Harold's partner in comedies / SUN 12-29-13 / Model/actress Keibler / Lab item that sounds like popular website / Secret society in Dan Brown's Angels Demons / 1989 world champion figure skater / He said most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Take a Break" — Grid is a pool table. "Pocket" squares (here indicated by cats), can be found in the appropriate places. Longer Across answers end in pool-related terms. Circles form the racked POOL BALLS (there are nine, so I guess we're playing nine ball…)

Theme answers:
  • VERBAL CUE (23A: Spoken instruction in animal training)
  • SIDEWALK CHALK (35A: Bit of hopscotch equipment)
  • WALT WHITMAN BRIDGE (51A: Philadelphia/New Jersey connector) (what a beautiful spanner … *spanner*!)
  • DRESS RACK (77A: It's often divided into sections 0, 2, 4, 6, etc.)
  • HEARTFELT (107A: Sincere)
Word of the Day: Iowa's AMANA Colonies (48A) —
The Amana Colonies are seven villages on 26,000 acres (11,000 ha) in east-central IowaUnited States:Amana (or Main Amana), East AmanaHigh AmanaMiddle AmanaSouth AmanaWest Amana, andHomestead. The villages were built and settled by German Pietists, who were persecuted in their homeland by the German state government and the Lutheran Church. Calling themselves the Community of True Inspiration (Germandie Gemeinde der wahren Inspiration), they first settled in New York near Buffalo in what is now the Town of West Seneca. However, seeking more isolated surroundings, they moved to Iowa (near present-day Iowa City) in 1856. They lived a communal life until the mid-1930s.
For eighty years, the Amana Colonies maintained an almost completely self-sufficient local economy, importing very little from the industrializing American economy. The Amanians were able to achieve this independence and lifestyle by adhering to the specialized crafting and farming occupations that they had brought with them from Europe. Craftsmen passed their skills and techniques on from one generation to the next. They used hand, horse, wind, and water power, and made their own furniture, clothes, and other goods. The community voted to form a for-profit organization during the Great Depression, the Amana Society, which included the Amana Corporation.
Today, Amana is a tourist attraction known for its restaurants and craft shops. The colonies were listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1965. (wikipedia)
• • •

First, I loved this. Second, turns out it's been done before, with many of the same theme features. By Michael Shteyman, March 2006:

Nearly eight years ago now, so maybe it doesn't matter. Still, I'm surprised Joel didn't do a little research before embarking on this one. On the other hand, who cares? Will took it, and a sale's a sale. At any rate, judging this thing on its own merits, it's fantastic. When a theme is so nicely executed, and when fill is, in the main, rock solid, I don't really have the inclination to point out the handfuls of short bad stuff, 'cause that stuff is doing what it's supposed to do—staying small and largely unnoticed, and holding together something lovely.

Once you pick up the "pocket" thing, the puzzle becomes Remarkably easy. All the corners are essentially taken care of. Hardest part for me to get into, unsurprisingly, was the relatively sectioned-off POOL BALLS section there in the lower-middle. But even that wasn't that tough—once I changed [Big dos] from AFROS to GALAS and then from GALAS to BALLS. Last thing in the grid was HAS A GOAT (65D: Tries). What an odd expression—I always heard it as "has a go." American idioms are so weird.*

I don't particularly like U TUBE as fill, but the clue more than redeems it (7D: Lab item that sounds like a popular website). I balked at 17A: Model/actress Keibler because who? and because I figured someone so random probably had one of them there I-ending names (i.e. STACI), and SYSCO … I don't really know that company. Could've been SISCO for all I knew. But the more common STACY won the day. Wish I had more trouble spots to talk about, but, as I say, this thing was easy.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*I'm not serious, but that won't keep me from getting mail.


jae 12:19 AM  

Yes, an easy cute Sun. Only nit is if you play nine ball that is not how to RACK'em. 

Only erasures were SCAr for SCAB and changing the k to Q in FAQIR.

Did not know ISAAC as cued. 

KIDDO reminds me of the Kill Bill surprise reveal.

Liked it a lot.  Breezy Sun.!

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Fun, clever, well-executed puzzle! Loved the pocket clues in the middle and the longer theme answers. Like Rex, I, too, had AFROS instead of BALLS.

Well done, Joel.

Steve J 12:23 AM  

This was one of those odd cases where I recognize that the puzzle is very well-executed, but it didn't do anything for me. There's nothing to dislike here, but there also wasn't anything that grabbed me. Maybe because the payoff is more visual than verbal. I dunno. Whatever the reason, I just mechanically filled this in.

Found it mostly easy, outside of cleaning up a mess I left in the SW. If it's a crossword and it's an Oldsmobile, then it's obviously an Alero. Except for when it's not. Like 101A. Also slowed down at BOWER/SWALE, as I'm not familiar with either (although SWALE did sound phonetically familiar when I had S_ALE; thankfully I guessed right).

I did get a chuckle out of E COLI right next to SYSCO.

David Phillips 12:28 AM  

I'm an infrequent lurker on rexword, but I feel I should defend Ms. Keibler. She was known mostly for WWE stuff until her appearance on one of the earlier seasons of "Dancing With the Stars". After that, her popularity somewhat surged for a few years. Recently, in July 2011, she started dating some guy named George Clooney. They broke up July of this year.

Maybe not everyone is as much a pop culture junkie as I, but I do believe she is crossword-worthy.

Efren Reyes 12:33 AM  

If you have nine POOLBALLS at least rack them as if you were playing nine-ball.

Garth 12:59 AM  

Very pleasant puzzle. Since I've played some pool I did notice that the pool balls were racked oddly, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment. I didn't know bower or bawd so that b kept me from finishing (without guessing wildly).

Rex's blog is so enjoyable to read when he's being nice.

ISU Girl 1:38 AM  

Loved this. I'm not a pool player, but I grew up less than 2 hours from the Amana Colonies, and used to work for Sysco, so those were both gimmes. I think Rex's "goat" (have a goat) should be "go at", fairly common expression, at least in the Midwest.

Questinia 1:39 AM  

COATIs, aka Snookum Bears, are "gentle forest grunters" and snooker is also a CUE sport.

Hence for an instant I thought the answer to 85D (subject of a 2009 national tournament cheating scandal) was SnooKi.

SnooKi may be considered a Jersey Shore Pietist.

AliasZ 1:44 AM  

There is nothing wrong with the way the POOLBALLS are racked. You break from the north. Placing the circles on top of the grid would have given away the theme too soon.

A great puzzle, albeit I sorta remember the one from 8 years ago, if not the specifics, but the odd-looking grid and the POCKET rebi. Michael Shteyman had a few different long theme entries: ENGLISH, BANK etc., but Joel threw in pool SHARK and AFOUL as a bonus (for those who caught it).

The only glitch in the fill outside of SRTA (again), HUNH, UPIN and UTUBE, were the two LAP entries: LAPAT and RELAP.

I can imagine a dime novel containing the following sentences as a backdrop to a romantic seaside scene: "The frothy waves LAPAT breakwater boulders like so many white flames, and then, having lost their energy, retreat with a WANING desire. Yet they soon return with renewed interest to RELAP them, as each rhythmic recurrence of their seductive attack on the shore continues, leaving the rocks all FROTHED up and yearning for more."

Otherwise an exemplary clean and gunk-free fill, especially in the center pocket (except the aforementioned LAPAT). I liked the long non-themers: ILLUMINATI, SCIENTISTS, BARBELL, LET IT BE, FROTHED, and a few others.

@Rex, I wanted HAS A COW for HAS A GOAT, but not enough letters and the meaning didn't fit the clue.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

Ha, that -- afros to galas to balls -- was exactly what I did too. I particularly liked the bower/bawd mentioned by Garth because...both a bit rare these days but familiar nonetheless, at least to me ("California, here I come / Right back where I started from / Where bowers of flowers bloom in the sun..."
As for Kiebler, Stacy, somehow that came to me quickly -- one of those things that I know (without really knowing) in spite of myself, being very decidedly *not* a pop culture junkie.
(an erstwhile contributor and now occasional visitor when I'm curious what Rex has to say about a particular puzzle or when I'm baffled by the meta-conceit that wasn't needed to solve the puzzle -- not the case here as I couldn't get out of the northwest corner without figuring out what went with "veto," and once that ball had dropped, well...the rest fell into place pretty quickly...)

Anonymous 2:11 AM  

p.s. re. 'have a goat'...that's funny, I always thought the expression was 'have a cow'...seriously, though, I think of 'have a go' as more British than American, but I guess the point was the feigned misapprehension of 'go at' as 'goat', which at the same time refers to the likelihood that many of us will read 'goat' before transforming it to 'go at', depending on which end of this string of characters comes in first...I know I'm stating the obvious, but then again...

chefwen 2:13 AM  

Super easy for me. Got the theme right away with pocket-book and pick-pocket. Filled the rest of the corners in with no problem. Loved it. Handed it over to the husband so he could feel a part of the project, I did not tell him of the theme and ne tried to fill in the missing letters in the corners. Hilarity ensued. You should have been here. Needless to say I, was BERATED.

Unknown 2:25 AM  

Nice puzzle. Medium. 2.5 hour complete-grid DNF. Monday morning quarterbacks are SuRE, but the questionmark in this case means to take the expression literally, I suppose. Hence SORE. I also missed at KAlIE/COAlI. (That's L for T) also missed at (POCKET)cATCH, since chains have catches or hasps. That meant that my multi-translatable word was cELCuME, which is Klingon for welcome. Don't you know? I honestly didn't see The slightly camouflaged WELCOME staring right at me.

I know that sechs is German for 6, but I could only see it as hyperbolic secant of s. Perhaps the "half of" in the clue put me in full math mode. Anyone else? Anyone? When the answer came out DRpI(for SWAMp) I wondered how you could get pi from hyperbolic functions. arcsech() yes, but not sech(). SWAmp also meant that I had a letter pileup on the WALTWHITMANBRIDGE. But all that was resolved by google, ultimately.

Much better than yesterday but still disappointing that it took so long and I was still so far off.

paulsfo 3:06 AM  

Given that Rex says 'Once you pick up the "pocket" thing, the puzzle becomes Remarkably easy', then why the hell does he love it? I didn't hate it, but easy does not equal fun. Maybe it was hard to construct but, if it's way too easy, put it on a Tuesday, not a Sunday.

I did think that some clues were well-done, but that didn't save it.

jae 4:07 AM  

@AliasZ - Apparently you did not misspend your youth playing the game that was a major threat to River City.

If you are only using 9 balls the RACK looks like this:


and the only ball with a stripe is the nine.  For anyone else unfamiliar with the game the "money" balls are the five (in the center of the RACK) and the nine at the far end.  I may be a tad rusty but if you let me BREAK I'll play for $5 on the five and $10 on the nine...and if I beat you please don't over react and BREAK my thumbs ala Fast Eddie Felson.

Ian Riddell 4:29 AM  

I don't think it's "have a GOAT." It's "have a GO AT. "

Loved this puzzle.

jae 4:34 AM  

I forgot to mention that the BALLLS must be sunk in numerical order.

Michael Hanko 4:43 AM  

If only it had been clued as "Is prepared to start a petting zoo".

My inner sixth-grader was amused by RACK over BRA.

A lucky guess saved me from being Naticked by OMAR/AMANA, both of which could have been gimmes for me if clued via Epps and Radarange.

Michael Hanko 4:48 AM  

Forgot to mention that I considered this quite a tour de force. Way to go, Joel!

paulsfo 4:56 AM  

jae: not sure where/when you played nine ball but the 9-ball is always in the center of the rack, in every game I've seen and in several sets of rules i just checked. Alas, i think the "money ball" is gone, too.

Michael: The appliance Amana comes from a town in Iowa, same Amana as the colonies.

Danp 5:05 AM  

I'm with @paulsfo. The theme was so literal. And except for the obvious pockets, there was no reason to know or care that there even was a theme. "Tuesday" was exactly what I was thinking. The kind of puzzle only another constructor could love.

jae 5:15 AM  

@paulsfo - You're right about the nine placement. I was going on fuzzy memory from a few of decades ago (shoulda checked). But, when I played there was always money on the five and nine.

chefbea 7:18 AM  

Easy puzzle which I finished last night. Got the pockets right away and kept expecting stripes and solids. Also got pool balls. Never connected the a crosses with the theme.

Unknown 7:58 AM  

I know HUH. But what is HUNH?

Bob Kerfuffle 8:00 AM  

Three write-overs: The previously mentioned 81 A, SCAR before SCAB; 32 D, "Let's call it . . ." A DEAL before A DRAW; and, 34 D, FAKIR before FAQIR.

Tita 8:27 AM  

Fun... Picked up the theme instantly instantly in the nw corner.
I echo what everyone else has said.

I will add only that today's SRTA is sporting an ñ as opposed to her cousin yesterday with nh.

Thanks Mr. F.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Enjoyed it, but somehow completely missed the internal pool references (CUE, CHALK, etc.) until I got here. Just thought it had pockets and a kind of a rack of balls. Naticked by BO_ER/S_ALE -- had a goat with something I figured was wrong (and was).

Loren Muse Smith 8:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Nicolle 9:00 AM  

I am pretty sure the expression is HAS A GO AT... when you miss punctuation, stuff sounds weird.

Loren Muse Smith 9:13 AM  

Rex, I enjoyed your write up and great catch on the WALT WHITMAN BRIDGE "spanner." I never would have made that association.

@Steve J – I had it worse – my old Olds was an "Alera." Plus, I had "tromp" before TRAMP, so it took a bit to sort that mess out. (The whole "chomp/champ" problem and all that.)

When I show anxiety, I "pant" rather than PACE, much to my family's dismay. Awkward.

@Ian Riddle – You get the gold star for the day for parsing GOAT as GO AT. Wow. I was going to try out "Hey, let me have a goat at it now." DANG.

@cascokid san – "but I could only see it as hyperbolic secant of s. Perhaps the "half of" in the clue put me in full math mode. Anyone else? Anyone?" Well, yes, actually, though I was thinking inverse-cosh distribution. So when I finally saw that the arctan couldn’t be the quantile function because the arsinh wasn't exactly the inverse hyperbolic sine function and the circular cotangent function was just plain wanky, I decided to go the German language route instead. HUNH? I wish I could understand math stuff like that! I'm impressed. I'm going to show your post to my CALC kids and have them explain it to me. Unless it's trig (there's another one for you, @retired_chemist!)

I POCKET dialed a friend once while I was driving and she was treated to my singing along with Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" in its entirety, right down to that three hundredth "la la."

Hey, @AliasZ I noticed SHARK as a periphery themer,too. Liked LOUSE right under it.

72A "Pop icon?" We were just talking about this while visiting NC for Christmas. In the store over the aisle with the PEPSI and Coke, was the sign, "Soft Drinks." I was home. Not "soda." Not "pop." I drink "soft drinks." Or even "cokes" – generic for all of'em.

And I carry a POCKET book. Not a bag and not a purse. A purse feels smaller.

When VERBAL CUE fell, I thought, "Hah! I periphery themer I can point out!" Then CHALK (another!), then BRIDGE, RACK. . . Kind of reminds me of the story of the father of my daughter's friend who bought a batch of beautiful sea shells from a gift shop at the beach – ya know – the ones destined for the bowl on the back of the commode – and placed them here and there on the beach at 4:30am, so he could sit back and watch all the early walkers go crazy. This first older lady picked one up, delightedly, then another, then, "Myron!!!! Run back and get the bucket! Hurry!! Hurry!!"

Wanted "ludge" for LUGE. ;-)

AUTOS, CAR, COBRA, CIERA, and CIVIC. (Have you ever noticed how many CAR names begin with C?)


Son and daughter home from college. PIG PENS. DEEP breath. LET IT BE.

RCA and AMANA join yesterday's FRIDGE discussion. Thanks for all the input. I totally bought that it was Fridgidaire, until @Everett Wolf set us straight. So I'm oblidged to report that the mystery remains. . .

Joel – I wasn't aware of the earlier version, but it's ok by me to have done this one, too. I actually had just put the finishing touches on a Sunday almost exactly like Chen's CCCCC CUT, so I was disappointed that he beat me to the punch. Right.

I loved this one. Well done!

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

it's has a go at not has a goat

TrudyJ 9:31 AM  

I can't play pool but enjoyed this puzzle. What I really enjoyed though was your placement of a favourite Mountain Goats song on the blog. Thanks.

jberg 9:35 AM  

Once I got to the racked balls, I figured out how to fill in the pockets -- so I thought I had the theme until I came here and saw that I had failed to notice the pool-related long acrosses. I haven't played the game for 30+ years, but used to play a lot, so I'm embarrassed to have missed them; I think I had them all in before I knew we were playing pool, and never looked back.

Now that I see the whole thing, I like it a lot more -- the narrow width and all the theme answers pose quite a constraint, justifying some of the inevitable lame fill. I'm still a little troubled by MME as an answer and both 'madam' and 'mlle' as clues, but maybe that's OK.

What really held me up, until I saw the rack, were 'letter' for 'POCKET WATCH' and 'one-off' for OUT OF POCKET. Also BAuD, but I don't know why!

@Rex, me too for expecting STACi, but fortunately I've seen so many SYSCO trucks on the highway that I was saved.

Finally, I don't agree with whoever said a Sunday should be harder than a Tuesday. A tricky theme is fine, but if it's otherwise difficult it will be too long and boring to solve. If I ever retire, maybe I'll feel different!

Elle54 9:40 AM  

@Davidphillips Yes! I agree.Stacy Keibler is a gimme. Just look at a "People" in the grocery store checkout now and then.

billocohoes 10:24 AM  

Not sure how a Monday Morning quarterback is necessarily "SORE" unless he's sore at his own team's coach; "Weekend warriors, on Monday" would have resonated with me more.

Z 10:27 AM  

Anyone else feeling a little schadenfreude towards the posters who did not read/understand Rex's footnote?

Lovely Sunday. Fun cluing, visual appeal, lots of 'bonus' theme material. Well done.

The TRAMP and the BAWD in the BOWER is a fine combo of answers to go with BRA supporting her RACK. I could go on.

There are two potential naticks; the already mentioned OMAR/AMANA cross as well as TUNES/SYSCO. TUNEr could be made to fit the clue, whereas the M fits @Evan's heuristic so is easier to overcome.

*Today is the annual "The Lives They Lived" issue of the magazine. If you want to read a nicely balanced essay about Mandela the man, not the saint, Bill Keller wrote an excellent memorial.

Loren Muse Smith 10:31 AM  

@Z – good catch. I read the footnote but completely missed its meaning. So Rex gets the gold star after all. It's still a hoot that we all saw GOAT!

Questinia 10:32 AM  

@ cascokid san- can't one get pi from a lemniscate hyperbolic function?

@lms- re the "d" in fridge. Wouldn't a shortened, slangy version of refrigerator have been spoken first before written eventually making its phonetic conveyance onto paper "fridge"? What I'd like to know is why it isn't frigerator. Was the thing to be cooled cool in the first place?

@Elle54- I only look at People when I plan on buying People and that only when baking bowlfuls of Froot Loops interspersed with Gauloises brunes are planned parts of the evening. These days it is rare.

Milford 10:32 AM  

Hey, I want to be able to put cats in my rebus squares! DANG!

Cute puzzle, easy rebus, I'm pretty sure I got it at HOT POCKET, even though I've never eaten one.

I get that the POOL BALLS number and placement aren't exact, but without the ability to place them in a staggered fashion, the number and shape were never going to be right. But since I'm one of the people who gets riled about the exact angle of a water molecule, I can understand the angst of others.

And I completely missed the across theme answers. Probably because I was too in awe that I wrote in WALT WHITMAN BRIDGE at precisely the same moment that Gale was reciting The Learned Astronomer poem to Walter in the new lab (there is a Breaking Bad marathon going on this weekend). This isn't the first time I have written in a word while the same word/subject is uttered on TV, but this was the most surreal...

Agree that BAWD/BOWER and SYSCO/STACY were tricky areas.

As soon as I read Rex's GOAT comment, I knew we'd be graced here with helpful "corrections". That asterisk must not be seen by those in a hurry to write their comment.

Steve J 10:34 AM  

I'd forgotten that Nine Ball is racked differently (for those curious, here's what the rack looks like). So seeing that the pictogram is wrong takes the bloom off the rose a bit. (Although, I understand the constructor's challenge: POOL BALLS has nine letters, and also the pyramid-shaped rack from Eight Ball is pretty much universally familiar. Rack it in the correct diamond pattern, and many won't recognize it. It's a bit of a no-win situation.)

For everyone pointing out that it's not HAS A GOAT: read the footnote signaled by the asterisk. Rex made it pretty clear he knows hat the phrase is.

@Loren: I also had TRoMP. Cleaned that up quicker than I cleaned up my Alero mess.

Lastly: 106D immediately reminded me of Jim Gaffigan's classic HOT POCKETs bit.

I AM A ROBOT 10:42 AM  

Frankly, I am surprised there is not more outrage over the similarities between this puzzle and the other "pocket puzzle."

How could something be "fresh" (in the words of Shortz) if it is a direct copy?

Or, for that matter, how can it even
be published at all?

noreen 10:45 AM  

If you think the puzzles are too easy, try doing them without Google or any reference material. For the Sunday puzzle, I believe that it's the theme that makes it fun. Then the challenge is to fill it in from your head and the crosses etc.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Where's the cue ball?

PapaLeroux 11:15 AM  

Here in Michigan it's "have a go at."
Pretty nice puzzle. The only thing I didn't like was Kumar. Never heard of him in any of my 79 years.

Carola 11:19 AM  

I needed Rex's write-up to appreciate the construction - I got the POCKETs early but didn't understand the long themers, other than thinking of CUE and SHARK as bonus answers.

Not easy for me overall, and I DNF as I got FAQ-ed out by the "Bee" clue: I had FAkIR crossing kUIL_ and gave up. However, I did parse GO AT, rather than thinking we had a GOAT joining the PIG, COATI, COBRA, SHARK, LOUSE, and ROOK (nice array across the animal kingdom).

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Was afraid Rex would act like a rat and bust Joel's (and Will's) BALLS. Fortunately, the review was naomic and heartfelt.

Malsdemare 11:33 AM  

Dropped in EbOlA instead of ECOLI and that led me down the path of hell. No idea who Keibler is (unless a German elf), so Staby seemed just fine. That meant the quote was a translation from some Chinese philosopher I'd never heard of. Natick here. But I liked it anyway. I agree HAVE A GO AT seems more a Britishism, and I did the whole AFROS to GALAS to BALLS thing as well as PIGstys (which seriously worried me about the Y vs IES) before PIGPENS. It was fun!

joho 11:42 AM  

Ah, so there is a statue of limitations regarding previous puzzles! I actually don't remember the puzzle from eight years ago so solved this with a fresh eye and appreciative mind. Yes, on the easy side for a Sunday, but I loved every minute of it! I also thought the extra layer of pools terms were an elegant touch plus the bonus poolhall SHARK.

Beautifully done, Joel Fagliano, you showed us lots of finesse.
Not a NAE or any NOES from me!

Nancy 11:46 AM  

Swamp for SWALE caused me trouble, until I realized that the ----WHITMAN BRIDGE had to be WALT. (Christie Todd didn't fit). I already had all the pockets by this time, which made the puzzle easier, actually. Didn't get the CUE, RACK etc as theme answers and didn't much care when I came here and found out. But a cute puzzle -- and, no, I didn't remember that there had already been a prevous one just like it.

Horace S. Patoot 11:56 AM  

For what it's worth, a U-tube is a rather common piece of glassware. It is used to create a salt bridge between two electrolyte solutions to form a simple battery. Analytical chemistry students should all recognize them.

Liz Glass 11:58 AM  

How can you call yourself my BFF when you don't know that Stacy Keibler is from Baltimore and used to cheer for the Baltimore Ravens!!

quilter1 12:03 PM  

This was good. After I cut the clues from the second page and taped it to the first I was off and running. And there was a QUILT in there. And the AMANAs. It is hard to visit the colonies and not spend, but there are lots of good restaurants and wonderful shops full of stuff we don't need but want anyway. It is about an hour and a half away, but we'll go there for lunch any pretty day. Nice Sunday, Joel.

Michael Hanko 12:14 PM  

Online, it can be challenging to distinguish between accidental misparsing and that done on purpose for satirical reasons.

Really gets my go at.

quilter1 12:19 PM  

BTW, SYSCO was a gimme as I see their trucks all over and parked beside stores and restaurants. Maybe it is regional.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Missed the theme words myself, "Hunh?" and I wish Loren Muse Smith had her own blog.
I will bring some sea shells to our fancy gated beach on Martha's Vineyard and try this trick. With my luck I'll be accused of introducing invasives.
Hated relap. i stabbed my pencil hard into it to teach it a lesson. Glad I'm not an annon. who missed the goat..

mac 12:43 PM  

It's a good puzzle day when it, our blogger and the comments make me laugh!

The theme was easy to get, but I had a couple of write-overs as well: pale for pace at 11D, scar for scab and afros before balls. Loved picking out the additional theme answers.

I only know Stacy Keibler from seeing her on Clooney's arm on the red carpet.

Hunh? Had not seen that before, but it looks good.

Jisvan 12:46 PM  

Liked all the pockets and the racking, accurate or not.
What was almost as much fun as solving the puzzle was watching Rex set the hook, and then seeing so many fishes hitting the bait, or should I say, having a goat! (When I was an anonymous lurker, I posted for the first time just to correct such an "error".) Happy last Sunday of 2013, Rexworld!

Mohair Sam 12:54 PM  

Really a fun Sunday. Played easy for us, but there was no garbage and several great clues. "Blown out?" being our favorite.

We live near Philadelphia with relatives in NY and Jersey - WALTWHITMANBRIDGE as uper gimme.

Hey @Rex, next time you're driving near dining halls on campus (or anywhere else local) look for the delivery trucks with the SYSCO signs. I know they cover that part of New York State, and they are everywhere.

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

How do you pronounce huh...vs hunh?
(Just took the NYT quiz on regional pronunciation.)

A very good puzzle but, yes, the theme is familiar.

D and A

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

I may not have seen this as i scanned the comments. HAS A GO AT. Not HAS A GOAT.

Glimmerglass 2:00 PM  

I see that Rex's HAS A GO AT caught a whole herd of silly goats.

jburgs 2:25 PM  

With regard to the Sudoku scandal and the alleged perpetrator, Eugene Varshavsky. I had never heard of this before and was intrigued. Unfortunately, it appears that this guy was never tracked down nor was it established how he might have cheated. At the time, Will Shortz was apparently even brought in to solve the puzzle but I see no further info on whether the guy was tracked down. The most recent details I could find were from a 2012 post by a chess competitor who had played Varshavsky in a tournament in 2006 or so. At that time Varshavsky was also suspected of cheating but no proof was able to be obtained.

It seems to me that with all the brainpower in the chess and sudoku world someone would have been able to track this fellow down by now. There are pictures of him at the Sudoku event. If I were a betting man, I would give odds that he will make an appearance at the ACPT to complete a trifecta.

Does anyone know if he has ever been identified or subsequently interviewed? Since many members of Anonymous post here, perhaps they could be enlisted to help unmask the man who calls himself Eugene Varshavsky.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

I just loved it. So clever, and so much fun to solve once you got the theme. Joel's puzzles are consistently clever.

AliasZ 2:45 PM  

Some commenters including a few anonymice didn't read the blog all the way through prior to posting. This is what @Rex said:

"Last thing in the grid was HAS A GOAT (65D: Tries). What an odd expression—I always heard it as 'has a go.' American idioms are so weird.*

*I'm not serious, but that won't keep me from getting mail."

How right he was. He made a joke and knew that some people won't read the footnote. Does anyone here sincerely believe that @Rex couldn't parse HAS A GO AT correctly? Anyone? Anyone?

The joke is on all those who wanted to show us that they were smarter than @Rex.

Anoa Bob 2:45 PM  

"Time spent playing pool is not deducted from one's lifespan" Lao Tze

That means I should live to be about 150 years old, minimum.

Played in a poolroom in Knoxville, TN back in the 80's named "FELT Physics".

Carom Billiards, or Three Cushion Billiards, is played on a table that has no pockets.

POCKET ACES (123A) in Texas Hold'em are called "Pocket Rockets", "American Airlines", and "Weapons of Mass Destruction". The challenge is to keep your poker face when they are dealt to you.

Jim Gaffigan does a riff on Hot Pockets.

Kim 2:56 PM  

STACY Keibler recently broke up with George Clooney of UPIN the Air.

Nice puzzle. Fun Sunday.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

It's HAS A GO AT. Not HAS A GOAT, no?

Tita 3:29 PM  

@D and A...
I meant to post here about that regional map thingie...
I tweeted mine @TerezadAndrade:

And take your own here...

Getting tired of idiots 3:38 PM  

... and yet they persist.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

You PURSE your lips,
and carry a HANDBAG!

Benko 4:01 PM  

@stevej and @anoabob: I also immediately heard Jim Gaffigan's falsetto singing, "HOT POCKETS".
I remember George W. reading "My Pet GO" AT all those kids.

JDipinto 4:02 PM  


Mette 4:10 PM  

Good thing this was worthwhile because I had to scoot down the driveway on my butt to get the paper. Nothing but ice here. At least we still have power.

Hard to miss Rex's comment because my pet peeve is an asterisk with no mate (well that and "hone in on").

Michael Hanko 4:17 PM  

All right—I can't stand it anymore! It's HAS A GOA T, for god's sake. The expression refers to a souvenir shirt from India.


Masked and Anonymo11Us 4:47 PM  

"I don't particularly like UTUBE as fill". har. Can't fool m&e, 4-Oh. He clearly meant to have one of them asterisk footnote dealies on that there line.

@4-Oh: What manner of critter are y'all usin for yer POCKET icons? Looks like a kitty. Are we in the kitty pool? Confuses the m&a.

@r.alphbunker, re: yer comments on them real purty solvin time bar charts. I don't go for the idiotsyncratic answers so much, but am real prone to U-f@$#ing on my fillins. Just sayin.

Liked this SunPuz a lot, but agree that if U racked em up like that for a game of nineball down at my local establishment, someone would invariably ask If U was from outa town. Looks like some sorta bowlin game setup. And where's the cue ball at? [Ans: monkey ate it. har!]


p.s. Hey, D and A! Like the cut of yer jibe...

Zeke 4:47 PM  

I HAD A GOAT once (just just once, I swear) and my parents sent me go Bible Sex Reoriantation Camp for the entire summer.

Ellen S 4:55 PM  

Hi, all. I'm trying to stay clear of the flying GOATs. Not surprising that so many people either didn't read or didn't understand Rex's footnote. But it is discouraging that so many late posters didn't see that the T-shirt reference (good one @Michael Hanko) was the HOT POCKET, I mean HOT topic of this entire comment area.

@Tita, thanks for the link to the dialect quiz. It appears I am likely from Madison, Mpls-St Paul or Salt Lake City. Since I grew up in Chicago, the midwestern cities are close. I wonder what usage I've forgotten in the last 45 years (mostly northern Calif), that threw off the answer? Probably messed up on "Freeway", because we never had anything by that name, but neither were there freeways in Wisconsin. There were some Tollways, and the rest, I think, were just Highways. I never met a Freeway until I got to California, where BOWERs of ... weeds grow in the interchanges.

Those sticky candies were "CAR-mel", and my mother's sister was my Ant. I spent years trying to cure myself of both just so people won't hoot at me.

Masked and Just Askin 5:02 PM  

@Zeke! Is that you, dude?! Knock me over witha feather and send me out fer brewskis -- didn't think U ever came within a long country mile of a crossword puz. U did have a real purty goat, I 'd grant.

M&A some more

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

According to wikipedia, Sysco is "the world's largest broadline food distributor". Now that you know the name, you'll see their trucks everywhere.

Z 5:55 PM  

@Michael Hanko - [chortle]
@Zeke - [Guffaw]

LaneB 6:06 PM  

Most enjoyable Sunday, though was slowed down by filling Ben Franklin for WALTWHITMAN. SLow and steady thereafter. Thanks Mr. Faglioni!

Goat 6:40 PM  

@aliasZ: thx.

ahimsa 7:05 PM  

Easy Sunday, yes, but cute!

And yet even though it was mostly easy my brain was so slow today that even with all the other squares filled in at -BOOK/-VETO I could not see the POCKET rebus. I kept wanting -BOOK to be something to read since that's more likely to be by my side than a POCKET BOOK. I finally figured it out.

At first glance I thought the animals in the solution image were kangaroos. A pouch could be a type of POCKET, right? ;-)

And did anyone notice that the March 2006 puzzle by Michael Shteyman has SPERM BANK at 36 Across? Interesting to see that entry (the BANK part is a pool related term like ENGLISH, BREAK, RACK, etc.) from 7+ years ago after Monday's BANK theme. (By the way, a belated kudos to Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels for that puzzle!)

Anyway, lovely puzzle, thanks to Joel Fagliano!

Anonymous 11:50 PM  


Anonymous 11:56 PM  

No doubt I'm an idiot -- but what's the pool table association with "Walt Whitman Bridge?" (As with cue, felt, chalk and rack.) The "spanner" reference has only made it murkier for me. I understand that a bridge could be labeled a "spanner" ... but is "spanner" some part of pool hall lingo?

I got the answer, but don't see it how fits into the theme.

M and A Help Desk and Billiard Room 1:10 AM  

@Anonymous 11:56 -- A BRIDGE is a pool hall gadget helpful when the pool shot is too far away, across the table, to reach properly. It's basically a pool cue stick but with a wide, grooved metal plate attached to the end. You can place the cue's far end in the bridge head's groove, hold the bridge stick part as a guide, and (usually in my caliber game) reach the otherwise unreachable shot, dub it badly, and scratch the cue ball in the side pocket.


Donna Hoke 2:25 AM  

It took me about two seconds to get deja vu on this and fill in all the corners, even with many of the same theme answers from seven years ago. I might not have caught it so fast, but the size gave it away, and it was a such a distinctive visual theme that it was hard to forget. I find it hard to believe Will didn't know he was repeating but probably figured it would be new for enough people to make it worth it. But still... I was disappointed.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

And if one has been doing NYT puzzles for only six years, this puppy isn't stale. Or is this an exclusive blog for only long-standing veterans?

Tita 8:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 8:29 AM  

I wonder how many of the anonymice are simply some of our own having a GOAT us... or even OFL...seeding the comments with faux corrections.

And for 8 years from now, when this theme gets done again, how about POCKETPOOL?
Is this just a regional term? Back in ancient times, I worked in Stamford on Canal St. There was only one deli within walking distance.
The guy behind the counter wore baggy sweats every day (likely the same pair), and could often be seen playing POCKETPOOL.
Needless to say, we only ordered factory-sealed comestibles there - potato chips, yogurt, etc...

We named it "The Pocket Pool Deli".

Donna Hoke 9:20 AM  

I wonder what the comments about the dupe are on the NYT blog. Does anybody do that one?

Z 9:33 AM  

@anon8:15 - We have pre-shortzian solvers in our midst, but all are welcome.

Anonymous 5:52 AM  

I "hate-solved" this puzzle. I am in agreement with I AM A ROBOT and Donna Hoke... it took me about two minutes to recognize it as a re-run theme and even considered *gasp* not solving it. I was pretty angry... I am surprised Will Shortz let this through. This was the fastest I'd ever solved a Sunday... PERHAPS because I had a GOAT it eight years ago. Indeed, *seven* of the twelve compound POCKET words were identical to the previous puzzle. It was inventive and fun the first time around... I'm sorry, I truly don't mean to be a party pooper, but I can't give Joel much credit here.

He got me with QUILT, though, I gave my pen a workout covering up honey. Also TEach had to be changed to TENET, because alas, preceptors do not precept their students. I had to laugh when I saw Rex and another poster went from afros to galas to BALLS as I did the exact same thing.

Donna Hoke 10:23 AM  

From the NYT blog: If it looks a bit familiar, Will Shortz explains, “When Joel showed me this puzzle last summer, my heart sank a bit, because I remembered Mike Shteyman’s take on the same theme in 2006 — right down to the elongated grid with six POCKETs positioned in the same spots. But that was almost eight years ago, and at some point a statute of limitations applies. Joel’s version is quite different from Mike’s, and it’s a beauty. So I’m happy to run it.”

So there you go, there's an eight-year statute. I don't think it's long enough for a puzzle so distinctive. Apparently, there was some debate about it, but I couldn't seem to find the comments.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

has a go at! Even I got that one, and I did not find this an easy medium puzzle. I thought it was difficult to have a go at! I almost had a goat!

spacecraft 1:35 PM  

There is no way to represent properly a rack of pool balls in straight rows/columns. Each succeeding row adds (or subtracts) one unit, so as to lend oblique force to the break. If racked as on a xword grid, with one ball directly behind another, they would break predictably, along straight lines. So, Mr. Fagliano did the best he could there.

And that, folks, was pretty damn good. I had no knowledge of the previous puzzle, so was forced to judge this one on its own, considerable, merits. Theme density, employing both rebuses and theme-related phrases, was awesome. Fill quality under the circumstances is no less than astounding. This one played rather easily for me, because I have played both pool and poker.

The poker clue hit my eye out of the gate, and one glance at "Microwveable snack item" gave it away. I had one corner pocket instantly and was on the hunt for more. After filling those in, I knew at once that the circled 95a had to be BALLS. Plus, I've driven over the WALT many times: another gimme.

I guess if I had to have a nit (other than it being almost too easy), it would be cluing SANG with "Acted like a rat" when "Rat" is already a clue for STOOLIE--that even uses the exact same sense of the word "rat." I would have just put something else in there; there are lots of non-rodent ways to clue SANG.

Still, OLE! OLE! OLE! Both ears and the tail.

rain forest 3:15 PM  

Well. *I* did not find this easy. The entire North took a long time; I didn't understand what the blank corners were until I finally got VERBALCUE and SIDEWALKCHALK. Then it dawned, and the pockets were duly entered. Even then, progress was slow. I don't know the WALTWHITMANBRIDGE from third base, and the section with BAWD/BOWER/AMANA/SWALE (must swales be moist?)took some time.

Fortunately, the lower half seemed much easier. Throughout, though, I found the cluing very clever, and despite how long it took me, I enjoyed this one.

Dirigonzo 3:28 PM  

I already had a couple of the pockets in place when POOL BALLS materialized in the circles, so I inserted the rest of the pockets and things got remarkably easier. I would have been more certain of the BAWD/BOWER cross if both words had a Y tacked on the end to produce more familiar (to me, anyway) words. I have recently learned by doing puzzles from a collection of earlier NYT xwords that even having filled in the exact same grid a couple of years ago doesn't help me solve it now, so a repeat of an 8 year old theme doesn't really bother me.

Solving in Seattle 5:56 PM  

Joel, you ran the table with this fun Sun puz!

@jae beat me to every comment. I HAd A GOAT.

My only nit is HUNH.

Back to football.

@Diri, stay warm.

Anonymous 1:21 AM  

Very nice surprise seeing a Mountain Goats link, although it took me way too long to figure out why! I will also point out that The Replacements (your other YouTube link) had a noteworthy LET IT BE (73d), as well.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Super-easy puzzle. I did the whole thing in just under 4 seconds.

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