Ninth-century Anglo-Saxon king / WED 12-12-12 / Film that opened 12/16/62 / Woody Allen title character / Armand of Private Benjamin / Pavement caution

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (likely to vary quite a bit depending on whether you know the movie in question)

THEME: "LAWRENCE / OF ARABIA" (11D: With 40-Down, film that opened on 12/16/1962) — rudimentary trivia about a film that opened 50ish years ago

Word of the Day: EGBERT (53D: Ninth-century Anglo-Saxon king) —

Egbert (also spelled EcgberhtEcgbert or Ecgbriht; 769 or 771 – 839) was King of Wessex from 802 until his death in 839. His father was Ealhmund of Kent. In the 780s Egbert was forced into exile by Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on Beorhtric's death in 802 Egbert returned and took the throne.
Little is known of the first 20 years of Egbert's reign, but it is thought that he was able to maintain Wessex's independence against the kingdom of Mercia, which at that time dominated the other southern English kingdoms. In 825 Egbert defeated Beornwulf of Mercia and ended Mercia's supremacy at the Battle of Ellandun, and proceeded to take control of the Mercian dependencies in southeastern England. In 829 Egbert defeated Wiglaf of Mercia and drove him out of his kingdom, temporarily ruling Mercia directly. Later that year Egbert received the submission of theNorthumbrian king at Dore. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle subsequently described Egbert as a bretwalda, or "Ruler of Britain".
Egbert was unable to maintain this dominant position, and within a year Wiglaf regained the throne of Mercia. However, Wessex did retain control of Kent, Sussex and Surrey; these territories were given to Egbert's son Æthelwulf to rule as a subking under Egbert. When Egbert died in 839, Æthelwulf succeeded him; the southeastern kingdoms were finally absorbed into the kingdom of Wessex after Æthelwulf's death in 858. (wikipedia)
• • •

So now you have everything you need to make your 1200th anniversary EGBERT tribute puzzle.

If you're seen this movie, then you could just fill in the answers. They're that easy. The rest of the fill was less easy, because of cluing. Theme answers intersect at a couple points, which is vaguely interesting in an after-the-fact kind of way. Fill woulda/coulda/shoulda been a lot more interesting. I'll let you hypothesize why it's not. No idea why something this straightforward, marking something of such dubious import (and not even marking it on the right day), was deemed NYT-worthy. But it was. Shows what I know. Looks like if you want to publish puzzles, you should google 1963 or 1964 right now and see what the hell happened. Note: I'd advise against a Kennedy assassination tribute puzzle. But then again, I'd've advised against *this* puzzle, so clearly my instincts are not to be trusted.

Theme answers:
I just started rereading The HOBBIT, but haven't gotten to the Meriadoc the Magnificent part yet, so that answer was hard for me. "OUR Lips Are Sealed" was not hard, as that was a song on the first album I ever bought on my own with my own money (bought "Beauty and the Beat" by the Go-Gos along with "Don't Say No" by Billy Squier—Wherehouse Records, Fashion Fair Mall, Fresno, CA, 1981). Wasn't sure what kind of "partner" was meant by [Mexican partner], but it didn't take long to figure out (ESPOSA). The MILwaukee Bucks are the [Bucks, on a scoreboard] in case you were wondering. That's a basketball team. You might not have heard of them if you don't follow basketball because they tend not to ... what's the word? ... win. Much. I'm disturbed at how easily and confidently I wrote in LUV for [Candy heart word]. I don't think there's another answer that plausibly fits that clue. Had RETAR instead of RETOP and still believe it's the one true answer for that clue (55D: Apply another layer of asphalt to). RETOP is more properly clued [Put on one's BLOUSE again, say].

Happy All 12s / End of the World!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JFC 12:21 AM  

@Rex, Not that I would know, but maybe sometimes you overthink it. This is a nice tribute to a film. Nothing more. Nothing less. Why, I ask, is that not enough for Wednesday?

Your humble and obedient follower....


Anonymous 12:44 AM  

Ok, since the world is about to end I can get some things off my chest.

1) Unless it was my first orgasm, I don't care what happened 50 years ago this very day.
2) Even if it is the 50th anniversary of my first orgasm, I still won't care because I'll be 82 at the time, and pissed off that I'll never have another one again.
3) There're only two things you ever do to an asphalt roadway. You either re-seal the sucker, or repave it.
4) If there is a tomorrow, I'm going to spend it wiping ENNA off of the map. Italy's already got Etna, what the hell do they need ENNA for? Or, do they have a pangram of E_NAs over there? Anyone ever honeymoon in EQNA? Stories/Photos?
5) How the hell did England ever get to be a superpower with names like those cited in the EGBERT entry? Or was that all in Wales, so, you know, nothing's odd because everything's odd.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

Think Rex will be disappointed to find that Meriadoc isn't in the hobbit?

jae 1:34 AM  

Much too easy for a Wed.   Got the theme off of  LAW in 11d and just kept filling in the grid.  Only erasure was, like Rex,  RETar for RETOP and no WOEs.  

As tribute puzzles go this was OK I guess.  The fill was pretty clean and the movie is an important classic.  It's just that I find this sort of puzzle a tad meh.

chefwen 2:01 AM  

Hand up for RETar.

Like others have said once you get LAW at 11D the rest is auto fill. I do not follow directors, had DAVID LEA the N came with NERD. Now that I have looked him up post solve I'm pretty impressed, he has directed some big ones.

Love the word (not the meaning) ESCHEW, I'm going to try that out next time I sneeze.

Too easy for a Wednesday, let us hope for a little more crunch tomorrow

Greg Charles 2:24 AM  

Ooh, gird yourself for more disappointment Rex. Merry and Pippin (aka Meriadoc and Peregrine) don't show up until The Fellowship. I don't think they're even born yet at the time of The Hobbit.

syndy 2:25 AM  

I have had my street RETARRED and believe me it does NOT apply a new layer of asphalt.If you have not seen LAWRENCE OF ARABIA you should-full stop.You may not have ant interest in EGBERT but yeah you should know what happened fifty years ago.Pay attention to the politics that are happening in the movie.there will be a test.

Octavian 3:48 AM  

the eponymous TE Lawrence was the original "most interesting man in the world."

he would be disheartened by this xword, which is "the least interesting puzzle in the world."

tribute puzzles are almost always a bore aren't they? you're just filling in blanks with facts. more like a test than a game.

Alateen Cazorp Milwaukees 3:58 AM  

Maybe it's RETOP bec RETARRED is now politically incorrect? :)

PETEROTOOLE handsomest man ever in that film, second only to Omar Sharif. Sigh...and both still going strong into their 80s is pretty remarkable (tho I think he said he's retired and Omar may be dead!)

Yes, as one of THE classics of all time, certainly deserving of a tribute puzzle, and, yes, "too easy" if you know it, and maybe too "who cares?" if you don't.
That is true I think of almost any tribute puzzle.
(Witness Jimi Hendrix, et al)

And I liked the books-to-film-y atmosphere ranging from LAWRENCEOFARABIA to "The Hunger Games" and the HOBBIT and MY FAIR LADY and AVA Gardner, Armande ASSANTE, LILO & Stitch...maybe SCAR might have been originally defined as from the "Lion King"?
Inevitably some will feel that's a tad too much... tho the same group who would appreciate an homage to one of the greatest films/books of all time, would probably like all the film/book references as well.

We're all becoming predictable...
@Rex implicitly ranting about pangrams leading to inelegant fills, questioning if the puzzle is even NYT worthy etc.
(Hmmm, where have I heard that before?! Oh yes, last Monday!)

And prob me too whining about why JAM, MIL, STU, DOUBLE all had to be uber-sportsy when all have other meanings.
So it goes on.

I wonder if we are all in some sort of loop?
"Jane, Jane, stop this crazy thing!"

But, seriously, how can you not LUV the wackiness of ZELIG crossing EGBERT?!

Jeremy Mercer 4:18 AM  

Was I the only one expecting an outrageously creative 12/12/12 puzzle today? I had my rebus hat on and everything ....

Tita 4:53 AM  

haven't finished yet - just checking in to see if email notifications are working now...

Zygotic 5:45 AM  

I spent 5 minutes looking for the sELIG/PROsAC error. EGBERT!

Anonymous 6:03 AM  

"So now you have everything you need to make your 1200th anniversary EGBERT tribute puzzle."

I don't mind tribute puzzles, but no, I don't think this one is NYT grade.

It is otherwise a fine crossword though, nothing wrong with it, I marked a number of clues as pretty cool, it's a pangram - but, meh. This would be okay for LAT.

I thought it was a pretty clean pangram. No problem at all there.

Never seen the movie, but old enough to know it, so yes, I blew through it pretty fast. If I wasn't old enough to know it, then I'd be asking (again) why the NYT does soooo many crosswords for old people, and I'd be Jonesin' for a BEQ.

I'm hoping for an 'end of the world' crossword on the 20th. You know, so we get to do it before we're all dead. Wouldn't the world be better off with the extinction of mankind.

OTD 6:13 AM  

Another easy puzzle. Agree with Rex that fill could be much better. Is this Wednesday or Monday?

And thanks to @Z for clueing me in on how to cancel posts.

Leon 6:17 AM  

From Michael Korda's Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia :

Noel Coward was a friend and correspondent of T.E. Lawrence.

Lawrence was going under the name "Shaw", and signing himself, for example in the guest book at Philip Sassoon's Port Lympne estate, as "338171 A/C Shaw", Noel Coward in a letter to him asked "May I call you 338?"

Noel Coward told the actor Peter O'Toole (who played Lawrence in the film Lawrence of Arabia) that "If you'd been any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia."

Milford 7:00 AM  

Very easy for a Wednesday, and hand up for RETar and getting the theme at LAW. Did not notice it was a pangram until the comments, so I even missed Rex's gripe about it. I guess a tribute puzzle is fine with me, but it went so easy that it just wasn't very zippy for me.

Liked the cluing of BLOUSE. Don't remember ever having filled in PROZAC before, so that was fun.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

@ACM I think Omar is still going strong. Doesn't he still do those columns about bridge?

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Missed opportunity: Hunger Games participants are "tributes," which would have helped the puzzle!

Carola 8:14 AM  

No paper on my sidewalk this morning (world feels totally out of kilter! :) ), so just saying Hi.

Oscar 8:23 AM  

With his lackluster themes and forcing of pangrams, Mr. Collins continues to shine as my least favorite too-often published constructor.

Kitchener 8:50 AM  

@Leon: thanks for recalling Coward's clever lines as told in Michael Korda's book, which is an excellent account of a fascinating life. Highly recommended.
And the movie was a classic, definitely worthy of a tribute puzzle.

joho 8:50 AM  

Ugh. How I hate those mean-spirited posts.

I appreciated this tribute because I think "Lawrence of Arabia" is truly worthy, and I always like a pangram, but I do agree with those who thought this just too easy for a Wednesday.

It would be funny if ZELIG had actually shown up at some point in the movie with PETEROTOOLE!

dk 8:51 AM  

@Carola, ditto. Man a little snow on the ground and the world comes to an end… wait this is the day.

Acme, I just have to say I wish you or I lived closer to the other.

ok, off to work.

🌟🌟( 2 stars) I want more from a Wednesday

jackj 9:06 AM  

When Peter Collins’ name popped up as author of today’s puzzle it seemed certain that, after Monday’s 17 theme clues and yesterday’s 9 theme entries, that Peter, with his trademark habit of cluing to extremes, would be entering the competition with one of his own multi-clued theme puzzles.

But, no, Peter surprises us with a fairly standard tribute puzzle, having only the basics of star, (PETEROTOOLE), picture, (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA), director, setting and Oscar won, (for Peter Collins, that’s cluing on a diet).

What does make this rather easy puzzle tolerable is fill like QUEUES, (anyone else think it would be QANDAS?), ESCHEW, SCAREUP and INPUT, the cleverly clued SHOE and BLOUSE and the daffy duo of EGBERT and ZELIG (helping to make this a pangram). Of course, there are bits like ATAN, ITLL, ALAS and RETOP, et al that shift the sands the other way so it isn’t a clean venture.

As an ardent fan of professional ice hockey I’m suffering because of the current labor dispute and was heartened to find a hockey clue for STU, Stu Grimson that is, AKA “The Grim Reaper”, a 6’6”, 250 lb. enforcer who played for a passel of NHL teams over his 13 year career, registering only 17 goals in over 700 games played but racking up 2,300 career penalty minutes, mostly for fighting.

Stu could barely skate, but he sure liked to drop the gloves and that was why teams sought his services, as the protector of their star players from other team’s ruffians and also because he was a cherished fan favorite. (I’m embarrassed to be rhapsodizing over Stu Grimson, but other hockey fans will hopefully sense it as my desperation to have the hockey season begin).

A mixed bag from Peter but still fun for this solver.

chefbea 9:21 AM  

Fairly easy but I did not know the director. Got it from the crosses.

Don't get off the wall=double???

Hand up for retar

mac 9:22 AM  

Solid tribute puzzle, which felt hard for me at first, I was all over the grid.

I did not realize it was a pangram, which must be a good sign. I also liked eschew, input, queues and especially scare up.

Hi to you Carola. Sorry for you and dk.

John V 9:50 AM  

Two puzzles, SW/S and everything else. Latter was easy. Former, came to a screeching halt with RETOP, esp. Nobody kvetching about 63D clue? Crossing ANI DiFranco with differential calculus? Really? Alternate clue for 63D: "Where Einstein's formula starts".

So, got it all, somewhere around Rye. Hand up for having rebus hat on today.

I once popped Lawrence of Arabia in the DVD machine and found it un-watchable after 10 minutes. I suspect that's just me, me who re-watched Fargo and The Big Lebowski over the past three nights. Not quite the same genre; no wood chippers in the desert.

B Donohue 9:56 AM  

Am a new solver. I want to watch the movie now.

Shouldn't the answer for 18-down be RHYME and not RHYMES? "Near and dear" is only 1 rhyme. The pair rhymes, but I'll stick to my guns on this one.

Unknown 9:58 AM  

Zoinks, this may have been my fastest Wednesday ever, done last night just before bed.

And I agree with those who anticipated/hoped for more of a 12/12/12-appropriate puzzle.

jberg 10:02 AM  

@chefbea, it's baseball. If a hit bounces off the outfield wall, but does not go over it, it frequently (though not always) ends up being a double, and will be referred to later as "X got an otw double in the 8th" for example.

I didn't notice the pangram - so embarrassed! I like pangrams - on the other hand, I thought this puzzle would have been better if all the movie clues were theme-related.

I did like SHOE crossing HEEL, and of course I liked EGBERT.

Not only is Meriadoc not in the HOBBIT, but it's only at the very end - maybe even in the appendix - of Lord of the Rings that he becomes known at "the magnificent." During most of the action he's just a kid who comes through in the crunch.

Off to give a couple of exams, so I can't linger.

r.alphbunker 10:13 AM  

Re: re

At the risk of reasking a question that has been discussed before, when is it appropriate to slap re in front of a verb and when is it not? It would seem that if reshot movie scenes were the context then any verb could be re-ed. E.G. The actor had to reeat the pizza many times before the director was satisfied.

I understand that common usage is a criteria for crossword puzzles. Is that also the case for Scrabble?

orangeblossomspecial 10:27 AM  

Here is Leonard Nemoy's tribute to the greatest little 15A HOBBIT of them all.

Thanks to those who informed me about SAL the mule on the Erie Canal. Now I know more than I did previously.

chefbea 10:36 AM  

@jberg thanx. was not thinking baseball.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

For some reason Peter Collins just doesn't amuse me. Can't put my finger on it.
I did enjoy remembering this classic film. Like @ Andrea it gives me a double sigh with Peter and Omar on the screen. Add Olivier to my dreamboat list.
The SE corner was toughest for me. I don't know the singer except from xwords and always wonder Ani or Edi. Throw in a biblical clue, sports, and some crazy math thing and you get a scribbled mess. At least I knew the Latin.
I might have mistaken the end of the world date. Is it today or 12/21/12?

Masked of Arabia 10:45 AM  

Lot to celebrate today...
1. Debut of calculus problems in the puz. Like. 500-year anniversary of calculus is coming soon.
2. 50 years of "Lawrence of Arabia". Like the movie.
3. Pangram. But cheer up, 31... that in itself ain't the...
4. End of the world. Confuses the M&A. Then why all this stewin' about fiscal ditch and holiday sales?
5. 66th anniversary of Peter O'Collins puzs. His puzs are now elligible for Medicare and Social Security. Like.
6. Eleven-U-gram. Like a lot. thUmbsUp.
7. There's gonna be an "Angry Birds" movie. I smell a tribute puz. (where's the room freshener)


Bob Kerfuffle 10:52 AM  

@ACME - Not only is Omar (name given at birth - Michael!) still around, but I heard an interview with him just this past Saturday on NPR (probably Morning Edition).
Request for help: When I saw Lawrence of Arabia in its first run in 1962, there was a scene in which Lawrence was told that the Arabs parsed his name as El Aurens, and they were saying, "Send us an Aurens and we will blow up railroads with it."

But that line disappeared with the numerous edits the film underwent before it was recognized as a classic, and I have never seen it again. I haven't located it online and would love to have someone point me to it.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

"With his lackluster themes and forcing of pangrams, Mr. Collins continues to shine as my least favorite too-often published constructor."

Of the 66 crosswords he's had in the NYT, this is only the third pangram. As a pangram, I like it. And I like the crossword itself, though I'd agree it wasn't especially special. It was okay.

I generally like his stuff. After getting himself in the mix solidly in 2006 and 2007, he's averaged about one a month ever since. Like it or not, his place in the stable is pretty solid.

quilter1 11:05 AM  

Just checking in. I fell on Thanksgiving and broke my back. Have not been puzzling, but I think I can stay awake long enough to ease back in. Gosh I miss it, and this community. Happy holidays to everyone.

Airymom 11:10 AM  

Easy, boring puzzle. But, I like the word "eschew". My first job, as a teen, was at the central branch of the Queensborough Public Library--shelving books, putting covers and pockets in the new books, etc. The head librarian had a poster which said "Eschew obfuscation". I asked her what it meant. She replied, "aren't you working in a library?"...I was a little embarrassed..but a good lesson to learn. Her somewhat challenging and sarcastic comment got me to try to find answers for myself. Still think that phrase is terrific.

BTW, am I the only one who never cared for "The Hobbitt" and all the books which followed?

Happy 12/12/12 everyone.

GILL I. 11:17 AM  

I enjoyed it just fine, thank you. Maybe because I loved Lawrence of Arabia. Might I add Alec Guiness, Anthony Quinn, Claud Rains and Jose Ferrer to the yummy list of actors.
Sir David Lean was one of the best (epic) directors of his time. Remember "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "Oliver Twist," "Great Expectations," "A Passage to India"?
Maybe today is some anniversary date for him... Further, any mention of Tolkien and ANY of his HOBBIT's always brings a smile.
I didn't know what a pangram was until I read this blog. Now I look for them everywhere. I didn't even see this one!!!
Thanks for the memories Peter Collins.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Hunger games participants were "tributes", but since Jennifer Lawrence was the star of the movie, a nice, inadvertent connection to the Lawrence of Arabia theme?

Sandy K 11:20 AM  

Unlike many fans of this movie, I'm with @John V- Could not get thru the movie. Thought it was 'a guy flick' but my guy hated it too. Sorry...

I did get thru the puzzle, however.
@jackj- QandAs before QUEUES
@chefwen- wanted ESCHEW for sneeze-cute!

Had REtar before RETOP, EtNA before ENNA, and wanted tributes not HUNTERS for Hunger Games.

Other NITS- AT AN and IT'LL. Hope @Rex never uses "I'd've" in his future pangrams. ; )

BUT unlike Roger E-BERT, I probably like the puzzle more than the movie.

Two Ponies 11:36 AM  

@ Bob K, I don't remember that particular line but I do remember the way the Arabs mispronounced his name. Also, this movie helped me solve a puzzle once because of the line "To Aqaba!"

GILL I. 11:41 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Now you had me scrambling to Google. All I found was that the correct spelling is Al Aurens which means Lawrence in Arabic. Can't find where it appears in the film.
@Quilter1: OUCH...Good grief...Hope you mend soon.

M and A re- 11:51 AM  

Happy holidays, @quilter1. Ouch. U heal up real fast, and good, girl. Stay under a warm quilt; that always seems to help.

Celebration, continued:
8. RETOP. har. Like. Always entertaining to see what kind of semi-desperate clue they'll come up with, for these little jewels. Since we're reminissin' today, here's a few of those from the vault:

(ok, there's a major passel of these, so just a few faves)
RESIP. Prize winner. Only occurs when you sneeze and burp simultaneously, while tryin' to take that first sip.
REDAM. Classic inventive clue was "do a beaver job anew". Nice touch, with " anew".
REBAG, REBOX and RECAN (!) The escapees' trio.
REMAT. Talk about yer challenge to clue. And reclue.
REVOW. This is a pledge cruciverbalists have to take, regarding no new "re-" words. Grover Nerdquest-related.

Alex Vratsanos 12:12 PM  

Dear friends,

I hope you all are having a good 12/12/12... indeed, it is a very significant date, as there won't be another such date until January 1, 2101.

I also found it significant enough to make a puzzle with the following diagram:


I made the puzzle even before my puzzle for 11/11/11 was accepted, but as a constructor, I have grown a great deal since then. And so, about seven or eight months ago, I made the decision not to send that puzzle in, because I believed (and still do, having grown even more) that there were just too many 3, 9, and 15 letter answers, at least for a Wednesday. It was kind of hard to part with this puzzle, but still, I was very excited to see Peter A. Collins' byline this morning.

And so, I wish you all a happy 12/12/12.


Alex Vratsanos

jae 12:13 PM  

@jackj -- To get a hockey fix check out the movie Goon if you haven't already seen it.

I'm pretty sure I got an A in calculus in 1962. Unfortuately the movie was more memorable.

A Mayan 12:21 PM  

@Alex - Post it somewhere, or tell us where you've posted it.

Because, you know, there won't be any more puzzles after today, so we may as well kill time with yours.

M and A's Last Silver Bullet 12:36 PM  

No reason at all for this post.
Since End of World, just wanted to get my full allotment.

Flavius 12:45 PM  

Surprised at the lack of discussion re: The Hunger Games clue. The Hunger Games participants aren't hunters. They're randomly selected (although sometimes self-selected through the volunteer process) kids from the 12 districts of Panem.

Some of them are hunters (i.e. Katniss), and some of them hunt one another (i.e. Cato), but others are just really unlucky (i.e. Rue). The clue is simply incorrect.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

How can you not enjoy a puzzle about one of the greatest movies ever made? That's worthy in my book.

Question - new to the blog and get most of the acronyms, but what is WOE? Word of ------?

John V 1:06 PM  


Thanks for coming by. Too bad 121212 wasn't a Friday as that could have been a crazy fun mini-themed Friday.

syndy 1:16 PM  

What on Earth! we liked it better than WTF.Quilter1 good grief! stay warm! Alex v thank you.

Alex Vratsanos 1:42 PM  

I agree, John V... but you may remember, 11/11/11 was a Friday, so I guess I had my chance then. It certainly didn't go to waste, but like I said, I've grown a lot since then, and I've also expanded my network of fellow cruciverbalists ("cruciverbalist" was also yesterday's Word of the Day), as well as my constructing resources. All that would have added up to a much better puzzle, but I won't get another chance at it (unless I live to 119).

And for those of you that are wondering, I did in fact clue that "12" puzzle up... I'm not sure where I could post it safely, though. But I'll send you the Across Lite file individually if you ask for it. My e-mail address is as follows:

That being said, if any of you also want to try constructing with me, I'm all for it- I believe in open collaboration.

Thanks, friends.

--Alex V.

ANON B 2:05 PM  

I don't read all the comments, so
these questions may have been
1) Who is that funny looking guy
whose picture is next to the
write-up on Egbert? When I clicked on it,all I got was his picture
and the something about the Hobbits.I'm probably the only one who doesn't know about Hobbits.
2)Why does Rex say this is the 1200th anniversary of Egbert?
1200 years ago was 812, but the
write-up says he was king from
802, 1210 years ago.

Bird 2:11 PM  

Peter, what happened? I usually enjoy your puzzles. A lot. But not so much this one. I don’t know, maybe I was disappointed it wasn’t a 12/12/12 theme. Maybe because this is a tribute puzzle and tribute puzzles, as a default, have no zip.

I didn’t like the ugly RETOP (which was originally the less ugly RETAR for the reason @Rex said) and I don’t connect SCARE UP with gather. Is RHYME a noun?

The theme does nothing for me, other than the fact it is a great movie starring a great actor. I liked some of the fresh fill including ASSANTE, HOBBIT and QUEUES.

Nobody posted at 12:12 AM?!

@Anon12:44 – lol

Re Hunger Games participants are tributes: they hunt for food, for fun and for survival.

@r.alphbunker – I tend to think (not all) constructors take too much liberty in attaching the prefix RE and the suffixes ER and ED to answers in order to construct the grid. Yes, yes – construction is difficult, yadda, yadda, yadda.

@ANON B – That'ss Roger Ebert. On a PC, if you hover the mouse over the picture the file name appears in the toolbar at the bottom-left of the window.

Happy Humpday on 12/12/12!

xyz 2:14 PM  

As Spiro Agnew would have said what a bunch of nattering nabobs. Not good enough for a New York Times puzzle? Don't take yourself all that seriously, please. I just don't understand why this puzzle wasn't on the actual anniversary of the day. Some of the clues were awful but I've come to expect that of the New York Times puzzles. Oh well dot dot dot dot dot

ANON B 2:35 PM  

I held the mouse over the picture
on the blog and nothing happened. When I clicked on it the picture
showed up again. Again nothing whether I held the mouse over it or clicked on it.

Bird 2:39 PM  

@ANON B - Maybe it's a browser thing. Did you try right-clicking the picture then left-clicking properties.

ANON B 2:48 PM  


I tried that and it worked.
I'm not a techie. I never had
to do that before. I left-click
everything and never had a problem before

Newbie 2:50 PM  

Long time troll, first time poster. Thought the puzzle was fine, but I've got a question, and there seems always to be someone with an answer here to any question, no matter how stupid.

Anyone know where I can find some 'fall water'? I like to keep seasonally consistent in all I do, and all I can find here in NYC is spring water.

Any help would be appreciated.

Bird 2:53 PM  

@ANON B - Glad it worked for you.

@Newbie2:50 - Aisle 12 next to the bacon stretchers and left-handed smokeshifters.

chefbea 2:59 PM  

@Newbie the fall water leaves when winter comes

r.alphbunker 3:12 PM  

Fall water is found in the fall bladder.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

B Donohue: Seems that no one else is interested in addressing your question. The word rhyme has a number of meanings; one is the rhyme itself, and one is the word that rhymes. Hence, near is a rhyme and dear is a rhyme, hence the plural answer. You say you are a new solver. You will learn that at the beginning of the week the clues usually refer to the most common meanings while as the week goes on the clues become less obvious.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Now why wasn't =this= one of the ones that kept getting shuffled to the back of the pile? Another 50 years would've been too soon.

Lewis 3:58 PM  

Omar Sharif is still alive and well. At one point he smoked 50 cigarettes a day, but after triple bypass surgery and a mild heart attack, he quit...

Guy in a vest leaning on a shovel for 8 hours per day 4:11 PM  

You know how whenever, and wherever, you're driving in New Jersey at least one of the lanes is blocked off? Where there's this monstrosity of a machine chewing up the top 2" of the road and dumping it in the back of a dumptruck, the brother of which you'll be behind for the next 10 miles? You know that?

Well, what we're doing is retopping the road. We dig up the top layer, then lay down a new top layer. Yes, roads have layers. There's the base made of 3/4" asphalt, then the top made of a 3/8" mix.

So, now you know.

sanfranman59 4:30 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Wed 9:55, 11:45, 0.84, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:13, 6:32, 0.95, 35%, Easy-Medium

Carola 6:31 PM  

Having not received today's paper, I shrugged off not doing the puzzle for a day...until the comments disclosed a Lawrence of Arabia theme. One of my favorite movies! Now I wanted the puzzle! Called customer service to see if they could email me a PDF. Shunted hither and yon. Finally directed to a phone number of last resort....and got, "You have reached a non-working number at The New York Times."

Zygotic 7:34 PM  

@Carola - someone at marcgiz at me dot com might just be able to email you the .puz or .pdf file if you don't turn him in to the NYT.

Carola 7:45 PM  

@Z - Thank you! I will give that a try.

chefbea 8:01 PM  

@carola I can send you the puzzle. E-mail me your e-mail address

chefbea 9:34 PM  

Great concert on for Sandy!!!!

chefwen 10:01 PM  

@Quilter1 - Egads! I was wondering where you gone to. Hope you heal quickly, best of luck.

Happy Holidays back atcha!

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:56, 6:16, 0.95, 22%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:13, 8:57, 0.92, 20%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:02, 11:45, 0.85, 15%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:39, 0.97, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:50, 5:03, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:03, 6:32, 0.93, 29%, Easy-Medium

acme 4:44 AM  

Yes, when I googled Omar, I got so sidetracked by his grandson who is gay and Jewish and making declarations about how that would put him in danger in Egypt...and then I clicked on the video @Rex posted by Lawrence Arabia (who is from New Zealand so maybe a fave of his wife?) and got freaked by the freaky video, but love the song itself!

(This blog has introduced so much new music to me...then got caught up in their other videos which seem vaguely early Beatlesesque!)

John 10:04 AM  


Well, you know dude, if you had an Apple you wouldn't have to do all that kabuki with the mouse. Meh.



Spacecraft 2:56 PM  

Everybody seems unimpressed by the "meh"-ness of the fill. For me, with SCAREUP, ALATEEN, ASSANTE et al, it was fairly interesting. I do agree that the main fault of this puzzle is the you-either-know-it-or-you-don't aspect of the theme. Only one I didn't instantly fill in, off the NE LAW_____, was WORLDWARI. I think of "setting" as a place rather than a period in history, but of course the latter is just as valid.

So, theme: Monday; cluing: Friday. Averaged out, it's a Wedensday, and easy-medium. Wanted Ideas for INPUT along with RETar, and Americanized the spelling of LITerS at first (My only writeover) but no major problems. Added a wrinkle to my forehead over the clue for DOUBLE till I finally got the baseball reference--an "aha! DUH!" moment for me. Shoulda had that one sooner.

I didn't mind the pangram since the scrabbly crosses did NOT seem awkward--and PROZAC/ZELIG deserves some kind of prize, IMHO. Also it gave us two symmetrically placed Britishisms in QUEUES and LITRES. Mr. "SHAW" would doubtless approve.

rain forest 3:32 PM  

Rex, I know, I know! I hypothesize that you thought this puzzle would have been "a lot more interesting is it weren't a pangram! You know, I didn't realize it was a pangram until someone up there mentioned it. I think that is the coolest thing to do--slip it in there without people twigging. However, I found the puzzle interesting, being a tribute to a great movie, and providing enough interesting cluing/fill to satisfy. Sure, it was easy, but whattsa matta that?

Even after 50 years, Larry Arab remains my favourite all-time movie. "You must be one of those desert-loving English. Arabs like green grass and trees." "Be warned, English; you were drifting".

David Lean was an outstanding director. Period. Enjoy your day.

Dirigonzo 5:42 PM  

I didn't find it as easy as most did nor did I notice the pangram aspect, but I liked it just fine. I have never seen the movie but apparently I have absorbed enough through osmosis to be able to suss out the theme answers. I had a little dust-up in the middle of the grid when my Hot spot at 35d was a Spark, and I haven't read or seen "Hunger Games" either so HUNTERS came with difficulty. I think Peter Collins' puzzles are always prettry good and this was no exception.

@Ginger (from yesterday) - I had almost forgotten the TWI-light zone reference regarding syndiland; thanks for reminding me of it - maybe it will catch on yet.

DMGrandma 5:52 PM  

A nice puzzle with a couple of hang-ups for this non-sports hep lady. Finally let DOUBLE fill itself in, but failed at JAM, a new term for me. I had riM. And, sadly because my degree was in math, I couldn't come up with the derivative.

I watch Lawerance of Arabia something like once a year, and am always stunned by the incredible beauty of both the site(s) and O'Tooles performance. How did he hold that match so long? On the other hand, forced my way through the Hobbit, and bailed on the ensuing tales which I found dark and joyless.

Ned Rex 5:16 AM  

Had ---E for 5D, and knew it couldn't be "wifE," so it had to be SHOE.

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