Summation symbol in math / SUN 2-17-13 / 1968 movie directed by Paul Newman / Island SW of Majorca / Post-1968 tennis / Post-1858 rule / Rank below group captain / Bridge dividing San Marco San Polo districts / Old West casino game / Fictional Indiana town where Parks Recreation is set / Month after Av / Body of water on Uzbek border

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Constructor: Ian Livengood and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Mark My Words" — five squares work as punctuation marks in the Acrosses and letter strings in the Downs
  • "RACHEL, RACHEL" / WING COMMANDER [Rank below group captain]
Word of the Day: FARO (77D: Old West casino game) —
A card game in which the players lay wagers on the top card of the dealer's pack.

[Alteration of PHARAOH.]

Read more:
• • •

I have this weird sense of déjà vu with this one—seems like I've seen punctuation mark puzzles before, maybe even from Ian himself (???). No matter, this one works nicely, and the rebus squares are symmetrical (!?), which you almost never see in a rebus. Usually too hard to do, and usually makes rebus too easy to solve. Not today, though. Never occurred to me to look for symmetry, so the symmetry feature didn't help me at all. Took me waaaaay too long to figure out the theme. I just couldn't figure out why there was a blank in "THE IN [blank] CROWD," and because of that mystery square, I also could Not get up into the north. Clues on everything were supremely unhelpful. BIG BAT took me forever, and I'm a baseball fan. Clues on L.A. LAKER (23A: Magic, once) and ARAL SEA (19A: Body of water on the Uzbek border) were not at all obvious. GALA (8D: Big do) could've been AFRO or BASH. Couldn't remember the first two letters of ARLEN's name (20D: "Blues in the Night" composer Harold). So that area was Rough. Finally figured out the gimmick way over at "CSI: NY," and after that, the puzzle got much easier, but never Easy. I was gonna call foul on "CSI: NY" because I thought there were periods in the abbreviations, but looks like there isn't a period to be seen on either side of the colon. I've never even heard of "RACHEL, RACHEL," so that part of the grid was also rough, but no matter—it's fine to struggle sometimes, and the fill here is mostly very good and even entertaining in parts. Weak in the ENSILE-over-OSE area, but really strong in the SE, where ALEX TREBEK wears FAKE FUR to IBIZA (what a diva!) (122A: Island SW of Majorca), and the NW, where MONEYPENNY and "IRONSIDE" create a nice crime/spy fiction nexus.

Crosswordese Experience helped a bunch today, as IONIA (2D: Coastal Anatolian region) slid right in, ENSILE was no problem at all, ELUL (54D: Month after Av) was virtually second nature, and KIRS (115D: Cocktails with crème de cassis) felt like an old friend (even though the last three are words I know *only* from crosswords). Of course there was the little matter of crossing crosswordese wires at RAJ (120D: Post-1858 rule) (I went with HAJ), and then needing almost every cross for ZERO G. Always happy to see a "Parks & Rec" clue—I forget sometimes that PAWNEE is fake, since I know more about it than any other place in Indiana (86A: Fictional Indiana town where "Parks & Recreation" is set). I liked the clue [Gotham-bound luggage letters] (LGA) both because I love Batman and because I will be Gotham-bound myself in about three weeks to attend yet another American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT).  YE GODS! I haven't made my hotel reservations yet. Gotta go.

For those who missed my Thursday announcement: "American Red Crosswords"—a collection of 24 original puzzles that I put together to benefit the Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund—is available for download now from Puzzles were edited by Patrick Blindauer. Will Shortz wrote the introduction. And many, many big-time constructors donated their talents. So go donate to the Red Cross, download some puzzles, and enjoy the weekend.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld



jae 12:07 AM  

Unlike Rex this one was easy for me.  Caught the cute theme at BALDER- and just kept on going.   A delightful Sun. with a smooth grid and a bit of zip...YE GODS, MONEY PENNY, PAWNEE, BLACK HOLE, ALEX TREBEK, :EL MUSTARD... Looks like all the across theme answers are entertainment related...a TV series, three movies, and a rap star.

No erasures and no WOEs.

I suspect the clue for 128a was not the original.

Hope the class got an A for this one!

ANON B 12:38 AM  

I give up. Why is Colonel
Mustard one of the usual

Evan 12:47 AM  

Yeah, I was certainly not looking for a rebus when I had half the puzzle solved already, but had no idea what was going on with the beginning of the answer ------NIXON. I was fairly positive that FROST didn't have an E at the end of his name. Like @jae, I caught the trick at BALDER[DASH], then everything became much easier after that.

Not many theme answers for a Sunday, but that's okay -- it makes the fill less constrained that way. LER and ENSILE are probably the worst offenders, but I can live with those. MONEYPENNY, BLACK HOLE, YE GODS, MACBETH, SPOTLIGHT, FAKE FUR, ALEX TREBEK, UNDULATE more than make up for it. Too bad that WING COMMANDER wasn't clued as the old DOS computer game that my family used to play a lot when I was a kid.

I had FATHER, FATHER initially in the center. Sounded like an old movie name. When I eventually got RACHEL, RACHEL, I thought that was the name of one of the movies in "Seinfeld" that George and Elaine go to see instead of "Prognosis: Negative," but it turns out that's spelled "Rochelle, Rochelle." I had no idea it was mentioned in three Seinfeld episdoes! Here's one of them.

I was going to complain that the clue for TORE must have had a typo -- "Careered"? Shouldn't it be "careeNed"? I checked good ol' Google after solving, and sure enough, career can mean "moving swiftly and in an uncontrolled way." The things one learns from puzzles.

Evan 12:48 AM  


COLONEL MUSTARD is one the suspects in the game "Clue."

Kristin 1:00 AM  

Anyone have a problem using magmic software? It's keyboard seems to have no period ker...

Mike 1:02 AM  

Hi Kristin,
I just used the rebus key and typed PERIOD. It accepted my solution.

Noam D[period] Elkies 1:20 AM  

Neat idea, but isn't that a hyphen in "the in-crowd", not a dash as in "the in—crowd"? Plus of course major deductions for resorting to dross like 126A:DR.DRECK and 67A:RACHEL,RACHEL for the Across entries. Turns out that (thanxwordinfo) that this same Rachel title was already used in a previous incarnation of the theme, back in November 1998 when that movie was only 30 years old, not 45.


Muscato 1:30 AM  

I found much to like in this one (although ENSILE is always a groaner), although until I found a stupid typo I thought perhaps that Magmic had let us down on today's rebuses.

Also, I just this week had my first-ever Kir Royale (after all these years finally getting over my prejudice about muddling about with Champagne), so I felt momentarily very bright...

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Absolutely loved it. Caught on with BALDER-. Super fun puzzle as all of Ian Livengood's puzzles are. Toughest area for me was the NEast with :enmustard.

I love Kimchi 34A but you have to make sure that you don't have a lot of human contact after eating, your breath could knock an elephant over. At least, that is what my husband tells me.

chefwen 2:30 AM  

Ooops :elmustard

Anonymous 3:26 AM  

The IN-CROWD does use a hyphen, but common usage has that interchangeable as the same as a dash. That's the cool thing with the IN-CROWD these days.

If, as a shunned outsider, I were to quibble on that, then I would want virgule instead of slash.

Don't get me started, or I'll go to the pound sign, which to me is an octothorpe.

evil doug 5:21 AM  

Turning : into the Clue character is a fun run of imagery. "I think it's Colonel Mustard in the Lavatory with the Pepto-Bismol bottle"....

Trimmed down, this would have made a nice Thursday rebus. Could have used that this week....


Bob Kerfuffle 6:31 AM  

Nice one, once I finally caught on to the gimmick, or "rebusiess" as Spacecraft dubbed it.

Two write=overs: 114 A, FAUX FUR before FAKE FUR, and oops!, 38 A, PHAROAH before PHARAOH.

Amy at Crossword Fiend lists all the departures of the symbols used from their proper names. Didn't bother me.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:32 AM  

"rebusiness", of course.

Askhouda 6:46 AM  

The only real problem I had was that my iPad didn't offer me the symbols and wouldn't accept the word typed as a rebus. In the end my time was destroyed not by the puzzle but by my keyboard. I enjoyed solving this one though,

The Bard 7:31 AM  

Hamlet , Act V, scene I

HAMLET: Let me see.

[Takes the skull]

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.
Macbeth , Act III, scene II

LADY MACBETH: Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.


How now, my lord! why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done is done.

Milford 7:49 AM  

Challenging puzzle, but amazing how much I filled without figuring out the rebus! Had probably 85% filled in before light dawned on marble head.

Part of my problem was being unfamiliar with the two big middle COMMA entries, and the fact that COL MUSTARD seemed just fine to me. But finally saw the theme at EDWARDIAN PERIOD and DR. DRE.

Amazing how the theme answers were symmetrical, plus (+) the word and symbol usage stayed consistent with across and down.

Loved the clues for ALEX TREBEK, LA LAKER, MUDFLAP, and ORIGAMI. And SKEET cluing, as @jae noted, is pretty current. Actually thought it was b-ball at first.

Challenging, but definitely not a slog! And just to say it again to others, the Magmic app will indeed take the written form of each word in the rebus squares and give you your "well done!". I promise.

webwinger 8:34 AM  

Finished a Sunday with no googles (capitalized noun becomes uncapitalized verb becomes uncapitalized noun)! Take back everything I wrote yesterday. Well, not really. Surprisingly little arcana today. Didn’t know IBIZA or IONIA, but got them from crosses. Really really liked the theme, which I too figured out early from BALDER(DASH) and IN-CROWD. Last to fall was NE; like Rex I overlooked the symmetry and was unsure where to put the rebus, but delighted, once I saw it, by the clue (Clue!) and answer (COLONEL)MUSTARD. But here’s something I don’t get: Besides spotting the theme quickly, I had little or no trouble at most of the points @Rex mentioned (e.g. RACHEL,RACHEL a well remembered film, first to be directed by Paul Newman, starring Joanne Woodward, who was married to Newman for 50 years and—I learned from Google after finishing—still alive at 82). Yet (as is fairly typical) my time was more than four times as long as his. Could this be a time zone phenomenon? Relativistic effect?

loren muse smith 8:42 AM  

Rex said – “Took me waaaaay too long to figure out the theme.” Hey. At least you (all) figured it out! Like @Evan, and @Milford, I had over half worked and. Just. Didn’t. See. It. I couldn’t STOP trying to see a trick with MONEY PENNY, ALEX TREBEK, SPOTLIGHT, and BLACK HOLE. Wow. I almost always at least get the gimmick. I had FROST_NIXON, _ER FILM, and I think most of RACHEL_RACHEL before I just threw in the towel. How can I know ENSILE without hesitation but BLANK at “twaddle?” So I didn’t CAREER through this one. (Thanks for the definition, Evan.)

What a cool thing to do, though! Like @Evil and @webwinger said – how fun that :EL MUSTARD works that way!

Someone told me once that there’s a girl who spells her name Ta – a. (pronounced Tadasha)

I wish I had been less impatient because I bet the “aha” moment for this beauty was truly satisfying.

Yesterday SKEETER, today SKEET. I got a kick out of the ELANDS/AMORAL cross. You just can’t trust those ELANDS for nothin’.

CAKE PAN right over FROST crossing COUNTER. Nice! Marshall’s THUNDERing HERD cross. Nice!

Oh well. This TAR HEEL just didn’t cut the MUSTARD today.

@Tita – great room rate, word games, Rexites. . .commit!!!
@acme, nanpilla, ims dave, Rex – can’t wait to meet you all!
@Sparky – hope you make it.

Ian and your class – Bravo. Really nice puzzle.

webwinger 8:44 AM  

Oops, meant to write (COLON)ELMUSTARD.

Smitty 8:54 AM  

I liked it but DNF the one last Dr. DRE. square since I was looking for the punctuation for EDWARDIAN.
Why does DR have a PERIOD but L.A. LAKER does not?

Just watched the new James Bond movie last night - I miss the older, more fun versions that took place on ski slopes, beaches, and Riviera resorts instead of dark sewers.

Never heard Sean Connery call her MISS Moneypenny.... just Moneypenny.

baja 8:58 AM  

tough - DNF but got the theme / which always makes my day: excellent puzzle; never did learn how to use punctuation correctly. ,,, chameleon. Sorry for the ear worm guys!

Sir Hillary 9:09 AM  

This one played easy for me, although like many others I took awhile to recognize the theme. My first long entry was MONEYPENNY, so I thought all the theme entries would be plays on currency names, like the title "Mark My Words".

Lots of zip in the fill -- ALEXTREBEK, UNDULATE, MONEYPENNY, BALIHAI, ORIGAMI AND TARHEEL are all winners. I especially like the symmetrical BLACKHOLE and SPOTLIGHT, which could not be more opposed in terms of what they do with light.

I don't think I will ever be able to remember that it's PHARAOH, not PHAROAH. That is a guaranteed writeover for me, no matter how many times I have seen it.

My one beef -- and it's a big one -- is that I am not sure THEIN-CROWD actually has a dash, hyphen, or anything else in it. When I Google "the in-crowd" all I get are items like "The In Crowd", which is the song made most famous by Ramsey Lewis. Can someone correct me on this? If I am right, it's a bad mistake.

evil doug 9:24 AM  

Loren--After your note I actually thought about bopping into Brooklyn for grins. Just jump on the big Delta jet with my free pass, cab on over, and voila! I know there are soooo many people who would enjoy meeting me there (speaking of grins!).

Then I looked at the cost. People pay $180 bucks? It's like shelling out money to a dominatrix for the pleasure of getting whipped. Or paying for the privilege of retaking the SAT's.

So, I think, maybe I'll just go and observe---get to meet some folks and laugh at 'em while they flail with the grids. But even that costs $135! You guys must be loaded! Whattya, play polo on your non-crossword days, then head out to the Hamptons for cocktails on your yachts?

Guess I'll read all about it after the fact. Sorry, guys; I know my absence will leave you crestfallen....


Anonymous 10:05 AM  

If you dare to show your face, ED, I will pay your registration fee.

jackj 10:07 AM  

I can only imagine the negotiations that must go on among the J.A.S.A. members when trying to develop unanimity on their cluing for these puzzles.

How many battles were there over having someone’s personal problem, ECZEMA, included as “Itch cause”:

“Well, if you can have that I want my psoriasis in there!”

“No, let’s show my seborrhea!”

“I had cellulitis once and that had a terrible itch!”

And here’s where Ian steps in and makes a command decision to keep ECZEMA and they’re likely quickly moving on to do battle over whether to include RITEAID, WALGREEN’S or DUANE READE as the “CVS competitor”.

The theme entries weren’t many but mercy, they were terrific, especially (SLASH)ERFILM for “Halloween”, e.g.” and WING(COMMA)NDER for “Rank below group captain”. Brilliant!

Much of the fill was also remarkable with ingenuity fully on display for such as MONEYPENNY, REDHAIR, PHAROAH (especially loved that one), BALIHAI, COUNTER, MUDFLAP, BLANKED (no doubt a winner on the first ballot when clued as “Had a senior moment”) and the best of their entire effort, “Work from a folder” for ORIGAMI.

The clunkers were few with only LER, RENE, ENSILE, RIALTO, ORA and ELUL triggering my “tilt” light.

Each time a J.A.S.A. construction is presented I go into “pre-cringe” mode hoping that this isn’t the time they give people reason to cite the maxim that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”, (or worse, “too many cooks spoil the broth”), but so far, so good and hopefully they will continue to dazzle us with their sagacious playfulness!

Congratulations to Ian and the J.A.S.A. folks—you’re swinging a BIGBAT.

A Rebuzzle to remember!!

MikeM 10:11 AM  

Loved this puzzle. It also took me way too long to get the theme, I got a lot of it but no theme answers . Finally _ERFILM crossing FROST_NIXON gave it away and from there the horse could smell the barn. Too bad he couldn't find a way to get M*A*S*H in there. I didn't understand MONEYPENNY until I got here.

joho 10:15 AM  

What a lovely puzzle! I'm always wanting something tricky on a Sunday and this one delivered big time. Thank you, Ian and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class! Well done!

@Jae, I, too thought the clue for SKEET at 128A must have been recently updated -- which I think is great ... keeps the cluing fresh.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

You're too young for this puzzle, RP. The clues that gave you grief (Rachel, Rachel; Harold Arlen, etc.) belong to an earlier yet not really historical time.

Carole Shmurak 10:51 AM  

This one was easy for me. Of course it helped knowing Rachel, Rachel from the start, which gave me the theme. Hardest part was getting hyphen in "in crowd". Never saw that written with a hyphen, or a dash.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

what's with the asian sub-titles in the Roxy Music video?

600 11:08 AM  

Maybe someone else mentioned this; I think I carefully read all the comments, but sometimes I have senior moments (BLANK..) I love that PHAROAH and FARO were in the same puzzle! As to @joho and @jae, I resisted SKEET because I thought the Obama connection was way too recent a vintage to have made it to the puzzle. So I'm with you. That clue must have been updated--if what I read here about how long it takes to get a puzzle actually in the paper is true.

Like several others, I had the puzzle mostly done, with truly confusing blanks after EDWARDIAN and in the middle of THE IN CROWD. I finally figured the rebus out (and my time was over an hour because figuring it out took a very long time) when I couldn't make any sense out of WING NDER. The aha moment was more like eureka!!! Even then I had trouble with the SLASH but it's okay. I love a good rebus, especially one that chews me up before I solve it, and this was one of those.

I remember RACHEL,RACHEL. Seeing it here along with @webwinger's comment that the Newman/Woodward marriage is a fifty year Hollywood success story, I remembered hearing Paul Newman interviewed long ago. The interviewer commented that it was quite unusual that there had never been whispers about him being unfaithful. Newman said, "Why would I go out for a hamburger when I have steak at home?" Gotta love a guy like that.

Glimmerglass 11:14 AM  

Great rebus and appropriately challenging for a Thursday or Friday puzzle, which I love in a Sunday. This took me many extra pleasure-filled minutes to complete. However, NDE is correct. A hyphen (The IN-CROWD) is not the same thing as a hyphen. As a copy editor, I cuss every day at writers who don't know the difference. Because this was the first rebus-answer I came to, I though something was wrong with my answer.

Glimmerglass 11:16 AM  

. . . not the same thing as a dash.

Amelia 11:52 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Nice and challenging for a Sunday. Rare. I got it pretty quickly at Edwardian and Dr. Dre. What I liked was that even after I knew the theme, it was still hard work. I want to be in this class. I may even be old enough!

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Anonymous @3:26 - the pound sign is now a hashtag...

Merle 12:09 PM  

I found this puzzle very easy, and fun. The punctuation blanks were cute. But inaccurate. I agree with the other commentators, there is a significant difference between hyphen and a dash, dash it!

There were hardly any clue-answer clusters (note the hyphen, not a dash!) that I did not know. The only slightly obscure one for me was "open era" but I figured it out because it made sense, based on the smattering of stuff I know about tennis. And GIF. WTF is GIF? I guess I just don't care, since I haven't Googled to find out.

Solid puzzle. I look forward to more from Ian Livengood and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class. (Used all the endstops correctly, didn't I?) I am livin' good doing the puzzle today because of Livengood.

Sandy K 12:20 PM  

I'm with THE IN-CROWD that loved this puzzle! Also caught on at BALDER- and had fun finding the puctuation marks!!

But even when I was finished, I thought I was missing the rebus in MONEYPENNY and ALEXTREBEK...

Almost got naticked at KIRS/IBIZA, but thanks to the J Lo lyric in "On The Floor", I didn't BLANK on IBIZA.

Fun Sunday!

syndy 12:56 PM  

Since Mr. Livengood usually beats me to a pulp the mellowing effect of the J.A.S.A. is very appreciated!I stood up and yelled a very IONIAn Eureka! at NIXON/FROST. The slight artist liberty of the punctuations added a needed edge to the puzzle (surely @Glimmerglass's comment was the most hilarios of the day)

Norm 12:59 PM  

Five star puzzle. I cannot believe that anyone was misled or confused by the difference between a hyphen and a dash, so that's a tiny tempest in a teaspoon. Symmetry and a two-way rebus and some cute fill. What's not to like?

Norm 1:04 PM  

Oh, and Glimmerglass, what's the difference between an n-dash (as opposed to an m-dash) and a hyphen? Was the clue really wrong? :)

P. Evans 1:29 PM  

Fun, difficult puzzle which I finally managed to finish. Made the mistake early on of entering the more appropriate answer SERENE instead of the (correct) answer SEDATE for "Unruffled", which was my only complaint for an otherwise delightful puzzle.

Gill I. P. 1:57 PM  

OOOOOH lala. Loved this puzzle.
Like others, BALDERDASH was my light bulb going on except that I then thought all the other answers were a rebusy dash. Wrongy dongy. That held me up for ever and I wanted to throw in the CAKE PAN. I then HOOFed it and the BLACK HOLE opened up. RACHEL,RACHEL came to the rescue.
What caught my eye was the symmetry @Rex pointed out. Dang that must have been hard to construct. Plus, all the great words...
I plopped in MONEY PENNY immediately because just the other night we watched Skyfall. @Smitty, I think at the end she says I'm Miss Money Penny" but I could be wrong. Good flick - like all the Bond films.
@chefwen: My neighbor - at one point - was Korean and I'm sure she bathed in KIMCHI. I used to love the stuff but dang, she would open her mouth to speak and you could see this green cloud of cabbage and garlic floating above her head..
@Evil...My goodness, GO! Let everyone find out what a swell guy you are!!!

Masked and Anonymo6Us 2:05 PM  

Classy. Any complaints about this puz would be sheer balderhyphen.

Fave clue: Split part of a reindeer.
Honorable mention to Celtic water deity.

Getting too easy thru dejavuosity clue: Magic, once.

Great puz title. thUmbsUp.

Davis 2:21 PM  

Add my voice to the chorus of praise for this puzzle. I half-picked up the theme at BALDERDASH, but I went looking for more instances of DASH until I hit COLONEL MUSTARD.

This puzzle was an easy one for me; I was pleased to see my time was only two minutes longer than Rex's. I started right in at SIGMA (math background finally doing some good), and everything came together from there.

Good to see a shout-out to gingers this puzzle, seeing as I'm one myself. As for the rest of the fill, there weren't many individual entries that sparkled for me, but the sheer quantity of solid entries was impressive. There are very, very few clunkers for a Sunday here.


Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Can someone explain what a GIF is?

kev 2:45 PM  

Game of clue........

More and AnonymoUs Balderhyphen 3:15 PM  

GIF=Graphic Interchange Format. One way to pixel-ate pretty pics to put them in WWW pages.
Gif=What Dandy Don and Howard Cosell used to call their MNF co-announcer, for short.
GIF=Gastric intrinsic factor. Natural ability to win farting contests "going away". Brought to you by TMI.

My old pappy always told me explain an abbr. with another abbr. Lets U keep the upper hand.


Rob C 3:45 PM  

That settles the hyphened or hyphenated argument from earlier this week. It's neither. It's dashed.

Joseph B 3:46 PM  

Great puzzle. Got the Rebus on DR[PERIOD]DRE, and the rest of the puzzle fell more quickly. Loved the [COLON]ELMUSTARD fill. That would have been great even without the rebus.

However, I ended up with a careless mistake, something I do in a lot of Sunday puzzles:

I filled in the SE corner mostly using downs and neglected to verify all of the acrosses. Thus, I put in SUSIE rather than SUZIE, and didn't even look at IBISA, which I would have easily have spotted as wrong.

The lesson here: read every clue, even when its answer is already filled in by crosses that you're "sure" of.

GIF Commander 3:54 PM  

@Joseph B... Yep. Had PIC instead of GIF. Didn't have any idea of my miscue, until someone asked what a GIF was. Altho, I had been sorta fleetingly wonderin' what on earth a WImp,NDER was.


Anonymous dude 4:09 PM  

I wish there was a rebus using the # symbol. Then we could have a big row about whether that's a pound or a hash.

Octopuses/Octopi/Octopodes 4:56 PM  

@ Anonymous dude - Neither - it's an octothorpe.

Lynford Lynch 4:59 PM  

Got the creme de cassis clue from reading Hercule Poirot mysteries. When he would drink he would always ask Georges for that.

jberg 5:28 PM  

This one took me a really time, partly because I had to stop to shovel snow, go to the market, take a walk with my wife, etc., but still ... I got the theme with BALDERDASH and EDWARDIAN ., and CSI:NY showed me the symmetry - I would never have got /ER FILM without it (I actually considered EEK FILM at one point!) But I didn't know the Newman movie, so I tried to write 'leftenant' in there for WING COMMANDER. And my mind BLANKED way too long on MONEY PENNY - I even thought maybe there was a character named "MONEY PANTS" in some movie.

It was a great puzzle, I thought, despite ENSILE and a couple of other things. But I finished with an error - I got too wedded to CutS instead of CANS for 'pink-slips,' never knew PAWNEE and decided PAWtiE would be a funny name, and since my knowledge of actor Quinns begins and ends with Anthony, I figured AIDuN must be an alternative spelling. So I got crumpled up like a piece of yesterday's ORIGAMI in that section. So - finished with 4 errors and about 58 writeovers.

You techies - I also had a hard time giving up bmp for GIF. Doesn't bmp stand for bitmap?

sanfranman59 6:11 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 6:43, 6:08, 1.10, 86%, Challenging
Tue 7:07, 8:28, 0.84, 8%, Easy
Wed 13:03, 11:52, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 15:15, 17:02, 0.90, 27%, Easy-Medium
Fri 22:21, 21:27, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 25:03, 24:55, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 31:48, 29:37, 1.07, 76%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:40, 1.09, 84%, Challenging
Tue 4:25, 4:54, 0.90, 13%, Easy
Wed 7:27, 6:34, 1.13, 83%, Challenging
Thu 8:05, 9:43, 0.83, 17%, Easy
Fri 13:25, 12:23, 1.08, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 15:57, 14:39, 1.09, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 31:48, 19:44, 1.60, 95%, Challenging (5th highest ratio of 74 Sundays)

The reason that the median solve times are almost identical in the two groups of solvers is that there were only 103 people who submitted correct solutions online. That's by far the fewest of the 74 Sunday puzzles in my spreadsheet (the next fewest is the 140 for Byron Walden's 5/27/2012 puzzle). The number of online solvers for every day of the week has been going steadily down hill since they changed their billing policy last July, but this one is out in left field. The average number of Sunday solvers since the change in policy was 242 before today. So today's numbers are probably a combination of the puzzle's difficulty, the holiday weekend and the decreasing number of online solvers.

mac 6:52 PM  

Really great Sunday puzzle. Not enough time to really enjoy it, but I did get the theme early by for once reading the title and balder-. I still had a tough time with the rest, but finished almost all of it eventually.

@Loren: an artist friend wrote Am*dam, and it took me a while to figure out it was AmSTERdam, ster meaning star in Dutch.....

Looking forward to meeting you in Brooklyn! All of you.

Anonymous dude 6:57 PM  

@Octopuses/Octopi/Octopodes - Thanks! That's an excellent word. From now on, I'm going to call those things on Twitter octothorpe-tags.

Of your three choices, I like octopuses, since this uses the English plural form, which is unchanged no matter where the word occurs in the sentence.

If you want to go so far as to use octopodes, the proper Latin nominative/accusative/vocative plural of octopus, be sure NOT to do so when it's the indirect object of the sentence, because then the plural would properly be octopodibus, the dative form of the plural.

Example: "I gave those unruly octopodibus the what-for."

Stick with octopuses, and you avoid such mistakes.

The more you know... [shooting star]

Anonymous dude 7:37 PM  

@jberg - bitmap can refer to any graphic image whose individual pixels are mapped to a rectangular grid: e.g. pixel at location (0,0) is red, pixel at location (0,1) is blue, etc. This is how GIFs as well as BMPs are defined.

Bitmaps - also called raster images - differ from vector images. Vector images do similarly map the location of various points, but these points are merely references and are not drawn to the screen. What's drawn to the screen are the lines and curves between or around those points, which are described mathematically instead of mapped pixel-by-pixel.

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

Lovely puzzle, hilarious posts (as usual). My first post here b/c I am no good at typing on an iPad. Just printed off the Red Cross puzzles and wanted to say "thanks" to Rex and all involved--what a cool thing to do!

Karen O

Carola 8:49 PM  

Getting here late but want to echo the "great Sunday" comments. Fabulous theme and symmetry + many other pleasures. Caught on, sorta, with BALDER-, but like @Gill I.P., thought all the marks would be dashes. Got the idea of different marks with /ER FILM. NE took me a long time - finally saw :EL MUSTARD. Very fun.

Two early mistakes and then decided to stop guessing: dArk art for Magic and amneris for the "Aida" figure.

Janet 9:24 PM  

I got the theme at Colonel Mustard, but still had to work out all the answers. I found it very clever that the class had comma/commander also.


Anonymous 9:41 PM  

Major Sunday workout. Needed some help to finish but really enjoyed the challenge. Congrats on a superb rebus.

Davis 9:46 PM  

@sanfranman — What are the solver numbers like for the other days of the week? I'm curious how they compare to the Magmic app, which has thousands of solvers for each day of the week. (I also wonder whether some folks have switched over to the app since the billing model change.)

LaneB 9:59 PM  

Filled in all the letters--except the blanks, made some mistakes [GIF,MUDFLAP, LALAKER] and generally found the whole thing pretty tough. As I do whenever there are little tricks like blanks and two or more letters in one box. Never did get the punctuation theme. Didn't ruin my Sunday but did take me forever. Not feeling very sharp today.

Tita 12:11 AM  

I love these kind of puzzles!
Even though I couldn't finish without help...

Thought I got the gag at THEIN-CROWD... Verified it with FROST-NIXON, making the same mistake as @Gill...

Continued making lots of mistakes...

Saw _ACHEL_R_____, and wanted BACHELORsomething...
Guessing what 'mark' could be involved, decided on the '&'...BACHELOR & ___ ?

Fun, fun, fun.

@Sparky, if you go, I'll go!

Ellen S 1:17 AM  

I also had SUsIE for a while but I knew IBIsA was wrong because of the dog. The IBIZAn Hound is much more like a greyhound than the SALUKI we had the other day. It's also a lot like a PHARAOH Hound.

Other than that I got pretty much everything wrong before I got it right. But it was a fun journey; thank you Ian and J.A.S.A. I actually enjoyed seeing ENSILE. I haven't checked but it feels like it's been quite a while since that tired old answer showed up, like seeing an old friend you don't like very much.

Anonymous 3:07 AM  

On the Magic Johnson clue I went down my own black hole by putting in Spartan from his days at MSU. As a computer geek, I went from pic to bmp to gif with overwrites. Absolutely fantastic puzzle.

sanfranman59 3:11 AM  

@Davis ... here's the mean number of solvers by day of week ... the first number is since the billing change on 7/9/2012 and the second is for the comparable period in 2011-12:

Mon 590 827
Tue 498 735
Wed 460 630
Thu 381 508
Fri 369 446
Sat 277 322
Sun 240 295

Ron S 3:55 PM  

ALEXTREBEK is Not an Answer man. He may be called a Question man.

Alex Trebek 5:31 PM  

Of course I am an answer man! The whole shtick of Jeopardy! is that I give the answers and the contestants must respond with the correct question!

Anonymous 9:32 PM  

Everyone should know kir in the glass - not just in crossword puzzles. Take some chilled white wine (or champagne), add creme de cassis to taste and there you are - a lovely aperitif.

paulsfo 1:10 AM  

What changed about the billing model? I signed up for premium crosswords, maybe 3 years ago, at about $39/year. I actually have no idea if the rate (or "billing model", whatever that may be) I'm paying has since changed.

Pinny 8:35 PM  

I realize that it would not have fit in the symmetry, but "MR.T" for the [PERIOD] entry would have been highly appropriate as I seem to remember Mr. T once responding to a query about his "real name":

"My first name is 'Mister', my middle name is 'Period' and my last name is 'Tee'. Fool."

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

@Rex re: deja vu...there was a Sunday several years back called (if I recall correctly) "Top Row". I had just started doing these things then and all I got was that there appeared to be punctuation marks sprinkled throughout. I got nowhere and had no clue what the title meant. My mom later pointed out that he title referred to the top row of keys on a typewriter (yeah, she said typewriter). I thought that was so cool, and have been wanting another crack at something like that ever since. So yay today.

I made two wrong guesses on Naticks and a mess of the center square (when "WING COMMANDER" came to me, and thinking keyboard symbols I attempted to draw the command key symbol from an apple keyboard. Never mind that that left me with WING COMMANDNDER). A fun and challenging solve. Could have done without the two THE's, however.

rain forest 4:03 PM  

I solved this while keeping an eye on the Daytona 500, which is still in progress. I'm not a NASCAR fan at all, but I was interested to see how Danica Patrick fared. She's been among the leaders the entire race, and even led for 5 laps. Other than that, it's kind of boring.
Oh, the puzzle. I really liked it. Picked up the idea at balderdash, and kept my eye open for others. Once again, a Sunday I like--not too hard, great fill, fun to complete. The only entry I didn't know was ABFAB, and the only one I didn't like was APTER.
Hyphen, dash, basically the same thing.

Spacecraft 7:32 PM  

I put in ATON (one of my writeovers: AlOt) of time on this one. Almost fatal error: my itch--and I'm currently dealing with one in real life--started out being caused by an EnZyMe. Hey, with the Z and the M in place, why not? The correct ECZEMA didn't occur to me for over an hour, during which I wrestled with another near-death blow. I had filled in the central down at 47 with _____NDER, and not yet fully grasping the gimmick, naturally spelled out "comma" in the remaining five squares, which fit perfectly. I could not for the longest time imagine what the award-nominated play/movie was, that seemed to start with FROS...something. That whole section was weirded out by my assumption that China "and environs" was the farEAST, not just THEEAST. And "Halloween:" what kind of _ERFILM could that possibly be?

And then the circuit closed and the bulb came on. And suddenly that whole AREA cleared up: 76d WAS ALEXTREBEK, after all! I had mentally pencilled that in as a joke some time earlier, never guessing it would actually be he!

In the same instant I recalled the critically acclaimed but not-that-popular FROST/NIXON, and now I had the gimmick. Even so, it took more cerebral calisthenics to come up with :ELMUSTARD and BALDER-. The NE was the last to fall--but fall it did. One last natick: the cocktail/island #122 square, correctly guessed with an I.

Marvelous fun, a real challenge, and some sprightly fill. JASA class and Mr. Livengood: you've scored a resounding triumph! Come back soon.

Anonyrat 6:33 AM  

Like eating spinach as a kid - finished it but didn't like it. Didn't help that two of the theme answers were in my second-greatest area of weakness (after French) - theater related pop-culture trivia. Never heard of Rachel,Rachel or Frost/Nixon. Would have liked it a little better if THEIN-CROWD had been clued as "Ramsey Lewis hit of 1965."
Biggest WTF: Abe=FIN? Had to DDG it (after the fact, of course; no cheating to finish for me)- five dollar bill, I guess?

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Re: 44D: There is no such word as "apter". Proper English is "more apt".

Dirigonzo 9:04 PM  

PP and I made the mistake of taking this up after a long day of clearing snow and we were just too tired to see what was going on, and many of the answers we thought we *knew* were wrong. A fresh look Monday afternoon gave us new hope and we, like @Spacecraft, picked up the theme with the (SLASH)ERFILM. The symmetry of the theme answers was hugely helpful as it helped isolate some of the answers that needed symbols. An enjoyable rebusiness puzzle, for sure, and it reminded me of my early days of solving when I often finished the Sunday puzzle days later.

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