TV director Iannucci / THU 11-8-12 / Sweetheart of Jersey Shore / 2009 bromance film / U.S. Steel was once its biggest employer / NFL Live host Trey / Yorkshire river /

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: TWELFTH [MAN] (55A: Home-field advantage in football ... or what the last square of the answer to this clue represents in this puzzle) — rebus puzzle where 12 squares contain the word MAN

Word of the Day: AR[MAN]DO Iannucci (26D: TV director Iannucci) —
Armando Giovanni IannucciOBE [...] (born 28 November 1963) is a Scottish comedian, satirist, writer, television director and radio producer. Born in Glasgow, he studied at Oxford University and left graduate work on a PhD about John Milton to pursue a career in comedy. [...]  Iannucci's latest television project is the HBO political satire Veep. In March 2012 it was announced that he is working on his first novel, Tongue International, described as 'a satirical fantasy about a privatised language'. (wikipedia)
• • •

Lots of MAN. Very slow going at first because I was not looking for so many. I'm used to six, maybe eight, rebus squares in a rebus puzzle, so the NW and NE corners were both very hard to figure out simply because I didn't expect a second MAN in those sections (or, in the case of the NW, a third). Lots of the MAN answers are fresh and interesting, particularly "MAN OH MAN" (1A: "Holy smokes!"), MAN CAVE (31D: Guy's private area), MANLY MAN (4D: Macho type), and ARMANI SUITS (35D: Parts of a fashionable "Collezioni"). I also liked "I LOVE YOU, MAN" (9D: 2009 bromance film), but this puzzle got a little (lot) carried away with its pop culture answers. What the hell is a SAMMI? (5A: "Sweetheart" of "Jersey Shore") Who the hell is ARMANDO Iannucci? (26D: TV director Iannucci)  MIA Wasikowska?? (47D: Wasikowska of "Alice in Wonderland," 2010) I knew Trey WINGO, but holy smokes you've gotta be a pretty hardcore ESPN-watcher to get that one (18A: "N.F.L. Live" host Trey). No one of these answers is so outrageous, but as a set they make the puzzle seem a little obsessed with pop culture ephemera / marginality. I'm all for being current, but how about current and reasonably well known? Like ELI MANNING (20A: QB who was twice a Suepr Bowl M.V.P.). As for the rest of the answers, I flat-out didn't know TANEY (32D: Chief justice in the Dred Scott case), but everything else I was at least familiar with, so putting it together was tough but not that tough. The clue on GARY was brutal, as I don't think of it as a city that can stand on its own in the world without "Indiana" somewhere nearby to give it credibility (17A: U.S. Steel was once its biggest employer).

I really should know my drug slang better, given how much crime fiction I read—I was quite convinced that [Heroin, in slang] was SLAG (it's SCAG). This made seeing MAN CAVE *very* difficult, since for a long time it looked like this: -LAVE. OUSE looks like a French river, but apparently it's a [Yorkshire river]. I've seen it before in puzzles, but couldn't have placed it on a map before this puzzle. I like the artiness of this puzzle, with Matisse's "Le BATEAU" down south and MAN RAY up north and Diego RIVERA crossing the MANETS. Good stuff.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


DocRoss 12:14 AM  

I used to live near the Ouse, so that was easy, but the rest... MAN OH MAN!

syndy 12:15 AM  

I'd have to call this flat out challenging.Got the theme at ELI but MANOMAN had to do somw serious dredging!!WINGO SEGEL SAMMI all being wth's didn't help.WAS MANRAY an artiste MANQUE or is that just my opinion?

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

I've just been called out as an ESPN tragic! Great puzzle, lotsafun

Anonymous 12:58 AM  

At one time GARY was all you had to know. Steel supplier for everything in the Midwest. Boy, did that place stink just from driving through on the interstate.

Went down on the SAMMI / MUG cross. Bummer, because it was a lot of work to sort this one out. Ans @%$@, I really should have gotten it.

Octavian 1:01 AM  

Fantastic puzzle -- fresh, hard, but thoughtful and whimsical at the same time.

Real collision of eras. On one hand you have Man Cave and the Twelfth Man. On the other you have the controversial Chief Justice Roger Taney, who administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln even though they were sworn enemies over the hot-button 1860 issue of abolition.

I didn't catch onto the MAN rebus until hitting on the Beatles song TAXMAN way down in the lower left. Then I got Twelfth Man. And then it was like a treasure hunt, looking for the other 10 men.

Very cool concept and execution.

Armando Cee Manets 1:39 AM  

TOok me over an hour, even tho I got MAN OH MAN right off the bat...
wow, first square two in one across!!!

Ironically, ELIMANANING came more easily to me than TAXMAN!!!!!
(I think of that song as a George Harrison song more than the Beatles, but of course it's the Beatles...

Every answer seemed just right out of my grasp. I could "see" SAMMI Sweetheart in my head (having once watched 6 "Jersey Shores" in a row, which was like od'ing on candy corn
it cured me like that!)

ANd I spent an ordinate amount of time trying to come up with DIego Rivera's lover, what's her name (Salma Hayek portrayed her and her unibrow) only to realize it was RIVERA himself!

SO tempted to Google stuff and SO happy I didn't. It was such a challenge to get sports stuff (including the reveal) and the artsy stuff.
For once didn't have to choose between MoNET and MaNET!


How can you not love a puzzle that has everything from SAMMI Sweetheart to Matisse's LE BATEAU!!!
I loved it!!!!!!
Changed doS to MANES, noSH to FISH and the rest fell into place.

Got my slang for coke and heroin all mixed up, but then I remembered Boz Scaggs, and always thought that was a stage name and some druggie inside joke, but it's his real last name

I feel like drunkenly telling DAMaN
J. GULCZNSKI (Isn't SKI Polish for MAN???!!!!) "ILOVEYOUMAN"!

wow. TWELVE unangry MeN!!!!

Eejit 2:15 AM  

Twelve MANs, clever. Tough one.

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Got the theme right off the git go with ELI man NING with just the LI in place. Lucky break. That's about where it ended. Unlike @Armando Cee Manets I am of weaker spirit and resorted to Uncle Google to get a further toe hold. SAMMI, BATEAU, I think that was it, Oh yeah and WINGO.

Loved, loved manOHman, manLYman and man TOman. @joho our wish for a great rebus came true. Woo MAN hoo!

Anonymous 5:01 AM  

Hey Rex, you left off Damon's last name at the top of your post. Great puzzle, great constructor.

dk 6:04 AM  

Would have liked to have seen jury in the grid. And, I would have been happier if I knew how to spell TWELFTH. My only real hang up.

*** (3 Stars) Fun

Evan 6:37 AM  

I didn't catch on to the rebus until I was about one-third of the way through the puzzle, and I didn't spot it until I had TW-L---- at 55-Across. It probably should have hit me much earlier since none of the answers are more than 9 squares long. And even after I caught the gimmick, I still harbored doubts that the constructor could actually smash 12 men into the grid. But he did, and did a damn good job of it. It's fitting how a football-themed revealer is symmetrical with the NFL's ELI [MAN]NING. He's one of my fantasy quarterbacks too, though he's been sucking lately, so I benched him for Josh Freeman.

(Just as a funny little football-related nitpick: The puzzle has what looks like a pretty terrible defensive formation -- I mean, it couldn't possibly be an offensive formation. Imagine that the west perimeter of the grid is the line of scrimmage, that ELI MANNING is lining up under center right where he is, and that the theme revealer square is not a player because it's the TWELFTH MAN. You've got only two men on the defensive line ready to rush the passer, three linebackers/defensive ends, a fourth linebacker cheating off a little behind them, a cornerback split out wide, and the remaining cornerbacks and safeties standing way back and bunched near the center and left side of Manning's vision. What are they doing? Expecting a hail-mary pass down the left sideline? Get at least four men on that line and give that lone wide cornerback some help, coach!)

My two write-overs were both on the movie title clues: SAW Ii before IV (I've never seen any of the "Saw" franchise so I barely know which years they came out), and knOcked Up before I LOVE YOU [MAN] (because Jason SEGEL was in "Knocked Up" as well), though I erased that one almost immediately since I knew for a fact that it was released while my wife was still in college. Don't none of you make any jokes about me knocking her up -- we're baby-free and staying that way for now.

The ELSA/OUSE crossing is probably the trickiest one to resolve -- I only got it because I have OUSE stored somewhere in my memory bank of four-letter European rivers like EDER and ODER and YSER and AARE and ARNO. If you're not familiar with the OUSE or Albert Einstein's wife, then I could imagine ELlA/OUlE looking pretty appealing.

Last thing: Given all of the pop culture-y answers, I'm a little surprised that AWING was not clued as the A-Wing, the Star Wars star-fighter ship -- though maybe it was originally, then changed on the cutting room floor.

Junkie at Orange Julius 7:03 AM  

On the Lower East Side in NYC, we spell it: SKAG

Milford 7:24 AM  

So relieved to finally finish this that I didn't even count that there were actually 12 MAN answers - very cool. Got the rebus at AR(MAN)I SUITS.

This was a challenge that needed a google to finish -didn't know le GATEAU for Matisse, but I'm definitely not complaining that there was French in this puzzle.

TWELFTH is hard to spell without pause. And I never know if GRaY or GREY is correct.

Lots of pop culture, but that made it fun for me, figuring out SAW IV, WINGO, etc.

GARY was an almost-gimme, I had foRd at first. My dad was born there while my grandpa worked for US Steel. Amtrak from Michigan to Chicago still takes you right through the middle of the old steel mill, and it's like an industrial ghost town.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

First entries, no debate, no hesitation: SAMMI and WINGO. This puzzle was built for a MAN like me.

I thought this was great, but got totally Naticked in the southwest. That is a nasty corner, and I wonder if it could have been done better. Other than that, this was pretty cool.

That is all.

Doris 7:36 AM  

For literary types, the Ouse was the river in which poor Virginia Woolf drowned herself.

Unknown 8:15 AM  

Gotta wonder about the three non-MAN Ms...(SAMMI, MICA/MIA). I got the trick at my nemesis, ELI MANNING, quickly filled in the NW corner, then expected every M to be MAN. Not so. That slowed me down some, but overall, this was good fun.

Michael Hanko 8:17 AM  

This was just the kind of battle I like to face over my morning coffee. Not being a sports fan, I had never heard of "twelfth man," but I was able to infer it from the theme, which had by then become obvious. You just gotta love all those juicy vowels in "TWELFTH" in their unlikely concatenation.

I have a problem with a couple of the clues, however. Why is the R of "Realtor" capitalized in 16A? And in 35D, "collezioni" is plural, making "a...collezioni" grammatically nonsensical. This was a glorious answer with a dreadful, eyesore of a clue.

Do hard drugs and their street names now pass the breakfast test? I am not one to judge, being nearly words, at least.

Michael Hanko 8:18 AM  

Of course I meant "consonants." D'oh!

Danny 8:23 AM  


You beat me to referencing the Woolf/Ouse connection. I believe many people would find that much more interesting than the current clue, though I don't think the NYT would go for a suicide allusion.

JFC 8:33 AM  

Growing up in Chicago's NW side in the 1940s, as you walk to school, with the wind blowing in the right direction, one day you would smell the Stockyards and another the Gary steel mills. Winter was kind because the Canadian cold front would come in from the NW and clear the air.

@Rex says: "I'm all for being current, but how about current and reasonably well known?" I'd settle for reasonably well know....


JFC 8:39 AM  

@Chefwen - If you go to Wordplay Deb has posted a pic of 4 Cheeseheads at a game. You wear a cheese hat, paint your torso yellow with a letter as part of GO PACK and you wind up in the NYT as the TWELFTH MAN....


joho 8:39 AM  

@chefwen ... yes! This is exactly what I was hoping for and more!

It took me a while to see the rebus and once I did it still took me forever to solve this beautiful puzzle ... a MANsterpiece!

I especially loved the double MAN bonus answers at MANOHMAN and MANTOMAN ... because they were so unexpected.

I can't praise this puzzle enough.

Thank you, Damon ... love @Armando Cee Manets calling him Da MAN ... which he most certainly is with this one!

David L 8:44 AM  

Virginia Woolf indeed drowned herself in the River Ouse, but that particular Ouse was (and remains) in Sussex, not Yorkshire. The House of Parliament has yet to pass the much-needed "Every River Must Have A Unique Name" Act.

C. Ross Word 8:50 AM  

NY Sports helped then almost ruined me on this one. Picked up on the rebus almost immediately with ELI[MAN]NING. But had a ton of trouble in the NE since my sports-addled brain insisted on [MAN]TLE, as in MIckey, instead of the proper spelling [MAN]TEL. This led to many false starts (5 yard penalties resulting?) including [MAN]age instead of [MAN]TO[MAN], peal instead of TOLL, and VAcuum, VAcant, and VAgary instead of VALLEY. Then the light went on and it all fell into the proper formation.

@ANON 5:01 AM
@REX posted at 12:00 AM, who can spell GULCZYNSKI at midnight?

jackj 8:55 AM  

Damon J. Gulczynski (or, “Alphabet” as his drill sergeant would call him in the Army) hasn’t given the Times a puzzle in 3 years and MAN, does it show. All that pent up cleverness flooding the grid made for a MAN to MAN battle of wits that, in football terms, is of Ohio State v. Michigan magnitude!

ELI(MAN)NING was first up and gave the impression that this was to be a romp when it turned out that instead it was to be the proverbial “three yards and a cloud of dust” to piece this baby together.

Favorite theme answers were (MAN)ETS clued by a reference to “Olympia” and others”, (MAN)EUVER for “Zigzag, e. g.”, and (MAN)CAVE, a “Guy’s private area”. The other eight teammates all deserve letter sweaters too and then there is a special place for the fans of this MANly exercise, the TWELFTH(MAN). Good stuff from Mr. Gulcz…., er, “Alphabet”!

Some of the fill was a bit on the hairy side, SAMMI, TANEY, WINGO and SEGEL for example but Diego RIVERA was a gimme (nicely clued), the double stack of MONGREL over SAUTEED was fun and FISH and HATS each served to administer some pain in the last nine yards of the puzzle before the “AHA’s” arrived.

This was a good one, the crossword equivalent of a TD being scored on a 104 yard kick off return.

Thanks, Damon, it was a real treat!

DJG 9:07 AM  

I'm really enjoying reading all the comments about my puzzle, especially the ones that talk about how great it is! (AMC, thanks! jackj, not having a puzzle published in three years isn't pent up creativity it's rejection... see what I did there, I put in a self-deprecating comment after being boastful, that's what they call a "humble brag". But seriously, I have had a bunch of puzzles rejected).

If you want to read a little bit more about this puzzle, I wrote a blog entry about it at

JFC 9:19 AM  

@Chefwen - Actually there are 5 cheeseheads in Deb's pic but I suffer from short-term memory loss....


chefbea 9:37 AM  

Got the theme at Mantels so put manage for direct.

Too tough for me so DNF. Never heard of twelfth man.

Love sauteed mushrooms

John V 9:41 AM  

This was very challenging, with all the proper names and pop culture references. Ended with a couple of holes, SAMMI/SAWIV cross, ARMANDO/MANETS/MANEATERS crosses, 48A. Got the rebus after a long time. Got the SE through some sort of divine intervention, not having any idea of MANQUE; pretty rough corner. So, ah don't know. Lottsa work, not so much fun. YMMV.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@Michael Hancko - The question isn't why Realtor is capatalized, it's why it doesn't have the (TM) after it. It's not really a word, it's a made up trademark.

@Junkie - I too was going to question the spelling of SCAG, agreeing with you, but I just kind of said "who cares" and nodded off.

I, unfortunately, have been saying Man oh Manischewitz in my head for the past 12 hours.

jberg 10:04 AM  

I got the rebus while still in the NW, which ARAL opened up for me. So I thought it would be easy, but no - and I finished with an error, figureing ole' Trey was probably a MINGO, and there might be a horror series about SAM (as in Son of...). Is SAW short for Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Never seen it, never heard it referred to that way.

Other hangups -- I really thought the Olympias must be "pigs," (nice misdirect!), and had VAcant before VALLEY for 'hollow,' which kept me from applying the rule 4-letter English river=OUSE. (Hardly ever Avon, the other choice - and also a multi-river name.) I was also tempted by the other rule 4 letter artist = Erte, but couldn't think of a woman's name to end in T.

Still, it's a fine puzzle, and the error was entirely my fault, since blockbuster horror film series are certainly fair game in crossworld.

quilter1 10:17 AM  

Got the theme at ELI MANNING, which surprised me as I am not a football follower. I knew the art stuff but not the pop culture stuff so confess to looking up the Jersey Shore and Trey persons. Knew TANEY. I have missed the rebus puzzles. Thanks, Damon.

Jeremy Mercer 10:30 AM  

@Evan - I found ELMA/OUME pretty appealing ...

Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

Total fail for me. Did not finish, didn't even come close, never got the rebus, gave up in frustration. I am contrite - so often have I read other comments from people who were angry at a puzzle because it contained an answer or two which they did not know.

But this puzzle was just top-to-bottom, end-to-end full of things I didn't know, including the "reveal" which revealed nothing to me. Sports, TV, teenager movies, French (Le Bateau, Le Gateau, Le (Ch)ateau????), exclamations which in other puzzles can be just about anything, nothing to get a foothold. I even imagined that the Beatles song was TAXI.

My apology to all those whom I scorned for their complaints. (Even though I never posted aforesaid scorn.)

And, I thought I loved a rebus!

Lindsay 10:42 AM  

Ran AFOUL of pop culture in the upper midwest. Didn't know the horror film, so I settled on cAr IV, because I've seen print ads for movies with cartoon cars, though they don't look very scary. That left the Jersey Shore name as cAMMI, which made sense to me as Maine is full of kids called Camden and Cammi (and I've always thought they should avoid moving to New Jersey). And a new clue for rINGO. Voila. Done. Or not. 2 errors.

jackj 10:44 AM  


"Humble brag", I like it!

Thanks for the link to your blog and a couple of comments:

Re: the tongue in cheek comment on your blog about a lack of warning on the "Child thing", rest assured none of us got instruction booklets and congrats on the birth.

Your candor about SAMMI, WINGO and ARMANDO was refreshing and reminded me that many months back when many were struggling with an especially difficult puzzle and were hesitant to Google for help, I posed the theorem that a solver should be allowed to Google without guilt the same number of times a constructor Googled for his/her clues.

Thanks for showing that there is some validity to the idea!

Nice blog, nice puzzle, thanks for stopping by.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

I got most of this and liked it but DNF. The pop culture was too dense in critical areas. I'm not ashamed, in fact I'm proud, not to know anything about Jersey Shore, a slash film, or its star.
Well done Damon, just not my cuppa.

Joe The Juggler 11:04 AM  

I again quibble with calling this a "rebus puzzle". Fitting more than one letter into a square is not a rebus. A rebus puzzle is one that uses graphical representations for words or syllables.

This might properly be called a rebus puzzle if, for example, all the MAN squares fell into a pattern that drew a sort of stick man, or if the pattern of black squares drew a graphical representation of a word.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

@Joe the Juggler - So draw a picture of a man in the squares. Or an elephant, whatever you want.

John V 11:22 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, man I know the feeling, not so much today, but it happens, even to constant solvers who've been at it for decades.

@Joe The Juggle re: what is a rebus. The way I solved this one was, in fact, to draw in a stick figure of man, so, I'd say that made it rebus. Not a work of art, to be sure.

Tita 11:39 AM  

Agree wtih @Rex re all that pop - major DNF for me...
THinking until I came here that "heroin" was "heroine" helpd me up - I thought it was pretty cool that there was a heroine to save all the MANs!

Nice crunchiness, and I loved the theme, even though I DNFd. MANhATERS also made trouble.

@Joe The Juggler - it IS a rebus...I draw in little men, or houses, or whatever the rebus is, when I solve on paper.
It is to accommodate our digital age that you see them displayed as all the letters shoved into one square - there is no easy way to digitally, and automatically, do it otherwise.
In fact, that is part of why I love rebi...I get to make miniature masterpieces in the grid!

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Armando Iannucci in Crossworld obscurity?! He's the man behind the new 'Veep' as well as the *phenomenal* 'The Thick of It' and the sweary Malcolm Tucker:

hazel 11:56 AM  

Fantastic puzzle!! My husband and i proudly make up part of the twelfth man at falcons' games - getting the offense to jump offsides with all our hollering is really cool. I just loved this puzzle. I got the jig at ELIMANNING - but had the rebus as the ING (which seemed silly but i was willing to go with the flow.

@high hatters - enough with the "pop culture" already!! We know its not your cuppa. Trust me!! :-)

mac 12:15 PM  

Challenging but fun. I got the "man" part about a quarter in, but I couldn't finish it because of Sammi and Wingo.

Sandy QUE 12:26 PM  

I love a challenging Thursday rebus.
I figured out MAN and finished the puzzle.

How I did this- pure luck! There was so much I did not know!! TWELFTHMAN and MANQUE?? Never heard of them!
(Flashback to BEQ puzzle.)

Thought MANQUE would be WOTD, but NO!
Thought Rex would explain it...NO!
Had to google what I was staring at- I guess that makes me a solver MANQUE? Or a MANQUE solver?? Or a woMANQUE???

GILL I. 1:15 PM  

Like @mac, I too could not finish because of SAMMI and WINGO but I sure did love all the artist references - it floated my BATEAU.
Was never a huge admirer of Duchamp - he of the New York satirical Dada Movement generation. On the other hand, ManRay was a terrific photographer. Some of you may recall his "Rayographs." I wish I could embed, I'd show you "Self-effacement: a whimsical 1916 self portrait."
MANQUE was a new word for me. I wonder how you pronounce it...mankee?
I also thought SNOW was heroin.
A good way to remember how to spell GREY vs GRAY. (E) is for England and (A) is for America.
Fun puzzle; I'll take some more please.

David 1:22 PM  

Got the rebus at TAXMAN, which I heard for the first time on oldies radio this week. Googled SAMMI and WINGO. Didn't know Einsteins second wife was Elsa, though I did know Mileva.

Masked and Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Ok then. Had yer ORAL/HARI crossing ARAL/GARY pronto. Then 20-A looked like it was talkin' about ELIMANNING, plus it was a ThursPuz, so QED rebus.

Still, this puz put up plenty of fight. Unsynched rebus squares were like a mine field. ARMANDO/RIVERA and SCAG/TANEY were a couple of tickets that were tough to punch thru.

Had fun. Learned stuff with MANQUE and BATEAU. Good for the grey matter. Thanx to Damon G.

Eight U's, too boot. No P; must drink more water.

p.s. @chefbea is all kinds of right. Sauteed 'rooms are superb. @31 forgot to load up his bullets; too busy blowin' his nose, mayhaps. Get well soon, professor.

(M an)d A

Tita 1:45 PM  

The tablet app lets you handwrite anything you want in the grid
Little rebus MEN drawn in grid

I've also posted a closeup on my Crucimetrics blog.

Tita 1:47 PM  

@Joe The Juggler - the above post is for you!

MANOHMAN - took me 12 times for capcha to smile upon me!

Chip Hilton 1:50 PM  

The Twelfth Man idea originated (to the best of my knowledge) at Texas A&M, which could use an extra player this Saturday at #1 Alabama. Gig 'em, Aggies!

TAXMAN and ELIMANNING revealed the rebus for me. I, too, loved the artiness of it all. Once I got MANETs and saw the Matisse clue, I started looking for a MANRAY answer and wasn't disappointed.

Lots of fun, which I needed after dealing with the 13.5 inches of snow we got here in the New Haven area. Yikes!

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

Really enjoyed this tuff mutha!

Picked up the rebus pretty quickly with ELI..., but amazed at the number of MAN (men) crammed in tight quarters.

At least on this blog, rebus seems to apply to multi-letter-in-one-square or symbol-in-square variations.

When I got the reveal, I had only 11 MAN squares, and it took quite a while before I realized LEIS/TAXI did not make any sense for June race and Beatles title.

Also real nice to have the constructor chime in. Blog very interesting, on the puzzle and the election.


Charley 2:06 PM  

You'd know Mia if you'd have watched "in Treatment" on HBO. She was brilliant.

MaryRoseG 2:11 PM  

Oh, how I love a Rebus and this one was no exception!

Milford 2:25 PM  

@Gill IP - Thanks for the grey/gray clarification! Good trick I can actually remember. This blog can be so helpful.

BTW I meant to say, BATEAU not gateau earlier.

MANRAY is only known by me because one of William Wegman's original weimaraner dog models was named after the artist. Another one was Fay Ray.

MIA was also the daughter in "The Kids Are Alright".

Stevlb1 2:54 PM  

Oume/Elma instead of Ouse/Elsa. Cell/Cateau instead of Bell/Bateau MAN, am I dumb.

jae 3:10 PM  

Amazing Thurs. A rebus on steroids! Same issue as Rex in not expecting so many MANs. Figured it all out but got majorly hung up in NE by refusing to let go of @jberg VAcant and getting MANTle the clothing confused with MANTEL the fireplace (one of the reasons I started doing crosswords was to improve my admittedly mediocre spelling skills). Got it fixed, but definitely a tough puzzle for me.

MANQUE was also a WOE for me.

@Andrea -- I didn't see anyone else address this so -- Frieda Kahlo.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

I don't know why, but I'm amused by the fact that TROTSKY's great-grandaughter is the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Apparently we're to be derived of the opiates of the masses, both religous and otherwise.

miriam b 3:29 PM  

2 aerpress

Great fun. WINGO? Got that via crosses, but it still looked wrong.

chefwen 3:39 PM  

@JFC - Stopped by Deb's place to see the Cheesers. Sometimes I get embarrassed for them and their get-ups (or lack of), but then I think of the Raider fans and don't feel so bad.

@Tita - Loved your little stick men, cute.

Lewis 3:50 PM  

Like Acme, I'm glad I didn't google. I was hoping for a MANONMAN. Worth the struggle. I would have preferred less proper names, but this was a fun and rewarding puzzle.

acme 3:52 PM  

Love your Freudian puzzle slip of MANhATERS!!!!
vehhhhhry interesting!

And of course, my favorite thing is to learn about the Woolf OUSE connection only to read a few posts later that there is more than one river OUSE!

LOVE this crowd.

yes, thanks, I can never remember her name! but I had refused to google this time around!

Also there is something delicious about SAMMI Sweetheart referring to herself as a "sweetheart" as she got into these knock down, dysfunctional, abusive drag out fights with her big meathead boyfriend. But for the first 18 episodes, I couldn't really distinguish her from JWOW! I await her appearance in the NYT!

Personally I think it would be great if Snooki and the gang donated half their ill-gotten millions to restoring the Jersey Shore now that it's been damaged even more than what their show did to it!

(By the way, for those who wish they could attend the ACPT or mini-local versions, Barnes and Noble is/are having these game/puzzle nights across the country hosted by local constructors and puzzle folks.
Go to Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Amy/Orange has posted cities and dates and there may be one near you!
I hope to see folks at the one The Tyler Hinman is hosting next Tues in Emeryville...wherever that is!)

quilter1 4:22 PM  

I wondered if @Rex winced when entering ORAL surgery.

sanfranman59 4:29 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 25:42, 18:49, 1.37, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 15:37, 9:24, 1.66, 99%, Challenging

I'm glad this one's falling toward the extreme end of the Challenging range because I had a relatively rare Thursday DNF. I was a bit dismayed when I saw that Rex only rated it as Medium-Challenging. At the moment, these are the 10th and 3rd highest median solve times of 174 Thursdays that I've recorded for the two groups of solvers.

Bird 4:29 PM  

I liked this puzzle, but wish the fill was better so I could finish it. Got the theme at 55A which confirmed 20A.

Who watches Jersey Shore anyway – I only know the Situation and Snooki from the news and late night talk. @acme – nice suggestion

With all the pop culture in the grid, why wasn’t 26A clued as “Singer of 1981 hit Stand and Deliver” (ADAM ANT)?

@quilter1 - Ouch

jackj 5:54 PM  

Acme launched her career as a NY Times constructor on June 12, 2000, some 12 plus years ago.

Though I surely solved this puzzle when it was first published, I have no memory of the puzzle so it seems to be fair game (and a fun way, to boot), to solve it and comment on it as a way to repay a reviewing debt I incurred with Acme on Monday last.

If anyone else wants to check out and solve Andrea’s maiden effort you can download the puzzle from XWordInfo, but be warned, I’m discussing it below.

So, with your indulgence, (especially Rex), this is what she gave us on 6/12/2000:

To say this is an earth shattering beginning might be too tame a description when one considers the theme is all about EARTHQUAKE(s), (sounds like a Ross Hunter film aborning), and surprise, surprise, there is no ACME mention, primarily because she went whole hog and made one of her main theme clues the SAN (ANDREA) S FAULT.

Thus, the Co-Queen of the Monday puzzle rode in with both guns blazing, announcing her arrival with a top-flight effort, with a theme sure to get attention (the other theme entry was AFTERSHOCK) and though we were spared a damage assessment, we were royally treated to fill that must have rattled a few early week solver’s cages back in the day.

Cluing “Sound thinking” she gave us LOGIC but that quickly went in to a STUPOR as it was subjected to a CLOSEUP, perhaps, and flowed into a new answer for “Logos”, a clever intro for EMBLEMS.

The goodies don’t stop there as the troublesome beauties of SORBET, INCUBI and BEREFT grace the puzzle as well and as a sort of grace note, Andrea takes a routine answer, ALIBI and gives it a lively launch, cluing it as “I was out of town at the time of the murder, e.g.” and it is crystal clear that this was a constructor to be heralded and harbored.

A final hint that Acme is a person not to be denied comes with the force feeding of a word, LACERS, not seen before in a Times puzzle (and not seen since) but needed to close the puzzle’s loop, so she clued it as “Ones stringing up shoes” and thus it all began, twelve years ago.

Great debut, Ms. Michaels! (Please stamp my IOU, “Paid”).

George Barany 6:56 PM  

Hey, as long as we're showering the love onto ACME, another of her early efforts took note of the anagrammatical equivalence of PRESBYTERIANS, BEST_IN_PRAYERS, and BRITNEY_SPEARS. Details are left as an exercise to the reader.

Will these Barnes & Nobles events have as-yet-unpublished puzzles, given that they are spread out over a several week period?

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

"Scag," meaning heroin, was current in the '60s and early '70s. I don't think I've heard that term for heroin since around the time Al Pacino was young, relatively less hammy, and thinner and playing the charming junkie lead in "The Panic in Needle Park" (1971), which takes place in and around the Upper West Side of Manhattan when it was a not-so-chic and not-so-expensive (and not-so-safe) neighborhood, and in fact included the triangular traffic island of the film's title which was a gathering spot for addicts awaiting their connections. Got the "man" theme pretty early, though.

Tita 8:48 PM  

@jackj - a tad unorthodox, but let me add this puzzle has another fabulous clue..."Photographer's request" for SMILE...that just what it made me do...

Z 8:49 PM  

I got the theme at ELI (MAN)NING, for all the good it did me. I know about as much about Jersey Shore as I do about Opera (overwrought melodrama has never been my thing), so SAMMI was a non-starter for me. I probably should have sussed out SAW IV, but Torture Porn and RRNs are a bad combo in my book. I am not proud that WINGO was a gimme, but I am a little proud that TANEY went in just as easily.

I knew Einstein was married twice and that he treated his first wife poorly, but somehow neither woman's name got lodged in the memory banks. Toss in the Mickey (MAN)Tle problem and erte instead of (MAN)RAY and I had a big DNF in the N and NE.

Hegewisch next 9:17 PM  

@JFC - Lived in the Miller area of Gary in the mid-'90s. When the winds were just wrong, we'd get the smell of the mills. No stockyards smells, fortunately. On a clear, cold winter day, downtown Chicago would shimmer across Lake Michigan.

@Anonymous 9:50- how about a little Blue Nun?

"Finished" with error - SCoG instead of SCAG. Oh, well. Enjoyed the puzzle, picked up MAN fairly quickly. Took far too long to see Le Mans. Sorry not going to F1 in Austin - maybe next year.

sanfranman59 10:15 PM  

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 5:44, 6:46, 0.85, 2%, Easy (3rd lowest median solve time of 174 Mondays)
Tue 7:57, 8:58, 0.89, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:55, 11:48, 0.67, 1%, Easy (lowest median solve time of 173 Wednesdays)
Thu 25:45, 18:49, 1.37, 95%, Challenging (10th highest median solve time of 174 Thursdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:28, 3:41, 0.94, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:27, 4:41, 0.95, 41%, Medium
Wed 4:30, 5:57, 0.76, 3%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 173 Wednesdays)
Thu 15:09, 9:24, 1.61, 98%, Challenging (4th highest median solve time of 174 Thursdays)

Another signal that today's puzzle was unusually challenging is that only 300 online solvers submitted correct solutions. That's the second fewest in the 3+ years that I've been tracking solve times. Only Elizabeth Gorski's 8/20/2009 puzzle had fewer solvers. In case you're interested, the other Thursdays with higher Top 100 median solve times are Matt Ginsburg & Peter Muller's 12/3/2009 puzzle (15:26), Xan Vongsathorn's 1/7/2010 puzzle (15:58) and Jules Markey's 5/10/2012 puzzle (17:23).

Jim Finder 10:40 PM  

"A fashionable 'Collezioni' " at 35D? Collezioni is plural. Is there some quirk of Armani advertising that makes this grammatical?

OISK 12:08 AM  

DNF upper right. Thursdays give me more trouble than Fridays or Saturdays. Why was Realtor capitalized? Disliked puzzle very much, despite clever theming. Never heard of SAWIV, Or Sammi of Jersey Shore, or Trey WIngo - perfect pop culture Natick. Phooey.

acme 2:15 AM  

Debt settled! Wow. Thank you!
(Would prefer to thank you privately, but your email is not listed on your blogger site)
You might not have actually done the puzzle bec I had asked Will to put a "tear" thru it, so he shifted some squares up and others down as tho an earthquake had ravaged the puzzle.
SO it looked funny and many didn't solve it thinking something was misprinted! And that effect is not able to be replicated on the computer or in the archives!
But seriously, thank you.
Sweet reminder that it's been a dozen years, that I didn't have my first till I had turned 40...and it makes up for being told my latest effort didn't even deserve to be published!
But this is the MAN of the hour's day, so I'll say good night, Gracie.

VariousE 4:45 AM  

You can try my puzzle at

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

Hard, hard, great puzzle.

Roger Taney is an infamous SC justice whose name is held in contempt by every first-year law student who has to read his indecipherable opinion in Dred Scott. And Sammi, of course, is the girl ion Jersey Shore that is not the other one. Have a heart, Rex -- it is puzzles like this that make me feel that there are others like me.

Pistol Grips 4:37 AM  

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Ginger 2:15 PM  

It appears that I'm not alone with a DNF, even after getting WINGO and ARMANDO from Google. @Sanfran's stats prove how tough this was.

I'm with OFL in not expecting the rebus squares at 1-A and 10-A, which is where I got stuck. Yet, this was a challenging workout that I enjoyed. Also neat to have the constructor weigh in, and interesting to see what he had to say on his own blog.

rain forest 4:59 PM  

Tremendous puzzle, and I think it taught me a lesson. I am so reluctant to plunk something in that "should" be right that I even doubted Mata HARI, and ARAL for the longest time because I couldn't think of a synonym for "holy smokes" that went__H_. So I put in words that seemed right: NOTRE, RIVERA, A FINE, AFOUL, AVANT, OVERSEAS, and only after trying to see how Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Phil Simms could be the QB, did I put in ARAL, HARI, and ORAL. Bingo! Mind you, once getting ELI MANNING there was much to do, but tough as it was, I was motivated to finish which I did, getting TWELFTH MAN before three other MANs. Took me way longer than any other solving group's median time, but I so enjoyed this one, even though I didn't know SEGEL, ARMANDO, TANEY, OR SCAG. Nice to see GREY in there as that is how I spell it.

Spacecraft 7:02 PM  

Tons that I didn't know; it's a miracle--and a couple of lucky guesses!--that I completed it. Seeing how MANy others DNF, I must admit I'm getting better at this.

Damn! I thought, as I looked at 20a: ELIMANNING would go in there if it were two letters longer! And then came MANOHMAN into my head, and we were off. 55a thus became an instant gimme, but MANQUE is a term I've only ever heard at the roulette table, representing the lowest 18 numbers (PASSE is 19-36). Likewise, I've never heard of LUXE without the "de." The B of BATEAU/BELL and the T of MANTA/TANEY were flat-out guesses.

Favorite aha! moment: ARMANISUITS. Also my favorite entry. This was very challenging, not only for the unknown stuff but the severe cluing. Nothing unfair, just...severe. Damon, are you sure you're not a Ferengi?

Dirigonzo 7:10 PM  

Puzzle Partner and I picked up the rebus at MANCAVE which let us go back and put in ELIMANNING, whom I had wanted but couldn't figure out how he would fit. Then we cruised through the grid until we stalled in the NE; we were still stuck when I got up to pour a drink, but before I got across the room I stopped and said, "Direct is MANTOMAN" and then we finished with no problem. Full credit to PP for her help on this one because it could easily have been a DNF for me. Fun, challenging, entertaining and educational - a wonderful Thursday puzzle, with many edifying comments from solvers on this blog. It's a good day, puzzle-wise.

Reminder to star-gazers: The Geminid meteor shower will light up the sky tonight/tomorrow morning so get out there and watch for shooting stars (what else were you going to do - sleep?)!

Anonymous 9:16 PM  

Cool puzzle but one major hang-up... I took the revealer clue literally and thought the twelfth man was indeed the twelfth man but alas - it was the eleventh. This made the southwest difficult as I believed the remaining rebus squares would occur prior to the revealer. I wasn't looking for a rebus in the SW. IMO this puz would have been so much better if the twelfth man really was the twelfth man as the clue promised.

Mike in Ohio

Prune 4:36 PM  

I guessed right on the SCAG/TANEY Natick, as well as the SAMMI/SAW IV/WINGO double-Natick. One that hinges on a guessable vowel, I can grant the constructor; a second one that's a double, I find as direct kill-joy for what was otherwise an enjoyable and challenging effort.

For many solvers, I will also include the NE slog at OUSE/ELSA/[MAN]RAY, adding a double proper-noun cross with a double theme entry.

That self-referential revelation at square 59 is artful. Cramming it into a 15x15 grid shows strong effort -- but should have been extended, rather than leaving so many of the target audience to face certain DNF.

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