "Inés of My Soul" (PIZARRO) — at one point I had EL ZORRO. True story.
  • 116A: Persuasive Dr. Seuss character (SAM I AM) — nice clue.
  • 107A: Like a winning X Games trick, maybe (INSANEST) — here's the results of a losing X Games trick. Actually, it's just my nephew's mouth after a nasty skatepark accident. 

  • 44D: New World monkey (MARMOSET) — the hippest, most modern of monkeys.
  • 55D: Cash back from an online purchase (E-BATE) — Hey, look, another E-word to E-hate.
  • 89D: University in Center Valley, Pa. (DESALES) — uh ... really? Wow. Seems obscure. I can name hundreds of universities. This is not one of them. And I live next door to Pa.
  • 80D: Fictional Miss Jane — wanted EYRE or MARPLE or, less explicably, BRODIE.
  • 114D: "Bambi" villain (ENA) — that's right, turns out Bambi's aunt was the killer all along. Also, Bruce Willis is dead and Soylent Green is people. 
Happy ... navigation. 

If you don't want any spoilers ... well, then, really, why are you here? I was gonna say "don't read the Comments section," but anyone who goes that deep has no business complaining about spoilage. Would be sporting of you to keep solution to yourself, but I'm not the boss of you, sadly, so ... do what you will. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:21 AM  

So, if we can't talk about the puzzle, does anyone have anything further to say about the relative merits of the two Scipios?

If this turns out to be a D&D quest, I'm gonna have to find someone to smack.

Kristin 12:37 AM  


jae 12:53 AM  

Doubled checked my solution twice and still missed my oSSIE for ESSIE error (didn't even look at the nonsensical RTO). Actor vs. actress should have been obvious. 21 down in spades!!! Excuse: I'm on vacation (in New Hampshire currently) and am imbibing more than usual. Yes, I'm blaming it on vodka. Now all I have to do is SOBER up and figure out what the note wants me to do. Unfortunately, it's unlikely I'll get it done by Tues. I'm on vacation after all.

That said, tough puzzle and an interesting challenge. LIKED it (even though after getting the all the difficult stuff I DNF).

Noam D. Elkies 1:09 AM  

I liked the contest puzzle - sort of a cross between a familiar gimmick and an easier M.Gaffney metapuzzle. Looking forward to next week's stunt too.

Surprised to see Rextumped by 10A:TAL, which used to be crosswordese 101. 39A:OLAND crossing 11D:AVERELL, on the other hand, I could do without; ditto 100:AT-AT. Didn't know 55D:E-BATE, but like "e-tail" it actually feels like a clever and useful word, formed more creatively than "e-retail/e-rebate". [cf. also "ush", the cute back-formation from "usher"; hm, what does a tutor do?] Moving on to actual dictionary entries, I didn't recognize 75A:ANEROID. Nor did I remember this noun usage of Spanish "cantar" (32D:CID clue), or realize that 101A:LAGOS was no longer the capital (and the clue could also have pointed to a pre-Euro currency). Why were 40A:A_LOT and 105D:HEAP not given the same-clue treatment? (Well, nearly-same-clue, since HEAP = LOT, not A_LOT.)

A bit surprised to see 49A:PLAN clued via the politically-charged "Plan B", but I suppose that this can also still be the generic "an alternative plan of action for use if the original plan should fail" as m-w.com defines it. If your second through tenth plans failed too, I suppose you might walk the planK.


Martin 4:19 AM  

"SLOT is wrong" is a significant spoiler. It's also undeniable.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:36 AM  

One write-over at 65 A, "One with a reduced term?", had PAROLEE before PREEMIE.

Otherwise, as easy as a Week One Matt Gaffney meta.

tenaciousdecaf 7:00 AM  

Am I taking crazy pills, or was Rex joking with his 114D answer?

squirrel1.1 7:38 AM  

Rex is joking with 114D.

This puzzle sucked. Ugh.

David 8:10 AM  

MAN, i hope 114D is a joke

Jim Walker 8:19 AM  

I don't give a fig for the contest, but I loved the puzzle. Anyone who finishes the puzzle will easily get the contest answer so there will be ten thousand or so people vying for the 25 books.

Since we are avoiding spoilers today, all I will say is that anyone who says they finished this puzzle in ten minutes is lying like a presidential candidate.

The Ohio Stae University Rules! Go Bengals.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I had more fun with this than any puzzle in a long time. Thanks Caleb!

Danp 8:56 AM  
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Shamik 9:35 AM  

Finished in 25:13...was a slog. Would have simply been satisfied had I know whether or not I'd gotten Mr. Happy Pencil. Either way would have been ok. But I find myself with 9 words. BAH and ACH and DOH. Disgruntled.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

ARGHHHHH!!! Got 9 of the ten words. Someone give a little cryptic hint, please????? "Starting in the upper left corner, find a safe path..." Are you supposed to draw a maze? This is going to ruin a perfectly good Sunday.

jberg 9:58 AM  

Lots of writeovers, including WASP or WASH at 35A and, stupicly, ITs at 106D (not seeing the 'be' in the clue) so that I ended up asking my wife how SEEs CASE could be "pod." Being a scientist, she saw the error right away. And BRIaR before BRIER, which still seems wrong to me.

AVERELL was a gimme for me - not just a diplomat, but former Gov. of NY and contender for a presidential nomination once or twice. Even better known than Mikhail TAL!

I always learn something, though - in this case, that GOETHE (25A) had worked for Walt Disney.

Still stumped on 'where to use it.'

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

The puzzle is completed correctly per the Times iPad app, but I can't figure out where to use the important item.. Help, anyone? I'm not entering the contest.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

>> Anyone who finishes the puzzle will easily get the contest answer <<

I doubt that's the case. I filled in all the boxes but don't follow the instructions. Can someone please send the explanation to me at nolatoss@gmail.com? Thanks.

Tita 10:46 AM  

Favorite comment:
@jberg- "I always learn something, though - in this case, that GOETHE (25A) had worked for Walt Disney"

Also stumped on "where to use it".

What I liked best about the puzz? I guess I can only say on Tuesday. Alas, who wil care? Not even me, I think! Nothing as old as yesterday's puzzle...

Anyhow, had fun solving and finding the things, just missing that one last bit of knowledge.

Smitty 10:54 AM  

So the "Check" and "reveal" functions don't work either? Or is there something wrong with my version of across lite?

jackj 11:06 AM  

Whenever Will feeds us one of these dreadful “Contests”, one might assume he is feeling nostalgic for his time at Games Magazine.

Too bad we have to retrogress as well and wallow in another helping of kinderspiel.

The NY Times professes to be a publication for adults, is that not so?

miriam b 11:17 AM  

Loved it, finished it, got all 10 items, submitted the answer. I guess the odds on my being one of the 25 anointed ones are long. Oh well.

r.alphbunker 11:17 AM  

After RP said he was 99.999% sure that SLOT is not correct, I checked again and I now understood why he said that and also why he is not 100% sure. Understanding this really upped my appreciation of this puzzle.

Miriam B 11:37 AM  

Thought ATAT was A TAT. I always draw a blank on Star Wars lore, and still refuse to see any reruns.

Merle 11:42 AM  

Liked the puzzle, thought the concept was fun, and was totally shocked when I finished it. Got all seven Hazards -- six were gimmicks, the seventh was a sleeper. Got the important item easily, got the contents last. Keep wondering if I should bother to enter the contest. Who cares.... Re highland fling and lasses -- come on! Highland fling is a Scottish dance, and lasses (as well as laddies) dance the Highland fling. 114 D answer -- not the only enemy of Bambi, but indeed an enemy. Venison, anyone? Knew Tal, didn't know Reece, knew Averell but at first misspelled the name, but easily corrected when "sew on" gave me the "e" where I had an "i". Anyway, made for a pleasant diversion. And now, on with the day....

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Finished the puzzle, got a "well done" from the app, but still stumpled and frustrated. Please tell me "where to use" the "important item." (I'm not entering the contest.)

Merle again on a lazy Saturday 12:01 PM  

Oops. Wrong about six gimmicks and one sleeper. Seven gimmicks. Had a mistake, was just about to send in my answers to the NYTimes, and realized I had to be wrong, looked at the puzzle, and saw immediately the correct answer. So -- corrected my puzzle, corrected my email draft, and now -- hey -- I am a contender, not a could have been a contender. May the luckiest contenders win. Re the ENA-MAN joke -- maybe poor Rex couldn't stand being an accused male Bambi-killer, and wanted Bambi's enemy to be female. Anonymous, can't tell you where to use the important item. It is obvious. In "Chimera", John Barth says that the key to the treasure is the treasure. So -- can't tell you. So, read the puzzle description again. It tells you where the treasure is. Put one and one together and get -- ??? -- what??? Three question marks? Or an answer?

Merle 12:10 PM  

Hey, what's with giving away the answers you gave away, anonymous???

I don't think this anonymous is the anonymous who asked where to use the important item. So, anonymous who didn't know where to use the important item, look at the grid! There is an anomaly in the grid. What is the anomaly there for? This has nothing to do with the contest, nothing to do with the answers in the grid. It's just a little game for us to play. It's visual. Have fun. And, spoiler anonymous, it's kind of hostile to spoil a game. Why do it? Anyway, you didn't. You have two errors in your answer. So nyah, nyah, nyah... Oh, unless you meant to mislead others. Stil hostile, though....

Sparky 12:15 PM  
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Sparky 12:17 PM  
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Joe The Juggler 12:27 PM  

Took me a long time last night, but I got it done. I don't like any of these things where multiple letters go in a single square. This one was enjoyable anyway though.

I don't care a bit about the contest, but did solve that part of it too.

OISK 12:28 PM  

lEasy enough fill for me, including "Tal", Averell, aneroid, which bothered Rex, gimmees for me, and the relative lack of pop culture clues was gratifying. The intersection of 97 down with 121 across was pretty easy for a science teacher. (unretired chemist) However, while I realized that "Slot" is probably not the "where to use it," I never did figure that out. Enjoyed the puzzle despite finding only nine out of ten.

Norm 12:29 PM  

Ugh. Just ... ugh.

Fitzy 12:35 PM  

Yep, I went with El Zorro also...

Keyful 12:38 PM  

Ach...I can not figure out where to use it. I know what it is, just can not fit it in the puzzle anywhere. This will drive me crazy through Tuesday.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

A slot isn't a hazard or a cache, so it works for me. It would be cool if there's something in here that's even better.

pezzy 12:50 PM  

I got it, and I get it, but didn't like it much.

The contest part of it may make 25 people happy to get a calendar, but is going to irritate about a bajillion people that just want the answer key. This non-spoiling business is just silly.

JFC 12:57 PM  

This is the clearest example of a corrupt system I've seen to date. When the NYT allowed online solvers to see the solve (Check and Reveal) the same day the puzzle is published, Rex whined about how this would hurt his blog because people came here to see the solve before being published the next day. So one could only conclude that the NYT was trying to sabotage Rex's blog. Now when Rex has a chance to reveal the puzzle before the NYT he defers to Will's request. Why? I'm sure the answer can be found somewhere in The Godfather.

What boggles the mind is who cares? The chances of winning a book are nil either way. Not only that the system discriminates against the disadvantaged, the ones who could use the prize most. Why should the dufuses not have equal opportunity to win a prize? As one who has been discriminated against I can assure you this is no laughing matter. And to think that that great liberal publisher, the NYT, would promote this kind of unfairness is something else. This is indeed a very sad day.

However, to Rex's lasting credit he did encourage (reverse psychology) his bloggers to reveal the key answers but I won’t be the one who starts….


matt 1:10 PM  

All this secrecy for a contest where the winners get a... calendar? If you don't want spoilers, you shouldn't be in the comments section.

That said, I can't figure out where to use the important item.

matt 1:16 PM  

Are you suggesting that the contest discriminates against people who don't get the correct answer? I can't tell if your post is a joke or not...

CheapNovelties 1:37 PM  

I am so frustrated because I have 8 of the 10 answers and I actually DO want the crossword planner -- it is COOL, you guys, it has like all of last year's sunday x-word puzzles and you can do them on the subway and stuff.

If anyone wants to help a brother out with 30A/16D, email me! I will love you longtime. I have _EN / SIT_ELL ... d.evan.mulvihill@gmail.com.

I have the KEY but I just can't figure out where this damned ... LOCK is...

Also, anyone want to try to construct a presidential puzzle with me? ROMNEY / BARACK could fit in the same line and rival the CLINTON / BOB DOLE puzzle of yore. We can't let Will hang onto that one as his favorite for E'ER.

joho 1:51 PM  

I thought this was unique and really fun. Definitely not boring!

I'd love to win but feel like I already have by solving the puzzle and sending in my answers. The odds of winning are probably like being attacked by a polar bear and a grizzly bear on the same day (paraphrasing and Etrade ad)!

Thank you Caleb & Will for something really different and engaging ... loved it and look for more like it!

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

I have lived in Pennsylvania my whole life, went to college and law school in Pennsylvania, and I've never heard of DESALES University either. Also, AVERELL/OLAND, ugh.

However, it made my geeky girly soul happy to see "ENDER'S Game" and AVONLEA (two significant literary influences of my youth) in the same puzzle.

Like many others, have the important item but where to use it? What am I missing?!?!

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Can someone give us dumb folk a good hint?

Blue Stater 2:11 PM  

I've been doing the NYT puzzles since the early 1950s. There have been many candidates for this title in recent years, but today's puzzle (and I got it) was the worst *ever*. It is a word game (and a particularly uninteresting one) not a crossword puzzle. Fine for Games magazine, utterly inappropriate for the crossword puzzle page of the NYT.

travis 2:22 PM  

I too can't quite figure out where to put the important items, and somehow I expect when I find out the 'real' answer it will be far from satisfying. Some guesses that seem wrong:
SLOT - cause Rex said so
DOHR - adding an R to EBATE to make it a real word, but door is spelled wrong
DOH - without the R, door in some sort of accent, worse than DOHR
SAFE - aceSAtest/strAFE - in the directions and turning doesn't really seem kosher.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

This is for the dufuses, SO IF YOU ARE NOT A DUFUS DO NOT READ FURTHER. There are 10 answers. There are 7 hazards. There is one important item. That leaves 2 to go to reach 10. One is what is in the vault and one is outside the vault. This is called deduction. That is why Charlie Chan is in the puzzle.

BTW, I agree more with those who dislike this game passing for a Sunday NYT puzzle....


Anonymous 2:28 PM  

@JFC Aren't you just repeating the puzzle's instructions?

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

Thank you, PD Seymour. Now I can get on with my life.

CheapNovelties 2:34 PM  

Props to you PDSey, it all makes sense now. I'm struggling between anger, ambivalence, and tepid appreciation of the cleverness of it. Time to email that crossword@nytimes.com huh?

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

@Pdseymour Wow, if that's it then it's pretty cheap and easily missed if you're not vigilante when solving the grid.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Sufferin' sororicidal cervidae! Oh, my, there it is! How wonderful. Complete with directions attached to the missing word! I hate to disagree with all those who didn't like this, but I felt the rush!

lit.doc 2:39 PM  

@Rex, props to ya from Merle Reagle in his puzz today--see 9D.

Long as I'm here, lotsa luv for rebus puzzles. Am soooo hoping that the elusive trou de serrure is something demonically clever.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  
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Martin 2:51 PM  

WS is a pretty effective editor, meaning you rarely see a clue take the form of a single word -- which is a sufficient clue -- followed by eight words of redundancy. For the astute solver it was a clear signal. Of course, it's a lot easier in retrospect.

Rex Parker 3:20 PM  

My big hint of the day: Look at the clues, not the grid. If you're just looking at the grid, you'll Never see it.


mac 3:21 PM  

I realize I only do the puzzle on Sunday to get Rex's write-up and to read the comments.....

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

I gather from the clues here that it must be something to do with 71A, given the extra words in the clue, but I still don't see it...

Mary H. 4:05 PM  

I have nine out of ten answers, consider myself well-versed in the Times X-word puzzles and feel a headache coming on...what is the Final Solution???

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

What's with the "start in the top left corner and find a safe path" to the important item...? Does the "path" have any meaning?? I think I've got all 10 answers but that piece is a (perhaps meaningless?) mystery...

mrbreen 4:25 PM  

If this is the hot vs. cold game:

Anonymous @ 3:43 is on fire.

Carola 4:26 PM  

I loved this puzzle. For me, the exact opposite of a Sunday slog. I enjoyed finding all of the items and solving the "where to use" part - a perfect location in a couple of ways.

@Caleb Rasmussen - Thank you for a very fun Sunday.
@Will Shortz - More like this, please.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

Thank you thank you thank you, Rex! See it right away now. Thanks for putting us out of our misery!!

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

Why did Rex remove the spoilers, thought he said it's okay in the comments here?

Isn't the area of the puzzle which is causing people problems breaking the rules of crosswords?I've never seen a clue ask for so much. In fact, in some ways it's non-sensical.

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

I've solved the puzzle last night and have 9 of the 10 words.

If anyone can just email me with how to get the "where to use it" part (please don't be cryptic) I would appreciate it.

Aesop 4:51 PM  

. . . and the moral of the story is, even He with the greatest Will cannot run a contest when all the little children are on line; they refuse to obey the rules.

There is a difference between a hint and giving the answers away.

P. S. - @Anonymous 4:33 - If this puzzle is "breaking the rules of crosswords" we would have to disqualify half of the puzzles at the ACPT.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

@Aesop Actually, the moral of the story is don't say that you'll permit spoilers or the answer when you won't.

C. Ross Word 5:32 PM  

Ran the gamut of emotions on this one:

Mild dislike: at start, this felt tedious and a bit of a slog.

Amused and entertained: once the realization hit that something was amiss right through "near" completion.

Mounting frustration building to outright dislike: as comments were accumulating and others were getting it, and I still could not arrive at a convincing solution to item b).

Satisfaction and Admiration: When the light (finally) went on and I realized the cleverness and consistency of the overall solution.

Ultimately rewarding despite the interim angst.

@Rex Sorry about your nephew's injury, hope the teeth can be saved. Maybe he'd prefer not to have that pic on the blog (just sayin').

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

I also finished the puzzle with no problem, and I understand the "extra word" clue, but I'm missing how it fits the "where to use it" part. (I feel as if I've already wasted too much of a nice Sunday on this...) If anyone would like to share the last part, it'd be much appreciated at ross23456@yahoo.com.

mmpo 6:21 PM  

Oh, oh, oooooooh! Finally got it (the 10th word). Sigh of relief. Smile of satisfaction.
(an erstwhile contributor to this blog, now an occasional visitor, usually on days like this when some extra bit beyond solving the puzzle itself eludes me; also, not a robot, but may have difficulty proving it...will the third time be a charm?)

pauer 6:23 PM  
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pauer 6:25 PM  

If you've never tried to make a xword with something in the middle like this, let me tell you: it is a royal pain. Kudos to the newer Caleb on the block for such an inventive concept and for pulling it off with aplomb! This puzzle is truly a tour de force (somebody had to say it!).

mmpo 6:26 PM  

Gosh, proving that I was not a robot turned out to be almost as elusive as finding the tenth word. I finally realized that the randomly-generated password has two parts. DOH!

Doofus 6:46 PM  

Got the puzzle and all the words some time ago. Would someone PLEASE explain @Rex's comment about being 99.9999% sure it wasn't slot?

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

any clues on the NE-most rebus?

mmpo 7:38 PM  

On the outside chance that the puzzle is one step cleverer than its elegant solution seems to make it? (Iow, the solution would be an instruction to move in that direction to find the real solution.) That's my guess. I'm sure the mysteries will all be unraveled once the deadline has passed.
By the way, I had fun with this and...I like the rebus puzzles.

oldbizmark 7:47 PM  

i thought i finished but seem to missing one of the dangers. i did not find this anywhere close to a medium-challenging... but to each his/her own. i guess i shouldn't be talking because i only have 9 of the 10 items. anyway, it was fun. i would like the answer to see which PITfall i missed.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

@oldbizmark - one of the items is a little more hidden than the others... ;-)

@7:32 anon, it's right where you think it is, don't let it bite you.

syndy 8:53 PM  

Thanks all! finally got it!Yeah it's obvious once you've got it!DOH! anyhoo I have always been a little suspicious about Bambi's aunt-always pussy footing around ;}

Hans 10:15 PM  

Ooh I got it, and okay it's kinda fun, but the prize is too boring to submit for.

Sparky 11:11 PM  

I hate contests. Every damned thing on TV and everywhere today is competition. Can't just watch cooking, it has to be a contest; or dancing (which is crap anyway and not what I call dancing); or schreeching. Everything is biting and scratching and double crossing. And I just can't stand ir. This is why it gets easier to die.

Renee 11:38 PM  

Finished the puzzle last night, but waited until now to see if you had a write-up. All I can say is GO TIGERS!

JFC 11:44 PM  

@Sparky - No.



Masked and Anonymous, Security Exspurt 12:51 AM  

Got the non-SLOT "where". At least, I'm pretty sure. Ain't quite 99.99999% sure, tho. 31 sure has a lot of preoccupations with dental work lately; that blog mouth-pic put me plumb off my feed.

Good luck to all U folks that want to find the answer and win one of them other 49 x-word books.

paulsfo 4:33 AM  

Got it only after being pointed to the clue for 71A, by others. Pretty annoying/pointless, in my opinion.

BTW, if anyone is still trying to figure it the "safe path" bit, notice what you'd have to cross if you tried to go *directly* (while staying on white squares) from the upper left to the "important thing."

The cross of 85D and 100A is annoying; how should I know if that's an e or an a?

Also, online people cannot see the answers yet, because "check" and "reveal" are unavailable for this puzzle, so far.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

I still don't get it even after the hints about 71A. Frustrating, especially as I thought the puzzle itself was pretty easy and I've had the other nine answers for a full day. I've tried anagrams, using UK (for Britain) backwards etc but I must be barking up the wrong tree. Help!

Unknown 8:32 AM  

I'm posting this because I think I've solved this puzzle with the 10 words, but wonder about whether this is a coincidental anomaly or part of the puzzle: did anyone notice that the word "alias" appears in a letter stream three times in the puzzle? It's hard to imagine it is a coincidence, but it doesn't seem to matter to the outcome either. I figure that this post will be deleted if it matters, which will help me sleep better. Some how.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I have been staring at this for HOURS! Filled the grid quickly but am not sure about the "where to use it" word. IT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!! So much to do today and I can not give up until I figure this out. HELP!

LoriS 10:48 AM  

Well, after trying hard to figure out the "where to use it" part, I caved and did enough online digging to figure it out; which I don't regret because I never would have gotten it otherwise. Makes me appreciate the subtlety of Rex's clue to us. And just sayin' - I loved this puzzle! I thought the fill was clever but gettable, as was the method of finding nine of the ten things. Even though I failed in the end to find the tenth it was still fun to pull my hair out and try. Thanks Caleb!

Ed 11:16 AM  

Re 55D:E-BATE - my girlfriend and I first saw it, and I said, "It's going to be one of those stupid e-XXXXX words that no one uses, nor has ever used in the history of ever, isn't it?"

So she suggested E-BATE. And I said, "I swear to god, if that is actually it, I'm going to break something."

HATE, HATE, HATE their forced "e-" words. No one has EVER used e-bate; no one uses "e-zine" ... UGH. MAKE. IT. STOP.

D 12:55 PM  

Well I think ebate is a better answer that fatcash.. but both are pretty awesome website that I'll be happy to refer you too.

Miss Prim 1:06 PM  

@Ed, I sincerely hope that the only thing you broke was your promise to break something.

Any further step toward physical action would be quite e-motional.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Does the "Where to use it" question have a cryptic solution ... or am I overthinking it?

Anonymous and Masked Support Group 1:54 PM  

@Anon 1:26pm -- Sorta cryptic. We are talkin' vaults, after all.
Really, it's not that big a deal to find Mr. Where. There's enough hints in the above comments to pretty much give it away. But, alas -- I don't wish to be a big smelly spoiler-kitty, so I must let U suffer, even tho I'd really like to help.

On a book-keeping note, my puz instructions say that 50 correct solvers will win "[name of NYT crossword book tk]". Evidently that later got updated to 25 and a (less generic) crossword planner calendar book. OK by me. Distribute the other 24 books amongst yourselves, as you wish.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

I guess I just don't get it. I am trying to make a path with the completed puzzle and all I can come up with are phrases like "I see the river." or "do not see the river, Dave got the note."

The instructions make no sense to me at all. :-(

Dan'l Boone 2:47 PM  

@Anonymous 2:03 - I believe that the instruction to "find a safe path" is totally irrelevant to the puzzle meta, since the critical thing is to name the seven things that might block your path. The actual path you might draw doesn't enter into the solution, and the wording in the note is not as rigorous as it should be. Of course, that still leaves the question of "where to use it," and I am bound by the Wilderness Scout Code not to reveal that answer.

Anonymous and Masked Support Group also 3:04 PM  

This just in to M&A CNS: I notice that Wordplay Blog says 50 books, in a big colored balloon up at the top. So happy days are here again. Rumor also has it that anyone sending in Slot for answer B will now surely get a copy of last year's calendar. As long as you go by the name Shirley.

I think they should hand out honorable mention to anyone that can hang in there long enough to come up with stuff like "Dave got the note". Classic.

Leslie Nielsen 3:13 PM  

Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

i am so frustrated! i finished the puzzle, got 9 words, figure the 71A means anti clock wise so put 'lock' inbetween antic and wise and still am unsure if this is correct. do i draw lines thru the white squares and avoid the hazards? does shoe tree play any role in this puzzle? caleb's name is in the middle in a stream of letters using the c from antic, the a from tra la, the l from tra la, the e from sober and the b from sober. any relevance? does 69A slotted have naything to do with the slot clues? tw

Jayke 3:43 PM  

Hey, Dan'l Boone, I hope you are correct about the "safe path" being irrelevant. I have 10 items, but haven't submitted my answer because I can't see what the safe path has to do with anything.

I'm also a mentally hung up because Rex said some people may call this puzzle a "tour de force". That makes me wonder if I'm missing something, because I see it as just a Sunday puzzle with a little something extra.

Guess I'll go w/what I have and hope for the best.

Joe The Juggler 4:21 PM  

On a tangent, since when does "rebus" mean fitting multiple letters into one square? It means a graphical representation of words or syllables. Sometimes crossword puzzles will use fitting multiple letters into a square as part of a rebus, but the two concepts aren't one.

BTW, I have learned that I apparently didn't get the overall puzzle about using the one object somehow to open the treasure vault. There seems to be more to it than I thought.

uncle moishy 4:29 PM  

Anon 3:18,

Thank you for giving us the answer more explicitly than the previous hinters. Subtlety was getting me nowhere. I am now able to move on with my life.

Quora.com 4:53 PM  

@ Joe The Juggler - Since you are new here:

Crossword Puzzles: What are rebus crossword puzzles?

Neville Fogarty, Published in: NYT, LAT, CHE, Lollapuz...

A rebus crossword puzzle is one in which a single square holds more than one letter. Often, the letters of the rebus will form a word on their own.

For example, Xan Vongsathorn's 01/07/2010 New York Times crossword features an ANT rebus - 5 squares with the word ANT filled into them. Alternatively, you can draw a picture of an ANT in each square (this is my preferred method).

Rebus puzzles don't typically reveal their nature immediately - it is left as a challenge to the solver to figure out what's going on.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

3rd puzzle in a row that makes me think I'm quickly losing brain cells.

I already have 20 calendars for 2013 sent by charities in the mail, so who cares.

Still missing 35A & 50D

Went to the meet the breeds show at Javits so I got Akita.

Just saw The Raven (on demand) with John Cusack - not bad.
(also in acrostic)

Hubby is Allende expert.

Figured out there were rebus answers with she bear although I thought mama grizzly was Sara Palin.

Wiki says Lagos has 7-8 million people.


God bless you Mensa people.

Anonymous 6:31 PM  

What about this phrase in the instructions? "Each of these things is named by a single word."

I cannot make heads or tails of that.

If it's a true spoiler, I don't expect to see an answer until tomorrow, but that to me is the bigger headscratcher.

nurturing 6:41 PM  

To "Anonymous" who is "Still missing 35A & 50D":

35A = jas(mine)
50D = lolling

nurturing 6:48 PM  

To Anonymous who asks what "Each of these things is named by a single word" means:

It means that each of the 10 items in the game - hazards, the important item, where to use it, and the contents of the vault - is one word, not two or more. (Each is a different word, too, btw.)

For instance, one word that has already been revealed in the comments above is the hazard, "bear".

nurturing 6:53 PM  


Avonlea is one word, not two.

(Nothing to do with the contest, folks, but I live in Canada, the home of the beloved Anne of Green Gables.)

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

All I can say is...


When you get it, you will know you got it. It's in there. It's cool. It's not really what you expect.

Dave in California 10:12 PM  

have finally gotten it and must say I don't think it is clever at all, I think it is stupid. Actually the placement is clever, but the clue itself is stupid. Thr business about taking a safe path--what was the point of that? Although pretty much any safe path you take, if you draw it, looks a little like a ghost, which reminds me of Halloween, which I doubt is celebrated as such in Britain. Think I will go out as Bambi this year...or maybe as Averill Harriman.

JenCT 10:28 PM  

Printed out the puzzle, read the instructions, and put it aside. Never got back to it.

@Sparky: everything okay??? I share your dislike of competitions...

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

I'd just like to say that I thought this puzzle was a lot of fun, and the "contest" aspect just added to the pizazz. (I did not enter the contest). I was among the ones would could not for the life of me figure out where to use the important item until one very astute poster (Thanks again, PD Seymour) gave a big hint. Loved It!

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

I ADORED this puzzle! THANK YOU CALEB and WILL! Boring, uninspired xwords are ubiquitous…
But those of us who crave creative, well-thought, imaginative crosswords have been waiting for a puzzle as delightful as Caleb’s. As Times readers with a ninth grade reading level, we are lucky to have Will and the handful of constructors who are capable of providing us with a fix.
Once I gave up lollygagging and thought outside of the box I was able to find it. I entertained the sly gag for much too long…

Aaron 12:16 PM  

Perhaps "find a safe path" is meant to be read as "find a path to a safe."

Matthew G. 2:45 PM  

Totally baffled by the hatred for contests. I would prefer more of these, not fewer. Especially on Sunday, the one day when I generally feel little inclination to do the NYT puzzle when I can find a high-quality 15x15 in the Washington Post. Of course, I loved last year's dice/Julius Caesar Monday-Saturday contest, too.

If you dislike contests, why not just do the puzzle and ignore the contest? Truly: the anti-contest rants on this post are the most bewildering complaints I've ever seen in Rexville, bar none.

All that said, I don't think I got this one right. So it goes. Found 9 of 10 answers, but like many people, couldn't figure out where to use the "important item." Now, after submitting a pure guess on that word, I see Rex's hint that it's hidden in the clues. Oh well. I'll try to figure that out later before I look at the answer.

CaroKan 3:14 PM  

Perhaps because I am a Brit, I found out how to get into the vault early on. It's all in the clue(s). Don't Americans use that (14 letter) word? I too am baffled by the 'route'. I suppose if you follow the path vaguely, avoiding the hazards, the last thing you come to is the means of entering the vault. Otherwise, a bit of a red herring? Or should they be in specific order?

I enjoyed this puzzle. Last few weeks have been v dull.

Martin 4:10 PM  


If you look that word up in an American dictionary you'll see it's a "chiefly British" synonym of the word we normally use.

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

Now after 6 pm on Tuesday. Please where is answer

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

like the trite prize, so was this puzzle.

Matt 6:41 PM  

Add "Lock" to ANTIC_WISE at 71 across. Anticlockwise apparently is the British term for what we call "counterclockwise". I have never heard this word before... a pretty esoteric revealer, if you ask me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take the lift downstairs and drive my lorry home. I hope I have a bolly in the boot!

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

A bolly or a brolly?

Rob 6:54 PM  

I finished this puzzle in 18 minutes, thought it kind if stupid. Fired off my contest entry. I hate contests. Now I've been swearing for two days thinking this puzzle was harder or more clever than it was. Apparently not. God I miss gene maleska. The Sunday puzzle has become a trite and debased game show under will's misleadership.

Gus 7:20 PM  

Rob, you are a 6- letter synonym for a rinse-based feminine hygiene product.

aRGee tornadomama 7:28 PM  

It's a good thing that they only wanted the words, I guessed lock -- but did not know where it Fit into the puzzle. I agree, I miss Maleska!

Matt 9:07 PM  

@Anon - Brolly... typo.

While the LOCK part was annoying, I thought the puzzle overall was pretty cool. I enjoyed figuring out the rebuses (rebi?). If you don't like contests, don't enter.

People who say they miss Maleska, have you done one of those puzzles lately? Granted, I started doing puzzles during the Shortz era, but accidentally bought a book of Maleska puzzles in the airport once. Holy crap, those things were full of archaic words, variants, and ridiculous abbrevs.

Rob 9:25 PM  

Unfortunately, there are no new maleska puzzles. I miss them. I hated last Sundays puzzle with television networks I had never heard of. I miss "river in rural katanga"

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

someone please tell me where the lock is????

Bob Kerfuffle 9:45 AM  

@Anonymous 8:54 AM -

In (or under) the black square between 71 A and 72 A.

"Anticlockwise" is the British version of "counterclockwise."

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Kansas City Star (which publishes puzzle a week late anyway) didn't even give the full instructions for the puzzle. What a dud.

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

Could someone please explain this theme to me?

Living in the Waste Lands known as "West of the Hudson", we troglodytes in Dallas don't get the NYT puzzle until a week after New York does.

When we're not riding around on our horses taking potshots at one another, some of like to do a crossword puzzle. I am especially fond of the NYT Sunday, and count on it to provide 20 to 25 minutes of entertainment.

I got the entire fill in just under half-an-hour today, but am baffled by the theme. Is this an Indiana Jones reference, or Pitfall, or what the what?

I come to rexword.blogspot frequently to find out the references I missed, but the 1021 ultimate answer has me buffaloed. Even reading the 100s of comments has not helped.

Would someone spell this out for me?

paulsfo 10:32 PM  

@anonymous 10:14
The "path" part refers to getting from the upper lefthand corner to the word "key", while staying on white squares. You can't go the most direct route because then you would hit the "mine" square. So you have to go around.
As for using the "key", you want to find a "lock." Note the dual clue for 71A; second answer is ANTICLOCKWISE. This is comprised of 71A, ANTIC, and 72A, WISE, and an (invisible) "LOCK" in between them. So this (non-existent) LOCK is where the key would go.

Spacecraft 12:41 AM  

I'm with @Matt. In the U.S. we say "counterclockwise," and though I spent three years in Merrie Olde, the term "ANTI"--etc. just simply does not occur. Doggone it, if you're going to publish a crossword in an American paper then speak American! Grrr.

Well, it's the only part of the solution that I had to peek at to get. OtherWISE it was a HEAP of fun to do. The brain of someone who can put this thing together frightens me. It's like Algernon at the height of his powers. It's like that machine in the "Spock's Brain" episode of STTOS. "Of course! A child could do it. A CHILD could do it!"

Anonyrat 7:30 AM  

@ Sparky 11:11 PM Best comment of the day - by far!
@ JFC 11:44 PM - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQm-fudneM4

Dirigonzo 5:07 PM  

It is now Monday, 5 weeks and a day after the puzzle appeared in the NYT, there is a hurricane raging outside and I have finally decided to throw in the towel on finding out "where" to use the key. Weekend puzzle partner and I completed the grid with all of its hidden hazzards, discovered a path to avoid them and get to the key, but never figured out where it could be used. Congratulations to all those who saw the "lock" in ANTIC(LOCK)WISE, but it never, ever occurred to me, even though it now seems obvious. I would classify this as "frustratingly challenging", but still a lot of fun!

Rxdoxx 12:51 PM  

Ditto the above, tropical storm aftermath still going on, and came here with no idea where the lock was.
Didn't help matters that I had put APlus in for 53D reward for acing a test, took a bit to shake that loose.
As above, frustratingly challenging and published a week late In Baltimore with no info on contest, so I not only needed a "key" I was missing helpful instructions also

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