Villain in Indiana Jones Kingdom of Crystal Skull / THU 9-25-14 / Rapper who co-starred in 2002's half past dead / Russian composer Arensky / Literally northern capital / Series of watering troughs / Czech playwright who coined word robot

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Ten 3-letter body parts — Puzzle note reads: "The human body is said to have 10 three-letter body parts. All 10 of these are hidden in side Across answers in this puzzle. Can you find them all? The body parts, from left to right, top to bottom: GUM, TOE, JAW, RIB, EAR, ARM, HIP, LIP, EYE, LEG."

Word of the Day: SPALKO (46D: Villain in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") —
Colonel Doctor Irina Spalko was an agent of the KGB, as well as a scientist and military officer, working for the Soviet Union. She was a psychic, as well as a very skilled fencer and combatant. Spalko desired the use of the Crystal Skull of Akator to brainwash and manipulate the minds of American forces, giving the Soviets a tactical advantage in the Cold War. Her weapon of choice was a rapier. Spalko was an infamous leader, with a cruel disregard for innocent casualities and harboring a secret, selfish motivation. However, she did all this in the name of her country, and not out of pure maliciousness. As a soldier, she did only what was needed to complete the mission at hand. (Indiana Jones Wiki)
• • •

I was really, really hoping for something good today, as it is the 8th anniversary of this blog. I was psyching myself up, telling myself I was gonna enjoy it no matter what. But this puzzle … I don't even know where to start. First, it appears one's solving experience will be different depending on the medium one uses. I don't know what the "Note" looks like in the paper (I won't see that til tomorrow). I know that on the NYT website, if you just press "Play" and solve on the applet, you get the first part of the note, but have to click on "Reveal Answer" to see what the ten body parts are. But in Across Lite, the software I and many others use to solve the puzzle on our computers, the bright yellow Note symbol appears right away when you open the puzzle. And clicking on it revealed the *entire* note. So, right away, all the answers, as well as the order in which they appear (!), are revealed. The puzzle has no revealer. No title. Nothing to figure out. No surprise. We're just handed a complete explanation of everything about the structure of the puzzle—before we've even solved a single answer. But here's the thing—I can't pretend I was *that* disappointed at having the puzzle spoiled for me up front because it turns out There's Nothing To Spoil.

Let's be very clear about this. This puzzle (once completed) is a word find … with only three-letter words in it … where the answers all run Across … and we are told the order in which they appear. As I am not five years old, I have a very, very hard time seeing how this is interesting or compelling in any way, especially on a Thursday, *especially* in "the best puzzle in the world" (per the NYT's own promotional material). Even if the answers *and* their order hadn't been revealed right up front, this would've still been insultingly dull. It is a word search for morons, and the word search part is *completely and utterly* separate from the content of the grid. So you get this mediocre themeless puzzle, and then the world's simplest word find.

I'm struggling to understand how any human being involved in this puzzle's creation could've thought this would be fun (for adults) to solve. There's no cleverness. No trickery. No playfulness. Nothing required of the solver at all—well, there's filling the grid itself, which was tough, but, again, that part has Nothing to do with the theme. The puzzle is utterly meaningless without the note, and with the note it's not much better. And I retract the "mediocre themeless" comment. It's worse than mediocre. Themelesses tend to have Way more interesting answers and Way fewer SLOES and OTOES and STETs and omg it just goes on and on.  I will give this puzzle "PEACE OUT!" and that is all I will give it (4D: "Later, bro!"). It's a non-puzzle. Someone I know suggested to me just now that the childishly easy word find was a "sop" to the people who were so livid about Patrick Blindauer's "Change of Heart" puzzle two weeks ago. But I can't buy that. Just because you hated Ulysses doesn't mean you'll be appeased by Where's Waldo?.

I did find CUM and BOSOM and ANUS, though, so I'm managing to amuse myself at least. What else have we got?:

  • 17A: Golden girl? (SACAJAWEA) — this was one of the highlights of the grid. I especially liked the clue (she appears on the golden $1 coin. I'm a bit concerned that some people will have messed up the JA RULE / CAPEK crossing. Maybe JORULE / COPEK? You don't see "R.U.R." in crosswords *nearly* as much as you used to, and thus aren't reminded nearly so much of CAPEK's name, so you'd be forgiven for forgetting (as I did). You'd also be forgiven for forgetting JA RULE, if you ever knew him in the first place. He hasn't been popular for a while. Oh, and since the U.S. Mint and all sites describing the dollar coin seem to think the "Golden girl" in question is spelled with a "G" and not a "J," you'd perhaps also be forgiven for having gone with GA RULE (or even GO RULE) as well.
  • 27A: Series of watering troughs? (AEIOU) — well, if you have to have such a terrible answer in your grid, I guess the best thing you can do is give it a cool, weird-ass clue. (The letters AEIOU appear in order, and each just once, inside the phrase "watering troughs")
  • 32D: Russian composer Arensky (ANTON) — never heard of him. Let's listen:

I look forward to the return of crosswords, and my enthusiasm for them, tomorrow. It's been a mostly enjoyable eight years. I think I got at least two left in me. Thanks for your readership.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Doc John 12:07 AM  

OMG- I'm the first commenter! That'll never happen again, I'm sure.
Puzzle played very hard for me for some reason.
Anyway, the only comment I'm going to make is that we ate dinner tonight at a restaurant called Mr. Roboto. During dinner, I casually mentioned that the word "robot" was coined by a Czech playwright in R.U.R. Husband didn't believe me so I googled it, showing the playwright's name. And then I come home to the clue in the puzzle! Unfortunately, I forgot the middle part of his name but fortunately knew who JA RULE was. Weird, huh?

wreck 12:13 AM  

The notes in the ipad app only said there were (10) 3 letter body parts in across answers in the grid. There was no mention of "order."
This was just a boring themeless that was kind of tough. I knew Ja Rule so I knew SacaJawea had to have a J instead of G - but I have never seen it spelled that way! I had no desire to go back and find the body parts when the puzzle was over.

Zeke 12:21 AM  

I solve in Crossword Solver which, at least as I have I have it set up, leaves me blissfully ignorant of any notes. Thus I was unaware of any body parts to be found strewn all around the puzzle, and just had a sub-par themeless.

I was hoping that Will was considering themeless Thursdays and just slipped in one he thought was easy enough for the first time.

Disappointed on both counts.

Questinia 12:21 AM  

Happy Anniversary Rex! You have an excellent blog and an excellent work ethic.

Mr. Vratsanos was obviously inspired by @ Lewis PPP™.
I also think we were meant to find CUM, BOSOM, ANUS and a couple of near-homophones for PENIS as we scanned for those three-letter body parts.

so.... FUN!

John Child 12:43 AM  
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chefwen 12:46 AM  

The brakes were just applied to "easy week" for me. Didn't see the note and went back into AL and sho nuf there it was. Sorry I missed it, of course spelling it out for you was pretty lame and made the searching rather pointless. Looked up JA RULE if I had ever heard of him the name was already erased from my memory bank. RIBOSOMES was a little tricky too.

Anyhoo, got it done with two look ups so a DNF here.

I need my Thursday rebus!!! C'mon Will, I've got my own body parts if I want to count them, at least I think they're all still there.

John Child 12:55 AM  

The Google ngram viewer tells us that the J spelling of Sacajawea is most common now. In the 1940s the G spelling was dominant, probably because of Blanche Morehead's book, New World Builders, about the Lewis and Clark expedition, published in 1937.

There's no indication of a note on the iPad app. The note is there, but one would have to go look for it. Without the note this is a dull, easy themeless. With the note, it's a dull, easy themed puzzle. I often feel let down when there's no gimmick on Thursday.

lit.doc 1:05 AM  

Hi, Rex and community. Been following the blog since I started solving. Used to participate a lot, and learned much. Usually just read with interest and lurk, but this is *way* south of OK. Didn't even notice the note till done, and was only bored and annoyed before reading it. Invisible/pointless theme. @Rex, I often think you're being kinda fussy, but tonight, hey, fuss on.

AliasZ 1:14 AM  

What, a themeless Thursday? Almost as surprising as a themed Friday.

I never read the Notes before solving. I consider that cheating (like Googling) so I had no idea what was going on. I spent about fifteen minutes after I was finished looking for some hidden trickery but found none. I saw BOSOM and JANUS, but I didn't think that was it. I saw ACE and ONE symmetrically (in RACER and HONES) and "King or queen" for PIECE but that didn't make any sense either. After a few other possibilities I gave up.

For a themeless, it was passable but nothing great. SACAGAWEA yes, but who is GARULE? Sounds like globule. I knew Phil ESPOSITO, but not Sarah RAMOS. SPALKO may have as well been spanko. ANTON Arensky was a gimme, as was MOZART, CAPEK, ARMENIA, ARLES, READE and a few others. The clue for AEIOU was evil.

Reading the Note well after I was finished gave me no additional satisfaction, and after reading Alex Vratsanos' notes at xwordinfo, I agreed with him: this should have been a Monday with circles , or else a reveal inside the puzzle itself.

The entry hiding the LIP should have been the Italian painter Fra Filippo Lippi (15 letters). True, it has two LIP's hidden inside, but we all have two lips, don't we?

Oh well.

On the positive side, ANTON Arensky's Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky is a lovely piece well worth a listen.

jae 1:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 1:38 AM  

Tough Thurs.  Hey this would have been a medium-tough Fri.   Much like almost everyone so far I didn't see the note.  So, I kept looking for a theme and didn't find one until I checked xwordinfo,   Id Est,  I too thought it was a rare themeless Thurs. 

Ten pm before ONE AM, atl before LGA, oases before AEIOU, several tries at spelling EZEKIEL....andthat's about it.

Fortunately I've heard of JA RULE otherwise I would have had a different spelling for SACAJAWEA, however, if I'd seen the note, no problem.

On the other hand SPALKO?

Started out liking this more than Rex did, however if I'd seen the note, maybe not. 

Charles Flaster 1:46 AM  

Medium easy in 18 minutes.One mistake--sloer and not SLOES.
CrosswordEASE---Capek ,Arles and aeons.
Loved Mr.C as an answer but even more so on Happy Days.
Did not have a puzzle note on my Across Lite.
Did not matter.
Should have been a Tuesday but thanks AV.

Unknown 2:15 AM  

Some may get a kick out of this:

While solving, I came to the "Fifty Shades of Gray topic" clue. At that point, my grid showed S*D*** for this clue. I eventually got "sadism", but that wasn't what I put in the first time....

chefwen 2:25 AM  

@jae - I guess we're showing our age 10pm for me too.

Anonymous 3:24 AM  

Happy Anniversary Rex

Thanks for putting in all the effort to keep this blog alive. I know it's a lot of work and it is appreciated

Anonymous 3:53 AM  

"Someone I know suggested to me just now that the childishly easy word find was a "sop" to the people who were so livid about Patrick Blindauer's "Change of Heart" puzzle two weeks ago. But I can't buy that."

I don't buy it either. My best guess is that Shortz knew this puzzle was going to be difficult due to all the "stuff" in it (most unfortunately that ridiculous Native American rapper cross) so he was giving a bit of help.

A few more puzzles like this one--where difficulty is so closely tied to knowing "stuff"--and I may have to discontinue my subscription. My patience is worn thin and Jeopardy! is on the TV for free.

Danp 5:59 AM  

@Jared 2:15 - Glad I'm not the only one who wrote in Sudoku.

George Barany 6:47 AM  

Today provides a textbook example of how a crossword puzzle can enrich and enthrall a virtual community of word (and music) lovers. Take ANTON Arensky ... please. Certainly not my go-to Anton ... those would be Dvorak, Chekhov, or even Bruckner. Yet through the scholarship of @Rex and @AliasZ, we now have two wonderful samples of this composer's music, and I for one plan to go back and look for more.

Some of you may be aware that @Alex Vratsanos is an active member in our informal cyberconsortium of constructors and test solvers who bounce themes, grids, and clues off each other. Thus, my crossword friends and I have been aware of this particular project of Alex's for well over a year. It's a Monday theme in a Thursday grid (word count, number of blocks, open squares, etc.), with all sorts of difficult words and tricky or trivia-laden clues. The version that Alex submitted had circles, and it was @Will Shortz who decided to remove the circles and run the puzzle on a Thursday. An interesting decision, and one that is not being universally acclaimed among the commentariat. Certainly, removing the circles makes it less obvious that Alex has managed to place his ten 3-letter body parts symmetrically, no mean feat!

To close, please indulge me as I direct you to @Hayley Gold's web comic about today's puzzle, and to a timely sports-themed tribute, posted today, that shows @Alex Vratsanos's versatility as a constructor. IMHO, both of these hit it out of the ballpark!

GILL I. 6:54 AM  

So, I'm getting all excited because I haven't done a puzzle in about a week and it's my Thursday favorite day, and all I can think of is PENIS.
No notes, didn't care, but had a great laugh at your write-up @Rex. Saved me the time and effort to say exactly what you said......

Z 7:03 AM  

Woke up before the paper hit my stoop, so I solved using Crux. The note pops up at the start. I don't get Rex's "order" comment, unless he means that all the body parts are written in the right order. No backward MUG or RAE, no diagonal words.

40 minutes, 30 of it spent in the west. I just wasn't on the right wavelength for words like ALLAY, ACCEDE, KEYED, while RAMOS was a WOE, I thought READE was spelt Reed so that extra letter was a poser, and my mind was more James Bond than US Mint with the Golden girl clue. JANUS was also veNUS at first.

Off topic - I've stopped watching ESPN for at least three weeks, or until the top brass there resigns. Dropping a "fucking bullshit," an absolutely accurate "fucking bullshit," is far less offensive in my book than silencing dissent. I'd stop watching the NFL as well, except I'd already done that.

RAD2626 7:49 AM  

Happy anniversary. Despite few people occasionally kvetching, this is a great blog about what still is by far the best daily puzzle, despite more than a few people occasionally kvetching.

Theme was stupid with or without note. Great bar trivia question since everyone wants to guess "ass" or "lid" but basically a themeless puzzle with clues and fill fairly slotted on Thursday. Thought AEIOU clue was very clever. Struggled with SW: had SpARe for STARK so had pAblUM for Soft rock which was exceedingly dumb unless you consider easy listening stations. ALLAY finally got me back.

mathguy 7:58 AM  

I went to bed with the middle left unfinished. Woke up at four and took another look. Guessed RAMOS and was able to finish in just a few minutes.

I solve pen and paper so I didn't have Rex's problem. It wasn't anything like a word search. The note doesn't list the body parts. Knowing that ten body parts appear in the across entries helps with the spelling of SACAJAWEA.

The clue for the famous Indian guide seems remote: "Golden girl?" Does it refer to Golden West?

If I had noticed that the ten parts were symmetrically situated it would have helped.

I also guessed JARULE. I Googled him and found a hilarious article in which his wife denounces him (in graphic detail) for leaving her to be with his ex-cell mate.

I like difficult puzzles and this was one (for me). Sorry that you on-line solvers missed out on a lot of the fun. A lot of fresh words and clever clues.

r.alphbunker 8:16 AM  

When I finished I thought maybe this was a reference to some painting by Picasso who was known to rearrange body parts in his paintings

@George Barany
Thanks for sharing the link to Hayley Gold's site. It would be nice to be able to draw like that. I would like to draw a sketch of people doing asanas badly.

Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

Happy anniversary, Rex.

joho 8:25 AM  

I, too, didn't see the note so thought Will was switching it up with a themeless Thursday. So, thanks, @Rex, for revealing the theme to me. I do admire Alex' ability to get all ten body parts into this grid but wholeheartedly agree that his idea of circles on a Monday would have been a better route to go.

I also thank you, @Rex, for all the hours of thought and work you have put into creating this wonderful blog ... your comments are always thought provoking. Congratulations on 8 years!!!

I thought the SE corner was tough. Loved the clue for AEIOU! Wanted SandM before I got SADISM.

The grid has BOSOM but no tit.

Charles Flaster 8:46 AM  

I agree and well said.Thanks for the DJ puz.

Dorothy Biggs 8:53 AM  

The WNW was where my trouble lied (lain?). The CAPEK/JARULE/AEIOU crossings gave me fits. The thing is, those things happen and are, for the me, the "chewiness" of the grid and usually after a bit of wrestling mano e mano there is a payoff. Usually. Today, not so much.

Somewhere, tucked away in the recesses of my crossword addled brain I knew of CAPEK, but he just wouldn't pop out of there. I had JeRsiE, JeRseE, even JoRdiE/JoRdEE for a long time. It wasn't until I googled it that I finally found out what it was and then chuckling about the number of comments that answer would get here.

If you're up until ONEAM, then yeah, you need to retire...especially if you have to work in the morning.

I knew ESPOSITO (was he on the "Do you believe in miracles?" US Olympic hockey team?), but it took me a while to get the spelling right. Z/S? O/I?

As for the theme, the problem for me wasn't just the word search exercise, it was the 10 three-word parts. 10. Does that number have any particular significance? Is it unusual for a thing to have 10 names about it that are three letters long? I live in a house, I bet I could find 10 three-letter words that are parts of a house. Or my car. Or my bike.

Shouldn't you be able to find 10 three-letter body parts in most mammals? My cat has all of those things if you loosely define her front legs are "arms."

The number 10 was, for me, the bugaboo here. There is no standard of reference. Is that a lot more than the 4-letter body parts?

When I finished the puzzle I felt like I should have learned something that could get me free drinks at a bar. Turns out, I could barely win a juice box in a bet with my 7 year old on a playground.

jberg 9:04 AM  

Yesterday ONE AM was the weeest of hours; today it's bedtime. Go figure.

As for the puzzle -- I read all the science fiction in print during my boyhood, incuding Capek's RUR and War with the Newts, so that was a gimme. I also saw SACAJAWEA right away, but couldn't figure out how it fit the clue until I asked my wife -- and then immediately thought of it as I was voicing the question. The theme helped me get her, and gave me the confidence to write in OTOES from the vague clue (since virtually every Native American tribe in the US was rusticated to Oklahoma).

In the printed paper there was a note, but not a list of body parts or their order -- just that are "said to" be 10 of them.

@Rex, two more years isn't enough! Keep going!

Horace S. Patoot 9:06 AM  

TALC is a soft mineral (not a rock) from which a cosmetic product TALCUM powder is made. TALCUM is in no way a soft rock.

pmdm 9:12 AM  

Could anyone find and post a link to the the Blindauer puzzle with the exact same theme? I would search for it, but I have to be an organist at a funeral and have to leave right now. And by the time I get back home, most will have come here already.

Unknown 9:13 AM  

Espo is Canadian. Eruzione is the US Olympian.

Struggled for a while, the things started falling into place. Liked the Enterprise clue followed by SPOCK. Not a rewarding puzzle today, but at least the Across clues actually have something to do with the answers....

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

I enjoy your blog. Please keep it up. Thanks

Leapfinger 9:16 AM  

'...Will, by deciding to move this to Thursday by removing the circles, cut this Gordian Knot...'

Correction: The Gordian knot was not only cut, but hacked to bits with the addition of an overly informative Note. Fortunately, I didn't notice it in A-L, so had the chance to enjoy this solve. Shirley a more subtle approach was possible, such as an ASSterisk with the appropriate clues?

So. For me, pretty much what @Alias said, except for much less theme search. For awhile, thought I'd have a 2x3 Natick in the midWest, till the vowel cascade popped; to date, had only known of Thurber's fAcEtIOUs example.

Was fairly bummed out by 22A, intent on the horse as the RACER, the Jockey only the RIDER. Oh, well.

@Questiny, my friends in Manila aren't going to like what you did. I'll have to say 'Boo!' from the Filipinas to you.

Reminds me that:
A little TALCUM
Is always walcum.

Inc. SPOCK -and-

Enjoyed both the solve and the post-solve, Alex. The MORALE of the story is to maintain Editoriale Controle.

Frau Lippa Leapy will never feel the same about her RIBOSOMES.

dk 9:18 AM  

O (1 mOon) or moh.
This puzzle as it is a triumph of form over function. Agree with George B that this puzzle is well constructed. It is just a poor solving experience.

On to brighter sides. Rex thank you for this blog. I have learned alot, made several friends real and virtual and been given a vehicle to opine on X-words. Great news that we may get two more years. Keep on keepin on as we said back in the day.... Or PEACEOUT as we say on the Enterprise as we fire our phton torpedeos.


Anonymous 9:20 AM  


JohnnyMao 9:21 AM  

Popular 70's bumper sticker in New England:

"Jesus Saves, ESPOSITO scores on the rebound".

Mohair Sam 9:25 AM  

DNF today, couldn't finish the NW. Never saw the infamous "note" from Will - so I'm convincing myself that I would have figured the newer spelling of good old SACAJAWEA if I'd seen the body part silliness. Guess the "J" is like the "J" in Jerry (Gerry) and a matter of personal taste. Certainly would have finished if we'd ever heard of JARULE.

Happy birthday to Rex Parker and I join those who thank him for his diligence in keeping this blog going, it adds a ton to the enjoyment of the puzzle (do I note a touch of weariness in the two year statement?).

Just grabbed my copy of "Undaunted Courage" and in the intro discovered that Steven Ambrose has a granddaughter with middle name of SACAJAWEA - So I guess the "J" does indeed RULE.

Blue Stater 9:26 AM  

I've been "look[ing] forward to the return of crosswords" for the last 20 years....

Z 9:29 AM  

@Horace S. Patoot - I dunno, these look like rocks to me. I wonder if you are being too specific. I found this definition online (emphasis added): any of a class of substances occurring in nature, usually comprising inorganic substances, as quartz or feldspar, of definite chemical composition and usually of definite crystal structure, but sometimes also including rocks formed by these substances as well as certain natural products of organic origin, as asphalt or coal. I always thought of "mineral" as being a subset of "rock," so I was surprised that anyone would take issue with the clue. This is probably another case where knowing more causes solving problems.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I've held my tongue long enough ...

If someone died and left me king, I'd ban forever all references to rap and Harry Potter. I got JARULE from G_R__E, but only as crosswordese. I don't mind the odd bit of crosswordese, but rap and Potter, to me, constitute whole categories of crosswordese.

Cathartic. Thank you.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Once again, again, again ...

Barany is using this blog to promote his own web sites. Stop it!

He is the biggest violator, there are a few others. If this becomes a habit, it can ruin a site.

RickA 9:41 AM  

Congratulations Rex on 8 years. Just wanted to say that despite all the nonsense this blog occasionally generates, reading it daily has greatly enhanced my enjoyment and appreciation of crossword puzzles. My sincere thanks to Rex and all the regular contributors.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

Solved, sort of. Last answer filled in: SACAJuWEA. (I had SOuP dish instead of SOAP dish.) Guessed SACAwhosis from the filled-in letters, but hadn't a clue why she was "Golden." Knew Lewis and Clark were looking for the Northwest Passage and not for gold. Had no idea she was on a coin. If I hadn't guessed that answer, I would have Naticked on MR.C and JARULE -- more mindless pop culture nonsense. As for the body parts -- I completely ignored them in solving. Wouldn't have made the SACAJAWEA mistake if I'd been paying attention, as JAW would have helped. Maybe the rest of the puzzle would have been easier, maybe not. But I found it hard and not especially enjoyable. Don't know why, as I usually like a challenge.

chefbea 10:05 AM  

Too tough for me. Too many people I had to google. I tried to list all the 3 letter body parts before I started. Was missing jaw, rib and gum.

Whirred Whacks 10:08 AM  

Happy anniversary Rex! I've been consulting your blog since 2009 -- and it's made me a better crossword solver. What more can you ask for!

Best wishes!

RnRGhost57 10:20 AM  

@George Barany: thanks for the excellent links.

@Rex: thanks for the blog.

ArtO 10:25 AM  

Happy Anniversary, Rex. Appreciate your insights and enjoy the commentaries.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 10:31 AM  

Well, this train wreck weren't pretty. Body parts strewn across everywhere. I hereby call "no George Carlin respect" for the flagrant omission of both TITs and ASS from this supposed "official list". Also, assumed SAC was a body part, so missed seein TOE(S) at first.

As @Qa mentioned, it was hard to let potential hot spot PENAL go. Lost valuable PPP solvin nanoseconds. Is ORA also a bod part, in some jurisdictions? And some folks are attached to APPs as if they was a bod part; especially them candygram nuts...

@63: Yo! Happy blogaversary. U are the Dude. Was yer first reviewed puz of noticeable higher quality? So, was it maybe the 9/25/06 one? (Lookin... lookin...) Ooooh... the different shades of purple one! C'est Man-U-feeq. Hope it got a good RexReview. Thanx for all the years of fun (six or so, for m&e). U almost make me believe in luck.

fave entry: AEIOU. Equal vowel opportunity employer. Honrable mention to SPALKO.

fave weeeject: SEG. Needed, to save ALEG. Which was needed to save LEG. Which was needed to make the note work. Thinkin I'da gone with SEX/ALEX, and used LGA (other fave weeeject), which probably means leg in Italy, or somewheresuch.

"All Body Parts Out of Warranty Since 2006"

Steve J 10:35 AM  

The NYT iPad app doesn't indicate when a puzzle has a note, so I never saw it. I kept poking away at this, looking for a trick or some kind of hook holding it together, and found nothing. Finally just shrugged my shoulders and treated it as a themeless. As @AliasZ said, it was a passable themeless but nothing special.

Happy anniversary, Rex. I've learned a lot from my 5 years or so of reading/posting, and I've had lots of great discussions with lots of very interesting people.

JC66 10:36 AM  


chefbea 10:39 AM  

Meant to say earlier @Rex thanks for all you do. I have sent many friends to Rexville. They don't comment but enjoy reading your write-ups

GeezerJackYale48 10:42 AM  

Evidently nobody but me thought "weirs" was the literally perfect answer to 27 across "series of watering troughs". Oh, well, think outside the box, I guess.

Mikey from El Prado 10:54 AM  

Well, I'm surprised I completed this one. I didn't read the info on iPad app, so finished thinking it was themeless. I crossed into AEIOU (still not sure I get the clue, and no care to think about it). And guessed at the A in the SPALKO /JANUS cross, but that wasn't too much if a reach as other vowels didn't make as much sense. As far as theme... Yes, weak. And ALL wordsearches are lame, no matter how long the words are (here's one: find the work THINKING in my write up. Challenging, eh?)

RooMonster 11:21 AM  

Hwy All!
First, Happy Anni-blog-ary to the Rexster!
Second, I printed my puz off the NYT puz site, and it came with the instructions! And, like @chefbea, tryed listing the body parts I knew with three letters. LOLed at M&A's missing parts!
Third, I thought the puz to be pretty cool, the instructions really helped, and not sure if anyone saw they were all symmetrical. Almost missed the "EYE", but caught it I believe after OTOES.


Carola 11:21 AM  

I'm here to represent the five year olds, I guess - I liked finding the three-letter words as they appeared (my Note told me there were 10 but not what they were), and I needed SACAJAWEA's JAW to complete the puzzle (didn't know JARULE). I thought it was stunning, constructionwise, that the body parts are placed absolutely symmetrically.

Remember the recent NEEDER? Maybe he got fed up being needy and became a SEIZER..

Master Melvin 11:22 AM  

If the name is spelled SACAGAWEA on the coin, how in the world is 17A a valid clue for the 'J' spelling?

Hasn't the NY Times been telling us for decades that SAC is a body part? What about ORA???

JFC 11:23 AM  

Congrats, Rex, on your success. It pleases me that your anniversary falls on my birthday. See, we do have something in common.

Coincidentally, I agree completely with your critique. Boring theme and a joyless Thursday.

However, even after you explained the clue to AEIOU, I still don't get it and I don't think I want to.


Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Anonymous9:38 AM said:

"Once again, again, again ...
Barany is using this blog to promote his own web sites. Stop it!"

(Full disclosure: I'm a friend of Barany's and have some
crosswords on his site)

1) Most of George Barany's links take you to similar, or
earlier versions of the crosswords by the same NYT authors being discussed in the blog and the comments section the very same day.

2) Has it occurred to you that your constant cookie-cutter complaining may be as, or more annoying to many
people here as George Barany's comments are?

3) To quote you, why don't you "Stop it!"?


Paul Winston 11:37 AM  


Thanks for doing this blog. I'm sure that it must be a ton of work to crank out a post every day. As a teacher, I know how hard it is to be on every day. You're not only on in the classroom, but also on the blog. And we appreciate it.

Glad you saw BOSOM, CUM and ANUS. How about SAC (and PENAL and filiPINOS and a near miss of TESTE (taster.))

Keep up the good work.


Noam D. Elkies 11:46 AM  

Seems that a perfectly good puzzle was spoiled by inept conversion to the applet format. The hint as posed in the dead-tree edition left it to the solver to find the three-letter body parts, notice the symmetry, and use it to help finish solving the puzzle (e.g. to fix the SAC… spelling). Yes, I was hoping for a symmetrical partner to the non-canonical SAC; too bad that PHILIP_GLASS doesn't quite work…

Thanks for the Arensky link, at any rate. (As it happens I've read through that trio a few months ago.)


LHS 888 12:00 PM  

So, I guess I'm new enough at solving xword puzzles that I didn't find this one as dull as others seemed to. It was medium-challenging for me with the central W being the last area to fall. I worked on the puzzle in 3 different blocks of time. Many words that were "wha?" for me became obvious after looking it over after a break. Write-overs: latvIA > ARMENIA, siOux > OTOES, briEf > RACER, sayyes > ACCEDE, tag > DUB, TEaseR > TERROR. Needed to see JANUS before I could put the "A" in SPALKO (could have been an "E").

Officially, a DNF due to 2 googles: Sarah RAMOS and JARULE, both of whom were WOEs to me. Once those were in place the rest of the W fell and the puzzle was finished.

As for the theme note, I used it to figure out I had all of them in place except JAW. That gave me SAKAJAWEA.

Agree with @AliasZ that the clue for AEIOU was "evil". I did enjoy the aha moment when I figured it out. Had AEONS from the start, but didn't trust it at all. Couldn't see CIGAR for the life of me, but oh so obvious once filled in.

Liked the SPACESHIP Enterprise / SPOCK mini-theme, and I liked the puzzle overall. Thanks, Alex!

Leapfinger 12:08 PM  

Au G, SACAJAWEA! Add in Haley "Pure" Gold, and all we're missing is Bea Arthur. And maybe Auric Goldfinger would not have been in vein. A very good day with a second AV and a bonus Blindauer; thanks, @GeorgeBar and @Anony/pmdm.

Would have loved TOE to be masquerading in "Dan Quayle's infamous misspelling" (7 letters).
Some apparently didn't appreciate the dismembered body parts: suit yourselves. Me, I say 'caecum ye shall find', and hope nobody minds too much all this gall/blather coming out of Derm NC.

And Happy Octoversary, Rex! An Octopus has 8 ARMs and 2 EYEs, so there's your 10 right there. If we squirt in the INK SAC, will you promise another 2 years more? I do enjoy your rantz, as well as the range of commentariatz, both from the regulars and the irregulars. I've found it makes a vas deferens, oh very much so.

ABSolutely the End.

mac 12:21 PM  

I had a tough time with this puzzle, plus I didn't notice the note in the paper....

Happy birthday, JFC!

Thank you, Rex! 8 Years! I think we need to send some anniversary gifts.

@Noam Elkies: good one, Philip Glass. We were at the Kreeger gallery in Washington just last Friday, beautiful building and art collection.

Ellen S 12:23 PM  

It's a little scary following @Leapy's post. I don't have any clever body-part puns but enjoyed everyone else's. The PUZZAZZ app for iPad has the full note, and after the solve, it will optionally circle the body parts. For some themes, this can be helpful.

I'm not a personal friend of George Barany, but I want to second Martin's defense of his links. They are just as appropriate as AliasZ's music links, and would be more enjoyable to some. Me, I like the music links even more now that my iPad is finally actually supporting multi-processing, so I can continue reading blog comments while the music is playing in another tab. Apparently needed a whole new operating system to make this work, but I'm grateful.

Happy anniversary Rex. I've only been following you for, um, I don't know, a couple of years? But I've enjoyed this blog enormously, often (e.g., today) more than the puzzle.

KarenSampsonHudson 12:33 PM  

Happy Blogging Anniversary---wishing you many more!

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Hi @Rex and Rexvillians. Been a while since I posted, but since it's a special occasion I thought I would post a Happy Anniversary to our blog leader. Thanks Rex for 8 great years.

As for the puzzle . . .

The write-up is spot on. I read the note, listed body parts, including TIT, ASS and PIT (hey, you never know), and proceeded to solve. I DNF however, as there was too much I didn't know, care to know and therefore not enough to feed other answers. Is EGO a body part? 27A would have been easy if I was solving a cryptic crossword in the magazine.

Other problems with my grid: my 6-letter rapper was EMINEM, my jockey was a RIDER, and Fifty Shades dealt with FETISHes) off the T in TAG at 41A. Ugh.

I too miss the Rebus Thursdays.


Bird 12:39 PM  

Damn. In my haste I forgot to sign as Bird for Anon 12:37

Michael Joseph 12:46 PM  

Happy Anniversary, Rex.

In spite of answers like RIBOSOMES, SEIZER, and JA RULE, I enjoyed the puzzle and the macabre task of searching for body parts. Could not help noticing BOSOM and ANUS while I was ar it and wondered why SAC does not count as an 11th body part.

Lon in Austin 12:49 PM  

Rex, I don't know how many of the last 8 years I have been following your blog -- quite a few I'm sure.

Your blog is phenomenally creative and entertaining. Thanks for the past 8 years.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Aeiou was awful and threw that whole section off for me and I gave up. Jarule ...ok I was trying to fit a bastardization of jayzee in there even though I knew it unlikely .

LHS 888 12:53 PM  

I forgot to say "Thank you VERY MUCH!" to Rex for the daily write-up and for providing a forum for the commentariat (a couple of bile-filled anonymice excepted). I've only been following the blog for ~1 year now, although I have been solving (or attempting to) NYT xwords for years. My enjoyment of and skill in solving has been vastly enhanced by the knowledge gleaned from all of the contributors to this site. Keep on keepin' on, y'all!!!

AZPETE 1:03 PM  

Happy Angriversary, Moron.

fiddleneck 1:24 PM  

Happy Anniversary and thanks for your good comments constantly.

fiddleneck 1:26 PM  

Why can't I get rid of the trash can?

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@Barany --

Post your links elsewhere!

-- AnonAgain

crabsofsteel 1:47 PM  

Did no one else catch the mistake in the clue for Beijing? It should have been "northern capitol" not "capital". For a while I was thinking the answer would be Scandinavian money.

LaneB 1:56 PM  

All the odd clues made this otherwise tough Thursday susceptible to Googling, I.e.,
ARMENIA, EZEKIEL, JARULE, READE, SPELKO and ANTON. AGree with Rex that it was all pretty dull, but with the Google help I didn't have to take a DNF.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  


Washington DC is the capital of the USA, and it's legislature. Beijing is the capital of China.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

@Crab, Oops. I meant "...its legislature meets in the Capitol building." Somehow the last several words got deleted.

Lewis 2:03 PM  

@Q -- thanks for the memories!

I'm gone for the weekend, back Monday.

Wasn't a smooth solve and the note -- which I got in full -- actually helped me. I do not like the word SEIZER, even if it's cool crossing EZEKIEL. ONKP looks ugly. I agree with Rex that AEIOU is a bad answer, but like someone earlier here, it was a nice aha moment figuring it out from the clue. This is the first time RIBOSOMES appeared in a NYT puzzle.

If they allowed two letter body related answers, we could have had BO and ID.

Rex, thank you for what you do. You edify, you make me laugh, sometimes you enrage, but above all you bring life to this puzzle and community. I always look forward to reading your blog.

Factoid: The Czech playwright Karel CAPEK did not invent the word "robot". Says Wikipedia, "While it is frequently thought that he was the originator of the word, he wrote a short letter in reference to an article in the Oxford English Dictionary etymology in which he named his brother, painter and writer Josef Čapek, as its actual inventor."

Quotoid: "Gentlemen, start your EGOS." -- Billy Crystal

Martel Moopsbane 2:04 PM  


The capitol building is in the capital city.

George Barany 2:07 PM  

Don't pay any attention to that Anonomous Asshole.

George Barany 2:09 PM  

Oh, yes it was!

Numinous 2:10 PM  

Congratulations @Rex on your wonderful blog lasting for as long as it has. Everyone else has said almost everything that can be said. Please, please. please keep up your efforts on this most illuminating of fora.

Rum capcha today: 151

M and Also 2:16 PM  

@crabs-- I always thought it's
* capitAl cities.
* capitOl buildings.
* kapital marx books.


Shoot. I don't get it. I don't believe I've ever Seen a crossword blog site, that didn't offer lots of pointers to other crosswords and crossword sites. Even @63 does it, pretty regular, himself. It's a subject I like to hear about. (Along with the Target sale on globes, of course.)


ideas for son-of puz themes:
* body parts = BO, OD, DY, BD, OY, BY.
* insect body parts = NTS, EEVILS, ASSHOPPERS, NATS, etc.
* body ports. May involve breakfast test problems. Still, my fave.
Yer welcome, constructioneers.

"My Brain Remains A Part"

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Is the 11th body part NIP(S)?

George Barany 2:31 PM  

Here's a good site

okanaganer 2:46 PM  

Capital comes from the Latin for head, as in capital city, capital punishment, etc.

Capitol Hill (and therefore the Capitol Building) in Washington DC was named by Thomas Jefferson after the Capitoline Hill in Rome. I think in part due to this similarity, the "o" spelling has come into common use to refer to a state / national capital in the US and some Spanish countries.

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Yay Rex! Congratulations on 8 years. Your comments consistently add another dimension to NYT crossword puzzling. Sending good wishes and gratitude!

sanfranman59 3:54 PM  

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

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

Thu 19:27, 16:57, 1.15, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 12:53, 10:29, 1.23, 80%, Challenging

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Rex, you forgot SAC.

RooMonster 4:22 PM  


Dear Sir,

It has come to my attention you are too creative. It is time for your silly wit and witty banter to cease. After several hours of steady laughter, I have managed to get a severe crick in the neck, ruptured a couple of disks, and strained my spleen. I will send you the medical bills.
Yours, etc.
The late Wally Wigglestromberg


GILL I. 4:25 PM  

Meant to add my million cents to @Rex.
Even when I (rarely) don't log on, I get palpitations and a few night sweats. You usually make me laugh out loud Michael, but even if you don't, someone else on this site always does.
Thank you @Rex. 2 years goes by too fast....make it 10 more!

@Anon upstairs. Yes, go away. @GB is additional entertainment. He's funny too!

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Wait rex didn't like a puzzle? No WAY! In 8 years, this blog has gone from an interesting and often insightful review of the day's puzzle, to a daily whining cocky rant. The puzzle is never good enough for master rex. There are bad themes, bad fill, bad clues, bad grids, constructors who aren't personal friends with rex the great or don't make puzzles according to the narrow constraints to which rex would like them to stick, etc., ad nauseum. One wonders why he keeps doing them? No, one doesn't: It is so he can demonstrate his clear superiority to all of the crossword solvers and constructors who come to worship at his altar.
This was a wonderful, challenging, and creative puzzle. If you don't like notes, ignore them.

Zeke 4:46 PM  

Ah, so this is the feeling a teacher gets when the light finally goes off for a student. So rewarding, I may just change my career. See what Anon 4:26 did just there - Followed Zeke's guide for Trolls, Vol 1, Items 1 & 2 to a tee. Open calmly, sanely, then build your hatred organically. No one will ever notice the subsequent insanity of he post.

Charley 4:58 PM  

Filipinos never became Americans. Unlike Puerto Ricans, they do not have citizenship.

George Barany 5:02 PM

Davidph 5:30 PM  

Happy anniversary, Rex! Thanks for doing this blog. I have a lot of fun coming here every day.

Unknown 6:35 PM  

My Name is JOHN RICHMOND .I will love to share my testimony to all the people in the forum cos i never thought i will have my girlfriend back and she means so much to me..The girl i want to get marry to left me 4 weeks to our wedding for anotherman..,When i called her she never picked my
calls,She deleted me on her facebook and she changed her facebook status from engage to
Single...when i went to her place of work she told her boss she never want to see me..I lost my
job as a result of this cos i cant get myself anymore,my life was upside down and everything did not go smooth with my life...I tried all i could do to have her back to all did not work out until i met a Man when i Travel to Africa to execute some business have been developing some years back..I told him my problem and all have passed through in getting her back and how i lost my job...he told me he gonna help me...i don't believe that in the first place.but he swore he will help me out and he told me the reason why my girlfriend left me and also told me some hidden secrets.i was amazed when i heard that from him..he said he will cast a spell for me and i will see the results in the next couple of days..then i travel back to Germany the following day and i called him when i got home and he said he's busy casting those spells and he has bought all the materials needed for the spells,he said am gonna see positive results in the next 2 days that is Thursday...My girlfriend called me at exactly 12:35pm on Thursday and apologies for all she had done ..she said,she never knew what she's doing and her sudden behavior was not intentional and she promised not to do that was like am dreaming when i heard that from her and when we ended the call,i called the man and told him my my girl friend called and he said i haven't seen anything yet... he said i will also get my job back in 3 days time..and when its Sunday,they called me at my place of work that i should resume work on Monday and they gonna compensate me for the time limit i have spent at home without working..My life is back into shape,i have my girlfriend back and we are happily married now with a baby boy and i have my job back too.This man is really powerful..if we have up to 20 people like him in the world,the world would have been a better place..he has also helped many of my friends to solve many problems and they are all happy now..Am posting this to the forum for anybody that is interested in meeting the man for can mail him I cant give out his number cos he told me he don't want to be disturbed by many people across the world..he said his email is okay and he also have a web site if you want to visit him there' he will replied to any emails asap..hope he helped u out too..good luck. his web site is/

M and A Help Desk 7:10 PM  

@Roo-- Don't hurt yourself, bro. Maybe just read the "Down" words in the comments, for a while.
Anyhow, thanx for the shout.

I have noticed that I incorrectly had ESPOSITa in my puz solution, instead of ESPOSITO. So, therefore my ALEG is actually OLEG, and my OLEX suggestion in an earlier comment doesn't actually float worth beans. Wrong again, M&A breath.

@John Richmond: A little more spacin there, please, in those loooong spellcaster ramblers. Consult @Zeke's Guide to Spellcaster Plugs, Vol. 1...


**gruntz** updated

Leapfinger 7:30 PM  

Hello! I thought it odd to see GBarany posts with the name in black type rather than blue, but linking to the MAS Twitterfeed seemed legitimate, and I myself have posted from my cell occasionally just typing in my name, because signing in to Google on the cell can be a pain.

HOWever, that last post cannot possibly be a real Baranyi; aside from the inexplicable content, never in this life would the REAL Baranyi post a link rather than embedding it. Members of the jury, I rest my case.

It's quite enough that some persons are sufficiently cowardly to vent their spleen and other internal organs under the Anonymous cloak, but hijacking someone's name to submit counterfeit posts is scraping the bottom of every barrel I can think of.

I've no idea what, if anything, can be done about this, but dammit, do some people have No Shame?

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

Loved the Arensky recording. Reminds me of Chausson. Thank you.

mac 7:47 PM  


Arlene 7:52 PM  

I came upon this blog initially because I'm a Googler, and Rex is obviously up on SEO, putting puzzle clues up top. I've enjoyed the experience of following and commenting ever since. It's actually also quite a study in personalities, within this very unique community of crossword enthusiasts. I find you all tremendously fascinating!
So congrats, Rex, on eight years of blogging. Quite a feat to do this every day!
HIP HIP hooray!

chefbea 8:09 PM  

Should we all bea crying????

JFC 8:10 PM  

Dear @Anon at 4:26 P.M.,

As one who criticizes Rex at least as often as I agree with him, I have a problem following the logic of your comment. I have two problems with your first paragraph. First, it was gratuitous nonsense. I think all you are saying in that sad display of frustration is that Rex is human. But, more to the point, it is totally unnecessary to predicate your second paragraph on it. In other words, it was a cheap shot, which I think is what you think Rex does.

Rex did not like the puzzle. You did. So, all you needed to say was that you liked the puzzle. Try doing what Rex does for 8 years and then grouse about Rex. It's his day to celebrate. Cut him some slack.


LHS 888 8:32 PM  

A-MEN @ JFC!!!

AnonyMomma 8:41 PM  


1. Remember, ever pair of slacks has two, ie, one pair OLEGs.

2. "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long"

Happy Natal Subversary 2 U

George Barany 9:04 PM  

Hey, Leap

Don't abandon me now!


Anonymous 9:17 PM  

I have never commented before, but I cannot refrain today. Rex is so right! Super cruddy puzzle today. Makes one wonder about the state of the editor's mental faculties.

Anonymous 9:32 PM  

AEIOU was stupid. CAPEK should be known because you should have read the play...not just learned the name from older crosswords. It's interesting and the themes still matter.

There is no rock called TALCUM. It is TALC. Not the first time the puzzles have gotten geology wrong recently.

Gog & Magog also turn up in Revelation, btw.

The Enterprise was a STARSHIP...not a SPACESHIP.

"And if it wasn't for the money, cars and movie stars,
And jewels and all the things I've got,
I wonder, Hey!
Would you still want me?
Would you still be calling me?
Would you still be loving me?"

sanfranman59 10:07 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:57, 6:03, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Tue 9:29, 7:50, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Wed 12:32, 9:30, 1.32, 96%, Challenging (12th highest ratio of 247 Wednesdays)
Thu 19:34, 16:57, 1.15, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 3:57, 1.00, 43%, Medium
Tue 6:25, 5:21, 1.20, 92%, Challenging
Wed 7:30, 6:12, 1.21, 90%, Challenging
Thu 12:36, 10:29, 1.20, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 10:39 PM  

I am a better crossword solver thanks to your blog Mr Rex. I look forward to AliasZ and Leapie's witty comments.

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

misogynist aliasz says "but we all have two lips, don't we?"

No, half of us have four.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

If it is eight years, then I have been following you for that long. I lurk, read, sneer, shrug, sigh, and never post..Only once, a quibble around a yew berry.
Thank you.

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

There was this one time I was on the subway, sitting on one of the length-wise seats; it was pretty crowded, and this one guy was strap-hanging in front of me, kind of leaning in. His trenchcoat was hanging open, and inside it, he was exposing himself. I guess you'd call him a flasher, except he wasn't a flasher as much as a dangler. After a brief period of this, I got tired of the close-up view and I said to him, "Mister, do you think if you give that poor little thing some fresh air, it might grow?"

Seems we have us another dangler.

Day Outing Packages Near Around Delhi 5:02 AM  

Weekend Gateways From Delhi Comment Thanks for sharing good information !

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Rex couldn't have put it better, 100% correct every comment he made. Dull dull dull, obvious ("a word search for morons"), no interest in the cluing, basically a Monday or Tuesday puzzle. How on earth did this get put in the NYT for Thursday? Editor, what were you thinking? The whole puzzle would have been gimmees if not for the three pop culture questions that I was eventually forced to Google -- a rapper, a Hollywood movie, and some TV show I never watch, no doubt all 3 were gimmees for Rex.

Fred Romagnolo 12:02 PM  

Would both you @anons stop it! @crabsofsteel: if you were thinking of the Imperial Palace, you were correct. @charley: both words were capitalized (capitolized?) a term popular at the time. @Geezer: me too for weirs. @Jared I blush to guess that your first guess was sodomy! You start dealing with body parts and you can get pretty racey. I learned to spell SACAJAWEA in the 1930's, waan't aware there was an interim when it's J was G'd, never use a G for that sound before an a or o or u.

Fred Romagnolo 12:12 PM  

As for the "cum", "bosom", and "anus" people: the first isn't a part, and the others aren't 3 letters. So, there!

Unknown 2:29 PM  

Greets from Nairobi. Mrs. Kid & I have been in Madagascar and outta range for a while. Bring on the ZEBU, BAOBAB, LEMUR, FOSSA clues.

Hap. Ann., Rex. You are my favorite anti-vacant center.

dr.deb 5:09 PM  

While I chuckled about the Enterprise and Spock clues being in the same puzzle, I was thrown off by the Spaceship answer. The Enterprise was a STARSHIP, actually named the Starship Enterprise, ultimately a universe-class starship, I believe.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Wow. Never realized that the NYT was supposed to know that it was rp's anniversary, and that they were supposed to print a puzzle that would serve as an entertaining anniversary present. What a slip up.

spacecraft 12:00 PM  

Not so fast, @DrDeb, the ENTERPRISE is a Galaxy Class starship--but I agree wholeheartedly that it should be STAR- and not SPACE-.

We poor Syndicats must hobble along without any special instructions or notes, when such are supposed to appear. So today's offering was a themeless to me--and a damn tough one! Why was it not simply presented as such? The body parts thing is just...silly. You can probably find, purely by accident, four or five of those in any grid picked at random. Why, in yesterday's for example, we have EYE, EAR (two of them!), DELT and, well, BOX.

This one fought me at every stage. Took me way too long to remember GUMP (duh!). All the nickname clues gave me fits. Richie always called his dad POP; I forgot about the Fonz's pet name for him. Isn't Angel Stadium called "The HALO??" And, c'mon, man: DUB?? Clued only as "Nickname?" I've heard DUBya, for you-know-who, but DUB by itself is a new one on me.

And of course, I had to deal with Yet Another Unknown Rapper--and please save your protests that any particular one "can't be unknown;" they're ALL unknown to me--lessee, that'd be YAUR...doesn't work. How about ARRGH: Another Rapper? Really, Guys--HELP!

Yet with all these difficulties I managed, without help, to complete this grid correctly--catching a mistake at the last minute. I had misspelled the robot author KAPEK, and only a down-check let me see that PEAKEOUT was wrong. Accordingly, since if I finish a really difficult puzzle I can't issue less than a B (for the triumphant feeling), B it is.

I had to go through more than twenty captchas--all of them containing one totally illegible word--before coming up with one I could make out. *sigh* For me, the numbers are gone.

rondo 12:11 PM  

Jesus saves, and ESPOSITO puts in the rebound! Sorry, oldie but goodie IMHO. If I retired at ONEAM I wouldn't have half a brain to complete an xword. When one of the easiest clues is the capital of ARMENIA things are difficult. Hate rapper clues, but fair game I suppose. Misspell on RIBOzOMES didn't help, nor RidER for RACER, though maybe the horse is the RACER?? Thought SPOCK belonged on a starship didn't fit, and rentalcar was way wrong. Lots of writeover ink in my grid today! SADISM.

510 - I 44D

rondo 12:19 PM  

BTW - thanks to (8 years of) this blog I have met @dk and had a couple beers with him, can practically see his house from mine across the MN/WI border. Maybe meet some of you others for same?

Now words like @spacey gets

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

For me this was challenging with at least 4 look-ups on Wiki, and quite a few guesses. I have removed myself as the Sage of La Mesa. I completely disregarded the body part thing. But I did complete the grid before coming here, and everything fits. There have been better days with better puzzles.
Ron Diego 1312

DMG 4:08 PM  

A big Thank You to Rex and all the posters who make this such a great part of my day. (Find it even more enjoyable since I stopped reading all Anonymous posts, and womder why people respond to stuff they seemingly hate? That's just feeding the kitty,and makes me also skip the rest of their comments).

I struggled with this one. So much I don't know; a protein generator, a rapper, capital,of Albania, and more. But, somehow, they all came, mostly by using the "what letter seems best" theory. Solving RAMOS that way led me to AEIOU, which came as a surprise. But I tripped on a simple word! Read "nickname" as a noun, and said tag. BEIJING changed it to taB , and there it stayed, supported by RaSH and "something" called SAtiSM!! The mentioned book is not my choice of reading material. Didn't look for the body parts until later, and join those who suggest this would have been more fun with circles and no note.

@Ron Diego: I do read your Anonymous headed posts because you're in Syndiland, and, so far at least, all the folks here are nice. But don't like losing my 3523 or 4 to your 7!

Dirigonzo 4:37 PM  

My paper had the note INRE the body parts but they weren't much help, except the JAW that helped me sort out the SACAJAWEA/JARULE smash-up. I had Eminem as my rapper so I had to tear that out and replace it one letter at a time, but all the crosswords were fair enough (well, maybe not C-PEK but I guessed right). I happen to like a grid that I can eventually fill in despite lots of things I don't know - to me that's the joy of puzzling and it's a lot more fun than just writing in familiar words. And if the clue can even remotely be interpreted to produce the answer then I'm ok with it so yes, the Enterprise is a starship, but isn't that just a specific type of SPACESHIP? AEIOU made me laugh!

Thanks, Rex, for 8 years and 5 weeks of this blog. It's entertaining, educational, and generates great conversation among the commentariat - what could be better than that?!

137 - I'm still getting numbers albeit pretty worthless ones.

Mary in Oregon 5:06 PM  

Happy 8th Anniversary, Rex! I've read your blog since it started and have become a better puzzle solver because of it! Please ignore the Anonymouses and haters--just continue writing the blog as long as you enjoy it.

From Mary in Oregon, Syndicated poster

rain forest 5:53 PM  

This was one ornery puzzle, not as weak as OFL says, at least by my exceptional ability to evaluate, but a little off-centre (Canadian spelling). Speaking of that, as a Canuck, I would never in AEONS have got SACAJAWEA if I hadn't read a historical account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and it has stuck with me.

Like @Diri I relied heavily on crosses for many of the unknowns, and at least a couple of them will remain unknowns, alas.

Odd as the puzzle seemed while solving, it held my attention, and I was pleased to wind up with a correct solution, despite 5 write-overs (thanks, crosses).

Let me add my congrats to Rex for a fine blog that he somehow manages to keep going despite his dissatisfaction with a certain editor and with some of the offerings. If he does give it up, I'll keep solving and enjoying.

4651 My streak has ended, or is that a tie with Ron Diego?

LongBeachLee 7:58 PM  

Get off Rex's back. He's just throwing out his view for us to take it or leave it. No one is obliged to agree, we are obliged to put in our two cents worth if we feel we have something useful to put in. It's called a blog, not a homicide unit. There are no guilty parties. As for the puzzle Satajewa and Drt was my natick. Down with rap artists in crossword puzzles or rap in any world.

Teedmn 10:25 PM  

Still have a few puzzles left in Syndiland. Soon I will catch up to "real time" but meanwhile will post my favorite mistake which no one else seems to have made - put in RIzOSOMES which gave me the zImA stadium. Why not name it after everyone's favorite grapefruit flavored alcoholic drink?

Congrats Rex on 8 years. Maybe more guest fillers can help you stretch it past two more!

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