Spriral-horned antelope / SUN 6-1-14 / Fangorn forest denizen / One parodied on Portlandia / Crimean conference locale / One of group of Eastern Christians / Waterway leading to SW German city / Young Darth Vader's nickname / Commercial version of crazy eights

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Aladdin" — Add in "Al"

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: UNIATE (22A: One of a group of Easter Christians) —
Of or relating to any of several Eastern Christian churches that are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church but retain their own languages, rites, and codes of canon law.

A member of any of these churches.

[Russian uniyat, from Polish uniat, the Union of Brest-Litovsk (1596), from unija, union, from Late Latin ūniō. See union.]

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/uniat#ixzz33KtQEvKP
• • •

Like most Sundays of late, this one landed with a thud. Rudimentary theme with not-very-funny theme answers made for an interminable (-feeling) grind. A FAREWELL TO ALARMS and CANAL OF WORMS have close to the needed level of genuine wackiness to pull this theme off, but the rest just don't. Plus there are only seven theme answers here; with such a flimsy premise, seems like you should've been able to go all day (and be much funnier). I can only guess that this puzzle was accepted on the strength of its title (!?!?!), which is Not a (good) reason to accept a puzzle. Non-theme stuff was decent, and the cluing had some bite, but overall, it's another Sunday Slog. Be grateful that I ate dinner and got a gin & tonic between when I solved this and when I started writing about it—my mood is actually much improved.

I haven't done "Bullets" in a long time, so, since I don't have anything left to say about the puzzle from a global perspective, let's just bullet it.

  • 32A: Anoint, archaically (ANELE) — OK, so you can tell from the clue that the fill is going to be terrible, so I won't spend time shooting the fish in this barrel. What I will say is that this *archaic* answer was my first guess (Solver Brain—not to be confused with Brain Brain), but then I doubted it, first because … I mean, just look at it. It barely looks like it qualifies as a word. But also I thought the answer to 24D: Letter between two others that rhyme with it (ETA) was DEE. So I yanked ANELE. Only to have it come right back.
  • 77D: The ___ City (New Haven) (ELM) — Really? Really? Not ELI? It's a Yale clue, that's three letters and starts EL-, and it *isn't* ELI. *%&^ you, crossword gods.
  • 51A: Land in the Golden Triangle (LAOS) — I don't know what the "Golden Triangle" (!) is so off the "A" I wrote in MALI. Then off that "M" I wrote in MONK for 51D: Monastery resident (LAMA). In both cases, my answer needed to be much more Asian.
  • 81D: Trousers (LONG PANTS) — also known as PANTS.
  • 99D: Spiral-horned antelope (NYALA) — pulled this out of god knows where—some vast wellspring of crosswordese that lives in my brain. Antelope account for a sizable subsection of crosswordese fauna. ELAND, ORIBI, ORYX, NYALA … 
  • 104D: Elements of some accents (TWANGS) — I actually wrote in TILDES. I know, it's a terrible answer. But an amusing terrible answer.
Puzzle of the Week was looking to be a close call among a bunch of good puzzles—including Sam Donaldson's fantastic, tricky Fireball puzzle (read about it here) and BEQ's cheeky "Getting Head" (not what it sounds like, though not entirely "clean," either) (get it here) (read about it here). But then I solved Erik Agard's latest themeless puzzle ("themeless twenty-one") at his "Glutton for Pun" site and the contest was over. When I laugh multiple times, and repeatedly shake my head in wonder, and say "man, that's good"—all of it mid-solve—then I know I've got a winner. I really can't ask for a more satisfying themeless experience. Please go do the puzzle. It's free and it's great.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


paulsfo 12:03 AM  

I thought it was fun. My favorite theme answer was CIRCUSTALENT.

Maybe it's because of the upcoming summer blockbusters, or that I was thinking of the *Really New* Testament, but I wanted the two-part book of the Bible to be SeqUEL.

jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Like yesterday's not much stands out.  PUSSYFOOT is about it.  Plus the "wacky" theme answers are just not amusing.  Glad it went fairly fast, meh.

GPS before VIN and BOyS before BROS and of course ELi

@Mohair - The whole premise of Lilyhammer is a shark jump.  I mean would the witness protection program really locate someone in Lilyhammer?  You should finish the 2nd season just for the reindeer races.  Lay back and let the whimsy wash over you. 

JFC 12:38 AM  

@Rex, this might be one of your better critiques. In fact, it might make the instant Classic critique. And I actually agree with it. I am a little tired of Sunday puzzles that add a couple of letters to a saying to turn it into a dumb saying. But, and you know there is always a but, I stopped reading when I got to the Puzzle of the Week. Even if you are on the mark, that’s just too much chutzpah for me.


Moly Shu 1:23 AM  

Mostly medium for me. Got naticked at the crossing "I" in LIMINAL (a word I'm pretty sure I've never heard) and UNIATE (a word I'm 100% sure I've never heard). But, "I" looked like the only letter that would work, so,,,,

Changing CIRCUSTENT into CIRCUSTALENT seems odd. CIRCUSTALENT seems like a real thing, not a made up wacky saying.

Yes, ANELE and LONGPANTS are bad. I did like CRESS and PLANAR. I also learned what soupçon means. So there's that

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

Asgard's Twenty-One is not that good nor humorous. Rex is either a shill here or detoxing. If neither, I suppose it's true the man has no taste.

Anyone looking for a really solid, Saturday NYT level challenge that is almost always superior to anything the NYT puts out do the weekly Post Puzzler.


Anoa Bob 1:59 AM  

We're supposed to know that a "Spiral-horned antelope" is a NYALA (99D)? Holy cow! What's next? Well, if it's a four-letter word for an "Indonesian lowland buffalo", I'll be ready.

I'm not one to judge a puzzle solely or even mostly by its theme. I thought this one was decent and the more-than-a-SMATTERING of good fill combined to make it an enjoyable solve for me. Stuff like IGUANA, AMNESIAC, TACTILE, ANOMIE, GAMINE, HIPSTER, MYOPIA, ETC, ETC, tickled my fancy.

UNIATE crossing LIMINAL was the low point.

Anonymous 2:24 AM  

"Letter between two others that rhyme with it" is ETA?


chefwen 2:48 AM  

Like @Moly Shu LIMINAL and UNIATE were unknown to me. Unlike @Moly Shu, I guessed at the incorrect vowel and chose "U" (Hi M & A) and came up with unuate and luminal, both looked fine at the time. Wrong! Oh Well! Finished with one bad cell.

Favorite was A FAREWELL TO ALARMS, something I do not miss since blissful retirement. AAAH!

Unknown 3:08 AM  

In re Magmic's modification of the app
I find the new minimalist design rather refreshing (perhaps because I live in Denmark), and the new layout is easy to navigate.

The previous version was obviously created by a bunch of Canadian geek hipsters in their 20's who have more in common with on-line role-playing games than the more cerebral solitary process of crossword solving.

This being said, the data is obviously not lost, so for those stats junkies out there, it would be nice if Magmic offered an option for solvers to log in and check how they stack up.

As for the puzzle, ELM not ELI? Riiiiight.
Anonymous, ZETA, ETA, THETA.

GILL I. 5:43 AM  

I guess I'm the only one who thought this was a pretty good, fun puzzle. I mean who doesn't love CANAL OF WORMS...?
ANELE/LIMINAL/UNIATE were all new to me as well, but I got them.
I also liked the cluing - especially for AMNESIAC.
I've disliked several Sunday puzzles this past month but this one gave me smiles..
Bloody Mary's are on me...!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:06 AM  

OK puzz for me, the Median Solver. Always amazes me that constructors keep coming up with so many variations, even if on a familiar structure.

Didn't know ANELE but didn't have to; filled in so easily from crosses.

Actual write-overs: 10 D, YAM before OCA; 29 D, PRENATAL before NEONATAL. And, blame jet lag, 103 D, started putting in SIXES before noticing (a) didn't fit and (b) wrong answer!

Loren Muse Smith 7:08 AM  

Rex – my thought was "cee" before ETA.

@Bob – welcome back! I missed your posts. ". . . always amazes me that constructors keep coming up with so many variations, even if on a familiar structure." I'm with you on that. I always love manipulating our language with themes like this. Nice job, Tom!

@M&A - I managed to figUre out your offering yesterday. Of course, that chess opening was my toehold. Yeah!

Like @Moly Shu, I had to guess that UNIATE/LIMINAL cross, too. I agree with @chefwen that U looks ok, too.

I also had a terrific goof – my "pungent green" was "grass" (crossing a mysterious "nbg" – National Birders' Guild, anyone?). I figured good pot would be pungent.

Look. My taste for music inexplicably hit a wall a while back, and I pretty much called it a day with Simon and Garfunkel, The Eagles, Carly Simon, ETC ETC. So I have to be a grumpy PARENT and go here...


And while I'm in my PARENT mode (read always, Always worrying about the kids driving), let me suggest a bumper sticker designed to scare the bejeezuz out of drivers who think they can use their phones. Every. Single. Person says, "Oh, but I'm always careful."


Danp 7:21 AM  

The puzzle itself was fine. The clues for the themers weren't. The answers should be punchlines, not green paint. How about:

In like a lion, out like a lamb - Ideals of March

Elegy for Chicken Little - A Farewell to Alarms

Jumping through hoops, eg. - Circus Talent

Coin of the realm? - Change of Palace

April rain - Spring Falling

chefbea 7:24 AM  

Fairly easy for me - Finished it last night. Once I got the theme it was easy. Hand up for Eli.
Don't want to whine about the winey clue!!!!

Brookboy 7:39 AM  

I'm certain there cannot possibly be any nits left in Rex's house.

I enjoyed the puzzle, found it more challenging than medium, but I managed to finish it, so maybe it was, in fact, medium. I liked the clueing, thought a lot of it was clever. Took me a while to get some traction, which happens to me sometimes. I've found that if I put the puzzle away for a while and then come back to it, I see solutions that totally eluded me at first.

Read Identity (72A) as Identify initially, which gave me fits. Time for new glasses.

Thank you, Mr. McCoy.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Greek alphabet...ZETA. ETA. THETA...

Leapfinger 7:50 AM  

Thought the theme got good @ A FAREWELL TO ALARMS, brilliant @OF MALICE AND MEN.

Managed some subLIMINAL dredging in the NE, and having lived in New Haven quite a while, did get ELM, but realize it could be slippery. One time, for reasons I won't go into, I ruminated through Wiki's list of ungulates; anyone wanting to be properly whelmed can try it, it got me to NYALA today.

Had my comeuppance in the mid-South, however, by virtue of Daniel/SAMUEL and boys/BROS, till I remembered the concept of checking the Downs. Also blipped on CRASS-ATOP-ATOPIA, the latter being totally made up in my mind, sorry, Aldous H.

Thought there was plenty of good stuff: Pacman's RADII, the NOVA starburst, Martin Sheen ID'd as a LUSTER, so overall will say 'Thanks SO MUCH'. Trick old, version new.

PS. Yes, the thumb opposes the fifth finger, but you won't catch me calling it a pinky.

PPS. Left ultra-late replies to @sanfranmam and @mathguy yestertime.

Leapfinger 8:05 AM  

I'm kinda WhaSMATTERu-ing about those who thought this fell flat. Agree with @AnoaBob's list of goodies.

@Danp: great clues!

@chefbea: I had 'clear' before 'clean', so my French sauces came out confusingly WIREY, but I thought I might whisk it.

Sarah L 8:10 AM  

I have been reading this blog for a while and have been too intimidated to comment, because I am not an expert puzzle solver. I am still at the point where I feel proud of myself for finishing without having to look stuff up. I thought the theme answers here were actually kind of sweet. (Canal of worms!) And I was happy to learn that "anomie," which I've always used to mean personal disaffection and alienation, in fact can also mean more general social breakdown. The hardest part was squaring the person in the monastery (monk, I thought) with the place in the Golden Triangle, whatever the hell that is (Maui, I thought, or Mali). Lots of weirdness in that little area.

Anyway, it is great to read everyone's comments, and very exciting to finally add my own.

Glimmerglass 8:11 AM  

Okay puzzle, but not great. I got Naticked (which is fine by me) with LIMINAL / UNIATE. I guessed LaMINAL for the down ("laminate" is to make something in layers), and UNaATE didn't seem too odd. I liked SPRING FALLING as a neat oxymoron, but I still don't see the phrase that's being punned, so I thought it wasn't part of the theme.

Dorothy Biggs 8:12 AM  

@Leapfinger: You must play (or have played the piano) to call the pinky your fifth finger? If you were a guitar player, it would be your fourth finger.

One general question: Why does crosswordese even exist? Are there not enough words in the English language that crossword puzzles need to use and reuse the same words over and over? Crosswordese turns out to just be a code that, once you memorize it, you can do more and more puzzles. It isn't just the NYT that has it, I've seen many crosswords contain that words I only know through crossword puzzles that seem to be universal go-to words. Maybe it's a function of the grid itself and maybe the language doesn't have as many words as I think it does (of course there is a lot of "foreign language crosswordese" out there, too).

That said, OCA was a new word for me. So there's that.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Any one think PUSSYFOOT crossed the line?n

Unknown 8:15 AM  

Have to agree with Rex on the last few Sunday puzzles. (not usually) does anyone do puzzles without internet help anymore? Losing interest in cutesy puzzles!

Mohair Sam 8:25 AM  

Like Rex we wanted Ely for ELM (nifty misdirection there) and Tildes for TWANGS. Unlike Rex we thought the theme was fun and the all of the answers therein smile worthy. Near personal naticks at the "I" in UNIATE and the "E" in CRESS (I thought it was the stuff you don't eat in nice restaurants, not a color).

Easy/medium Sunday for us, and fun. Thanks Tom McCoy.

@jae: Just caught up on "Orphan Black" so we're looking for another series - Your shark jump point is well taken - giving Lilyhammer another shot, we did love season one after all. Will report back.

jberg 8:29 AM  

This was harder for me than for most, because the clever title got me -- I kept looking for lamps, or magical transformations, and therefore had about 60% of the puzzle done before I got the theme. After that it was easy -- except that I didn't think of Greek letters for 24 down, and therefore ended up with ETe -- I mean, that is a letter between two letters that rhyme with it, although probably too recursive for a Sunday puzzle.

I saw a UNIATE church the other day, and knew about them anyway from having spent a month in Kyiv, where I got interested in the variety of religions, and therefore the number of cathedrals, in the city. That gave me LIMINAL, but I really resisted it -- if LIMINAl means in the middle, subliminal means below the middle? I don't get it.

I was going to say something about OCA, but realized in time that would be a spoiler for another puzzle, so I'll let that go.

But a word for all you carpers out there: if you want to tell @Rex he's too snarky, that's fine. But today we have, so far, two objections to his 'puzzle of the week' feature, where he basically clues us in to two or three other fun puzzles. What on earth is there to object to in that? Disagree with his choice, sure, but what harm is he doing there?

Danp 8:32 AM  

@NCA - The reason ESE exists is that there are very few words with certain letter combinations. If you can't have A next to O, for example, you limit your parallel answers. Thus ISAO AOKI comes up a lot. And while Rex and many commenters here hate them, I call them gimmes, which I need on hard puzzles.

@leapfinger - Thanks.

Carola 8:42 AM  

I found it easy, with a few sprinkles of medium. Got the AL-add-in IDEA at CIRCUS TALENT, thought the ALARM was cute, the CANAL funny, and MALICE inspired. @Danp - your clues are great!

I also fell for ELi, even though I know I've seen New Haven's ELM before; considered Tilde. Liked PUSSY FOOT, SMATTERINGS, OLEANDER, and the old-timey feel of LONG PANTS (as opposed to knee-pants).

@Glimmerglass - A spring fling is a seasonal celebratory event. On college campuses, largely an excuse to drink.

TokyoRacer 8:46 AM  

Agree with NCA President about crosswordese. It's very annoying.
The other thing I object to is people's names. Because you either know it or you don't. And if you don't there is no way to know it. Obscure words are different - you might know it, maybe eventually you can remember it, or figure it out. But a name is impossible. For example, something like Blin. Even with three letters, the fourth could be anything, which is not the case with most actual words. And when the clue is a TV actor, for example, it's even worse. The puzzle is only for people living in America (I don't) who watch TV? I don't mind tough clues/answers if they are actual words, but names are unfair and just stop you cold in the puzzle. They should not be used. Please think about that, Will Shortz (I'm sure you read this blog).

Leapfinger 8:59 AM  

@NCAP: Interesting interpretation, but no, I never advanced far beyond Chopsticks on piano. Did take up cello at one time, after hearing a Casals recording and dreaming of emulating. The jews-harp almost cost me two front teeth, so now I stick to the kazoo. [@jberg, thanks for the heads-up, I almost had OCAsion for a spoiler there myself.]

The terminology comes from working with hand surgeons; pointer & pinkie just don't sound quite as professional as index & fifth/small/little.

@SarahL: Welcome and Enchante! Bravery increases with the realization that nobody can reach through the screen and actually throttle you.

That's my 3 for the day. And I never got to use 'He stuck in his [Thumb] and pulled out APLOMB'.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

I must be dumb or still asleep.
ESS? Drivers brake for it?

Unknown 9:03 AM  

I liked the theme answers.

My quibble is that ETCETC is an abbreviation for "et cetera, et cetera". It was easy enough to get, but the clue is technically wrong since it doesn't call for an abbreviation.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

New Haven is not the Eli city and we townies have at best a love-hate relationship with Yale. Back in the day, there was town-gown rioting. It is the Elm City despite the fact thst most of the elm population collapsed due to Dutch elm disease leaving only a few mature trees. Recently, however, there is a grass roots (ha ha) movement to being the tree back.


As for the updated ios app, I concur with all the appalled criticisms.

It's New Coke.

I have CROSS WORDS about its Shortzcomings.

I'm unhappy that it doesn't even play thst snappy little tune upon successful completion that accompanies the smug look on my face to the annoyance of the wife and kids.

Where do I join the peasant pitchfork brigade to march on the Times behind our leader, Jill Abramson?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:13 AM  

@Anonymous, 9:01 AM - My interpretation was that drivers brake on entering an ESS curve.

@Joseph Welling - Late in the week, I don't think every abbreviation must be clued as such.

Logan 9:18 AM  

@Rex - I cannot find the solution to Erik Agard's Themeless Twenty-one. Can you tell me where to find it, please? Thank you.

Ludyjynn 9:28 AM  

I think Rex was a bit harsh in his review of this puzz. It was an okay theme, but could have been even better using cluing suggested by @DanP, which was quite clever.

This one was an easy Sunday; it went too fast to be a "slog", IMHO.

I respect and admire Ed ASNER's long and illustrious acting career, but find his becoming crosswordese a bit odd. Is it a construction thing that I can't see?

My OLEANDER is only "evergreen" because I grow it in a large pot which my yard guy schleps into the sunroom every Fall, and schleps back outside every Spring. A more apt clue would be "Evergreen shrub in sub/tropical zones". Sorry for nit-picking!

Welcome, @SarahL!

@SheilaBell, I am one of the purists who refuse to Google before the puzz. is done. Otherwise, I consider it a DNF. I will try my damnedest to avoid a DNF. It has made me improve, unaided, as a result.

Thanks, TM and WS.

Arlene 9:30 AM  

This was a happy Sunday solve for me. Loved the title. Got the theme rather quickly. Enjoyed the puns - SPRINGFLING was my favorite. Left me smiling. :-)

Maruchka 9:31 AM  

NO GOOGLES! A good day..

@Gill IP - I love CANALOFWORMS, too. Visual ick.

@Danp - Like the clues, especially Chicken Little. SPRING [sky] FALLING anyone?

@SarahL - Think opium. Several golden triangles in this weary world of ours.

Somewhat dullish, breezed through. There is an old-fashioned integrity and lovely lack of pop culture-isms, tho. Appreciate that. Hmm, it may be growing on me.

Muscato 9:32 AM  

Well, fonder of it than many here, and for me a nice steady fill. Only one fatal error in the end - perhaps because I can smell mowing through the open windows on this fine June morning, I had GRASS for "pungent green," and when that had to turn into CRASS to accommodate the down, I didn't think to change it to CRESS, since for no good reason ANOMIA seemed as good a possibility as any...

And like an earlier commenter, I do have a sneaking fondness for CIRCUSTALENT, which sounds like a phrase one of my great-aunts might have used ("Oh, she thinks she's hot stuff, but all she's got is circus talent!").

Z 9:33 AM  

As I've become more proficient at Saturdays, Sundays have become less interesting. I do think the two reactions are related.

@Joseph Welling - just like in a murder mystery, some clues are more helpful than others, some might even lead you down the wrong path. Ever see a puzzle that would warn you if the answer was two words? Does the absence of such warning make the clue for 1A wrong? I don't think so. Likewise with awards, "2008" can mean the year for which the award was given or the year in which it was awarded. Be prepared for either.

If shtup can appear in a puzzle, the line has been moved way past PUSSYFOOT.

retired_chemist 9:52 AM  

While crosswordese is irksome at times, I do see the need for it, as pointed out above. A puzzle without any crosswordese seems extremely hard to construct and might need to rely on off-the-wall obscure words. My two cents worth. I have never constructed a puzzle so don't assume ANOA lot...

Sundays are often Nike puzzles foe me - just do it. Pretty much what Rex called a slog. This one was a bit better than that. Liked the theme, although CANAL OF WORMS evokes something unintended but pretty gross.

Finishes with two errors. The LIMINAL/UNIATE cross could have other vowels and I never heard of either word. Liked LaMINAL since it seems derived from "laminate," which implies layers, and one of them at least is "in-between" others. UNaATE sucked so I didn't really believe it.

Ran the vowels and didn't get Mr. Happy Pencil, so I had an error I could not see somewhere else. Rechecked and rechecked, then finally asked AL (short for Across Lite and a particularly appropriate acronym today) to tell me where my errors were. In addition to the a I expected in LaMINAL, Ihad tEE/tIPSTER. I had decided originally to go back and check whether 52A was tEE or HEE, but eventually forgot. Got hung up on whether Portlandia (which I have not seen) might have parodied a tIPSTER (a horse racing component to the movie?) or a tIPplER, finally deciding that tIPSTER must be right. And that was that.

So, overall pretty good, with my DNF errors rationalizable (at least to me). Probably 10-15 minutes spent on those squares, which means a normal Sunday time otherwise.

Thanks, Mr. McCoy.

Unknown 10:19 AM  

Damn. Another Sunday DNF.
[like] AsA. Considered AkA , but never ALA. I've been burned by this one before.
[Mischevous girl] GAdINE. Who? Wha? Surely nAdINE is better. Reading the GAMINE definition now. It sounds like Anne Hathaway.
And so the nonsensical
[Biblical biook in two parts] SAdUEs. Thinking Seleucids? Sadducees? Maybe? Nope.

Damned by the Bible, not for the first time.

Overall an excellent Google-free week: 4 of 7, and all three DNFs were like today: two letters in one word and corresponding crosses. Reason for optimism, even if it doesn't feel like it.

Happy Sunday everyone.

quilter1 10:32 AM  

I consider myself Miss Religious Diversity but somehow UNIATE escaped me and my team was the mETS so DNF this pretty easy puzzle. Otherwise, I enjoyed the theme answers, especially CIRCUSTALENT and CANALOFWORMS.

pc 10:42 AM  

A blah puzzle, 25 minutes of my life i can't get back.

On a more important note, i DETEST the new Magmic/NYTimes app on iPad which takes out features and quadruples the price. Can someone give me an alternative?

david kulko 10:46 AM  

yes it was as the theme answers fell closer to the cute end of the cute-clever spectrum.

i had "malta" for "yalta" and since the antelope became "nmala" i though it worked in some african dialect. then i could not abide luster so i put lustre which screwed up the elm and the rls answers until i switched the e-r. incidentally i have the same issue with "timbre."

Leapfinger 10:58 AM  

@david kulko shows an uncommonwealth of sense.

tensace 11:08 AM  

PRE anything and in this case PRESELECTS really doesn't make sense. By PRE-selecting you actually select. Same for Pre-heat, you either heat it or you don't and Pre-drill. You still have to drill the hole to pre-drill the hole.

Just sayin'

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Re: LONG PANTS: I once knew a guy, a really horrible boyfriend, who said "short pants" instead of "shorts." So women, if you ever hear a guy say "short pants," it's probably him. Run.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  


I believe he posts the answers the following week, or simply download AcrossLite and view the solution through that excellent and easy to use program.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

@Brent Chappell
It seems to be a whole new app, offered by the times itself, rather than a modification by magmic. Reviews are almost uniformly terrible. I'm still doing the older magmic app, but judging by the numbers most people have switched.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

YUP! Have to agree with Rex.



Carola- YMA showed up today.

Mohair Sam 12:05 PM  

Blasted speller changed EL"I" to ely - hate that.

@Casco - Congrats on the good week. Watching you improve is fun. Listening to you bitch is even more fun.

Warm Spring day so I'm wearing my short pants this afternoon. @Anonynous 11:19, do we know each other?

@Z - Interesting point on the Saturday/Sunday thing. Over the years we've grown to prefer Saturday puzzles too, I think you hit on why.

@Sarah L. - Welcome, good post.

Ellen S 12:23 PM  

Hi, folks, and welcome @Sarah L. Your story is the same as mine, and probably many others. I'm stil not a very expert solver, after about, oh 34 years, but I've devised a kind of hierarchy of sins, where looking in dictionary is lowest, crossword puzzle dictionary (such things exist so they must be okay: pre-Google, they were essential for looking up the Muses), Google is about the same level as crossword dictionary and all of the preceding are about the same level of sin as a parking ticket. Reveal Errors is a more serious offense, like a moving violation. Reveal Word is like a DUI. I have this book of Tough NYT Puzzles from about the 80s and 90s, which I will never get all the way through. And "get through" means I have to look up the answers all the time. I think I read somewhere that IQ tets are tougher (in the sense that people who were geniuses a couple of generations ago would not be so smart today; differences in ways of thinking, not really brain power. Though people of my generation .... well, me ... are also not so smart any more. Whatever I'm trying to say.

Moving on! I looked up LIMINAL. it derives from Latin for "threshhold". Does not seem to be etymologically related to "limit" (derivation is "boundary") and I can't think of any related words in English. Oh, wait! "Eliminate" -- means to drive out the door, over the "threshhold." All right then.

I enjoyed the puzzle. it only took me a couple of hours starting late last night, finished this morning. Started late last night because it took me from Friday evening to late Saturday to finish the Saturday puzzle. No Googles, but did some weaving, exceeding the speed limit and cutting off other drivers, in the interest of finishing before you folks had moved on to another puzzle.

Oh, one last thing: I'm still using Puzzazz on my iPad, and still like it. You can hand-write the letters or use a keyboard. The only letter I routinely have trouble getting it to recognize is "A", which it often interprets as "M".

Jisvan 12:41 PM  

To anoint archaically, I thought at first, was to oil up. That is what crossword solving has done to my brain. Wanted LuMINAL before LIMINAL, seemed more middle-ish to me to me with my anatomical bias, or perhaps LaMINAL like a layer of something...Hi, @ Retired Chemist! But I had no idea what the crossing "one of a group of eastern Christians" might be, so all were equally likely to me. Settled on the right vowel by luck.
Solved this on a country Sunday morning in Tennessee while my son, his wife, the grands and the rest of the in-law CLAN attended church. (We are California heathens.) It was my first entire Sunday sans Google, because it was my first entire Sunday sans wifi (until just now)! I know, Sundays are easy, ETC, ETC! I think it is the vastness of the Sunday grid that makes me give up and cheat almost immediately. This long road trip has made me dig deeper and try longer, mostly because I do not have a data-capable iPad and because there has been a dearth of wifi, and because I have the brief, amazing, vacation gift of time!
Because of a recent shake-up in Magmic Land, I seem to have moved ahead in the Streak game, breaking deeply into the previously impossible top 100. I did so want to do this before the next leg of my journey, leaving the country and changing 10 time zones. Hurrah! But what happened to the 53 people who were stubbornly ahead of me? Hmmmmm. How much more will it cost?!?

Questinia 12:42 PM  

Decided to be dangerous, rolled the dice and put it all down on tEE instead of HEE without looking back so wound up with tIPSTER.
... off licking my ANOMIE and taedium vitale.

Standard Sunday Fare.

Unknown 12:46 PM  

Google "Anne Hathaway GAMINE" and you'll discover that there is nothing ever really new under the sun.


Carola 12:49 PM  

@Anonymous 11:55 - Yes :) Also OCA, which is in my ETC group.

jdv 12:53 PM  

Challenging w/2 errors. LIMImAL/mETS and tIPSTER/tEE. My Sunday error streak continues. Spent 15 minutes tracking down the errors. Rest of the puzzle was easy-medium. Didn't realize they are now the Brooklyn Nets, so that's on me. Had to guess on LIMINAL/UNIATE crossing.

Jerry K 1:10 PM  

Not thrilled with the new layout but can adapt. However the colors leave me squinting to tell dark blue from the black spacing

Hartley70 1:34 PM  

Elm City....gustatory reverie.....Atticus Bookstore....best black bean soup ever!
Sarah L., like you, I lurked for a long time before I recently started to post. It's a satisfying end to what's become the daily struggle. I did the Sunday puzzle for eons before I attempted the weekly grind. Now I look forward to Thurs, Fri, Sat most of all.
Never saw Portlandia so I thought I had aced it with tipster. I see I'm not (al)one.

Loren Muse Smith 1:48 PM  

@Sarah L – yeah for posting! You said, "I am still at the point where I feel proud of myself for finishing without having to look stuff up." I'm always surprised, relieved, to read that lots of us have to resort to looking things up to finish a puzzle. At least you knew the word ANOMIE. New one for me, that's for sure. I'll look forward to more posts by you.

@M&A, Bob, Benko, and anyone else looking for something to do to avoid Boring Sunday Chores – here you go… my second Runt. Again – don't ignore the title. (And again, thanks to Jeff Chen for putting it in AcrossLite.)


Unknown 1:48 PM  

Not sure why people would use Magmic, or even AcrossLite, when there is this.

I keep checking out Magmic and AcrossLite to see if the newer versions have gotten better, but always delete them and come back to my old standby.


Norm C. 1:57 PM  

I see that at least I'm in good company w/r/t the tIPSTER/tEE crossing. Makes me feel a little better.

In retrospect, maybe I/we could have figured that if "tee" were correct, it probably would have been clued differently. Maybe not.

Happy June, everyone.

Unknown 1:59 PM  

Another neat feature of Crossword Classics, is that if you construct your own puzzles, you can configure the app to link to them.

I construct puzzles for my family to do, and as long as the have the app installed, they can do them from wherever, and they can do them at the same time, either as a challenge or to help each other out. They can see each others' entries as they type them in.

Here's the link again, try the free one, and if you have a NYT subscription just enter it in and you'll get puzzles going back pretty far. I started doing guzzles from the early 2000's and have never checked how much further back than that they go (this is without any additional cost):

Unknown 2:09 PM  

Irony: just checked 12/31/1999 from the app, to see if it went back that far, and it does, and the constructor was Peter Gordon, of Fireball fame. ;-)

RnRGhost57 2:20 PM  

Average Sunday--did half before early church service and other half upon return home.

I'm a rather shameless Googler/cheater; crosswording for me, a word lover, is an amusing pastime, not a competition. Though I have good fellowship with those who think differently. Let a 100 flowers bloom, to each her own, etc.

Fred Romagnolo 2:23 PM  

@carola: when I was a lad, we called 'em short pants; I understand they were far more prominent on the East Coast than here: little boys who couldn't wait to wear LONG PANTS. @Z: acrostics are puzzles that tell you how many words. @ludyjynn: Silicon Valley which is not subtropical was rife with evergreen oleander while the locals referred to it as "Prune Valley." I don't know about today. Since my mother was a Russian Orthodox, and my father a Roman Catholic, I was always fascinated by the difference, so UNIATE came automatically. I thought the clue on TRYSTS was great and agree with the others on the theme clues; I enjoyed the puzzle very much. I will use references before I google, but today I didn't have to.

pmdm 2:23 PM  

Crosswordese may make it easier to construct a puzzle, but I agree with previous comments that observe that crosswordese helps in adjusting the difficultly level of a puzzle. Lots earlier in the week, less as the week progresses. I would think that's its main purpose. Even if you never actually saw a movie starring Lupino, after a while IDA is a gimmie. Easy puzzles need gimmies. You just can't get away from it.

The exception is when you have three or four stacked answers. Very tough to do that and avoid crosswordese or forced answers. I personally don't see that as a reason to abolish such puzzles, but many of you do and I also understand that.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to share a good puzzle find. I'm not quite sure of the rationale behind "Puzzle of the Week." If there's two or three, why not share them all? If there's none, do you still have to have a Puzzle of the Week. Perhaps it seems that the oint of the feature is to impose personal ratings on puzzles, which I can see may offend some. Especially when there is so much personal response included in the write-ups. But in this case, I do believe it's mostly a desire to share very good puzzles. I would not read anything more into the feature.

Benko 2:48 PM  

@lms: Nice one! This was a little easier after having digested the style of your first runtpuz ; I knew what to look for. Fun clues and cool theme. One down is a beautiful but expensive place to visit, and I liked being reminded of it.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:51 PM  

@lms - Nice runtpuz! Took me 4:27, but your helpful hints eased my way.

(It is my intention to go back to the past two weeks when I can, so I'll do your previous effort eventually.)

jae 2:55 PM  

If you like your whimsy topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce you should give Portlandia a try. It's on IFC and can also be seen on Netflix streaming.

Steve J 3:36 PM  

I've been moving this weekend, so my brain's frazzled (and my back hurts, which I don't think affects my ability to do puzzles during breaks). So that's probably at least part of the cause why I found this more difficult than normal, and more than a bit of a slog.

But the puzzle has to bare a good portion of the blame. Pedestrian theme dully clued (@Dan P's clues are vastly superior), tons of obscurity that wasn't always fairly crossed, and nothing much of interest outside PUSSY FOOT.

And now back to still more unpacking. I'd forgotten how much I loathe moving.

Steve J 3:42 PM  

Forgot to add:

@Sarah L: Welcome, and don't let not being an expert solver stop you from posting. I began posting here back when I about the only thing I could finish were Monday and Tuesday puzzles. Commenting here has helped me be a better solver and to appreciate more in puzzles than I used to. And while I'm a better solver than I was a few years ago, I'm still far from an expert (I'm still thrilled whenever I finish Fridays and Saturdays with zero outside assistance).

@Everett Wolf: Previously, the big draw for the Magmic app was that an annual subscription cost less than half what a subscription through the NYT cost. That's gone now, so when my current sub is up, I'll be switching over to the Standalone Crosswords app you recommended. It's what I use to solve everything else on my iPad, and its movement through the puzzle is much better. The only problem it has is that it frequently does not handle rebuses well.

That said, we'll see how the new app evolves. The first version of things often has issues, plus there's the usual "It's different!" reaction.

Carola 3:52 PM  

@loren - re: runtpuzzle - that was *un! 17A - truly LOL! Had to erase 6D - my answer refered to the realm below the real answer.

mathguy 3:56 PM  

@Leapfinger. Thanks for recommending "N is a Number." YouTube had the full program and I just finished watching it. It was filmed in 1993 and I may have seen it before, but I still enjoyed it immensely. The proof of the Ramsey Theorem for n=6 is one of my favorite proofs in all of mathematics. (If there are six points on a plane with no three collinear and each pair of points is joined by either a blue segment or a red segment, then there is either a red triangle or a blue triangle.)

wreck 4:07 PM  

I kind of liked the puzzle today. I Sussed out the theme by the title, but it was still challenging to fit AL into each themer.

@steve j
The new app is growing on me -- supposedly they are restoring the archives in the app in a few weeks. Probably forced to with the scathing reviews it has been getting!

Steve J 4:16 PM  

@wreck: I'm mostly fine with the new app so far. The only thing that seriously bugs me is that as you click through the clues using the arrow buttons, it doesn't skip clues that are already filled in. That's annoying.

Aside from that, it's all mostly just that it's different. I do misread the clues sometimes with the current clue and the crossing clue being displayed side-by-side, but I'll get used to that. Visually, things are cleaner and more appealing. I do miss referencing my average solve times, etc., and seeing my rough comparisons to the rest of the solvers, but those are nice-to-haves that aren't essential (and that I've suspected will come back).

chefbea 4:22 PM  

@Sara L...welcome - the more the merrier!!!

wreck 4:22 PM  

@ Steve j
There is a "settings" button where you can adjust the square skipping and the like.

Ludyjynn 4:25 PM  

@FredR, your OLEANDER experience in CA intrigued me enough to do some digging (no pun) via Google. Wiki. supports my contention re it being primarily "sub/tropical", AND yours that in CA it grows statewide, usually "along median strips"! In the East, until global warming continues to change the old normal, it only grows outdoors safely year-round as far North as Va. Beach., 3 hours to the South of my home. USDA heartiness zones are also evolving due to climate change. Oleander was unavailable here for sale in big box stores when I fell in love with the plant many years ago after seeing it in Bermuda. Home Depot started selling it here as an annual c. 8 years ago, so I bought one and have kept it alive and thriving ever since doing the schlepping in and out routine.

One caveat to anyone interested in growing oleander is that is poisonous, esp. toxic if ingested by dogs or humans. I use gloves when pruning branches to avoid getting the white 'sap' on my skin, and luckily my dog shows no interest in the plant.

BTW, FRED, was "Prune Valley" a nickname for Silicon Valley or for the plant?! Must be a great story behind that one.

wreck 4:29 PM  

Sorry - I think I misread what you were saying. I don't use the "arrow" buttons much!

Z 4:39 PM  

I am SHOCKED!, SHOCKED! I say, that there are complaints about a major app overhaul. It's not that I am unsympathetic to all of your frustration, but everyone's venting might be better served directed at customer support who might actually be in a position to forward concerns to someone who can do something about it. They may even have some answers. As for whether or not hordes of people will leave, based on the Macworld Review I suspect that it's default status will mean that it becomes the #1 platform for solving the NYT. Sort of an Internet Explorer of Crossword Apps.

Joe in Montreal 4:41 PM  

Meh. Small point but UNIATE is considered a derogatory term by Eastern Catholics, and is used as a derogatory term by Eastern Orthodox. I was surprised to see it here.

Unknown 4:55 PM  

@Steve J
I had no idea Magmic was half the price-been paying the NYT online subscription for a while now--$40. Wow, wish I'd known even though I really don't like the Magmic App.

You're right about the rebus action, that has been one of few nits on Standalone Crosswords, but it seems to have gotten a bit better over the last couple of years.

But, if the price doesn't go up on the online subscription, I can't recommend Crossword enough for the NYT and the indies....

retired_chemist 6:07 PM  

@ ludyjynn - FWIW there is a shopping center in San Jose, now not as posh as it was 30 years ago, called The Pruneyard. The area was full of orchards evenwneh we were there in the late seventies.

Anonymous 6:33 PM  

Hmm.. probably not Martin. Just the regular SHEEN you get when you finish polushung. But I love your take!! And who knows...it fits!

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

"polishing" sorry

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Not Martin, but Charlie. He's the one was a LUSTER...

Paladin 8:45 PM  

Please explain the connection between Pablo/Pedro and Naomi

@Z. The British cryptically also tell the number of words

Paladin 8:48 PM  

Please explain the connection between Pablo/Pedro and Naomi

@Z. The British cryptic puzzle also tells the number of words in the answer.

The Question Man 9:13 PM  

"Please explain the connection between Pablo/Pedro and Naomi" - ¿Are you asking for clarification or a riddle? Those are two different clues, otherwise unrelated in the puzzle.

paulsfo 10:39 PM  

PUSSYFOOT refers to how a cat walks, eg on a crowded mantlepiece. It is *not* off color, at all.

Loren: Still wondering, from a week or two ago, why you remembered those particular years.

I've never switched from Across Lite and it still works well. Note, you might have to go to the archive to be offered the Across Lite version. Bonus, I'm not sure about the other apps but, once i download an across lite puzzle i can solve it anytime, online or offline, now or in the future.

Anonymous: drivers brake for an ESS curve.

Casco Kid: Re gamine, look for images of Mia Farrow, Jean Seberg, Audrey Hepburn (sometimes). You may detect a pattern. :)

Sarah L. 10:53 PM  

Thank you for all the nice welcomes! I really look forward to being part of (rather than just lurking in the shadows of) this interesting and quirky and opinionated group.

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Fred Romagnolo 3:42 AM  

@ludyjynn: Retired Chemist comes close to explaining it; before the electronics revolution, Santa Clara county was rife with orchards; Prune Valley was an affectionate nickname.

Fred Romagnolo 3:46 AM  

They 're gone now; and rents in San Francisco are three times what they were in the 90's

Paladin 2:52 PM  

@The Question Man: Thanks for pointing out my
LUDACRIS mistake ! Sorry for wasting your time.

Charles Flaster 11:22 PM  

Medium. Twenty minutes until I saw theme at A FAREWELL TO ALARMS.,which was my favorite answer. Then only another ten minutes.Liked the puzzle.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

SPRING FalLING Spring fling, theme was Al Add In, Aladdin

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Green vegetables are referred to as "greens"

rain forest 3:36 PM  

Once again, I don't understand @Rex's ire about a puzzle. However, I suppose when you begin to solve with a bent towards finding things you don't like, you will find things you don't like. I have heard him decry entries he's never heard of (imagine that?!), entries he's heard of too many times, too many themers (cramps the fill), too few themers (too much fill), and lack of sufficient wackiness. "I.Want.Wacky. Wacky, wacky, wacky". Sounds like a duck.

In a blog about the NYT puzzle, he insists on trying to direct our attention to other puzzles/sites which I basically ignore. One puzzle a day is fine for me, and the NYT puzzle delivers the goods.

So, today, we had what I consider to be a fine Sunday, with some wackiness, some new words (LIMINAL makes sense to me), very little crosswordese, and some nice cluing. Seven themers seems OK. What's the *correct* number of theme entries a puzzle should have? Anyway, I liked it.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

Green vegetables are referred to as "greens"

Dirigonzo 7:25 PM  

I solved it while getting browner on the pool deck so you know I loved it. I just watched "Up" while donating platelets at the Red Cross a couple of days ago, so Ed ASNER was a gimmee. Last but not least, my dad's name was Al so I'll consider this to be a tribute puzzle to him a week in advance of Father's Day.

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

I looked stuff up: oh the shame : (

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Better clue: "Carlin called it 'a rare disorder' "

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

When the road makes an "ess" (S), some people slow down, I (gu)ess.

Solving in Seattle 2:36 PM  

A day late with my post, but I won't PUSSYFOOT around: I enjoyed this sunpuz by Tom McCoy.
Did this while watching King Felix fan 15 Rays.
BTW, does one PUSSYFOOT on their way to a TRYST?

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

I thought it was quite easy. Any sixties child knows of the golden triangle. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest Eastern Rite Catholic Church and is often referred to as the Uniate church. I do agree anele is weak.

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