Unusual diacritic used in Portuguese / SUN 10-26-14 / Lila Oscar winner for Zorba Greek / Yellow diner packet / Long-distance swimmer Nyad / Vice of Dorian Gray / English city where Magna Carta originated / Martial artist Jackie / March birthstone traditionally

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Constructor: Caleb Emmons

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Winners' Circle" —

Puzzle note:

So the letters spell out CHAMPION or DEFEATED depending on whether you enter the winners' or the losers' names, respectively.

Word of the Day: ESCARP (39A: Steep slope) —
  1. A steep slope or cliff; an escarpment.
  2. The inner wall of a ditch or trench dug around a fortification.
  1. To cause to form a steep slope.
  2. To furnish with an escarp.
[French escarpe, from Italian scarpa. See scarp.] (answers.com)

Read more:  http://www.answers.com/topic/escarp#ixzz3HCfkDLd3
• • •

I didn't see the note at first, so I just figured you were supposed to put in the winners … it is called "Winners' Circle," after all. Then I tried to guess what we were supposed to do with all those letters. Wrote them out (in order of appearance, not, as the note indicates, "roughly clockwise" proceeding from the upper left). Got ACHAMNIOP, which was enough for me to see CHAMPION. Then I connected the circles, figuring that perhaps there was some kind of figure I could make by doing so. Ended up with the world's ugliest star. Thought "if this is part of the puzzle design, that is Messed Up." But no, the "star" was my own invention. The part of the design I couldn't see (because, again, I hadn't seen the note and was just following the apparent directions implied by the title) was the fact that inserting the letters of the losers got you DEFEATED. That's ingenious. Didn't blow my mind, exactly, but made me nod in a vaguely appreciative way, which is something. [Note, the reason I didn't see the note at first is because notes in Across Lite are not printed anywhere you can clearly see—you have to notice that there's a little yellow note icon near the upper left corner of your grid, and then click on that]

My only issue with the puzzle (aside from occasional clonks like LOC CIT and IS MAN and IN ROME and O TILDE (!)) is that all of the battles depicted in the crosses are singular and definitive … except that between BATMAN and THE PENGUIN. If BATMAN had, indeed, "defeated" THE PENGUIN, then he would no longer be a character. Does anyone know when / where / how BATMAN "defeated" THE PENGUIN? No, you don't. Because Comics. THE PENGUIN is always alive and well somewhere (most notably, at the moment, on FOX's "Gotham"), and there is no victory. There is never victory. Or defeat. Not of the iconic main characters, anyway. There's just … comics. I can tell you when / where / how all the other battles in this puzzle went down. Not that one. So minus one there.

    A couple of other things. First, you should check out Hayley Gold's webcomic about the NYT crossword, called "Across and Down." She's supposed to have a comic up tomorrow about this past week's meta-puzzle contest, so be sure to check that out. Second, the Crosswords LA tournament took place last weekend, and the entire set of tournament puzzles (specially constructed for the tournament by an all-California cast of top-flight constructors) are now available. Here's the blurb:
    Curated by Crossword Fiend Amy Reynaldo, there are tough puzzles by David Quarfoot and Byron Walden, plus more approachable puzzles by Merl Reagle, Trip Payne, Patti Varol, and Melanie Miller. Also included are a pair of warm-up puzzles from Andrea Carla Michaels and Susan Gelfand -- and a puzzle suite by John Schiff (a team activity).
    Eight crossword puzzles (+ the non-crossword puzzle suite) for just five bucks, with proceeds going to "a grassroots 501(c)(3) dedicated to cultivating a childhood love of reading (Reading to Kids)." Get the puzzles in either .puz or .pdf format here

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    dmw 12:13 AM  

    Easy one for us, theme goes right away, and fun.

    WA 12:28 AM  

    Easy for me, though I did not know about the latest King Kong Godzilla disagreement. Why can't we just all get along?

    jae 12:33 AM  

    Tough Sunday for me.  Lots of ways to misspell stuff.  The circles actually helped fix a couple of errors.   Fiendishly clever and fun to solve.  Liked it!

    John Child 1:01 AM  

    Relatively tough, but a cut above many Sundays. I found the note by accident in the NYT iPad app after finishing and was impressed that the pairs and their arrangement weren't random but were constrained by the "meta" answers of CHAMPION and DEFEATED.

    Finished with an error at KuDROVA / uLA since I'd never heard the Portuguese pronoun and was thinking of Lisa Kudrow for a while.

    'mericans in Paris 2:11 AM  

    Since Rex has license to grouse (OK, it is his blog), let me take a MOMENT to grouse about something in his note. He writes: "Does anyone know when / where / how BATMAN "defeated" THE PENGUIN?".

    Since when did the slash (punctuation's version of an ESCARP) replace the comma? Certainly not in any style guides. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

    Part of my 9-5 job involves editing studies done by people working for me as either staff or consultants. For some (mainly the latter since my staff know better) the slash seems to have become the universal punctuation mark, replacing the hyphen (hunter/gatherer in place of hunter-gatherer), the word "or", the word "and", the compound word "and/or", the comma and the semi-colon.

    The worst, though, is when a writer uses the slash to provide two words and thus avoid having to make a decision as to which one suits best. That leaves the intended meaning as clear as MUD. It would be better if the writer flipped A COIN and just chose one of the words.

    In short, if the slash can mean anything according to the writer's whimsy, it means nothing to their readers.

    Usually, but not always, readers can figure out what the writer meant, but in exchange for a little time saved in typing, the singular writer imposes a lot of wasted time on his or her plural readers.

    Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, we found the puzzle to be of medium difficulty but managed to finish without a mistake (for a change). The north-west corner the last to fall. We hadn't noticed the additional clever trick (CHAMPION or DEFEATED depending on whether the letter is taken from the victor of the vanquished) until Rex pointed it out.

    Complaining that some of the pairings did not involve permanent defeats seems petty. Did KING KONG defeat GODZILLA once and for all? Even FOREMAN was able to regain the Heavyweight Championship in November 1994 when, at the age of 45, he knocked out his 27-year-old opponent, Michael Moorer. (Yea old farts!) And perhaps the TORTOISE and the HARE later had a rematch with very different results than came out of the fabled one.

    Ellen S 2:23 AM  

    I found it kind of tough but easier than the grand finale of the meta-puzzle series, which I couldn't make any headway with at all. kinda how I figured it would be...

    Anyway, I just want to note that Puzzazz for the iPad showed the note for today's puzzle just fine, right under the title and author. And, when I finished, it displayed the letters of the word "CHAMPION" in red and in a larger letter size than the letters of the word "DEFEATED", in black.

    For yesterday's puzzle, Puzzazz didn't allow any cheating -- the "reveal errors" function was turned off. Which is probably why I couldn't get anywhere, but honest, the weekday puzzles were easy and I didn't need Google nor cheating. Well... not much cheating.

    chefwen 3:07 AM  

    Missed the note AGAIN and by the time I finished the WINNERS CIRCLE I was too spent to bother about finding a theme. Was just happy to be done.

    Got the theme at GOD/ZILLA KING/KONG crossing, but to me the rest were not that easy. Sorry about the slashes 'mericans in Paris. If I can read a text asking me how r u? I think I can put up with a couple of slashes.

    I so wanted mustard at 47A.

    Cute puzzle that took me way too long to finish.

    'mericans in Paris 3:55 AM  


    Are you suggesting that "how r u" is acceptable in formal writing? Because that is what I am seeing now in official reports, newspaper articles and, over the last five years or so, even books.

    One difference between "how r u" and the various ways that the slash is used nowadays is that it isn't ambiguous. If you gave that text to an editor to clean up, he or she would know what to do with it.

    By contrast, because the slash has become universal, one never knows.

    A couple of examples:

    It used to be clear that 2014/15 referred to a fiscal year -- a period of 12 months. Now if I come across it I don't know if the writer really means a fiscal year or 2014-15 -- i.e., a period of two years.

    A couple of years ago, in an important paper written by my organisation on industrial policy, the author used the term "defensive/reactive". The slash bothered me, of course, but I assumed the author was substituting a slash for a hyphen. I ran into him last year and asked why he made that switch. "Oh," he said, "I didnn't mean defensive-reactive, I just couldn't make up my mind which term was better". And for that report he got paid several thousand euros.

    I despair.

    chefwen 4:28 AM  

    @American in Paris (wish I were there) No it is not acceptable, in fact it drives me sideways. It takes me longer to read and figure some text messages than some passages in a book. What I was referring to was my own deplorable usage of punctuation, so I often times revert to slashes/dashes/commas where they don't belong, etc. Just bringing up my own shortcomings, you can also take my lack of height into consideration.

    If you get over to the Ile St. Louis, grab me a cone at Berterones sp?

    'mericans in Paris 4:43 AM  

    @Chefwen. Actually, I wish I were in Kaua'i right now! (My brother, his wife, and my father moved there a few years ago.) As for Paris, after a burst of sunny and warm Indian Summer last weekend, we're now quickly moving into a cool and grey autumn. Today's setting back of the clocks only reinforces the feeling of the change in seasons. Oh well, at least autumn brings potimarron squash and other culinary delights. And thanks for giving me a reason to pass by Berterones! :-)

    Danp 5:12 AM  

    @'mericans in Paris - A comma means "and". A slash means "or". It is often used in spoken language as well (eg. Are you the owner-slash-manager here?). It may not have been officially approved by academia, but it is as much understood as "ain't". As for formal vs casual, I suppose you could argue that an ellipsis isn't used in formal writing, either.

    More importantly, it seems to me that Batman defeats the Penguin every time they meet. He never kills him, but he manages to save Gotham City. That's a victory.

    evil doug 5:18 AM  

    Shut up, Frenchie. And quit using so many parentheses.


    evil doug 5:24 AM  

    ... and words. Less is more.


    'mericans in Paris 5:27 AM  

    @Danp. Maybe you use the slash in that way, but many people use it indiscriminately. I would argue that it is even worse when used in speech. Imagine the hapless simultaneous interpreter who has to take a guess on the spot as to what the speaker means.

    The difference between "and" and "or" matters. A colleague wrote to me the other day to ask me whether I could be available for a meeting on 3/4 October. I had to write back, "Do you mean 3 and 4 October or 3 or 4 October?" He wrote back, "3 and 4 October; it's for a 2-hour meeting." I wrote back, "Unless you are planning it between 11 pm on the 3rd and 1 am on the 4th, I assume you actually mean 3 or 4 October." All that wasted time corresponding just so that my colleague could save a few key strokes.


    George Barany 5:38 AM  

    This was a terrific puzzle by @Caleb Emmons, and must have been incredibly difficult to construct (many of the details are of the "under-the-hood" variety, and I won't dwell on them here). Caleb's two previous New York Times puzzles also pushed the envelope in terms of creativity and complexity, but this one stands out as being truly fun to solve -- the multiple "aha" moments trump any minor grumblings about theme, symmetry, certain fill ... Bravo!

    I commend @Rex for his blind shout-out to @Hayley Gold ... that webcomic is already out, and riffs ingeniously on both today's Sunday puzzle and on the suite of six @Patrick Blindauer puzzles that we have been feasting on all week. Amazingly, @Hayley manages to do this without giving away any spoilers on the meta ... keep in mind that the Times contest still has another 12 or so hours to go.

    And as long as we're doing shout-outs, @Victor Fleming called to my attention a timely sports-themed puzzle, called "October Forecast," by @Sam Ezersky at his recently launched crossword site. It's a very well executed twist on a difficult gimmick that, sooner or later, most ambitious constructors will tackle.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:19 AM  

    I found this to be a fun puzzle, although the structure of all the crossing theme answers increased the difficulty.

    A little problem with the menu, as I, too, wanted MUSTARD at 47 A, and SMELT at 13 D (what do I know about fish? - Not much.) And something that looks a bit like a pizza at 59 D.

    Loved the clue for 123 A, bidding farewell to the prior week of mystery!

    Loren Muse Smith 6:56 AM  

    This was fairly tough for me, and I threw in the towel when I had what I thought was an incorrect ACID JAZZ/AME/A MAN. Acid Jazz? Seriously? I actually laughed at my error. So I never revisited the northeast (or, sorry, @ 'mericans, north-east) to lose my "Fla" vs some Gator rival and see ALI. I also didn't really know SCHLUBS and kept entertaining the ridiculous "scarabs" – those hateful, boorish beetles. I wish I had stuck with it more to figure out the circle words.

    Also – "paydirt" before JACKPOT, "assurred" (sic – sheesh) before ASSUAGED, and "side" before CLAN.

    Lurkers take note. . .it took me a long time to summon up the nerve to post here, and when I finally started, I was really nervous about what I would say and how I would write it. After a while, though, I came to realize that for the most part, the writing here is not formal; it feels more playful to me, and I find that people are patient/understanding about typos/grammatical issues/preferences/conventions.

    I'm with @chefwen on this one. For me, Rex' "where/when/how" phrase is absolutely acceptable, well, preferable, to any other way he may have chosen to write it.

    I admit I have no idea how to use a slash – never really thought about it. I guess before I start teaching high school English I'll have to look into this. Thing is, though, language and its "rules" are ever-changing. No one writes coöperate or coördinate anymore, it's hiccup now more often than hiccough, they is pretty much an accepted third person singular pronoun, and, AND. . .just two days ago, I read in The Economist a paragraph that began with a sentence fragment. With a sentence fragment that was at once succinct and beautifully transitional. And stylishly effective. Gave me goosebumps.

    Probably 'cause and 'til will become more and more accepted, though I imagine that initial apostrophe denoting a dropped syllable could cause some consternation in, well, in formal writing. Anyway, @'mericans – I appreciate the heads-up on the slash issue and will certainly investigate forthwith. I break rules all the time, but I'd rather know which ones I'm breaking.

    I thought the theme/execution was ingenious. Way to go, Caleb!

    Anonymous 7:23 AM  

    Thanks very much to Rex for the tip on finding notes in the acrosslite version of puzzles. I will not miss them as often now.

    Anonymous 7:38 AM  

    Overall one of the better puzzles recently in my view, but one flaw for me:

    Five out of eight of the double letter squares is properly written in the across letter first, followed by the down letter, i.e., all except for H/E in HECTOR/ACHILLES and P/A in KASPAROV/DEEPBLUE and O/E in HARE/TORTOISE.

    May have been impossible to construct otherwise, but it introduces an element of random guessing that puts me off a little.

    chefbea 7:43 AM  

    Tough puzzle!! DNF. Couldn't figure out Champion and defeated either.

    @chefwen I too had mustard at first.... guess all chefs think alike...and are short!!!

    Moly Shu 7:51 AM  

    Agree with @LMS, the theme AND execution were great. NW being the toughest. Finally sussed SWORN and SLEWS, and that was enough to finish. You know you've done too many crosswords when KEDROVA goes in without any crosses. KASPAROV and BIGBLUE were my personal faves.

    As for the slash/comma,and/,or debate .... I spit Cheerios all over the table when I saw #Frenchie. Genius. Now I don't care anymore, thx @ED

    F.O.G. 8:08 AM  

    Figured out the theme and saw the yellow note in Across Lite. But couldn't get the smiling pencil to pop up. Finally checked for errors and had four letters incorrect per Across Lite -- all four errors were in the circled letters.

    I still don't understand why Across Lite wants "D" instead of "C" in 21A when Hercules defeated Hydra, but then in 22A wants "H" for Achilles instead of "E" for the defeated Hector.

    Nevertheless, a fun puzzle. Well done, Mr. Emmons.

    'mericans in Paris 8:35 AM  

    Funny how many people took my comment on Rex's blog personally, and even funnier to see some people calling an American in Paris, as opposed to a French person in New York, a "Frenchie".

    @Loren Muse Smith. Informal and formal do not correspond to clear and unclear. "When / where / how?" takes longer to digest than "where, when and how?". And using it in that way further reinforces its spread. Note that, pace @Danp, Rex is not using the slash there to mean "or" but "and".

    Are you really going to be teaching high school English soon? You won't find much guidance on the slash in style manuals. Until recently, the slash was used only for ratios and a few other specialty uses, such as separating lines of poetry when written out in prose. Try to find it in a newspaper article or a book from 20 years ago. Even Lynne Truss's relative recent book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, which spends hundreds of pages on the subtleties of the comma, colon and semi-colon, fails to discuss the slash.

    The examples you give of changing usage concern words, not punctuation. If English or any other western language could get by with one universal punctuation mark, then you can be sure that the typewriter manufacturers and modern computer keyboard fabricators would have pushed to eliminate the superfluous ones. But we do need them; they do serve a purpose.

    Starting a paragraph with a sentence fragment, if it is succinct and beautifully transitional, is not ambiguous. And, as you say, it can be stylishly effective.

    Z 9:06 AM  

    Hmmmm, good thing I don't bother with style books.

    I use Crux on my iPad when I travel. It splashes the note before it lets you start solving. You can ignore it, but you definitely know it exists and you can recall it anytime.

    I don't like the randomness of across/down champions nor the almostness of the circle. Reword the note to indicate two appropriate words that have to be unscrambled and my actual experience is more accurately described.

    SE was tough. Apparently I've gone 54 years ignorant the Magna Carta's city of origin. Having just watched this week a short film on how KASPAROV really beat himself didn't help me come up with DEEP BLUE until I finally came up with DELETES. For some reason that X clue was a real distractor for me. It looks a little like an Aloha Numeral to me.

    @'MiP - there is a rule here to cap comments at three for a reason. My own feeling is your first post was fine, everything after was just a little too "too."

    Anonymous 9:09 AM  

    'merican in Paris:

    That swell French word "ennui" describes you and your posts oh so well.

    The sarcasm in "Frenchie" flew right over your tete, didn't it?

    Charles Flaster 9:13 AM  

    EZ in 24minutes.Loved the theme but could not deduct the reason for two letters. Rex to the rescue. Winners' circle meant horse racing to me so I was in the wrong race
    Only writeover was in home. When I arrived at IN ROME which was wonderful, it opened up CDROM.LOC CIT, B VITAMIN, DAVID and GOLIATH.
    Other favorite clues were for SPLENDA, SCHLUBS and PEZ. My neighborhood adopted PEZ way before superheroes.
    Thanks CE.

    Teedmn 9:17 AM  

    I started this one around midnight with a glass of wine (or two) and thought it was tough. Finished this morning, it being much easier when the sun is coming up!

    Never considered mustard for the yellow packet. I'm not a coffee drinker so I never have to choose between the myriad artificial sweeteners but I figured the yellow one would come clear when the crosses made it so. Aah, SPLENDA.

    I confess to being over fond of parenthetical phrases and I use the dash too often but now I will be hyper-conscious of my use of the slash. If it leads to clarity, it can only be a good thing.

    I, too, missed the yellow "memo" regarding the "meta" (can I use that ironically this week?) because my AcrossLite is the lesser version and it warned me upfront that I would not get a happy pencil unless I upgraded. I'm left feeling taunted by a pencil icon.

    Mohair Sam 9:56 AM  

    Quite a battle but we got it, had to guess right on second "A" in KASPAROV because we know him only phonetically and "O" made as much sense (not having a cross).

    Missed the note, (thanks again @Rex for reminding us where to look on Across Lite) but once you get one of the theme answers you understand the game - ours was at Batman/Penguin.

    Agreed very much with @Rex's take today except for the PENGUIN silliness. I've only seen one Batman/Penguin battle and Batman surely won big time. The fact that he keeps on keeping on is irrelevant: FOREMAN is alive, well, and eventually became the champ; KASPAROV still plays chess (whupping most humans); the HARE races on and is active as a stunt double for Bugs Bunny; and GODZILLA continues to make movies.

    Enjoying the slash discussion, but don't dare have an opinion on it, I'm learning here. Slash away as long as I get your point.

    KEDROVA brought thoughts of the delightful "Zorba the Greek" film. Always remember that Quinn's next big film "The Shoes of the Fisherman" was reviewed by one critic as "Anthony Quinn stars as Zorba the Pope."

    Anyhow - a tough Sunday for us, but we really enjoyed. Thanks Caleb Emmons.

    Unknown 9:59 AM  

    2:01 clean solve @sam mohair-style with Mrs. Kid. Themeless. Thank God.

    Darryll 10:09 AM  

    @Slash Controversy - I'm totally with Evil Doug here, stop wasting time on slashes, time that could better be spent discussing whether or not WILCO is ever said in radio communications.

    jberg 10:21 AM  

    I didn't much like this one -- until I finally figured out the CHAMPIONS/DEFEATED thing. Then I liked it a lot. Not quite symmetrical, and the "roughly clockwise" was especially challenging; and I have no idea how I knew about STALBANS. But it was very satisfying all the same.

    As for slashes, they don't bother me, at least in blogs -- but I really wish people would stop using "you" in the singular when we have the perfectly good, and correct, "thou."

    Opus2 10:36 AM  

    I use the NYT app on the iPad (yes I preferred the old one) and have no idea how to find the notes. Can't find today's and can't find for the metas from all last week. Someone? @john child?

    'mericans in Paris 10:37 AM  

    @Darryll -- Wilco is played on Chicago radio stations frequently.

    Unknown 10:44 AM  

    I enjoyed this, even though my rotten brother who happened to be visiting filled in about a third of the puzzle, completely unauthorized!

    @'mericans in Paris' problem is expecting a blog to follow the rules of formal writing. The blogosphere is a hotbed of typos and grammatical errors, all taking second place to the need to publish immediately, or to have a fresh, youthful voice.

    'mericans in Paris 10:51 AM  

    @Susan -- I ain't got no problem with informal writing. Fresh and youthful is great. But since Rex nitpicks on things like whether or not Batman definitively trounced The Penguin once and for all, I don't consider it out of line to ask why he uses slashes in place of commas. How is that usage fresh or youthful?

    Zeke 11:16 AM  

    1) I'm pretty sure @Darryll's comment was directed 100% at ED, and his willingness to go on at length about WILCO but unwillingness to accept/ignore (god, I love slahes now that it's been pointed out, it's so much simpler than and/or. Wait, you can't even eliminate slashes by using and/or) people going on at length about something he's not interested in. And his willingness to tell such people to shut up.
    2) There really is a 3 & out rule here. Not 27 & out.
    3) I've gone on at length here about what I have felt are linguistic/grammical faux-pas. Hell, they drive me nuts. Yesterday I sat in a meeting directly behind someone wearing a t-shirt he got at a motorcycle rallye supporting Autisim Awareness. The banner on the back said "Ride'n to Raise Awareness", followed by logos of the sponsors, sponsers who spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars to appear on this t-shirt. I couldn't focus on the meeting, so badly did I want to find the person who wrote that and make him/her eat all lthe unsold t-shirts. This leads to
    4) You said "part of my job is to edit...". Well, part of my job is to much the stables in the morning. I doubt many of you know this, but some horses keep a corner of their stall for the exclusive use as a bathroom, they only shit in one spot, others shit willy-nilly wherever they're standing at the time i.e. some horses' poop is easier to clean up than others. Mares pee along the periphery, geldings and stallions piss everwhere, i.e. mares' pee is easier to find and clean. Me, I just do my job.

    chefbea 11:26 AM  

    @Zeke that was Pee-utiful!!!

    Anonymous 11:27 AM  

    Kedrova? Really?

    Anonymous 11:30 AM  

    'Merican in Paris.

    Please find a life/clue/sense of humor.

    mathguy 11:46 AM  

    Liked the puzzle very much. Enjoyed seeing the eight crossing antagonists and finding that the circles contained two letters rebus-like. Some very clever cluing. However, the words in the squashed circles didn't help. I figured them out after solving.

    Nerdy quibble. SUDOKU doesn't have anything to do with 3x3x3 that I can see. A puzzle is made up of 9 3x3 grids forming a 9x9 grid.

    If any of you like sudoku, try the KenKen puzzles the NYTimes has on its website every day. I try the 8x8 every day and solve about two out of three. Once I have a number twice in a row or column, I don't go back to look for the mistake.

    Anonymous 11:46 AM  

    What is schlub?

    Carola 12:06 PM  

    I thought this was a wonderful Sunday puzzle, with a fabulous array of match-ups, including classical heroes, fabled animals, thinking machines, movie monsters... a terrific mix of erudite and witty.

    Not that solving it was a total picnic. Couldn't get a grip on any of the opponents in the upper tier, struggled for any kind of decent toehold. It was at about the point when "mustard" didn't work (hi, @chefwen!) that I wanted to cry, "Toooo harrrrd!" But then some crucial cross worked out and it started to be fun.

    Enjoyed writing in JASPER, CRESCENT, ST ALBANS, STANZAS and the pair of locations IN A TREE and IN ROME.

    The Note didn't help me with the solve (Notes pop up automatically in my version of AcrossLite), but I thought the intertwined circles were ingenious.

    John Child 12:18 PM  

    @anon 11:46 Ask Google

    Beadola 12:37 PM  

    @'mericans in Paris. I have a question. If you are indeed Americans, why do you often use British spellings, e.g. "organisation"?

    @Loren. Your posts are my favorite/choice! :)

    OISK 12:47 PM  

    Nice, well constructed, original, fun puzzle. A couple of nits to pick - I never heard of Kedrova, and don't know any Portuguese, so ELA and Kedrova was an informed guess. Otilde was pretty obscure as well, but inevitable from the crosses, fine. Is schlub a word? In my neck of the woods we pronounce it "zhlub," the zh sound representing the same sound as the "j" in the French "jour." Loved the Kasparov Deep Blue cross!! And it was such a relief to finally be done with Patrick's plethora of product puzzles. Thanks, Caleb, for NOT cluing 18 down as "Snapple competitor…" Pez and Pepsi don't bother me…

    'mericans in Paris 12:56 PM  

    @Beadola -- Sorry, force of long habit: during my day job I'm obliged to use British spelling. Good eye, though!

    Carola 1:38 PM  

    Off-puzzle-topic alert:
    @loren - I'd be interested what you think about the use of "they" as a 3rd person singular (which I fully embrace) extending to object/possessive forms. Would you accept (informally or in your teacher role) either, "The group shared the apartment, but everybody cooked for themselves" or "...everybody cooked for theirself"? How about "....everybody did their own cooking"? All are heard where I live in Wisconsin, although "theirself" is a step too far for me.

    Arlene 1:43 PM  

    I solved this puzzle last night -
    I'm glad I waited to comment.
    This puzzle played like an "encore" to the Meta puzzle week. Its similarity having a second message once the puzzle is finished is a fitting reprise of the past week's antics.
    And now we await the results of the meta challenge. Who shall emerge a CHAMPION, and who shall be DEFEATED?

    schlubble 1:52 PM  

    Commenters today are largely a bunch of boorish schlubs.
    Great puzzle.

    Anonymous 1:53 PM  

    Before the themed answers started getting filled in I was sure this was going to be a World Series theme somehow. After I realized that wasn't the case, it took me forever to see the words "champion" and "defeated", and never realized that they applied to each of the respective competitors until I came here. I tried organizing the circled letters by whether they were across or down, tried anagrams - then I just looked at what letters would logically follow each other to get to the correct theme words. Not much fun for me this week, sorry!

    OISK 1:53 PM  


    In my (science) writing, I try to use the plural whenever possible, having been chastised by my editors for phrases like " A scientist must attempt to log all of his observations…" To avoid "his or her", we use "Scientists must…" So, "The group shared the apartment, but all members cooked for themselves" is a grammatically sound way out of the gender trap. "All did their own cooking" works as well. I wish that English did not reserve "Its" only for animals…"A dog serves its master," but a worker serves his or her employer… alas…

    grammar police 1:58 PM  

    Grammar is fun and important, and there is a time and a place for grammar pedanticism. A light and informal crossword blog is not one of them. It makes the pedant look like an ass.

    Masked and AnonymoUs 2:01 PM  

    Some really excellent clues in this SunPuz. They go the X-tra mile, and make things X-tra fun.

    How the constructioneer figured out that this theme would work out is beyond my runtish mind to comprehend. Well done, sir. I see that he held the potential ARIZONA vs. ACIDJAZZ fight in reserve, and didn't have to use it.

    fave whymin weejects: FEZ PEZ.

    Man, what an anemic, three-line Note on this puz. All the other ones earlier this week were far much more longer and meatier. (slashes thru unnecessary words in that last sentence are left as an exercise for the one dude who read all this. meta!)



    pauer 2:17 PM  


    I love you, too.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:35 PM  

    OMG! what has this blog become? It used to be about the puzzle/Rex's comments. Sniping, anon insults, crankiness about usage, endless repetitive carping, criticism of endless repetitive carping, occasional foul-mouthing (Rex is right to exclude that)/ I could go on/and on/and on. I enjoyed the puzzle and found it challenging. I had to do some googling: OTILDE, ACID JAZZ, was thrown by ACHILLES & HECTOR, but got "it" at DAVID & GOLIATH and TORTOISE & HARE. Worthy Sunday puzzle/IMO(I'm not humble).

    Leapfinger 2:35 PM  

    @Zeke: Mared! Jockeying for position?

    The Slasher Returns. A while back, I knew this fellow who served on many university committees and a number of Presidential Blue-Ribbon panels. He was loathed by many and feared by more (or perhaps vice versa) for his penchant of pointing out "That may be what you meant, but it isn't what you wrote". Lesson learned, regarding precision in writing. Informal writing, otoh, can assume many different voices, bien sur.

    That consultant, however, was just being lazy, and could easily have written 'defensive as well as reactive' if they were equally important, 'defensive even more than reactive' if they were not.

    @ED, the tacit emphasis is on "'merican", not on "Paris".
    @jae, 'thou' great!
    @Teedmon, taunted by a pencil icon, lol! Makes me feel Tonto, too.
    @CascoK, despite the "rule" of 27 and out, hope you caught the last comment on Saturday's blog. You burned with a holy fire yesterday.

    BillyM 2:38 PM  

    Prof. Barany -

    Tnx for calling attention to the Hayley Gold Web Comic. Very entertaining. She's very witty and talented -- and quick at getting her art work up!

    Anonymous 2:46 PM  

    'merican in Paris:

    are you putting cover sheets on your very important British TPS reports?

    Unknown 2:51 PM  

    @leap I did, thanks! You guys are the level best. :)

    'mericans in Paris 3:08 PM  

    @Anonymous 2:46 PM


    Leapfinger 3:44 PM  

    Just a Super Sunday, where nothing fell PLATTE.

    Had my usual reaction as the cross-referentials piled up (something between Drat! and expletive deleted), but that evaporated as the paired antagonists became clear.
    Did not see the note in A-L (it would help to have it in Red, instead of anemic yellow), so floundered around a bit in the beginning. With my first rebi solved being HE, ME, IT and PA, it seemed we were looking for pronouns. HIHO, wrong again! Must remember to read the title! Had to come to the blog to get the full import, and was duly impressed.

    Even without appreciation of the construction feat, it was a fun solve:
    Back in college, someone had a pet COATI mundi, would walk it on a leash; in profile, the back and front ends looked the same.
    With PLA----A in place, thought of PLACENTA; were my mental feet all running OVA time?
    The LEX is an ASS, UAGED against the CRIMINAL
    I like Thai food, but never had LILYPAD TIE.
    RAISE ARIZONA, a directive to the Coen Bros.
    I've climbed around JASPER, and like the stone, esp picture JASPER. In our climbs, we usually called them 'ravines', but look at that ESCARP Go!
    Silliest moments: Hmm, pink is Sweet'n'Low, then there's the blue one, the white'n'green one, the yellow one is ???
    With BELA over OPERA, can Bartok be far behind?

    As I'm well into ilLEGAL AGE, this LOCCIT up for today. Have a happy.

    RooMonster 3:46 PM  

    Hey/ All !
    I'm/ surprised/ no/ one/ mentioned/ the/ meta/ in/ this/ puz/ as/ all/ last/ week/ the/ discussion/ was/ what/ is/ or/ isn't/ a/ meta.

    That/ was/ for/ 'mericans. :-D

    Liked the puz, mediumish out here, figured out the rebus/square/thing at DAVID/GOLIATH. Had only a few writeovers, and the NW was last to parse. Had earth at first for the Google clue.

    Was really on the lookout for the Q to make a pangram, but never found it. Lots of Z's. I see FOTOS again, still doesn't seem right. And thanks to puzzling, knew ASL finally! (And know what it means! )


    Anonymous 3:56 PM  

    If you're going to rant on for several paragraphs about Rex's use of a punctuation mark, then you don't get to write "their readers" when referring to "a writer."

    Z 3:58 PM  

    Man v. Machine, for those who can tear themselves away from the slasher war above.

    Leapfinger 4:06 PM  

    I lied, there's some I forgot.

    O TILDE, she take me money and run Venezuela!

    About the time I came of LEGAL AGE, I saw Zorba the Greek. Even then, I thought Lila KEDROVA unforgettable as the former beauty, unable to stop acting out her coquettish past. Still have no idea what the rationale is for the cupping she underwent; still think hers is one of the best death scenes ever, with those creepy black-clad harpies waiting for her last breath so the scavenging for treasure could begin.

    That's three for me;
    Where's AliasZ?

    Mohair Sam 4:44 PM  

    @zeke - having managed a small horse farm for a while many years ago I enjoyed the your detailed review of the joys of mucking. Never dwelled on the relationship of pooping to the horses personality or sex, however, but you are dead right.

    A veterinarian friend once told me that my time on the farm represents 2% of my life and 90% of my good stories. She was right.

    Ludyjynn 4:56 PM  

    I thought this puzzle was a beautiful piece of work. It unfolded slowly for me, sometimes causing me to wander into another quadrant for relief, but eventually, all was revealed. Such a variety of topics and vocabulary was truly impressive. Exactly what a NYT Sunday puzzle solving experience should be. The best in many moons, IMO.

    Thanks a lot, CE and WS.

    RAD2626 4:58 PM  

    Puzzle was fun Sunday exercise. Never saw explanatory note so just put both letters in the overlapping square with the "winner" first. Thought it was kind of stupid. When I got here and saw the answer I changed my mind totally. One of those puzzles where I did more than "nod in a vaguely appreciative way". I cannot imagine the effort and imagination needed to construct this. Congratulations Mr. Emmons. Also loved ARIZONA clue.

    Nancy 5:26 PM  

    A tough, clever puzzle that I couldn't finish because I had LLD (for Limited?) and have never heard of LLC (what is that?). So I had --DTOR and didn't get HECTOR. Didn't get SCHS for 8D. Finished the rest of the puzzle, but with great difficulty. Only realized the CHAMPION/DEFEATED coup when I came here and now I have complete awe for how well this puzzle is constructed!

    Anonymous 5:29 PM  

    LLC = limited liability company

    in a tree 5:34 PM  

    @leapfinger and @aliasz, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

    jae 5:45 PM  

    @Leapy - "thou" wasn't me. @jberg I believe.

    chefbea 6:01 PM  

    it's 6:01 where do I find the answer to the meta?

    Fred Smith 6:04 PM  

    My guess : TEMPUSFUGIT

    BillyM 6:05 PM  

    Tempus Fugit

    Leapfinger 6:08 PM  

    @jae/jberg, oops, sorry! Guess I've graduated from crossing up @SteveJ and @Z to a slightly more reasonable comingling of j's. Cognitive dissonance? or just hard to distinguish j's...IN A TREE? Am always fiendishly impressed by you first responders.

    @in a tree, blowing a K-I-S-S your way also.

    wreck 6:14 PM  

    Casco Kid was closer than me! Tempus Fugit (time flies)

    Fred Smith 6:18 PM  

    To solve, use the Sat clues. Wherever there is an "x" throughout the week, look at the number of the square ("x marks the spot") where it occurs, and translate the square number to an alphabetic (1 is a, 2 is b, ... z is 26). This will spell out "Tempus Fugit."

    I would guess there's also a tie-in with all the "time-related" content during the week, playing gratuitously to "The Gray Lady."

    Z 6:28 PM  

    TEMPUS FUGIT is Latin for " time flies," making all those time appearances during the week bonus hints that aren't hints. Also explains the hint/not hint of the Tears for Fears video.

    As for my ALOHA "logic" - first you say hello than good-bye to the numerals. Cascoish in its twistedness but it still spit out the right answer.

    M and Also 7:06 PM  

    @CascoKid: U may not win the meta contest, but U get an honorary M&A I Fink U Freeky award, for blurtin out the magnificent line
    in the comments section yesterday. Standin O.
    Reduced m&e to tears on my popcorn.


    Anonymous 7:24 PM  

    I seriously doubt those that claimed they had the meta by Thursday had the correct solution.

    Sitting OVAtion 7:26 PM  

    Tears on my momcorn, m&e too.

    Unknown 7:28 PM  

    It is well after the Meme Contest deadline and the iPad app is still not letting me finish the Saturday puzzle . I'm pretty sure I have solved it correctly, but if you hit Check Puzzle it crosses out every letter I have entered and if you try to reveal and answer it changes everything to question marks. I've cleared the puzzle and re entered my solutions, checked it over many times and can't see any mistakes. It's beginning to drive me batty lol

    Does anyone know where I can find a completed grid ?

    Anonymous 7:30 PM  

    TEMPUS in a teaPOT, if you asks me.

    Zeke 7:30 PM  

    Perhaps my metaphor wasn't clear. It wasn't an ode to mucking stalls, it was a reflection on editors bitching about minor nits in what they're editing. The value of the horse, or of the work the horse does, isn't to be judged by how neat or sloppy they are in their stall, any more than a consultant's report on an issue of significance is to be judged by minor suspect syntatical constructs. The editor should just fix it and move on to the next task, just as should the mucker.

    To question the payment to the consultant based on their use of the dreaded slash is profoundly narcissistic on the part of the editor.

    chefbea 7:34 PM  

    So time flies from one day of the week to all of them??? Do not get it at all

    RooMonster 7:45 PM  

    @bea, each X was in a square with a number, as in 20A had an X, which meant if you did the ALPHANUMERIC to it, 20=T. You had to go back and find all the X's throughout the week , write down the number in the square, then get the letters from that. Mon thru Sat, top to bottom, left to right. It spelled out TEMPUS FUGIT, which in Latin means Time Flies, which ties in with all the various Time related themers throughout the week. Does that make sense?

    Maybe a bit long of an explanation! :-)


    Unknown 7:47 PM  

    @M&A, I have an escape-from-a-paper-bag trick that is nothing short of harrowing.

    What's Latin for "Why is what I'm looking for always in the first place I look?"

    Nancy 8:05 PM  

    @andy keate: Of COURSE your app isn't letting you solve the puzzle! Your app is, like all computer-related devices, a technosadist. It is fiercer than you, more singleminded than you, more devious than you. It has a plethora of ways to frustrate and defeat you. If a Martian came down to earth and saw the hapless human interacting with the stubborn, implacable computer, the Martian would be sure that computers ran the world. And the Martian would not be entirely wrong. Andy, buy the Times (no, I don't own shares), get a pen or pencil and you'll be able to solve smoothly, without any techno-glitches. Trust me!

    Z 8:08 PM  

    Horse shit tells a lot to a vet. Likewise, lazy writing can often tell a careful reader or editor quite a bit about a writer. I rather enjoyed 'MiP's initial rant, having not thought much about the misuse of "/" in punctuation. If professionals hand in professional writing that consistently needs editing for clarity it would irk me to the point of ranting, too. Hopefully, just once, though.

    chefbea 8:37 PM  

    @Roo Monster..thanks for the explanation. I hope we never have one of these again...too much work

    Teedmn 8:48 PM  

    @Z Thanks for the Chess video - I just did with the meta what Kasparov did with Deep Blue's glitch and assumed it was smarter than I am, though in my case, it's probably the truth.

    @Leapy, love the Harry Belafonte tie-in.

    Whirred Whacks 8:52 PM  

    One of the great delights of META week was reading @Casco Kid's comments on Saturday. It was an interesting window into his thought processes (although it could have been any one of us in how we've approached other puzzles). Thanks for sharing!

    Yes! 9:44 PM  

    Hence the multiple references and links to the Yes song "tempus fugit." Worth a listen.

    orgy boys 10:02 PM  

    @inatree 5:34: yes, the commenters on this blog are a clique-ish bunch. Leapfinger, alias z, whirred wacks, steve J. They make each other feel good. Likely do some K-I-S-S--I-N-G indeed. A self-reinforcing little circle, with no interest in anyone but themselves. Rex's little teacher's pets.

    wreck 10:43 PM  

    There are a lot of miserable human beings in the world. Lighten' up Francis!

    Tita 11:02 PM  

    I was as flummoxed as the rest of you by that Portuguese diacritic...
    Was able to guess at it, but thought it to be a green paint kinda clue.

    I suppose it is somewhat rare, though I wonder how dear Caleb determined that. Is there an official count of diacritic frequency in each language?

    A cousin is currently visiting from Portugal - I asked her, and like most native speakers, when asked a weird question about one's language, was stumped too.

    Anyhow, for all of you who are dying to know...
    A very common word ending in Portuguese is "ão". It is a somewhat nasally n-ish sound - a distant cousin to the French "-on". My brother is João - our version of John.

    Well, turns out when you have more than one thing ending in ão, you have 3 chances to pluralize it wrong...
    Dog - cão, cães
    Brother: irmão, irmãos
    Lion: leão, leões

    Of course, they all sound different. And there is no rhyme AND/OR reason.

    So there you have it.
    You're welcome.

    Thanks Caleb - great fun on a very busy Sunday.

    Tita 11:08 PM  

    @WA - a story that your comment brought to mind:

    From same visiting cousin...married to a Brit. When his mother first got television (sorry - telly), she watched her first football game. After sitting through the first half, she calmly suggested..."Why don't they just give both sides a ball?"

    Jonathan O 2:45 AM  

    I'm surprised no one's brought up that HERCULES is Roman and HERACLES is Greek. I had HERACLES until I saw "LACNCHED."

    - Jonathan

    'MiP 3:28 AM  

    @Z -- You get it.

    @Zeke -- Of course if the report I was complaining about (the one with "defensive/reactive") was under my control I should have just fixed it and not complained about it. But it wasn't: I came across after it had already been published. My point was that nowadays one often has no idea what a writer means when he or she uses the slash. In this case, the ambiguity was crucial since the consultant's term was one used dozens of times in his report.

    Anonymous 8:56 AM  

    @Zeke, if a consultant can't decide on the relative applicability of 'defensive' vs 'reactive', he/she is guilty of mucky thinking.

    Show me a chain, and I'm happy to pull/yank it.

    Anonymous 10:54 AM  

    Fun, but awfully easy. I'm surprised any of you found it challenging, especially Rex of all people. Better disguised cluing for some of the gimmees would have made this an excellent puzzle. Too bad. Agree with Rex about Batman vs Penguin, same thing occurred to me that their war is ongoing and so there is no final defeat. (No villain in Gotham is ever defeated, because they are either easily pardoned or the prison or insane asylum is easily escaped.) But this slight inaccuracy didn't affect the solving of the puzzle in the least, so it isn't a major complaint, just an observation. BTW, St. Albans is a must-see, its downtown is like taking a step back to the middle ages, so atmospheric.

    Anonymous 4:38 PM  

    @Frenchie - "if ... was[sic] under my control"? Don't you mean "if .. were under my control"?

    'mericans in Paris 2:04 PM  

    @Anonymous 4:38

    Actually, better would be "if ... had been under my control".

    paulsfo 11:45 PM  

    I thought the cluing was very good, with two exceptions, those for ETA and FINED.
    Fog delays the *actual* arrival, not the estimate of the time of arrival (it *changes* the ETA but doesn't *delay* the ETA).
    Similarly, "*getting* FINED" would be "Getting a slap on the wrist", but not just FINED by itself. If you can't substitute the clue for the answer in a sentence, in cases like this, then the clue is probably incorrectly worded, methinks.

    LHS 888 6:30 AM  

    I found this puzzle to be really challenging. Official DNF. I hung on for I don't know how many hours before resorting to google, and even that didn't get 'er done. I had to hit "check all" to find errors before I could finish up.

    I was able to get the pair idea with BATMAN/THEPENGUIN and ALI/FOREMAN, but I didn't necessarily figure out I needed to enter the rebus in winner-loser order until the "check all" didn't like some of my rebus squares. In the end I was able to see the meta CHAMPION-DEFEATED. Quite a work of art construction-wise.

    Googles: KEDROVA, SCHS (I misread the clue as wanting a specific PAC 12 school, and I couldn't come up with one with an abbreviation that started and ended with S - made me distrust SALSAS.)

    Errors: bONG, aTILDE, Ltd, cAiro, ELe

    HeRo > HARE
    iviES > VINES

    Favorite clues: PEZ, EPSILON
    Hand up for disagreeing with SUDOKU = 3 x 3 x 3
    Favorite words: INATREE, INROME, RATATAT

    A thing of beauty is a joy forever, and this one took me almost that long. Thanks CE / WS!

    spacecraft 2:28 PM  

    Once again, the late hour of this post proves how tough it was. Some brutal cluing really bogged me down almost everywhere, but particularly in the eastern half.

    Never heard of ACIDJAZZ, or KEDROVA, or...aw, I don't feel like listing them all. "Reservation holder" = ARIZONA why? Because of all the Amerind communities down there? Pretty far-fetched as a clue...see what I mean? What's a "LAUNCHER?" You mean the guy there who pushes the button? Those guys aren't actually THERE, IN the silo, they're in a bunker at a safe distance. And there's never just one; they work in pairs. Or did he mean some sort of device? You fire up the rocket, that's how you launch. What is a "LAUNCHER?" Beats me.

    The theme is very clever in execution, and I don't share OFL's quibble with the inconclusiveness of the BATMAN/THEPENGUIN tilt. The bat-dude wins every time; Cobblepot just resurfaces in another medium.

    For the third day in a row I conquered a very tough puzzle, so won't give worse than a B, but this one has to have a minus with it. Junk Sunday fill is inevitable, but there is a dumpster-full of it today. I again won't bother with a list; you clunkers know who you are.

    The legible half of my captcha today is in the grid: DAVID.

    Dirigonzo 3:33 PM  

    I managed to finally complete the grid with OWS (KASPAnOV/nABAT seemed reasonable) after figuring out the double-letter circles early-on. I eventually solved the jumbled letters, too, but I missed the victor/vanquished significance altogether until I came here. All in all it was an enjoyable, if at times frustrating, way to spend a couple of hours on a snowy Sunday.

    1233 is as natural as it gets.

    rain forest 4:15 PM  

    Good day to scroll by the comments. Good day to enjoy a very clever puzzle 2/3 of which was quite easy while the remaining 1/3 was taxing. I realized at the first circle that two letters were involved, but didn't know exactly what was going on until I had 6 of them, and could see CHAMPION and DEFEATED emerging, which actually helped me with the last two. Nicely done!

    There was talk of a "meta" puzzle (a term I detest), but as a syndie, I guess I'll have to wait 5 weeks to see what's going on.

    One of the better Sundays, for sure.

    179, or 8, Can it hold up?

    Sarah Snape 8:59 PM  

    Why does each answer grid have one letter in red?

    Zed the Answer Man 9:09 PM  

    @Sarah Snape - This and many other mysteries are solved on Rex's FAQ page.

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