Mrs King on TV's Scarecrow Mrs. King / SUN 12-28-14 / Bad-tempered in Shakespeare / Antimalarial agent / hawaii five-0 crime-fighter informally / Jefferson Airplane genre / 1976 hit for Hall & Oates / Anne Hathaway's persona in 2012's Dark Knight Rises / Arrive casually informally

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Fill-in-the-Blanks" — Clues are words with letter strings removed. Answers are common phrases that describe the removed parts. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • MISSING PERSON (26A: Su___ic)
  • DELETED SCENE (32A: Ob___ly)
  • UNUSED MINUTES (50A: ___t)
  • DROPPED CALL (71A: Lo___y)
  • FORFEITED GAME (91A: Li___nt)
  • STRIPPED BARE (105A: Ca___t)
  • ABANDONED SHIP (114A: Wor___er)
  • STOLEN ART (46D: E___hen)
Word of the Day: TIP ROAST (88D: Sirloin cut) —
Round Tip Roast or Tip Roast or Sirloin Tip Roast or Tip Sirloin Roast: A cut away from the sirloin section, this roast is tender enough to be oven roasted or used as kabobs. When trimmed it's called a trimmed tip roast or ball tip roast. (
• • •

There are two levels on which this theme operates—clue and answer. Now that I write that out, it sounds like the levels at which all crosswords operate, but hear me out. What I mean is that there's the question of how well (cleverly) the omitted letter string / word is represented in the clue, and then there's the solidity of the answer phrase. I point this out mainly because I found myself feeling like some part of every theme clue/answer kept failing. Clue choices often seemed ridiculous. Why is there a "ly" in 32A: Ob___ly? That's a terribly hidden "scene" with a totally gratuitous adverbial ending. And don't even get me started on 50A: ___t. What the hell is that? I look at a clue like 71A: Lo___y and think, yes, that works. CALL is hard to infer, the adverbial quality of the base word is hidden … and the answer phrase, DROPPED CALL, is spot on. Perfect. A real thing. But many of the remaining clues/answers did not live up to this standard. FORFEITED felt like the wrong word in the first place, and FORFEITED GAME is total green paint (i.e. something someone might say, but not solid enough to be a stand-alone answer). See also ABANDONED SHIP. One might shout "Abandon ship!" But ABANDONED SHIP = green paint. You could put a ton of different nouns after ABANDONED and they would be just as crossworthy. Also see also STOLEN ART (?!?!). KISS, CAR, MOMENT … all more real than ART in that phrase. And 114A: Wor___er again has that gratuitous additional letter thing going on, i.e. We Don't Need The "-er". You could've claimed "need" if the idea was that in all cases the missing part would be removed from the center of the clue word. But 50A: ___t screwed up that rationale big time. So … I feel like there is a good idea somewhere underneath all this, but the execution shows a real lack of artistry. It's clunktastic. Also, the title = terrible. Reeks of "I give up."

And EATEN RAW … how is that legal? Seriously. Are we just stringing together words now and calling them legit answers. EATEN RAW seems about as legit as APPLIEDGENTLY or COOKEDONLOW. THE TOP is almost but not quite as bad (1A: Where it's lonely, it's said). I know the expression "It's lonely at the top," but THE TOP doesn't hold up well on its own. What about THEBOTTOM? [Worst barrel part]? THESIDE? [What you might get dressing on]? Why not? It's a free-for-all. Anything goes. CURST BOPIN NONONO. Sigh. Actually, the overall fill quality is decentish. Ish.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Whirred Whacks 12:09 AM  

Medium-challenging for me. Because the theme clues provided so little information, it was like solving using only the down clues. When the grid got filled in, the theme clues were revealed to be really quite amusing (but still not much help in the solve).

Seeing CAEN as the answer for "D-Day locale" put a big smile on my face cuz it made think of Herb CAEN, the long-time San Francisco Chronicle 3-dot journalist. For many years, I (and many hundreds of thousands other Bay Area residents) started off each morning with a cup of coffee and Caen's column. Did you know that Caen coined the word "Beatnik" in 1958, and popularized the word "Hippie" in 1967 during the "Summer of Love? (I got mentioned by him once in the 80s, and it was a big thrill!)

EATEN RAW seems legitimate to me. Enjoy your Sundays!

paulsfo 12:10 AM  

Took three completed theme answers before I understood the theme. I'll blame the slow uptake on my cold.

I didn't think that the theme phrases were that bad, and I really can't see any fault at all in EATEN RAW.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

What the heck is BOP IN?

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

Sigh, does Rex always have to be such a buzzkill?

On my first no google Sunday puzzle that I also finished on Saturday night?

@Whirred Whacks, you brought a smile to my face by reminding me of Herb Caen.

wreck 12:24 AM  

Maybe the answers weren't perfect, but I liked that first word of each answer reflected "the removal or lack of" something (Missing, deleted, unused, etc.)
I had fun with this one!

JFC 12:36 AM  

@Rex, maybe it's time for you to quit or retire or just go away. Joe Krozel doesn't even read your Blog.


PS, If you continue to write this way, it is not good for your health. Stress is not good for your health. Chill.

AliasZ 12:38 AM  

It is tough constructing an excellent Sunday puzzle that walks that fine line between a sparkling theme coupled with boring fill, and a boring theme coupled with annoying fill. Today's gem by Joe Krozel gets the best of both worlds. The fill-in-the-blanks theme was fresh and cute, it kept me guessing from first to last, and the fill held my interested to the very end in the west central, the last area to fall.

I got the theme at MISSING (su)PERSON(ic) and thought, hey, this is easy. Not so fast! These were my initial first guesses for the other theme clues: For Li____nt: EUTENA. Ca____t: STANE. Wor____er: CEST. E____hen: VERYNOWANDT. Ob____ly: LIQUE. Lo____y: BOTOM. I had nothing at all for _____t.

Here are a few more potential theme clues/entries that occurred to me:

_____tal [LOST HORIZON]
Ir_____ive [LACK OF RESPECT]
_____try [ERASED TAPES]

I enjoyed this one very much. Thank you, JK!

Here is one of my Christmas favorites from an endless list: "Lauda per la Natività del Signore" by Ottorino Respighi, lovingly performed here by all concerned. Unfortunately this video only shows about one third of the piece, but you owe it to yourself to listen to the entire work. You won't regret it.

And as an encore, a joyful Noël by Louis-Claude Daquin.

Have a cheerful Sunday!

Noam D. Elkies 12:46 AM  

1A=THE_TOP is basically a partial of a familiar phrase. Yes, it's six letters long, but so what?

Indeed MINUTES is too close to MINUTEST. Unfortunately there's no good choice for that word (even the rare "comminuted" is from the same root).

46D:STOLEN_ART feels fine (it's a news topic every once in a while). As for ob____ly, well obviously dama_____d is too obscure… But yes, it would have been much better to have a uniformly high quality of theme entries such as su______ic and lo____y.

—No___lkies (LOST SOUL, if you're French)

retired_chemist 1:31 AM  

I had a lot of fun with this one. One of the best Sundays in a while. Clever theme, and I did not see the execution flawed, as Rex did. Overall, the fill was fresh and interesting.

I bet a lot of us had either poi for 15D or tiger for 22A and lost time int the NE because of it. I tried both, obviously not simultaneously. Another hangup was sOHO for 83A.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel. Good one.

MikeM 1:40 AM  

I thought this was a great puzzle and admired the construction. Took me awhile to get the theme but once I did it was a smooth solve. I had richGirl before SHESGONE for the Hall and Oates tune.

jae 1:44 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.  Kinda ambled through this with the middle section the slowest.  Liked this more than Rex did although 50a was just plain ugly.

Mostly clever fun Sunday. 

Anonymous 1:45 AM  

BOP IN is weird. Who says that?

By the way, is anyone else seeing weird behavior in the Calendar part of the iPad app? As of today it's no longer showing which previous puzzles were completed.

Unknown 1:53 AM  

Seriously, I love ya, Rex. Annoying fill but doable.

DMW 2:07 AM  

Fun and clever. Also gives everyone of we solvers a chance to try our hand at constructing (a theme word). Love @AliasZ's


chefwen 2:20 AM  

Hand up for easy/medium. Jon was a little upset that I didn't need his assistance.

@JFC if you don't like Rex's write-up find a different Blog. Your comments are becoming increasing boring and dull.

Thought the puzzle was a lot of fun and interactive. Clean fill with one write-over at 8D Asea before ALEE.

Loved it Mr. Krozel as I do all of your puzzles. Thanks.

Andy 2:25 AM  

I have the app calendar change too. At least my streak is being kept alive.

I thought the puzzle was fine

chefwen 2:36 AM  

@evil - Have you named your personal troll yet?

Does he do personal shopping too?

@Casco - Any update on Numinous?

John Child 2:40 AM  

Gotta disagree with @Rex today since none of his perceived flaws bothered me a bit. For instance, after the captain told them to, the crew ABANDONED SHIP. The space in the clue for "ship" is empty, since it's been abandoned.

Mr Krozel submitted this with the title Blank Expressions, so the complaint about the title can't be laid at his door. I agree that Fill-In-the-Blanks is kind of lame.

First rate Sunday puzzle, IMO.

John Child 2:55 AM  

There's a fun puzzle with a meta answer and contest here: Three of the mixed nuts who frequent the blog are responsible for it. Give it a try: There are prizes! You could be a weiner.

'mericans in Paris 3:13 AM  

A lot of comments for 09:00 in the morning Paris time! (@BillyC: we live in the 15th).

Don't understand @Rex's objections to the theme clues. They all work for me. Here in Europe, STOLEN ART is a phrase seen all too often in the news.

Found most of the fill clean, and hands up for poi before UKE and sOHO before NOHO. Also had UNknown before UNNAMED and HELPdesk before HELPMENU.

Our main problem was that the INYT omitted the clues for 119, 121, 122 and 123 down!. Just DROPPED them from the bottom of the page! ABANDONED its international readers!

If any commentators feel generous today, we'd be much obliged if you could write out what those MISSING clues were. We managed to suss out the answers for most from the horizontal crosses, but had to Google 117-D in order to complete the far SE. (We don't -- can't -- watch U.S. television shows, except older ones like Dr. House and The West Wing, on DVD, so we have no idea who Lester HOLT is.)

P.S. to @AliasZ: brilliant additional clues!

paulsfo 3:21 AM  

119D Ask
121D Rebel leader
123D "I knew it"

There is no 122D.
122A Like oysters in an appetizer, often.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:44 AM  

Beautiful, fun, puzzle. Had to work a bit to get those theme answers.

Two write-overs: 81 A, COLAS before KOLAS; and 96 D, "High-school makeup test, for short?" had GRE (OK, I says, that's not for high school) before GED (but, I thinks, isn't that a certificate of something, not a test?)

Bob Kerfuffle 6:48 AM  

So now I looked it up.

Let me note that I am frequently mistaken.

According to Wikipedia, "Although the "GED" initialism is frequently mistaken as meaning "general education degree" or "general education diploma", the American Council on Education, which owns the GED trademark, coined the initialism to identify "tests of general educational development" that measure proficiency in science, mathematics, social studies, reading, and writing."

And as usual, the puzzle had it right.

pmdm 6:59 AM  

Hey Chefwan, if the write-up can be critical, the comments can be critical of the write-up. Tit for tat.

Many of the complaints derive from 1) overthinking 2) imposing unneeded symmetry 3) requiring unneeded thematic applications. By (3) I use the example of wanting a logical rational for today's themed clues. The fact that there is no rhyme or reason to the theme clues is the point. Most of the comments so far posted seem to refute the write-up's complaints. So be it. When is unfortunate is that reading the comments is too often much more enjoyable than reading the write-up. But that is only my opinion. At least this blog gives an opportunity for posting these comments, many of which are very enjoyable.

Danp 7:03 AM  

I pretty much agree with everything @Rex wrote, and yet for some reason I enjoyed it once I got the theme.

I use BOPIN and BOP OUT all the time. For example, "Oh, you know Charlie. He's the one who keeps bopping in and out to check the thermostat."

Leon 7:35 AM  

Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?

GILL I. 7:57 AM  

Hey least get the name spelled write.
Well, despite not getting ONE SINGLE Fill-In-The Blanks clue, at least I got the answers from the across and down answers. Yikes, this really had me scratching my head. Spent way too much time trying to figure this out but dag nab it I was bound and determined to find my way....Lo___y finally made that dim bulb BOP IN and I was so happy with myself.
Just loved the clue for "I've got good news and bad news." I'd kill my DOC if he said that to me.
@Whirred Whacks. YES...Herb was the first thing I read in the morning..."It ain't bad but it ain't San Francisco." !!!!!
Despite the struggle, I had fun with this puzzle and yes, the ONLY way to eat oysters is RAW....

r.alphbunker 8:06 AM  

There was a lot to like about this puzzle. There were lots of plausible wrong answers. It will be interesting to see what @CascoKid will contribute :-)
{Relative of a pound} KRONER/KENNEL
{Italian tourist destination} PISA/ROME/LIDO
{D-Day locale} STLO/CAEN
{Manhattan neighborhood east of NYU} SOHO/NOHO
{Mailing to a record exec once} DEMODISK/DEMOTAPE
{What you might get back from breaking 4-Down} ONES/ABES
{Luau staple} POI/UKE
{Some computer aids} HELPDESKS/HELPMENUS
{"I've got some good news and bad news speaker"} COP/DOC (I realized that COP was unlikely but I once got stopped for speeding with an expired license and the cop asked me that question. The bad news was that my license was expired. The good news was that he wasn't going to give me a speeding ticket.

BillyC 8:16 AM  

'mericans-I-P --

Lester Holt is the NBC news anchor who does weekends. He replaces Brian Williams on the evening news, and also does the morning news on Saturday and Sunday. he sometimes does Friday nights also when BW is on vacation or taking a long weekend. He's a charismatic guy; BW is OK, but I like LH better.

-- Bill

Z 9:08 AM  

The clue for UNUSED MINUTES was so bad that I paused before I commented. If I had commented on this last night it would have reflected Rex's comments. After a good night's rest I'd say this was a fun, fair tussle, save that one clue. ABANDONED SHIP is hardly green paint, although it can be bit of a tired scary story trope. STOLEN ART was in the news not too long ago when The Scream was recovered. As far as I'm concerned, they're all good except _________t.

BOP IN wasn't the first thing to come to mind, but went right in off the B. Common enough around here. The alleged aphrodisial qualities of oysters EATEN RAW is the only reason I can imagine anyone eating them. Looking at the puzzle, better than decentish fill, even with OKAPI, LEO, EEL, and pluralized ERTES.

A Smithereens video - One of the hundreds "The Next Beatles" bands to be cursed with unfair hype. I wonder how much of sarcastic irony was behind their putting out a Meet the Beatles cover album.

@pmdm - It's fine to be critical of the write-up. Repeatedly posting essentially the same comment about the writer is altogether different, tiresome, and more than a little rude. I have to agree with @chefwen.

Dorothy Biggs 9:13 AM  

BOPIN I know from Jim Croce's song, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim"

"Well a hush fell over the pool room as Jimmy come boppin' in off the street..."

I can sometimes be nit-picky about puzzles...but this one elicited no groans from me. It was definitely in the Easy Medium category...easy because I didn't need to google or check my entries, but it gets a medium too because it took me a while to suss out the themers.

I got STRIPPEDBARE first but that didn't help me. The lynch pin was "MISSINGPERSON" and then the aha! and then the puzzle became relatively easy again...with my only hold up in the SE. NONONO and GUESSNOT didn't appear until late.

Not a bad Sunday...

Charles Flaster 9:21 AM  

Medium until theme was broken. Then it became easy.
No crosswordEASE with no "aha" moments.
Pop in is much more natural than BOP IN but the latter can stand by itself.
Did like MEIR, ABES and HANGMAN (thus theme?).
Thanks JK.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

I had fun with this one, but a couple of the clues really didn't land for me.

Finished the puzzle, and I still didn't understand th clue for UNUSED MINUTES. Got it from the crosses. I had to go back and try a couple of pronunciations before I landed on "most minute," and even then there was a moment of doubt it was even a word.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

DMW said...
Fun and clever. Also gives everyone of we solvers a chance to try our hand at constructing (a theme word)

Search "every one vs. everyone", then search "correct use of pronouns", then try your post again

Maruchka 9:29 AM  

Very see-saw for me. Gimmes, Wha?s, I don't cares, Ahas! Oddly old-fashioned and prim, with a bit of juicy fill. Don't get the point, alas. Wish I did.


@Ralph - Seems as though NYU is in, near, or nearly near every NYC acronym these days.

@Leon - LOL! and a lam-a-lam-a-ding-dong, too.

@ Whirred, @Anon 12:21, @Gill - I worked at the Chron in the 70s. Herb's assistant was a pal. Much largesse wherever we went, politely but firmly declined. My name went in, once, and that was fun. Thanks for the memory.

billocohoes 10:04 AM  

@Z - besides their natural salty flavor, raw oysters are an excellent delivery system for horseradish, in the same way that lobster is a fine way to get your butter ration.

Arlene 10:11 AM  

This one was good - I sat and enjoyed solving this at a leisurely pace. I was watching TV at the same time, so there was no rush. The AHA moment came at MISSING PERSON, and things just filled in from there.
It was a wordplay kind of puzzle - which I much prefer to having a Google-fest!

Steve J 10:12 AM  

I had a reaction similar to @Maruchka's: Liked some of this, disliked some of this, equal parts head-scratchers and gimmees, overall blasé view of the puzzle.

I do agree with Rex that some of the theme clues were odd, and overall I found them completely superfluous to requirements; I don't think I got a single theme answer based on its clue. Don't agree with the rest of the criticisms. The theme answers are all solid, and all real phrases in reasonably common use.

@r.alph: I had several of your listed possible missteps. That's probably why I found this tougher than most Sundays.

Teedmn 10:18 AM  

Here's one where I was totally off on what I thought @Rex's reaction would be. I thought the theme was fresh and clever except for the clunky MINUTES, as many of you point out.

OnES for ABES was my biggest hold up - actually got ABANDONED first. Wanted either caBAREt or caBinet, but only one made sense so...

Thanks, @AliasZ, for the fun alternative themes, and thanks, Mr. Krozel, for the great Sunday solve.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

BOP is just fine. I had no problem with any of the theme answers, but NONONO was ugly. Otherwise an easy Sunday.

Z 10:31 AM  

@billocohoes - That makes perfect sense, although I suspect some foodies may disagree.

The theme did help me with Ca____t, helping to replace onES with ABES. Otherwise they were all dark to me until I had the answer in the grid. I guess realizing all the first words referenced the blanks helped me suss out the bottom three or four themers faster, too.

Ludyjynn 10:33 AM  

I played HANGMAN to fill in each and every theme answer. Call me a DODO, but I still don't get it!Would someone explain it to me like I'm a four year old? (That reminds me of Denzel Washington's character in "Philadelphia" during the trial scenes. Terrific film).

Don't you just love the sound of the word PUMICE?

Very informative article in Scientific American magazine of 5/4/09 whether DDT should be used in developing countries to combat malaria. Worth Googling.

Taking down and stowing Chanukah décor and replacing it w/ Winter tablescape and mantel accessories today to brighten things up in 2015 when people BOPIN for visits.

Oysters, EATENRAW or otherwise prepared, will be out of season here in a matter of days as we exit our last 'R" month for a while. NONONO!

Thanks, JK and WS.

mathguy 10:40 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Rex's criticisms don't make any sense to me.

I nibbled around the edges for quite a while until MISSINGPERSON appeared. That gave me the theme. Without the theme, I'm not sure I could have solved it.

AliasZ: Nice alternate clues.

Whirred Whacks, Maruchka: Thanks for the Herb Caen memories. Unfortunately, when I worked at the Chronicle in the late fifties he had defected to the Examiner for a few years. He started his column just about when I become old enough to read the newspaper and I rarely missed one for the rest of his life. I would send him gags from time to time and when my name appeared I was a celebrity for a day. I forget the name of his assistant. They were together for many years.

Z 10:45 AM  

@ludyjynn - For the clue "Su______ic" the blank is for PERSON, making the original SuPER SONic, and the answer in the puzzle MISSING PERSON because PERSON is MISSING from Super Sonic. SCENE is DELETED, MINUTES is UNUSED, etc. Original word has an internal word replaced by a blank, whose absences are then explained creating answers that are a separate intact phrases.

Ludyjynn 10:55 AM  

@Z, THANK YOU! I finally see it! Need to RESET my brain.

wreck 10:56 AM  


The reason for oysters not to be eaten in months without "R's" is that May, June, July, and August are "warm water" months and the chance of bacteria is higher. You have until April to eat them!

Noam D. Elkies 10:57 AM  

I noted that the clue for 1A:THE_TOP is basically the normal "It's lonely at ______". Then I saw Amy's write-up on Xword Fiend, which points out the nice touch that *none* of the non-theme clues is a normal fill-in-the-blank (and now see that Joe Krozel's construction notes on confirm that this was a deliberate and sometimes constraining choice). So that explains why 1A got a somewhat convoluted clue.


jberg 10:59 AM  

@judylynn, you take the word that is described in the answer as MISSING, STOLEN, DROPPED, etc. and you use it to fill in the blanks in the clue. So su-ic gets the missing PERSON to become SUPERSONIC.

I didn't have a clue about that until I had completely solved the puzzle. Consequently, the puzzle was a bit of a slog TIL then, despite the fun line beginning TOO EEL. After I figured it out, I liked it better. My only remaining complaints are that PUMICE is a material, not a tool, and the clue for 52A, "Partial translation of 'Auld Lang Syne,'" was ridiculous.

Pisa before LIDO, ones before ABES, and, of course, sKunk before OKAPI.

Nancy 11:04 AM  

Agree with @Z and &Teedmn: UNUSED MINUTES is a bad answer. Agree with @Arlene: this is wordplay and wordplay makes the most enjoyable and entertaining puzzles. Agree with @Charles Flaster: Medium until you understand the theme and then becomes easy. I liked this one quite a bit.
PS to @Teedmn: Thanks for clueing me in a week or so ago about the online availability of the Alan Turing/Enigma Team crossword puzzle. I found it and tried to solve, but couldn't. (Got 10 answers only.) Thought it an unusually awful example of the British-style cryptic. Some clues were definitions only; some were cryptic clues, but lacking any definition; and some were both. It's amazing that Turing was able to assemble his Enigma-breaking team at all from an arbitrary, scattershot puzzle like that!

Rex's Shrink 11:12 AM  

@anonymous, who said "Sigh, does Rex always have to be such a buzzkill? "

Yes, otherwise the therapy bills become staggering.

You see, if Rex is not killing a buzz, his mind wanders to his fears of his own inferiority, which is a very, very dark place for him. Rather than face those demons, Rex self-soothes and maintains his ego by simply shitting on everything.

George Barany 11:22 AM  

Add my voice to the chorus of praise for @Joe Krozel's puzzle.

@Nancy, visit this webpage for a deconstruction, by Ralph Bunker and Chris Philpot, of that 1942 puzzle. They have cleverly named the exercise "A Cryptic Tribulation."

joho 11:30 AM  

I always appreciate the time and effort @Rex puts into his critiques whether I agree with them or not. Today it's "or not."

I really enjoyed this solve which was not a slam dunk Fill-In-The-Blanks solve (which I find tedious). This was fun!

Finding SUPERSONIC was when the light bulb went off and it's also my favorite answer.

For a while I had DROPPEDbALL which made the answer LObALLY. I thought, wow, that's a brainy answer!

@AliasZ, good ones!

My only real negative is DANO as his name is spelled DANNO. I don't think there's an alternate spelling of his name. (The only reason I know this is because I wanted to use him in a puzzle once and learned I needed two "Ns."

This really added to my Sunday morning amusement, Joe Krozel, thank you very much!

Tita 11:32 AM  

yes, i saw he same theme flaws as Rex..
Cried foul at the ED in 114A.
had a great time while solving, so I rate this a fun Sunday.

Thanks to all you Rexvillians for complementing OFL so well.

Another nit,,,55A...while MY two MGAs (a coupe and a roadster) are indeed are bygone, MGs are once again being made, albeit under Chinese ownership.

@AliasZ - clever!

@ludy...JanuaRy, FebRuaRy, MaRch, ApRil...

DROPPEDCALL and UNUSEDMINUTES had me thinking their was a wireless carrier theme going on too.

Thanks Mr. Krozel!

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Still don't understand the ----t. Totally other thought - while traveling last week, I came across the journal that syndicates both the Sunday NYT puzzle, and the LA Times puzzle from
the previous week. Inasmuch as I had already done the NYT entry, I tried my hand at the other one. Decidedly Wednesday-ish. And I got to thinking. Those poor Lalalanders. They have no one to rip the shit out of their puzzles each week, diss their editor, slam the concepts because someone already used it a decade ago. Those poor suckers probably just leisurely waste a couple of hours without a stopwatch, over a leisurely breakfast.

Norm 11:41 AM  

I spell "worshipper" with two p's myself, but both are acceptable. For all I know, the single p may be more common. Great puzzle. Baffling until the theme came clear, and not all that easy even when I knew what I was looking for. And ... I still miss Herb Caen after all these years. Jon Carroll is a good read but it's not the same.

Maruchka 11:44 AM  

@mathguy - Alas, I don't remember Herb's original assistant's name. My pal replaced him in 1973-74, during the Patty Hearst, Vietnam, SLA, pre-AIDS years. I do remember a bar behind the Chron and reporters 'shirt-sleeving' it in there.. can't recall that name, either. I was amazed by the alcohol consumption rates.

Tita 11:45 AM  

@one of the tireesome anons... yooooou know... the ano who helpfully taught @DMW abut pronouns...
Consider that many of us are battling autocorrect while commenting here. Or, are distracted with our actual lives. So from time to time, ERR.
I doubt that DMW meant to do that, any more than I think that its ok to misuse it;s. Or that ; is the correct punctuation for a contraction or posessive.

OK - back to my distracted life!
P.S. I agree with @chefwen and all those who agree with her,,,

Steve M 11:46 AM  

Medium yuck

Lewis 11:55 AM  

I like THETOP at the top, and SETTLE at the bottom.

@alias -- c________rt (ONCE REMOVED)

I loved the clues for KENNEL, OWES, LEO, and PUPIL. The clue for TOO was clever ("it may follow you or me") because if the "or me" wasn't in the clue it would have been too broad, because it's much easier to find a word that follows "you" than one that follows both "you" and "me".

There are lines of consistency that a theme should hold to. For example, my example to @aliasZ above should not be in the puzzle because it doesn't follow the pattern of the theme answers, that is, adjective-noun. Where the line is, well, that's individual taste. Today I believe Rex held it too tight with his criticism of 32A.

Me, I thought the theme was very clever and overall well done. I didn't even mind 50A. And I had a grand old time with the puzzle. Thank you for bopping in, Joe!

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

HATED this puzzle ... took me forever to get a toehold (and then I see Mr. Know-it-All Rex calls it "Easy-Medium." GRRR! BTW: Who says Bop In? Old people ... like me!

Helpful Z so this doesn't count as 4 12:09 PM  

@anon11:36 - _______t <-- MINUTESt. The "i" is a long i as when MINUTE means tiny, not a short i as in when it means time; so tiniest. There was at least one previous explanation above, but it was indirect so maybe you missed it.

Lewis 12:13 PM  

Factoid: The Mona Lisa was once STOLEN ART, taken from the Louvre in 1911, and recovered in 1913 when the thief tried to sell it.

Quotoid: Life is like an onion. You PEEL it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep." -- Carl Sandburg

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

I'm having the same problem with both the iPhone and iPad apps -- the calendar is grayed out, and shows no history of completed puzzles. (Also prevents me from accessing any puzzle except today's, and I usually do only Thursday through Saturday.)

Joseph Michael 12:27 PM  

Great puzzle. Not only imaginative and well constructed, but also enjoyable to solve. I hope Mr. Krozel can see past the nit picking to know that many of us think his puzzle is a gem.

GILL I. 12:37 PM  

@Maruchka...Perhaps a good stiff martini at Moose's?

mathguy 12:39 PM  

Maruchka: I think that the bar was Hanno's. I'll ask Carl Nolte if he remembers Herb Caen's assistant. Carl is in his 80s and still puts in a 40-hour week at the Chronicle.

RooMonster 12:49 PM  

Hey All !
Put me in the liked it camp. Clever theme that had me perplexed and asking WTH? Some of the theme clues were actual words without the blank. I was thinking that might have something to do with the theme at first. Had a good chunk of puz completed before finally figuring out MISSINGPERSON, then the lightbulb switched on! Said, Aha!, must be missing words to make the blanks make words! Then managed to finish puz. Also, without a single wrong letter! WooHoo! Haven't done that in quite some time.

Got hung up in middle E, as had tOdate for POSTED, and UNknown for UNNAMED. LOUSED that area up for some time. Also, as others, poi before UKE, and onES before ABES (nice misdirect on that one).

Fun SunPuz! Nice construction, nice fill! 24A still a mystery though...


Leapfinger 12:56 PM  

@Rex, I'd say that today you were definitely "overth___ing" it! (Disappearing INK). Far from making me PEE UKE, I thought this was so much fun TO DO that it made my PUPILs DIE L8. I was a while "raf____ly" (Gone fishin')till I reely caught on, took the bait with SuPERSONic. Per me, all the themers were just fine, and I had to work for some of them, even with the trick understood. For no particular reason, STRIPPED BARE for CaBAREt tickled me the most.

Considering the season, I did think that Stollen ART would be appropriate, but otherwise, JoeKro forfeited, abandoned, dropped or missed very little. As always, he can AMAS a clever theme, bright fill and twisty clues like few others.

I liked:
*The Virgin offering a PLANE RIDE
*The nod to Usain BOLT'S family
*The personal nods with LEO and liGAMEnt
*The nod to PEPS KOLAS, big in the state of NC
*The central ornament of the FORFEITED KOLAS bears and Pogo's Rackety COON chile; note that the STORKS are two-FEITED, not FORFEITED

@r.alphbunker, me too on ROMA/PISA/LIDO, and I'm firmly convinced that the INTL Monetary Fund kept me thinking currency for that 'pound relative'. Oddly, I came up with FENNIG, though I knew it was missing a PEE.

@Alias, I don't know how you manage to do it Every Time. Is it something in BudaPEST'S water? If so, Book 'im, Danube!

Closing thought: How Cannes you say CAEN without making it sound like Cayenne? A country with 538 cheeses and they can't make three words distinguishable: Nice!!

Thanks for the interlude, JoeKro, and everyone enjoy your Sunday.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Thanks. Finished, but now still feel "duh". Do I then get DNF?

Nancy 1:14 PM  

@George Barany, THANKS! I went to the "A Cryptic Tribulation" site you so conveniently provided in blue type and found that much greater puzzle minds than mine had the same serious objections to the Enigma cryptic. I love coming to this blog -- sometimes, but not always for Rex -- but much more for the sense of community I find among the crossword enthusiasts who write in and share their opinions, frustrations and expertise with others. I guess this is what they call an "online community" -- it's this Luddite's ONLY such a one -- and I'm glad I found it. (Thank you, Will Shortz, for letting me know I might enjoy this site in a phone conversation. You were right: I do enjoy it!

Masked and AnonymoUs 1:18 PM  

Man, there must be fifty bazillion variations on this theme. I know @muse has thought up most of the rest of em by now, if she'd only chime in. Some even will work good in runt puzzles. For instance...

{Virgin___y} = LOSTIT.



Maruchka 1:21 PM  

Mathguy, Gilly - Ah, Hanno's and Moose's! Make that two stiff 'tinis. My dear colleague Virginia Radenzel could knock back three at lunch, no problem. Me, I'd have been good for nothing. And it's good to hear about Carl. Wow.

Tita 1:28 PM  

@M&A - you win the prize - your clue and answer relate...!
So where is my friend lms??

@Lewis - my friend wrote "The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa" - fictionalized account of that event, pulling from a Saturuday Evening Post article in the 30's for a great story.

Numinous 1:28 PM  

I liked this one a lot. No googles at all so even though it took me an hour and a half, I'll agree with OFL that it was Medium/Easy. The answer that gave it up for me was the DELETED SCENE which got my inner 14 year old contemplating AMANDA STRIPPED BARE.

I chuckled over the clue for PEE and thought it was much better than "Catheter bag contents" might have been,

I grew up in Berkeley. While drinking coffee at the Mediterranium, I almost always found an abandoned Chronicle and read Herb Caen, Thanks, y'all for reminding me. I'll never forget his comment on The China Driving School: "You mean someone actually teaches them to drive like that?" If you lived in the Bay Area in the 60s, you'd understand.

Yes, Casco Kid befriended me on Facebook and yes, I've been away for a couple months. Soon, possibly today or tomorrow, I'll post a summary of what has befallen in that time on Facebook and my blog.

Ludyjynn 1:43 PM  

@Wreck and @Tita, why did I think it is only safe to eat oysters if the month ENDS in an R? You both made my day; now I will savor oyster stew through April. Thanks a lot!

@Berg, thanks, it is finally sinking in.

@joho, I agree that DANNO has two Os, not one. I also disliked VIOL, but went along w/ both answers.

@Lewis, have I told you lately how much I look forward to your Factoid/Quotoid entries? They never disappoint. Thanks!

beatrice 2:20 PM  

@RooMonster -- think 'imports' with accent on the first syllable...

@Ludyjynn -- I'm wondering why you 'disliked' VIOL...

@Numinous -- so good to see you here again! Look forward to reading about your recent...adventures?

Maruchka 2:22 PM  

@Numinous - Today must be old home week. I read used Chron's and Barb's at the Med c. 1965. BTW: We called it DWA. Very non-PC, but true.

@mathguy - Just looked up Hanno's on SF Gate. The owner's obit was written by - Carl! Are any good dives left in SF?

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

I feel very stupid, but will someone explain the relationship between the theme clues and the answers, e.g., how does su----ic become Missingperson?

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

I feel very stupid, but will someone explain the relationship between the theme clues and the answers, e.g., how does su----ic become Missingperson?

Whirred Whacks 3:00 PM  

@Maruchka @Mathguy and other Herb Caen fans:

I liked it when Caen quoted the quipmeister Strange de Jim:
"I do not like fast food. I prefer escargot."

Another gem came from Margaret Thornley:
"Beet ever so onion, there snow peas legume."

Herb also had has daily requirement of "Vitamin V" (for Vodka).

If I remember correctly, one of Herb's assistants in the early 80s was Jesse.

Rex's Binky 3:15 PM  

@anonymous from 2:53PM

The first half of each theme answer (missing, deleted, unused, dropped, etc.) was a synonym of or related to the word "absent." Then, the second half of the theme could be sandwiched between the letter of the clue to yield some new word.



Anonymous 3:24 PM  

In case anyone else is having the problem with the calendar on the iPhone and iPad apps being "grayed out," with no puzzles except today's apparently accessible -- I wrote to their tech support, and got this response:

"I'm a developer on the puzzles team. Someone from our customer care department may reach out separately, but I wanted to get this information to you as soon as possible. Due to a quirk in our calendar (it thinks it's the first week of the year because it's sharing days with the actual first week of next year), it is mistakenly disabling the 2014 puzzles prior to this week, thinking they are in the future. As soon as the first 2015 puzzle is published, they should become available again in the calendar. In the meantime, all the puzzles should be accessible on our website,, and your iTunes subscription will work there if you link your account so the entitlement is transferred to the web. You can do this in the account settings page by tapping the little blue man on the main screen of the app. Feel free to write back if you need further assistance setting that up."

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

I agree with Rex about the terrible clues for the missing blanks. By slogging through, I finished, but still could not see what UNUSEDMINUTES was about until I read the explanation here. I liked the concept of the puzzle but not the way it was clued.

wreck 3:35 PM  

Well - this is a bad day for the calendar not to work as I am flying home and wanted to work old puzzles!!!!

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

@ Anonymous 2:22: I also see no relationship between the theme clues and the answers. For me, this was a crossword first, and not a welcome one, yet many of the comments here, when not completely self-absorbed, praise the puzzle. Even Rex Parker, who on a daily basis points out the latest violations of his esoteric puzzle standards, had nothing to say about this obvious defect.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

@Rex's Shrink, you brought another smile to my face today.

mathguy 4:50 PM  

Whirred Whacks: Great escargot line from Strange de Jim. Don't remember hearing it before.

Maruchka: Carl thinks Carol Vernier is the Caenaide you remember.

chefbea 4:52 PM  

just got back home and tried the puzzle. Read Rex's write-up and still have no idea what it's all about????
What does SUmissingpersonIC mean...and all the others. Haven't read all the posts yet, maybe it has been explained

Ludyjynn 5:08 PM  

@Beatrice, I thought VIOLA was right for 21D until I just Googled the painting and learned the instrument in question is called a bass VIOL, NOT to be confused w/ a viola. (It looked like a cello to my untrained eyes.) The other instrument in the painting is called a virginal or early spinet. My new words for the day!

Also Googled Meryl Streep narrating a detailed analysis of Vermeer's use of forced perspective and shadow/light manipulation in the creation of the scene. Most interesting.

I'm glad you asked. Otherwise, I would not have done the research. Learn something new every day!

ArtO 5:09 PM  

Got a late Sunday start on this one and was working in the midst of the Jets fantastic win over the Dolphins. Totally disagree with the Rexmeister. A tough to get theme and some equally tough cluing leads to a satisfying finish. As always Joe Krozel delivers.

Thomas808 5:16 PM  

A very enjoyable puzzle. MISSING PERSON, followed by DELETEDSCENE gave me enough of a clue to look for a synonym of "missing" or "removed" in each of the other themes, so even though the actual clues were of little help (as others have commented), the solver could start looking for various synonyms developing from the crosses. That was fun.

I did not even minutely like "minutest" but the full answer UNUSEDMINUTES was such a really good, fresh phrase that, OK, all is forgiven.

For PARTVI. I started thinking how many other clues there could have been -- Rocky? Roots? Star Wars? Harry Potter? The actual clue we got just put it right out there -- "You all have heard of Friday the 13th, most of you know who Jason is, so I dare you to figure out which freakin' one is the one subtitled Jason Lives!" Loved it. Thanks, JK!

@Whirred, thanks for the Herb Caen reference. I see from Wiki that his New York Times obituary compared him to Walter Winchell "but with the malice shorn off." The 60's and 70's were a golden age for columnists for the SF Chronicle with the likes of Caen, Charles McCabe, and Art Hoppe.

Teeta's Help Desk 5:33 PM  

Not sure it has been explained fully, so here goes, @chefbea et al..
Su____ic is "missing" the letters "PERSON". Add those lettters in to the blank, and you get Supersonic. Therefore, the answer to 26A Su___ic is MISSINGPERSON.

71A Lo___y has "Dropped" the letters CALL. Add them back in to get Locally.

Yer literally adding back in the exact letters that were "forfeited", "stripped", "abandoned".

Hope that helps.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

@Anonymous at 3:24,

Based on what you wrote, I checked, and the 2013 puzzles are still available in the calendar in the iPad app.

@wreck, looks like you're not entirely out of luck after all.

Sir Hillary 5:39 PM  

Did this late this afternoon with my daughter, and had an absolute blast. Partly that's because doing puzzles with her is one of my favorite father-daughter activities, but also because this theme was so endearing.

Suffice it to say, I do not agree with @Rex's review, but that's OK. My solve -- er, our solve -- was really fun, and that's what counts.

I doubt many will read this given the late hour, but I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season.

chefbea 5:42 PM  

@teeta's help desk Thanks. but how in the world were we suppose to figure that out?????

Nancy 6:21 PM  

To Whirred, re Herb Caen. I grew up in Manhattan, but I was in Berkeley the summer of '62 and I read him every chance I got. Thought he was better than the Times' columnists, actually, I still remember his column right after Marilyn Monroe died. The Soviets had just tested an H- bomb, but no one was paying any attention. Caen thought that Krushchev must have been really disappointed at the lack of media and public reaction and that he was probably thinking he should have dropped the bomb on Marilyn Monroe. I still remember that column from more than 50 years ago. I wonder if one could find it online today? It was a hoot.

beatrice 6:58 PM  

@Ludyjynn -- I looked back to be sure you were the one who said that Vivaldi was their favorite classical composer -- although by Vivaldi's time the viola da gamba (in English, VIOL, also called 'gamba') was in its last days of compositional currency, he did write a few concerti which included it. There is a lovely recording of these by Jordi Savall, which includes some other concerti where he replaces cello with viol. A bit of this is available on Y'Tube. (The CD is out of print but still available. Hope this is not too commercial for this site! Apologies if it...) Looking at the retail website reminded me of 'Touts les Matins du Monde', which you and others here may have seen, which featured the playing of Savall in the biopic of the great viol virtuoso and composer Marin Marais, who was of the generation before Vivaldi.

Elle54 7:09 PM  

Have to say this one was great!!!

Mohair Sam 7:11 PM  

Very busy day and had to skim the posts here. Just wanted to get my two cents in that we loved this puzzle, great change of pace, very clever. I disagree totally with OFL's opinion on this one.

In case no one else has mentioned this: EATENRAW is nicely clued in that oysters are often raw as an appetizer, and less so as an entree.

Great Sunday puzzle Joe Krozel. Thank you.

Melodious Funk 7:11 PM  

Lucius Beebe. In the Chron during early 60's. I was at McClellan AFB at this time, never missed his petulant arrogance and H.Caen's refresher. They were both hoots.

Interesting that many folks here can connect.

Fred Romagnolo 8:12 PM  

Here's another Caen connecter; We had a great regional theater group called the Interplayers in San Francisco in the 50's and 60's. Our successes traditionally ran on weekends for 3 weeks. Then we propitiously gave a leading role to a gentleman who, as it turned out, was a personal friend of Caen. Caen gave it a super-rave review, and it lasted 6 months! Being a member of the cast of "Heartbreak House," I, too, got mentioned by Caen. BTW, his friend was a damned good actor. I also had a correspondence with Art Hoppe. I finished today's puzzle but it was hard!

Maruchka 8:25 PM  

CAEN fans - Do we all remember Jason Robard's Ben Bradlee quip in All the President's Men? In reality, it was a multi-talented and very congenial group. Hello, sweetheart, get me rewrite!

@mathguy - Yes, Carole Vernier, Caenaide extraordinaire.

Jeff 8:39 PM  


Anonymous 9:27 PM  

My first NYT Sunday crossword in a while - my mom and I typically do the Merl Reagle crossword (found in the LA Times, among others) - and we both thought the clues and answers in this were ridiculous. They seemed either insanely simple or relatively nonsensical. Try Merl Reagle's puzzles - they are incredibly clever and really fun to solve. Also, the answers always make sense, unlike this puzzle, which had a lot of questionable combinations, I.e. 100A: part of town - AREA. Really?! And answers like NONONO and IMHOT are just lazy. Really unimpressed.

Pete 10:50 PM  

I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who "disagree" with Rex, and tell him he's wrong, but never address what they "disagree" about. Today, Rex made salient points about the nature of the missing letters. Those who "disagreed" with him seemed united in saying that they never noticed, didn't care. That's not disagreeing with his point, it's saying you don't care about his point. Just because some considers something more carefully than you, and finds flaws or virtues unsean by you, doesn't mean you disagree. It means the other person values the details more than you.

Unknown 11:02 PM  

2:20. 6 errors.


All six error reflect fatigue and impatience more than ignorance or frustration, although there was plenty of frustration along the way to the solve. My second biggest gripe was the preponderance of bland, ordinary clues with bland, ordinary clues. AHA and SAD took forever to see because "I knew it" and "How pathetic" could be substituted with any manner of grunting and huffing.

But my biggest grip, easily, adding needless drudgery on an already sloggy solve, was the ungettable theme. I solved it wholly themelessly, which means, truly, cluelessly for all of the theme answers. When I was done . . . still nothing.

MISSINGPERSON has no relation whatsoever to its clue Su_____ic.

I read Rex's explanation and was convinced that he couldn't find a relationship either. Seriously, REX DID NOT DESCRIBE THE THEME IN HIS WRITE UP. He asserted there was one, but did actually put it in words. Arghhh.

Thankfully, @AliasZ explained it above. Many thanks for that.

It is hard for me to like a theme that's so opaque that it has to be explained three times. Now that I kind-of understand it, all I can say is, well, there are 52 Sundays in a year. One of them has to come last. This was a good scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel theme for Will et al.

On a brighter note: I'm glad to see @Numi back! @chefwen, I think you'll get your answers direct from the man himself.

wreck 11:27 PM  

If this shows up twice, shoot me! The calendar worked fine on the plane. The crazy Joe Flagiano puzzle I worked from July 2012 kicked my ass'

Anonymous 3:26 AM  

Am I the only person who liked NONONO? It felt fresh, and made me laugh!

Gabe Tuerk 12:17 PM  

Lee was my last stand. Liked the theme loads and took exception to the following clues:

Bop in should have been pop in or pop by. Tripped me up for a bit

Abes as change for 10s - highly annoying - ones please

Adobe was initially Amino, a base (acid) I prefer to build upon

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

I rarely agree with Rex's assessment - since he's the self-proclaimed "63rd Best Puzzle Solver in the World," but I concurred with him on this one. Honestly, I am glad for all of you folks that found this easy and/or creative; however, it was a royal pain to tackle. "Abes?" "Bop In?" And, "Unused Minutes?" I did get that last one right, but don't understand why.

Unknown 3:36 PM  

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Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Well one NCA President, I was wracking my brains for the hit song with "Bop in" an couldn't come up with it. Yes, the Croce one. More commonly it was used in the preterite tense with "on" -- "I bopped on in" -- Google "bopped on in" youngsters and you'll find lots of them. Doesn't really exist in the present. That my generation's revenge in the puzzle for sticking us with "Ipodnano", which prevented me from finishing the puzzle. As to the theme, read all the comments and still haven't the faintest idea what the theme is.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

"Well done" I meant (not "well one". Sorry, my keyboard is going bad.

eastsacgirl 1:37 PM  

MINUTEST - Le sigh. DNF by 2 letters. Had POPIN so just couldn't wrap my brain around it. Grrrrrr

rondo 1:49 PM  

Completed this puzzle, yet there's still something missing. Oh yeah, the fun. And the hour that I'll never get back.
Maybe it's the -10F temp affecting the attitude, but I'm thinking that I'll return to skipping Sundays if it ever gets warm again and I can say IMHOT.

Captcha today?
Nope, jumbled words for 0

rain forest 2:41 PM  

Loved it. I found it fun and challenging to suss out the missing parts of the clues, ending with a well-known phrase as the answer. The fill was good in an overall medium puzzle, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Sometimes OFL sounds petty in his analyses, clearly looking for things to criticize, and today it was just too obvious. However, he does write a good blog.

Anonymous 1:39 AM  

Got it all but one...still don't see how "Don't marry Mr. Right" is settle? Or is it?

Z 8:01 AM  

@anon 1:39 - A woman can wait for "Mr. Right" before marrying or she can SETTLE for the guy proposing.

Outdoor Judy 2:53 PM  

Hated this from beginning to end. Agree with Rex on the theme. Clues were not clever but rather annoyingly useless and not satisfying even when completed.

Disagree with Rex on "eaten raw" - I think that's fair.

Bop in? no way. I put "pop in" and that section drove me crazy until I grudgingly changed it.

rondo 2:22 PM  

EZ myass!SE near impossible; have never seen CANTABILE anywhere.
But I love the challenge.
And I disagree with Rex on the "freshness" factor; the freshest things in here are 14 years old. Maybe this sat in Will's XFILES for a decade??
Again, I liked the puz, bbut disagree on ease and frshness.

Any play today? NAY.

Prof. Rick Shur/LaGCC/CUNY 1:46 AM  

When was the last time in the 21st-century that somebody wrote a check and used an ID to verify it? Certainly there are more contemporary clues for IDs. (How about "they get checked for Percocet prescriptions"?)

Greg 11:30 PM  

Wow, if a constructor ever needs a random single letter, simply put the word "BOLT" after it. Perusing Google, I was able to find just about every letter+bolt you'd need. O-bolt? yep. C-bolt? J-bolt? D-bolt? T-bolt? Yep, all are things.

Unknown 3:02 AM  

Easy-Medium I've seen it but I do not play it. I also teach with it. I like to play it. reddragon88

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