Recurring Stephen King antagonist Randall / SUN 3-31-13 / Device Professor X wears over his head in X-men / 1983 film debut of Bill Maher / One-named R&B singer / Noted American writer in Yiddish / Ones who wrote in Ogham alphabet / Mythological figure kithara / Computer used to predict 1952 election / Aconcagua setting

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Special Features" — An Easter puzzle with the revealer EASTER EGGS (115A: Hidden DVD feature ... which can be found, literally, in the answers to the starred clues) — each letter of "EASTER EGGS" (in order) has been added to the first word of movie titles, creating wacky movie titles, clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: *Movie about ... an intense blinking context? ("STARE WARS")
  • 28A: *... a housecleaner? ("NEAT WORK")
  • 30A: *... a sled racer? ("SNOW VOYAGER")
  • 44A: *... a bee during a downpour? ("STINGIN' IN THE RAIN")
  • 56A: *... actor Jason's fan club? ("BATEMAN FOREVER")
  • 80A: *... Jerry Garcia's band's portraits? ("DRAWN OF THE DEAD") — trying to figure out how grammar on this works ... 
  • 88A: *... a parent's edicts? ("TEEN COMMANDMENTS")
  • 100A: *... a king's brilliance? ("REGAL GENIUS")
  • 108A: *... a harvester? ("GRAIN MAN")

Word of the Day: CEREBRO (72A: Device Professor X wears over his head in "X-Men") —
In the Marvel UniverseCerebro (Portuguese and Spanish for "brain") is a device that the X-Men (in particular, their leader, Professor Charles Xavier) use to detect humans, specifically mutants. It was created by Xavier and Magneto, and was later enhanced by Dr. Hank McCoy. The current version of Cerebro is called Cerebra, to be distinguished from the character of the same name. Cerebro first appeared in X-Men (vol 1) #7 (1964). (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this was a lot of fun. There were some weird moments—I don't know how "DRAWN" (or maybe "OF") is being used in "DRAWN OF THE DEAD"; I loved / was mystified by CEREBRO, which seems nerdily arcane; and though the puzzle overall felt *very* easy, the tiny patch in the NNW was absurdly hard. I spent about a quarter of my time on this puzzle trying to figure out what amounts to little more than a 3x5 patch of land. But none of these things (except the "DRAWN" thing) is knock on the puzzle. Just strange moments that stand out in an overall fast and fluid solve. Having worked with Caleb, I know and value how much care he puts into non-theme fill. Many Sundays, what you get is All Theme, and at best the fill is mediocre, at worst it's been compromised to make the theme work. Here, not only is the fill mostly smooth, but there are these great bonuses in the Downs, CAROL KANE and DEATH METAL (13D: Music genre of Possessed and Deicide), CUT CORNERS and CHEWBACCA (such a good clue—78D: Solo companion). LADIES' NIGHT! The only one I didn't like was "LOST WEEKEND," and the only reason I didn't like it was that it felt mildly distracting to have a long movie title in the puzzle that fell *outside* the whole EASTER EGG theme. Also, I don't like when "THE"s and "A"s are omitted on titles, esp. long ones (4D: 1945 Best Picture winner, with "The"). But again, these are minor quibbles. There are a lot of very good constructors under 30 at this moment, and Caleb (who is Way under 30) might just be the best of them. If he's not, he's close.

Now about that patch of trouble up top. I got "STARE WARS" easily enough, but hadn't yet clearly grasped the theme, so "SNOWV-" did not trigger the movie "NOW, VOYAGER" the way it was supposed to. So I didn't have the back end of that answer, and I didn't know HENRY I (20D: English king who was a son of William the Conqueror) (I had HENGST in there... which is wrong on so many levels—five centuries to early, misspelled, legendary ...). I had ROE but absolute didn't know FLAGG (8D: Recurring Stephen King antagonist Randall ___) or ARGONS (27A: Atoms in some light bulbs) and, most importantly, thought SEL was EAU (19A: It's found in la mer). So ... I was just stopped. For I don't know how long. Once I (finally) ditched EAU, ASSAY and TETRA went in pretty quickly, and then I pieced it all together. Wrong answers are The Worst. Lately, all of my disastrous time losses have been due not to ignorance, but to a wrong answer I am sure is right (so sure that I don't even question it).

There was a good deal of pop culture in the grid, beyond the theme itself (not atypical for a Madison grid). I never saw "D.C. CAB," but I do know it exists, so the odd combination of letters in that answer didn't throw me off (13A: 1983 film debut of Bill Maher). I never listened to MYA, but I know her name (this is true for me of almost all pop singers who got famous after 1996) (95A: One-named R&B singer). I know NATASHA Bedingfield from ... something. "Torn?" Nope, that's Natalie Imbruglia. Hmmm ... It's a name I know from people mentioning it on "Idol" (way back when, when I watched "Idol"). Oh, right, "Unwritten." Some girl sang it and promptly got sent home. Anyway, her name has stuck for some reason (74A: Pop singer Bedingfield).

  • 3D: Mythological figure often depicted holding a kithara (ERATO) — looks forbidding. Isn't. Just good ol' ERATO. A "kithara" is a lyre-like instrument. 
  • 29D: Noted American writer in Yiddish (ASCH) — Sholem. Never read him. Just know him.
  • 35D: Computer used to predict the 1952 presidential election (UNIVAC) — ENIAC wouldn't fit. I have heard of UNIVAC (which always sounds like a vacuum brand to me), but had no idea it predicted anything, let alone the '52 election.
  • 102D: Ones who wrote in the Ogham alphabet (GAELS) — got it off the "G"; I don't know ... just sounded Gaelic. And that's how I solved that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:24 AM  

Couldn't get away from thinking ENIAC and went down with YEP / ENIVAC. YUP ain't YEP, so not knowing UNIVAC did me in, which was disappointing.

NNW last to fall.

jae 12:36 AM  

More of a medium for me.  In addition to eau,  I had Provo for OGDEN, ste for MME, letIN for HADIN, and blUe for GLUM.  So, I had to fix a bunch of stuff.  Liked it a lot!  The EASTEREGG bit was very clever.  

I'm still looking for a Mr.Phelps clue for IMF.

Evan 12:40 AM  

Yup, third day in a row of "Twenty Under Thirty" bylines. As Rex points out, one thing that's distinctive about Caleb's puzzles is how modern the non-theme stuff is. In last year's July 4 puzzle, which was another movie-themed puzzle and had a ton of theme answers stuffed in a 15x15 grid, he still managed to get MR. COOL, ME TIME, and GAY BAR in there as well.

I found this easy-medium, though I had the same problem with the EAU/SEL mistake. Some potential tough crosses are ATF/FLAGG (wouldn't have gotten it if I hadn't remembered seeing ATF recently), KAI/CAROL KANE (C or a K?), YUP/UNIVAC (E or a U?), and BREAM/MYA (nearly went with an N) -- I got them all correct, but not without some educated guesses. I also wasn't crazy about LOST WEEKEND or DC CAB because I too would have preferred the only movie titles to have been the ones with EASTER EGGs in them.

My favorite of today's theme answers is BATEMAN FOREVER, because I can't imagine what else Jason BATEMAN's #1 fan club would be called. As for 80-Across, my guess is that the grammar on the clue refers to the fact that the movies are about the portraits, which are DRAWN OF THE DEAD (the portraits are implied in the title). That's all I got for that.

Last thing: I'm guessing Caleb is a Simpsons fan, so I wonder....if "Nook" was his clue for CRANNY, was he thinking of this short but funny sound clip from Apu about his own nooks and crannies?

Jim Walker 12:45 AM  

Not as positive as OFL. Too many realy boring and over used 3's. DEB NAM ORE MTS and so on. Easter theme obvious after just two across answers . Still can't figure out why it has to be DVD extras and not just movie extras. Average Sunday time for me. Give it two and a half stars.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

Funny how when you know a constructor, you don't seem to notice ASTR., EMER,ATF, IMF, CDC, MCM, OREM, IN HOT, etc. Just sayin'.

Colin 1:45 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot and actually chuckled at a few of the theme answers, especially BATEMAN FOREVER. Did not enjoy the ATF / FLAGG cross and assumed that was the reason I wasn't getting the Screen of Victory. An F did at least make more sense than any other letter—cLAGG, bLAGG, pLAGG? (In mentally running through the alphabet, I almost considered trying a W for some sort of vaguely Eastern European name...) It turned out that my original guess was correct there and my mistake lay elsewhere—another hand up here for the YeP/eNIVAC flub. Frustrating because I've seen UNIVAC in other puzzles but always forget it; when I saw _NI_AC before even looking at the Down clues, I thought, "dammit, it's the computer that isn't ENIAC!"

Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" is one of the most annoying songs I've ever heard. I watched Idol in those days, too, and will always remember that contestant—partly because she had shown some promise before choosing that song (and thus proved how terrible it is!), but mostly because she was the daughter of future (and now fortunately ex-) Senator Scott Brown.

syndy 2:01 AM  

Sorry,this had so much crap fill,and solittle reason to exist...Iknowyou all love Caleb but this was not his best-or even close EEKYUOMCMKAI!notmy cuppa

Benko 2:14 AM  

What a great NERD puzzle! death metal, iron ons, cerebro, ulcer, dawn of the dead, real genius...well done Easter theme as well, clever reference to hidden Easter eggs.
I'm pretty sure everyone will have out eau before changing it to sel.

Anonymous 2:19 AM  

It has to be DVD extras and not just movie extras because Easter eggs are found on DVDs, not in movies otherwise. Look it up!

ZenMonkey 2:34 AM  

CEREBRO, CHEWBACCA, Real Genius, Star Wars, Batman Forever...yeah, this was a lot of geeky fun. And I particularly loved how NERD was clued: "Brainy person, and proud of it." That qualifier is certainly not necessary for the clue, but fits perfectly in a puzzle evincing geek pride!

DRAWNOFTHEDEAD didn't give me a problem. "The drawn" (or "those that are drawn") are the portraits of the Dead, was my read. But I really agree about the missing articles from movie titles. LOSTWEEKEND was bad enough but TEENCOMMANDMENTS was actually annoying, since I was trying to shoehorn THE in there assuming at least the theme clues would be consistent.

This took me half as long as a typical Sunday, but it was fun enough to make up for the difficulty.


Anonymous 2:39 AM  

The second part where you couldn't figure out the grammar is the word EGG.

chefwen 3:32 AM  

Caleb and I are not usually on the same playing field, but this one fell quite easily for me.

Didn't fall into the eau SEL trap because I already had ASSAY in place.
Problem area was at TEEN COMMANDMENTS, looking at it now, I have no idea why. Brain must not have been fully engaged because CHEWBACCA totally threw me for a loop at 78D, I kept thinking nobody accompanies a solo, that why they call it a SOLO... DOH!

Cool it with the SAG already 91D, I'm depressed enough.

Good one Caleb.

Carola 4:04 AM  

My slowest Sunday in a long while. There was plenty I didn't know and had to get from crosses - Carol Kane, Natasha, cerebro, Asch, Bateman, deathmetal, Mya, DC Cab, Easter egg - and there were plenty of clues that outfoxed me, e.g., for cage, mien, Chewbacca! As my brain kept responding to clues with "Wha'?", all I could think of was "the aging process" from yesterday. After I finished, I looked in vain for hidden treats in the movie titles The spelling trick did D(R)AWN on me a couple of hours later, and made me appreciate the puzzle a lot more.

In pre-NERD days, when I was in middle-school, UNIVAC was name-calling weapon of choice against kids who got good grades.

@chefwen - I think Ellen S's EEL is our SAG :) Tomorrow will be my last day in your time zone. Back to Wisconsin after three wonderful weeks of warmth and beauty.

paulsfo 4:18 AM  

I'm really surprised that no one has complained about "ARGONS", meaning multiple argon atoms. I just tried to find this usage via Google search. If I look for "two argons" there are one about 300, and most of those are referring to light bulbs, video-game creatures, or bicycles (don't ask me). So, there are about 50 instances of "two argons" (meaning the atoms) in all of Googleland (and, yes, I made up "googleland", but I'm not composing a crossword. :) )
For comparison, there are 21 instances of "two naticks" on Google. Would you therefore consider "NATICKS" to be a legitmate answer in a crossword?
I rest my case.

chefwen 4:47 AM  

@Carola - I figured you were here due to your early posting times. Sure hope it was warmer on Maui than it was here. I'm ready to break out the long underwear and down quilt.

Thomas Hite 4:49 AM  

I read it as "[The] Drawn [Portraits] of [Said Members of] The 'Dead,"which is an albeit torturous but at least (barely) decipherable grammatical logic.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:25 AM  

CEREBRO - What the crosses in crosswords were made for.

My appreciation for this puzzle rose greatly (already liked it a lot) when I finished and noted that the extra letters in theme answers weren't only clever word play, but also spelled out EASTER EGG in order. (@Rex mentioned that fact, but I think it is worth emphasizing.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:03 AM  


Suggestions, please -

HOW THE WEST WAS WORN (too many cattle drives?)


THE RAINMARKER (high water line on a wall?)

I know others can do much better.

MetaRex 8:31 AM  

Admire this one but didn't enjoy it much...had the un-bright idea that the DVD feature had something to do w/ piracy prevention...

Like DRAWN OF THE DEAD the best of the groaners...brings out an image of Jerry and company sketching the skeletons I remember from old Dead albums.

The solving saga and ratings at Gimme DRM protection

Tita 8:46 AM  

ile in my mer...
Dang...never got A TV, and the brand-new NE slew me.

Never saw X-Men, but CEREBRO was a no-brainer, for reasons Rex's wiki definition made clear.

This was ok Sunday, clever idea.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:13 AM  


THE TERN COMMANDMENTS (rules for birds)

BEVERLY HILLS CROP (Yes, I know, the "R" is is the wrong place.)

NERD KELLY (Smart but awkward Australian outlaw.)

TROY STORY (Remake of The Iliad)


M*A*R*S*H (Documentary about wetlands.)

OK, I'll stop now. Promise.

Z 10:08 AM  

SKYWALKER and CHEWBACCA both have nine letters.

I'd rate this medium except I DNFed so it has to be challenging. Rex's bullet points - just about every one I had a letter wrong. EEK!

I have never been to Utah, yet I know so many of its cities. Thank you Crossworld.

jackj 10:15 AM  

A funny thing happened on the way to the solution.

Seeing such clues as the ones looking for a Mythological figure with a kithara or a Stephen King character named Randall (something or other) or the genre of Deicide’s music, brought an overwhelming rush of biliousness to the fore and almost made me set aside Caleb’s puzzle in disgust.

But then, the funny thing happened; answers I didn’t know I knew began to show up with regularity, URBAN, ERROL, ERATO, FLAGG, AIKEN, JAKE, et al.

Further along, even the ultimate test, when looking for the cockamamie device worn by Professor X as his Easter bonnet, (the CEREBRO), and the first name of an obscure singer, NATASHA Bedingfield, whose name has as much celebrity as the name of Paris Hilton’s pet Chihuahua, (that would be Tinkerbell), proved not to be stumpers at all, once a few crossing letters were revealed.

The add-a-letter gimmick with the starred clues was apparent from the first with STAREWARS, (TEENCOMMANDMENTS was my favorite of the group), but I left the reveal until EASTEREGG showed up in its regular order and told us we could make another EASTEREGG with the surplus letters in the theme answers. Cleverness, thy name is Caleb.

I’ve hesitated buying the “20 under 30” crosswords being offered elsewhere, thinking they likely emphasize the jargon of youth, their music, their films and the games people under 30 play, which I thought would likely prove supremely frustrating to someone a bit longer in the tooth.

But, except for “Smelt ROE” and BEDIM, (which are not at all youth speak), this puzzle was a good example of the genre and a total delight. “Under 30 Constructor’s Crossword Puzzles”, here I come!

Thanks, Caleb!

Ken Wurman 10:19 AM  

What DVD feature are you referring to? Finished the puzzle but I am clueless as to what Easter eggs have to do with DVDs..

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

This was a hateful puzzle Too full of propernouns intelligible only to those under thirty who wallow in pop culture. Anyone over that age would condider henry I a gimmee. I am in that category. Gimmee a break!

Ken Wurman 10:21 AM  

DVD feature? Easter eggs? Please explain!!!!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

That is proper nouns

retired_chemist 10:29 AM  

A tough but enjoyable puzzle. Lots I didn't know - (S)NOW VOYAGER, BAT(E)MAN FOREVER, CEREBRO, NATASHA, D(R)AWN OF THE DEAD, DEATH METAL, anything about Ogham. Hand up for PROVO and EAU.

Is REAL GENIUS really in the language? Its meaning is obvious but with the rest of the theme there is a connection to a well-known (sometimes not to me) title. Oops, it's a 1985 comedy, so add that to my list of unknowns.

Apparently I lack sufficient hipness to do this puzzle efficiently, so it was a real slog with much dependence on crosses.

Nook is a better definition of CORNER (which I had for a long time) than for CRANNY, which means something rather different: a tight space.

But a good battle, which I won in the end by not having to Google. Thanks, Caleb.

Bulldog 10:33 AM  

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which does not publish clues or italics for its weekday NYT puzzles, did not show the italicized clues that were part of this puzzle, making it harder than usual. Can we get an "Easy-medium" credit?

jackj 10:35 AM  

Amazing what you can find by googling.

chefbea 10:43 AM  

DVD feature=Easter egg??? Don't understand.

Clever puzzle but DNF.

Must go decorate my lemon cake with Peeps!!

Ken Wurman 10:48 AM  

Helpful. . Thanks!

Tita 10:49 AM  

@quilter...thanks for the ideas re: samovar repair... We need someone with great attention to detail, and who also knows how to attach the wooden handle to the silver arms.
post a pic when we get it handled... ;)

mac 10:52 AM  

Easy medium, and perfectly fair since I got some of the changed titles just through crosses. Ended up with one mistake: Clagg and ATC, I'm terrible at acronyms.

Great long fill, especially Ladies' night, cut corners and death metal. Like so many I had a write-over at eau/sel.

Off to google "Hengst". It's a male horse in Dutch.

jberg 10:56 AM  

OK, DRAWN OF THE DEAD grammatically.

"Here's a picture I drew of my young daughter; and this set over here were DRAWN OF THE DEAD." That and STINGING IN THE RAIN were the best by far.

On the other hand, I don't see how DARNED works for Son-of-a-gun. The former is a participle, the latter is a noun. You say "I'll be A son-of-a-gun," but "I'll be darned."

So much for pedantry. I really enjoyed this one as a great example of how you can figure out things you don't know. For instance, I've certainly heard of DEATH METAL, but I don't know how it's different from any other kind of metal, never heard of those two bands, and never heard of DC CAB, either. But it all came together bit by bit into a satifying solve.

I agree about Henry I, though - back in my day, his name was on everyone's lips.

chefbea 10:59 AM  

Just googled it and according to Wiki

An Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, inside joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, movie, book, or crossword.

quilter1 11:12 AM  

I liked it. I was surprised by some of the stuff I knew, not surprised by the stuff I didn't, but managed to get it all in. Made the EAU mistake, got CHEWBACCA right away (I am not a Star Wars expert, but does the name refer to chewing tobacco at all?) Altogether an enjoyable Sunday that didn't take too much time away from Easter prep.

Norm 11:44 AM  

Movie titles are not my cup of LATTE, so -- meh.

Mohair Sam 11:56 AM  

Actually got thru a puzzle by an under 30 person! His pop culture and comic book movie references were crossed with well clued fill and I was able to battle to a finish.

Young constructors are always tough for me. I never got into comic books, and pop culture peaked for me with the release of Dexys Midnight Runners' "Too Rye Ay" album. Hence I've ignored all new culture since "C'Mon Eileen."

Not complaining though, I'm sure the young folks go nuts with some puzzles which seem to sit on a constructor's desk for 30 years. It all balances out.

Anyhow, a clever theme by the young Turk. And - in spite of some nitpicking here on the blog - a fun Sunday.

Robert A. Simon 12:05 PM  

Unless I missed them, I was surprised to see no complaints about the use of a rather obscure 1942 movie ("Now Voyager") as the base for one of the theme answers. Upon reading up on it, I discovered it is quite well-regarded, but I still think that unless you're a big Bette Davis fan, this is the first time the movie has come to your attention.

Masked and Eggnonymous 1:35 PM  

Har. Loved ARGONS. Which led to ASSAY, which broke up the EAU/ILE/SEL dilemma. So, didn't suffer as long as 4-O, thereabouts.

Caught on to EASTEREGG early, since I usually end up trawlin' the bottom for easy gets. Often a lot of common letters on the last row, plus reveals often dwell there. Plus what day it is. Happy Easter, y'all that are into that. I always like to hide a few marshmellow eggs in plain sight on the PuzEatinSpouse. Try it. Makes 'em laugh.

Top five egg locations:
1. On the tv remote
2. On the crossword puz
3. In the coffee cup. Soggied one up, one year... Now she checks.
4. On the PC keyboard
5. On her car keys. Better than average, since often trouble findin keys, anyhoo.

Fave fruitful clues...
It's found in la mer. Done that.
"Gag me!". Almost infinite possibilities. Top 5 or so: UGH. ARG. YUK. ACK. URP. GAK. ULP... M&A (not meant to be in the list)

joho 1:49 PM  

I was happy to see that Caleb knows of "Now Voyager which is my favorite Bette Davis film. Great story, beautifully shot ... and those clothes!

Loved the Easter theme so deftly hidden in the grid. Not one of the theme answers laid an egg!

Cleverly done, Caleb!

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Not much joy. Did finish but wanted more kick from the puzzle. Lots of gnarly stuff, some gimmes. Favorite was SNOWVOYAGER, a movie title that came to me as soon as I had NO. Showing my age, I guess.

Carola 2:27 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - So funny! My favorites - THE MORON AND SIXPENCE and M*A*R*S*H.

@chefwen - A little nippy here, too. Still, I'm so happy I could face March being a lion here instead of at home!

M and A also 2:45 PM  

Better puz answer than any for: It's found in la mer... LAM. har. That's why Nosowsky hears them big footsteps.

April Fools tomorrow. Constructors' fave day. But, on a MonPuz this year. EWW. SCREWIT. Cut loose, anyhoo, Shortzmeister.

Loren Muse Smith 2:50 PM  

I was out of town and hence didn’t work the puzzle today. But the grid/theme looked fun! I was with @chefbea and @Kenneth Wurman on not knowing what an EASTER EGG was. Favorite theme answer: STARE WARS.

@retired_chemist – REAL GENIUS is in the language for me, but it reminds me of Bud Light’s REAL Men of GENIUS.

I just had to tell everyone this – at the club this morning before the buffet started, I said to another employ, “I just CADGEd a chicken thigh from the kitchen.” I had known the word before, but I don’t know if I would have used it so readily if I hadn’t seen it Friday.

Jim Hendler 2:51 PM  

Got the puzzle with a couple of errors - all in names - how is no one complaining that 16 of the clues are names (ans a few more are proper nouns)

quilter1 2:56 PM  

@joho, yes, the clothes.

Paul Keller 3:00 PM  

I like this puzzle. There were many answers I didn't know, but could figure out with some effort. I ended with a couple mistakes like YEP-ENIVAC, which I could have avoided, and a couple like PES-SIRRI, which was a little beyond me. But the cross I really didn't like was ASCH-SHEL. That was a dead end for me.

JenCT 3:08 PM  

Didn't finish yet, but wanted to send an Easter Card to everyone:


ANON B 3:21 PM  

Isn't anyone going to explain
the hidden DVD device relationship
to Easter Egg?

chefbea 3:25 PM  

@ANON B I already posted Wiki's explanation

Ellen S 3:41 PM  

I toiled for IBM for nearly 30 years, in a technical capacity. Early on we learned the history of computers, ENIAC, RAMAC, UNIVAC (maybe not UNIVAC, that was the competition, no? but we knew it anyway); even Ada, Countess Lovelace -- Lord Byron's daughter and right-hand woman of stored-program computer pioneer Charles Babbage.

And I finished with YeP/eNIVAC. Just shoot me.

Norm 4:01 PM  

I did not know that Easter eggs existed outside computer programs. You can generally find them under the Help or Properties menu. Some of them are very entertaining.

Ellen S 4:19 PM  

Re: Easter Eggs. JackJ's 10:35 post tells how to learn about what they are -- (started out as bonuses hidden in menus of computer programs--not the kind I worked on). @JackJ, it might have helped if you had made the address into a real link.
1. How to embed links.
2. @JackJ's link to history and story of Easter Eggs (computer, DVD, Fabergé),

As for too much contemporary culture, I'll be 70 this summer. I never heard of the Death Metal bands and have no idea what that even means, same pretty much for all of the youth-culture references, but still I got ALL the answers (after hours and hours) without googling -- EXCEPT the one that is from my generation and that I should have known immediately. Nice job Caleb. If you were my grandson, I'd be proud of you.

okanaganer 4:28 PM  

Bit of an EGGzasperating solve at 86 minutes...I was afraid the Across Lite timer was going to reach its 99:59 limit. One square wrong, and frustrating because it's two names crossing that I have never ever heard of: BREAM and MYA. And to add to the humiliation, to get the "Congratulations!" message, I had to cycle thru the keyboard to the very last letter! (M)

Tita 4:52 PM  

@joho, @quilter - agree about Now VOyager - the movie, and the clothes...!

@Jen - the link doesn't work for me...anyone else having problems?

Happy Easter...we spent yesterday with friends at my Mom's painting EASTEREGGs... She was in seventh heaven.

When living in Germany I acquired many elaborate decorating kits and tools - Yesterday we made a combination of hard-boiled eggs, and emptied eggs (the contents of which became part of French Toast Casserole today.)

We did have fun hunting for our beautifully decorated ones this morning.

(I also only knew of the cyber eggs as being hidden in computer programs...haven't looked for one of those for ages - thanks, Mr. M.)

chefbea 4:58 PM  

@Tita I couldn't get @Jen Ct's link either

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

Am old, but love Mya

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

You're a real son-of-a-gun (noun) for writing such darned(adv.) awful clues.

And "Drawn of the Dead" was equally off-ish syntactically-speaking-wise.

I also had the eau/sel error at first

All in all, it took me a very long time - not easy, IMHO.

JenCT 6:02 PM  

Oops, - wrong link before, try this one:


Darn computer stuff...

paulsfo 6:10 PM  

Easter eggs are typically well-hidden. For a classic, go to or look up Excel 97 Easter Egg on youtube. You had to click an impossible-to-guess sequence of keys and then the spreadsheet turned into a 3D video-game experience.

Ulrich 6:19 PM  

@Tita: I remember painting Easter eggs as a kid (once I had gotten wise to the Easter Bunny's non-existence). What always fascinated me were stories from my grandparents, who came from villages along the Moselle river, where apparently color kits were unobtainable or too expensive: Their Easter eggs came in two colors: Brown (obtained from boiling onion skins) and green (obtained from some vegetable--I think spinach). Must have been a real challenge to find those outside!

Real charming and clever Easter puzzle AFAIC.

Anyway, I'm now getting ready to visit Westeros via HBO...

ANON B 6:30 PM  

Sorry. I missed it. I usually only skim the comments.

Milford 6:32 PM  

Pretty smooth Sunday, caught the theme at SNOW, VOYAGER. Had trouble at the BEDIM/MIEN cross and ASCH/MCM cross, had to guess a bit to finish.

Loved that the puzzle had STARE WARS and CHEWBACCA both, plus REGAL GENIUS. Right up my movie alley, and I am way past 30. I'm kind of surprised by the uproar over the "age" of the puzzle clues and puzzles. Didn't think twice about it here.

bad hair day 6:59 PM  

Happy Egg Day! Enjoyed this puzzle muchly. Had trouble getting a toehold anywhere so I had random words scattered around the puzzle for a long time. First theme answer was DRAWN OF THE DEAD. Ended up with KEys for 11 down which gave me asidEWAys. I thought that was an obscure movie to include but pictured people madly squinting at each other. Lots of other erasures but no Googling today!
captcha today is ipooms.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

This is the kind of puzzle that makes me lose interest in the Sundays. I loved Friday and Saturday, but just got a stomach ache with this mess. Easter egg - wha?

Bonzi 7:55 PM  

First theme answers I got we're STINGININTHERAIN and STAREWARS, then eventually EASTEREGG, leading me to believe that all answers contained EASTER. I was sure that was too weak to be true, but I acquiesced and paid the price.

LaneB 8:12 PM  

How do most folks know, without Google help, Bill Maher's film debut; Professor X's headgear; Bedingfield's first name; Randall Flagg; Deicide's music genre; Yiddish writer Asch; the city SSE of Ogden; users of the Ogham alphabet or the home of Typhon? I'm pretty sure they don't.
Even so I hardly found today's Easter Egg puzzle to be far from "easy". Never did get the theme, not knowing the context of Easter Egg. Too many mistakes led to a miserable SW corner and a big fat DNF Frankly, the clues wore me out and pissed me off in the end.

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

Sorry to be a D.C. nerd..but ATF is part of the Department of Treasury...not Justice.

jerry k 9:15 PM  

2-2.5 hours. EYA for MYA only mistake. Not good, but a fun puzzle.

jerry k 9:17 PM  

Correct Lane, we don't. We work it out.

Sparky 9:33 PM  

Alas, I found it to be a slog. Managed most of it except for SE corner. Erased NIGHT and put in say no at 121A. Saw they were movie titles. Saw there were extra letters but it just wouldn't click.

@LaneB. I knew ASCH but not DCCAB. Win some, lose some. As @Jerry K said you work it out.

Thanks @JenCT.

Acme 10:05 PM  

@Bonzi 7:55 pm
That would have been fascinating if on top of everything else the movie titles all contained the letters to EASTER, (not that hard a trick as they are literally the most common letters in the alphabet!)

I think it was stunningly clever that Caleb even thought up this theme and on how many levels it worked!!!
(tho I agree with the nit that LONGWEEKEND should have been left out if poss, so as not to muddy the movie title + add a letter theme.)

Surprised at the NOWVOYAGER discussion, if only that it was a theme answer in my "Puzzle Envy" Sunday with ACPT champ Dan Feyer less than 3 months it should have rung at least a dim bell!
@Robert A. Simon 12:05 rent it, you won't be disappointed and many iconic scenes and actors, including Paul Henreid of "Casablanca" fame.

Caleb is amazing and will be one of the top of twenty under (any age) till he's 100.

Another Easter and another year of not participating in my lifelong dream of an egg year in Jerusalem!

Z 11:40 PM  

@LaneB - My son is into Dark Metal, so you run into DEATH METAL, so that was a gimme for me. ERASE and AORTA gave me CROWE which gave me DC---. I was mildly surprised that Maher was in DCCAB - a MR. T vehicle I believe. But I knew DC CAB was a thing, I didn't know Maher was in it.

For CEREBRO I started with ANDES (a pure guess - absolutely no idea what or who "Aconcagua" is) and the -ER of either tautER or TENSER. Eventually ENDOW gave me enough to guess CEREBRO. Knowing CERE-- from cerebellum helped. The B gave me enough to fill in BREAM, a word I learned from puzzles.

For Typhon I had ET-- and figured mt. ETNA was a good guess. The key was "in myth" which suggested something in Greece or Italy.

Bedingfield's first name was entirely from crosses, likewise FLAGG (a M.A.S.H. clue I would have gotten) and ASCH (although I think he was in a puzzle recently).

OGDEN and OREM I know only from crosswords, much like EDINA, MN. In fact, PINTO and OGDEN were my first thoughts in the SE, then INDIA.

So, you see, I knew none of those things. That is what makes this a puzzle, not just a trivia contest.

CheapNovelties 11:53 PM  

I am really confused how NEAT WORK becomes anything clever after you remove the EGG, i.e. take out the E to get NAT WORK...

I get all the other ones--you remove an E or a G to get something clever... loved STINGIN IN THE RAIN... and yes, BATEMAN FOREVER was totes awesome.

Can anyone educate me as to what the eff NAT WORK could mean?

Ellen S 12:07 AM  

Hi, @CheapNovelties -- that's what I thought at first, but you don't remove either an E or a G -- what you remove from each of the theme answers, in order, are the letters of EASTER EGG. And what remains is a movie title (the title is unrelated to anything Easter-y). So, if you look at your completed puzzle, the letter you remove from NEAT WORK is the "A", leaving you with the movie "NETWORK." If you look again at the answers, as I had to do, you will see that they are not just clever phrases but film titles. (There were mild complaints that "The LOST WEEKEND" should not have been in there, as it is a long movie title that is not part of the theme.)

The blog above spent much time admiring that construction. Also, if you're wondering, the meaning of the clue about EASTER EGG, hidden feature on DVDs, is also revealed.

CheapNovelties 1:19 AM  

@Ellen S ... Guess my cursory scan of the blog missed the key details you pointed out. Thanks, wow.

webwinger 7:22 AM  

Had a busy Sunday, so just finished early this morning. I’m of two minds about this one. Theme was generally well conceived and executed (though with a few rough edges, as others have pointed out), and much good fill, but also more than a trivial amount of drecky short stuff. I managed to finish without googling in about average Sunday time, but definitely would not rate it easy. UNIVAC was a gimme—think there was some dumb game show I watched as a kid whose answers were supposedly provided or checked by this legendary room-filling computer. Same EAU/SEL confusion as many others, compounded by FBI for ATF, making NW tough even after STAREWARS came quickly. Great clue for NERD!

BTW, interesting piece about tiny EELS in the NYT Sunday Review section yesterday. Apparently their numbers are decreasing in the real world. Fortunately not an endangered species in Crossworld!

Elle 54 10:05 AM  

Wow! Just finished and started Saturday night! Couldn't get the whole left side but kept plugging away and finally won! Except for YEP instead of YUP.
Made the same mistake with EAU. And never heard of Now Voyager.
Loved the puzzle! Great idea to put the letters of Easter Egg in the theme answers.

Paul Keller 10:11 AM  

@LaneB Keep in mind these are puzzles, not tests. Some of the pleasure is in divining the meaning of clever clues, but there is also pleasure to be had in dredging up things only half remembered: recollection you didn't know you even had. FLAGG would be an example of that for me. I've read some Stephen King, but could never have dredged up that answer as a trivia question. But at least I could fill in the "L" and see it was right after getting the other crosses.

There is also fun to be had in piecing things together from fragments, word roots, and recognizable letter combinations. I'd never heard of Deicide, but it was not that hard to pencil in "HEAVY METAL". After finding that HEAVY was not going to work, I could see that DEATH fit and realize I'd heard of a genre with that name.

I did not know NATASHA, but I should have seen it from NAPASHA and rejected PES. So, the learning process continues.

I objected to the ASCH-SHEL because both answers were entirely outside my ken, seem obscure, and have weird spelling that make them impossible to complete with guesswork.

retired_chemist 2:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
unclejohn 8:23 PM  

I thought this was a very clever puzzle and I enjoyed it. I did not think it was easy especially if you didn't know the meaning of "Easter Egg" or many of the movie titles but as was alluded to above, it can be worked out by various 122A. Eniac/uniac, yep/yup= tricky but I checked Wikipedia and lo and behold the 1952 election is mentioned rather quickly. Congrats to Caleb.

OISK 4:26 PM  

Never heard of Chewbacca, May, DCCab, Death metal, never saw X-man, never heard of Natasha Bedingfield, but I finished it. Much too much pop culture. A long, unrewarding slog, despite clever construction. EWW!

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Did the whole puzzle and still couldn't figure out the theme. What does Easter Egg have to do with DVD?

Spacecraft 12:32 PM  

Come on, you guys. Never heard of Randall Flagg, "the walkin' dude?" Read--or see--"The Stand." King translates so well to the screen (even the small one); I can't wait for somebody to start on the "Dark Tower" series. Gunslingers of the world, unite!

Today's theme was fiendishly "hidden." I had to ferret out the fact that each answer had only one letter in EASTEREGGS, which took a while. After that, despite some quirky clues/entries, THINGs came along nicely. I'll just mention one brow-furrower:

I get NORUN stockings--but how do you get a NORUN baseball game? It won't end until there IS a run!

Dirigonzo 6:25 PM  

It helped immensely that I entered STINGINGINTHERAIN with very few crosses and saw that I was adding a letter to a movie title - I even discovered on my own that the added letters spell "Easter egg" when taken in order, although I still didn't get what that had to do with a DVD feature.

I spent too much time thinking ATF had left the Justice Dept. to become a part of Homeland Security, but eventually it had to be (and sorry @Anony 9:03pm, but it left the Treasury Department decades ago - while I still worked there).

I mis-remembered JAKE Gyllenhall as JudE and that stayed in, as did BREAn/nYA so sometimes the crosses are not enough to overcome my ignorance of so many things.

Frank Longo's Premier Crossword today had ABASE clued by "Belittle"; here we have it as "Lower". Synchronicity!

@Spacecraft - you make an excellent point re NORUN baseball games. I guess that would have to be a game in progress?

J.aussiegirl 10:13 PM  

I too cottoned onto adding one letter to a movie title when Grainman and Stingin in the Rain became apparent. It was still no breeze .... but worth working it through even with so many U.S. cultural references. And I had no idea why Easter Egg was the reveal, until I came to this blog! Gosh, it was clever. Thanks Caleb - and everyone.

Dirigonzo 1:36 PM  

@J.aussiegirl - I wasn't familiar with the phrase "cotton on to" so I looked it up and learned it's a mostly British phrase meaning "to start to get to know or understand something". You are right, this blog can be very educational.

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