Physicist Nathan who postulated wormholes / SUN 5-29-16 / 1880s-90s veep P Morton / Enlightened buddhist / Drive street where Harry Potter grew up / Dweller along Mandeb Strait / TV inits since 1975 / Never in Nikolaus

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (closer to Medium)

THEME: "Best Picture Adaptations" — Best Picture titles that have had one letter changed, resulting All The Wacky:

Theme answers:
  • BEER HUNTER (21A: Best Picture adaptation about ... a search for the perfect brew, with "The"?)
  • SILENCE OF THE IAMBS (24A: ... inaudible metrical poetry, with "The"?)
  • THE VAST EMPEROR (37A: ... a fat Eastern monarch?)
  • DUNCES WITH WOLVES (50A: ... fools accompanying a pack of wild animals?)
  • GONG WITH THE WIND (67A: ... a reed and percussion duet?)
  • FRENCH CONFECTION (84A: ... an éclair or crème brûlée, with "The"?)
  • A BEAUTIFUL MINK (99A: ... gorgeous fur?)
  • GERMS OF ENDEARMENT (my favorite) (113A: ... cooties from hugs and kisses?)
  • MY HAIR LADY (also good) (122A: ... a salon woman I go to?)
Word of the Day: OEO (65D: War on Poverty agcy.) —
The Office of Economic Opportunity was the agency responsible for administering most of the War on Poverty programs created as part of United States President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society legislative agenda. (wikipedia)
• • •

Kevin Der is a great constructor, which is why I keep looking at this grid and wondering what I missed. I wrote out all the letter changes to see if there was some kind of sequence or hidden message in either the original or the new/wacky letters, but I just got gibberish. I don't fully understand why the letters that were changed ... were changed. Why not THE LUST EMPEROR? Or SILENCE OF THE LAMPS (or LIMBS) (or JAMBS)? A BEAUTIFUL RIND? TERNS OF ENDEARMENT?  If the only criterion is a single letter change, it seems like you should've been able to get better humor mileage out of these "adaptations." That said, I thought the answers were pretty cute, and I enjoyed remembering movie titles and figuring out which word would be changed how, so there was definitely some entertainment value here. And again, I would not be shocked to learn that there was some Deep Der Stuff going on in this puzzle that I just can't see.

If you knew your crosswordese, then you had a leg up today. AIT crossing ARHAT! (29A: River islet / 12D: Enlightened Buddhist). Two words I only ever seen in crosswords (OK maybe I've seen AIT in the wild, but not much). You were also ahead of the game if you knew a Slew of short proper nouns. You were also ahead of me, as I knew virtually none of those shorties. The fact that they were densely clustered around RAVE REVIEW, an answer I didn't understand until the very last letter I put in the grid, made the NW by far the toughest section to solve. Let's meet the mystery players:
  • LIV! (23A: Disney Channel's "___ and Maddie") — you can just stop at "Disney Channel"
  • LEVI! (27D: 1880s-'90s veep ___ P. Morton) — uh ... no.
  • PEGG! (57D: Simon of the "Mission: Impossible" films) — OK now that I realize we're talking about the modern films and not the original series (my bad!) I can actually picture this guy. But while solving, I figured he was just some olde-timey actor I'd never heard of.
All that, and the fact that [****] was a baffling clue for RAVE REVIEW (which I assumed would be some kind of plural...), conspired to hold me back up there. But I just left it for last and luckily, once I circled back around, the dominoes fell, however slowly. As far as the cast of mystery players, I also didn't know who ROSEN (44D: Physicist Nathan who postulated wormholes) or EVIE (92A: Daughter in E.M. Forster's "Howard's End") was.

Other trouble spots involved my comical inability to anagram "snake" (I don't think of snakes as SNEAKy, as I nearly step on them all the time in the woods), my layman's understanding of [What stars do] (GLIMMER, I wrongly assumed), and my utter non-understanding of what "sponsorship packages" even means (TIERED? If you say so!). Still, because the film titles were so familiar and the changes to said titles so minuscule, I made pretty good time. Not lightning fast, but better than average.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Hey, Rich and J.T.—I know you send each other emails with the subject line "FRP," and I know what the "F" stands for. So ... thanks for acknowledging my fearlessness. XO 

P.P.S. Lollapuzzoola, one of my two favorite crossword tournaments, is accepting crossword submissions for its tourney this August. Here's a message from tourney organizer Brian Cimmet: ""Lollapuzzoola, the greatest crossword tournament ever held on a Saturday in August, is accepting submissions! Our 9th annual tournament is happening on Saturday, August 13 in New York City — and it could feature YOU! Do you have a puzzle that is brilliant, clever, inventive, mildly wacky, curiously strong, and can measure up to the unrehearsed nonsense of Lollapuzzoola? Send it our way! We'll take a look at themes, concepts, completed grids, etc. (but don't feel pressured to finish cluing or filling). Submissions will be accepted until June 1, 2016. Please send your work to"

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


paulsfo 1:18 AM  

I found this much harder than Saturday's puzzle, which is a first for me.

jae 1:34 AM  

Medium for me. My solve was similar to @Rex's, especially the RAVE REVIEW part.

One letter changes that result in some actually amusing adaptations, impressive, liked it.

Nate 1:52 AM  

Can someone please explain how 'Set of anecdotes' gives ANA?

Uncle John C 2:33 AM  

I thought that something would be said about the change of pronunciation between "Mind" and MINK in 99A.

Carola 4:08 AM  

RAVE REVIEW is an apt complement to all the movie titles, but (she OPINES) not for the puzzle itself. My reaction was similar to @Rex's, as I expected more zing from Kevin Der. I appreciate all of the work that went into the construction, but for me the solve was more work than play. I did like MY HAIR LADY.

Loren Muse Smith 5:53 AM  

Rex – I can't help but hope against hope that you'll go easy on a puzzle, the same way I pull for Gordon Ramsey to actually say something kind about a dish. I'm so glad you had fun trying to figure out the movies and the changed letters. It was fun. And, yeah, I listed the changed letters looking for some kind of extra layer. GERMS OF ENDEARMENT and GONG WITH THE WIND made me laugh.

A couple of hiccups. I had to scratch HARASS to fit a ridiculous "stripe" for LARIAT. Dumb.

My first thought on "like candied apples" was "bitterly disappointing." I mean, man – they look so shiny and delicious and sexy, but they never deliver. At least for me.

So will the DC 10 vs DC TEN eclipse the TROOPER/trouper argument?

@Jayne Thorne - From The Chicago Manual of Style -rule 9.34: Decades - calls for no apostrophe to appear between the year and the s. the nineties.the 1980s and 1990s (or, less formally, the 1980s and ’90s). ... Hey – but these rules are all written in water.

Ok – quick language observation. I thought about "it is" as the words before and after "what." But there were only three blanks. So it's But you can't say

*It's what it's.

I know, I know – the phrase is It is what it is and you never use a contraction for either BUT, you absolutely cannot use a contraction on that final it is even if someone offered you a million dollars. So likewise we can't say things like

*Liv's prettier than Edna's.
*Bobby has more Edam than I've.
*He'd do dumber things than she'd.


I kinda liked that 1A was a Best Picture nominee. And 3D is RAVE REVIEW.

How 'bout this one - The Hound of Music.

Thanks for the laughs, Kevin!

Lewis 6:30 AM  

This was fun and required an engaging mental battle-- a terrific combination. I had a blast trying to work out the theme answers with few or zero letters, and smiled at some clever cluing (such as for LIMO and POOL). Outside those areas, there was some tough (but not unfair) cluing to battle. Fun and fair battle: Usually when a puzzle shines in one of these two areas I'm happy, and here we have a pas de deux.

The puzzle was never angry or boring (RAGING DULL), and continually provided fresh challenges (APOCALYPSE NEW). I often took awful wild stabs, as a friend of mine often does (FERRIS BUELLER'S WAY OFF), but never felt like a sorry victim, say, of a mafia hit, like another friend (PAVING PRIVATE RYAN). So all was good.

da kine 7:27 AM  

I figured there must be a meta in there someplace. I wrote down the letters that were changed and the letters they were changed into a stared at them for a few minutes but I don't see anything. I suck at metas, though.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

@LMS - He'd do dumber things than she'd do. That seems OK.

Dorothy Biggs 8:12 AM  

Too. Many. Puns.

Otherwise, normal Sunday.

Unknown 8:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trombone Tom 8:18 AM  

This was a tougher one for me, but it all worked out in the end. I think Kevin Der is a real master at this and enjoy his puzzles very much. I enjoyed all the changes more than @Rex did, from SILENCE OF THE IAMBS to GERMS OF ENDEARMENT.

Was slowed by putting in pEr sE for HENCE. That's probably unforgivable for a retired lawyer. Also had a hard time coming up with TOUR for the campus offering.

And COOKIE JAR before TIN.

Nancy 8:19 AM  

I made a quick pass at this puzzle -- my heart sinking as I realized I didn't know the movie, the country singer, the daughter, the mom, the country album, the Risk board neighbor, the street, the dweller, the veep, the physicist, the Simon, the brand. And I put the puzzle down...quickly, and for good. Look, I suffered on Friday from all the PPP, ending up with more than a third of the puzzle still white as snow. That's much too much suffering for one week. So I say to Mr. Der today, as I should have said to Mr. Gulczynski on Friday: "Just because you create 'em doesn't mean I have to solve 'em." I am not going to immerse myself in mindless, meaningless trivia, just because you guys seem to love it so much. End of puzzle rant. For all of you who enjoy this sort of thing, have fun.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

I agree with Nate - what gives on Set of anecdotes = ANA?

Waukesha Wonk 8:27 AM  

The definition of ANA is "a set of anecdotes". Much better clue than "Wheel purchase".

George Barany 8:30 AM  

Just checking in briefly to express my appreciation for the many suggestions yesterday to expand my HIP_HOP_MUSIC listening horizons. "Hamilton" was already on my radar screen, since my daughter Deborah is an alum of the college in upstate New York, and I've even put (spoiler alert) @LIN-Manuel Miranda into an as-yet unpublished puzzle. However, NAS will always be the National Academy of Sciences to me.

As for today's offering, I enjoyed @Rex's report and the initial commentariat (here's looking at you, @Loren Muse Smith) more than the puzzle itself. It occurs to me that 1-Across may have originally been the constructor's surname (other changes in that corner are left as an exercise to the reader), but further editing occurred along the path to publication.

Lobster11 8:51 AM  

"If you knew your crosswordese, then you had a leg up today. AIT crossing ARHAT!.... You were also ahead of the game if you knew a Slew of short proper nouns... LIV... LEVI... PEGG... ROSEN... EVIE."

Right, and if you don't know your crosswordese or a Slew of short proper nouns -- and you're damned proud of that -- you finished this one bitter and disappointed.

AliasZ 8:58 AM  

I thought this was a funny theme, if lacking in depth. Given the large pool of possibilities, a second layer of trickery would have been a welcome surprise. If the replaced (or the original) letters spelled out a 9-letter word or phrase like HOLLYWOOD or READ A BOOK for instance, it would have given this one that extra spark.

With so much theme to talk about, the increase of repeated words at an alarming rate goes virtually unnoticed. Yesterday we had INs (IN SONG, IN STIR, CUE IN) and UPs (TORN UP, SNARL UP), today ITs (I'M IT, QUIT IT). The new NYT standard: duplicates are welcome with open arms, and they can use any bathroom they want.

Have a great weekend.

Z 9:11 AM  

Was really wanting Bong with the Wind but it violates the change one letter rule. Bone with the Wind would be a different movie altogether.

@Nate - No idea. Hopefully someone will enlighten us. ARHAT from his AIT, maybe.

Traveling today, so no time to tally up the PPP. Sundays seem wont to feature a PPP theme, which seems to negate the very notion of worrying about Pop Culture in the puzzle. Then PEGG and ALEROS (1998-2004, there hasn't been one built in 12 years) appear.

@LMS - Somehow the "is a hot dog a sandwich" debate has appeared on my Twitter feed. So many are so certain it ain't but can't seem to explain why it ain't. No fear of hot dogs in ice, though.

Maruchka 9:11 AM  

Fairly easy, here. One do-over for AMoN RA (again). All the theme answers went in quickly. I AM what I AM..

Fav of the day - GONG WITH THE WIND. Gamelan, anyone?

Anecdote alert**** - Boeing 747s were the bong! My first transcontinental flight - stairway to upper lounge, two or three more in coach, plenty of elbow room, lots of chitchat, no screaming nor screening. Civilized. Sigh.

Happy Memorial Day! Remembering Dad and somewhere in the Pacific...

Hartley70 9:12 AM  

I found this a better than average Sunday. The themes were easily seen, and while not side-splitting, were amusing enough to hold my interest. I had them all very early in the solve. And then I had the the meat and potatoes to tackle. Rex pointed out all the difficult short answers and they were numerous enough to keep my time right at Sunday average.

I particularly liked FLAGPOLES and COOKIETINS, and my favorite was

This was a pleasant way to pass the time before I dig into some quiche and zucchini bread. Bon Appetit!

Tony Passaic 9:37 AM  

I wondered the same thing and figured it was crossword raw. First search result for "ana" is this definition.

JD 9:42 AM  

Four asterisks aren't a rave review. Four stars are, but four asterisks are just a really bad clue. And vast doesn't in any world have the same mean as fat. Starer? Please.

Unknown 9:47 AM  

Nate said...
Can someone please explain how 'Set of anecdotes' gives ANA?

It's a suffix. Americana, Holmesiana, etc.

Unknown 9:57 AM  

this was uninteresting and became like a grim obligation as soon as acela and aleros emerged in the NW

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 10:07 AM  

I thought 28A was the theme .... But there are worse kinds of groans to wake up to on Sunday morning.

Ellen S 10:17 AM  

Ana | Definition of Ana by Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster › dictionary › ana
Definition of ana. plural ana or anas. 1 : a collection of the memorable sayings of a person. 2 : a collection of anecdotes or interesting information about a person or a place.

Not an abbreviation or acronym. A "real" word. What Merriam-Webster neglects to add is that these collections exist only in the Crossworld, a land where coal miners enter their workplace through an "adit", and a "ria" may have an "ait" in it. The life forms are limited: all antelope or gazelle-like things are "elands", sea birds have suffered species collapse to the point where the only bird left is the "ern" (or sometimes "erne" depending on how many letters you need. All trees are "osiers", which I think are a kind of willow, on which "tits" sit and sing. The only other kind of plant is the Aloe, which is extremely useful as being a source of many things which can be used in the clue. It's really a bleak environment, kind of post-apocalyptic. Oh, I think there are also "asters" -- glad there's something to brighten up the landscape.

Chaos344 10:17 AM  

Kevin Der seldom disappoints, and today was no exception. The size of the grid notwithstanding, I'm with those who think this puzzle was much harder than yesterday. The minor nit that Rex made about the theme doesn't detract from the mostly excellent fill.

If Rex is talking about the fact that the theme isn't totally consistent with the actual name of the movie, I agree. DUNCES, GONG, and MINK do not actually rhyme with the words they are replacing. The other six theme answers do. So there's that.

@LMS: Thank you sooo much for the HOUND OF MUSIC. Totally hysterical. I had a Great Dane that would sing with me, but never at that level of talent.

@Leapy: Regarding your late post of yesterday, "Best was the double nod to the PASTOR MUNSTER, the INSTIRminably Barred of Quincy." LMAO! Totally agree with you about that, but you always held your own with him. I miss "Owie" too, but I'll bet he doesn't miss Wordplay at all. Here's to ya Owie, HAVE A GREAT MEMORIAL DAY!

The same to all here at Rex's!

chefbea 10:18 AM  

Tough puzzle. Now that I have red Rex's review I will try to go back and finish the puzzle

Charles Flaster 10:25 AM  

Agree with Rex. Very easy except for two answers that seem contrived--TRIPPY? and TROPIC?
So DNF this one.
Liked the movie changes especially MY HAIR LADY.
Thanks KGD

Donkos 10:37 AM  

I only know Ana from crossword puzzles but the clue is always something like "a collection of stories" . I agree with uncle John-the pronunciation change is inelegant.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

I think that the clue for germs of endearment should have been the kissing disease - mono.

F.O.G. 10:57 AM  

Fun puzzle. CORNY theme answers -- my favorite was MY HAIR LADY.

Had no idea that queso relleno is made from a Dutch cheese.

Thank you, Mr. Der.

Norm 10:58 AM  

Ugh. Not enough humor to justify all those names. I hate puzzles that are trumped up trivia quizzes.

Wm. C. 11:16 AM  

@Nate1:52am --

The suffix "ana" (or "iana") denotes a collection of related items, about a particular person, subject or place. Anecdotes can be a collection of short interesting stories about a person. Good question, though, the clue/fill are a bit of a stretch, to be sure ...

Tim Pierce 11:33 AM  

I enjoyed the theme a lot, even if there's no deeper thematic tie-in than "one letter changed in movie titles."

I wish I could say the same for the fill. The ARHAT/AIT crossing was one of the ones that I DNF on, as was DCTEN. Plus all the gibberish in UNA UNI ANA ENE ANI NEE NIE made me want to mutter OEO and throw the damn thing down.

I take particular exception to the clue for GLISTEN. Stars may GLIMMER or GLITTER, or even GLISTER, but they do not GLISTEN, unless perhaps they have been covered with oil for a magazine cover photo shoot.

old timer 11:38 AM  

I don't understand GLACE at all. Explanation, please! I got it only because I googled for the unkown (to me) Mr PEGG.

The themers were amusing and you only needed one to get the trick. I immediately wrote in SILENCE OF THE IAMBS. FRENCH CONFECTION confirmed the trick. The hardest one: GONG (WTW). I don't think of a GONG as being a percussion instrument though I suppose it is one.

High point: Getting RAVE REVIEW. Because I never heard of HER, or if I did I forgot it quickly.

I think I've seen ARHAT in writing more often than AIT. That seems to exist only in crosswords.

QuasiMojo 11:43 AM  

Never heard of "Liv and Maddie" so that was a woe. And those four asterisks did not in any way make me think of movie reviews (even after I filled in reviews.) I assumed it was one of those online "Rate/Review" sort of things. So I naticked at that idiotic spot. Quasi is mad today! Otherwise "It's a Blunderful Life."

Tim Pierce 11:47 AM  

@Waukesha Wonk: Set of anecdotes may be a better clue for ANA than Wheel purchase but IMHO Thematic beginning? would have been even better.

jberg 11:59 AM  

@Ellen, @Nate -- as a word, ANA is obscure, but as a suffix, it's ubiquitous.

I really struggled with this one, due to 1) crossing proper nouns in the NW, and 2) the ease with which I could imagine other theme answers for the same clues. I was so sure of "pretty in MINK" that I wrote it all in before i noticed that there were leftover spaces. And it wasn't until I came here and took one last look at the grid that I realized what kind of volume we were measuring by the BEL. But I have to love SILENCE OF THE IAMBS, so all is forgiven.

Meanwhile, Hayley Gold gets political with this week's comic.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Guess I'm an outlier when it comes to the term "PPP"??

Alby 12:11 PM  

I like a bad pun as much as the next solver, but I wish there'd been more consistency to these. Some answers break with the prosody or vowel sounds of the original titles (SILENCEOFTHEIAMBS, ABEAUTIFULMINK). FRENCHCONFECTION and BEERHUNTER should have included the definite article. I don't think I've seen GLISTEN outside of Penthouse Forum. RANLIKEMAD sounds made up. And how is a SPYHOLE a "place"? (That's rhetorical, mind you.)

GILL I. 12:18 PM  

Absolutely loved this....
@Nancy, at first, I too did what you did. I thought damn, movies that I've probably never seen. It turns out, I've seen them all or at least I've heard of them.
I love a Sunday TRIPPY puzzle and this was it. GERMS OF ENDEARMENT was worth sticking around.
@Ellen S. How about that clue for OREO? Treat with a "Golden" variety? Yikes. the OREO clues, hands down, are some of the most creative.
I don't think Kevin meant this to have a rhyme. Just messing with titles and they were fun.
@Rex: Felicificative Rex Parker?

Masked and Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Fun SunPuz.

1-A "HER" flick didn't get changed, cuz it was only a nominee for Best Pix, not a winner. So … it had a good HER day. Obvious change (other than that there DER one), tho: HER --> HAR!

Particularly enjoyed how the lesser-known film "DLLAENDTF" was adapted to be "BIVUGFKGH". Other than that, GERMS OF ENDEARMENT was my themer fave. Honrable mention to DUNCES WITH WOLVES, on its vowel-respectful adaptation. Needed it. Only 007 U's, which is a dash light of average for a SunPuz (8.25-ish).

Knew it was ERHAT or ARHAT. Knew it was AIT or AIX. EDNE and QUIXIT seemed unlikely, tho. So … ok.

Thanx, Mr. Der. So, how much did the $1000 moneybucks pay U per hour, to make this good-hairy mammoth? M&A wouldn't make minimum wage, even Republican-style.

Masked & Anonym007Us

themeless & non-mammoth:

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

@Ellen S: And all golfers are named Isao Aoki.

Aketi 12:57 PM  

@Hartley70, I too liked FLAGPOLES and COOKIETINS. Like yesterday's NATOMEMBERS and CUTGLASS I needed a few REVISIONS in my thinking to get them

@jberg from yesterday, I have only heard of it referred to as ROSEHIP TEA, bot ROSETEA, Perhaps the constructor thought placing HiP elsewhere in the puzzle was good enough.

I liked that CORNY was in a oun puzzle.

Stars aren't wet, They aren't even (avert your eyes Rex) MOIST. So how can they GLISTEN? On the other hand, what a nice euphemism for what happens to your skin after a hard workout? I don't sweat, I GLISTEN.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Stars don't glisten. Other than on an unfinished backdrop for an episode of Lost in Space, they are neither wet nor oily.

Con 1:22 PM  

Ditto as to ana. I've never seen that one before. Theme was clever; overall harder than easy-medium, especially bottom 3 lines.

Chaos344 1:32 PM  

Wow! After reading the first 34 comments, all I can say is, "Same Old,Same Old," This observance has puzzled me for quite some time, and I am sincerely curious as to why it seems to perpetuate itself everyday? Why do people keep making the same complaints? Aside from the social aspects of the badinage, (which is very difficult in this moderated format) I've concluded that there are really only four main types of regular posters here.

#1. Master cruciverbalists. These types have been doing crosswords for at least 20 to 30 years. They would probably rather have a root canal than a DNF. They most likely do multiple puzzles on a daily basis, and always seek out the most difficult of those available. They love guys like Peter Gordon, Brendan Emmet Quigley, etc. Many are speed solvers who keep assiduous track of their best times and averages.

#2. Good puzzlers who want to become masters, but with conditions. Many, (but not all) of this second group don't really want to put in the time and effort necessary to achieve level #1. They really don't care that much about a DNF, and think using check or reveal is only a minor "cheat" if it gets them to the end. This tier would most likely love the feature of the Washington Post crossword which allows the solver to choose between Master and Regular. Like the NYT, the Master selection will not give you the equivalent of MHP until you have filled in the grid correctly. The Regular selection will alert you, if you enter a wrong letter.

Owing to word limitation issues, look for group #3 and #4 in my following post.

Alex 1:36 PM  

@Lewis - hahaha!

Blue 1:40 PM  

In my book, this one is in the running for Worst Puzzle Evah. Stretchers, bad puns, esoterica, items I think are outright mistakes but haven't time to look up, etc. I keep hoping that we won't have this kind of junk on Sunday, but it is not to be.

Joseph Michael 1:42 PM  

A CORNY but fun puzzle with a theme that keeps on giving. Other Best Pucture adaptations could be about:

Television ad wars - SPOT FIGHT

Logical conclusions - ERGO

Where playwright Moss keeps his gym clothes - THE HART LOCKER

Government banishment of nonconformists - NO COUNTRY FOR ODD MEN

The Marquis de Sade - PAIN MAN

And so on. Thanks, Kevin for an enjoyable start to this Sunday.

maripro 2:32 PM  

Difficult, but enjoyable for me. Eric(n) and Arhat(d) did me in. Top left and bottom right were last to fall.
LMS - I always look forward to your comments.
How about Gone With the Wine or Wrench Connection (nah, French Confection is better.)

puzzle hoarder 2:40 PM  

Medium sounds right for today. I finished in just under an hour and an hour seems to be my average time for a Sunday. The themes weren't that hard to get. I was just glad they weren't all clued as asterisks after seeing 3D. The fill felt like running a crosswordese gauntlet. A quick check of the hoard (after solving) told me I haven't seen ARHAT since 2010 or at least I haven't noted it. I needed every cross to put it in. It was the same with EDNA so that A went in purely by logic. Luckily I'm quite familiar with AIT. Tolkien used it in "The Fellowship of the Ring" so I've known that word since the 60s. That's a not so quick microcosm of how the fill went. It's nice to come away with a clean grid after that much work.
Speaking of movies my wife and I just saw "The Nice Guys" last night. I highly recommend it.

Sheryl 2:49 PM  

I didn't know the crossword-ese or a single one of those proper nouns, but was able to guess them all with crosses since they were short. I did get stuck on a few last letters, but not there. I think in the end I just got tired. Should have put it down and come back to it.

Chaos344 2:53 PM  

Continued from my previous comment:

#3. The "I don't care and I don't want to learn it" set, or put differently, the "I love doing puzzles if they're not to hard" crowd. In certain aspects, I have a lot of empathy for this group. Nobody, and I mean nobody, hates having to rely on pop culture clues/answers more than I do! I only stay as current as possible because I want to continue being a tier #1 solver until I meet the grim reaper. 90% of the pop culture in my knowledge base has been gleaned from crosswords. I have no children or grand-children. I've never intentionally listened to any Rap or Hip Hop. I've never watched an animated TV show or movie. I've never read Harry Potter, and I will never do any of these things! I think that retention of information, (trivial or not) is vastly more important than simple exposure. God only knows why I was able to remember the crossword clue CAP-APIE which I probably haven't seen in over 20 years, but I did. I'm a firm believer in the theory of "looking it up" but only after you've failed! The longer you struggled over a puzzle answer, the longer you will remember what you learned when you finally looked it up. I subscribe to the Cliff Clavin theory of brain cell deterioration. How else could I remember a plethora of useless information after marinating my brain in Johnnie Walker Black for over half a century?

#4. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. It is GOOD to see young potential master cruciverbalists on this blog. It is BAD when they are too lazy to Google ANA. ANA is crosswordese 101, and asking the blog to explain it, is tantamount to insuring that you will never remember it. This brings us to the UGLY. When are tier #3 people ever going to understand that certain words, names, products, etc, will continue to be used indefinitely for puzzles strictly because of their vowel/consonant make-up? Any short word with an equal or superior vowel count is going to show up constantly. ISAO AOKI was no Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer, but you're going to see his name in crosswords from now till doomsday! Same goes for ACELA, ALERO, MRED,ENO,and hundreds of others. Be prepared to deal with it, or accept the fact that you will always be relegated to "Regular" solver status.

Stand by for part three of the CHAOS Trilogy:

Sheryl 2:57 PM  

I'm surprised that so many people found today's puzzle harder than yesterday's. I couldn't finish yesterday's because of all the long proper names. Today's puzzle was much easier. I enjoyed solving it.

MetroGnome 3:43 PM  

Cute theme, but too many trivia questions, brand names, and pop-culture names to make it really enjoyable.

Also, RE: 104D -- a "RIFLE" does NOT "tak[e] a long shot." The person firing it does.

Chaos344 4:42 PM  

The CHAOS Trilogy; Part three:

So, lets talk about the specific gripes of two regulars who posted today. Please understand that I have absolutely no axe to grind, nor any kind of latent animosity towards either of them. Actually, its quite the opposite. I almost always enjoy their comments, and they could be any pair of a given number who post here on a regular basis. The following relates to much that I have already said in the first two parts of this treatise.

Lets take @Lobster11 first. He had an issue similar to Rex. The big difference, is that while Rex considered it bad fill, Rex easily figured it out. Lobster considered it a major block to the solve. Lobster11 is a regular, but, "damned proud of the fact" that he doesn't know crosswordese or a slew of proper nouns? Lets take a closer look at his issue.

One of the main differences between being a master cruciverbalist and a wannabe, is an above average grasp of the English language. An extensive vocabulary doesn't hurt either. You don't have to be a professor like Rex or an English teacher like LMS to figure things out. To be truthful, I knew less of the PPP stuff than Lobster or Nancy. When that happens, I look at the constructor and decide weather I trust him enough to submit a puzzle that has as little Natick potential as possible. Let's take a look at some of the things Lobster had a problem with and address them, while keeping in mind the diverse expertise of solvers.

AIT crossing ARHAT! Maybe the toughest today? I'll admit to not knowing ARHAT, but AIT has been in crosswords forever. How many women's names do you know that start with EDN and don't end with A? as for the H, did you not solve all the theme answers? TRIPPY was tough but good!

Lets do LIV: 1D. Chihuahua greeting. BARK? ARF? Chihuahua is in Mexico. You don't know the Mexican equivalent of hello? 26A = a flat out gimme! That should have been enough of a start.

Lets do PEGG: How could this have been an issue? The only vowel is the E in SEWER?

We could go on and on folks, but the point I am trying to make is simple. Sorry that I never addressed the @Nancy comment, but in light of my comments pertaining to Lobster, anything going forward would most likely have be redundant? In a lot of cases, the stuff you don't know is very solvable by the crosses if you can picture where the vowels and consonants should be! We all have to do alphabet runs to get MHP occasionally, but, (in Acrosslite) that's the least egregious form of cheating!

Well, that's it. I've killed the time I wanted to waste until the Tigers game came on.

Have a happy, all!

J-Dub 4:59 PM  

If "set of anecdotes" takes off, poor Ms. Gastmeyer will be completely forgotten!

THEFRENCHCONFECTION was definitely my favorite.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

I'm pretty new to solving, and I can finish Sundays only occasionally at this point, but I was pretty happy to get RAVEREVIEW from only the first R. About the only thing in this puzzle that came easily to me.

Mohair Sam 5:10 PM  

The theme was really a lot of fun today, but I can see how @Nancy walked away. The entire NW is either PPP or Spanish or "****" right down to REBA and LEVI. Really a trivia and foreign language quiz up there.

Lady Mohair stuck with it after I walked away early and discovered the theme and got things rolling. But we needed a two person show with some of the brutal PPP - i.e. PEGG, ROSEN, LEVI, LIV, ARHAT . . I could go on forever. I'm thinking Kevi Der and Will figured that once a solver sussed the theme, the themers would fall quickly and there just wouldn't be a lot of white space. OK, I guess.

I'm betting a lot of you filled in answers the way we did: I guess he could have lived on PRIVET, it might have been MONGOLIA in that game, ROSEN sounds like a scientist, yeah, YEMEN could be there - and on and on. Then came here were surprised how smart we were.

Fun, all in all - but tough to get into.

jae 6:10 PM  

@Chaos - Actually you hit upon the main difference between master and casual solvers in your description of masters: i.e. "They most likely do multiple puzzles on a daily basis, and always seek out the most difficult of those available." Case in point is @lms's parting shot from yesterday. "Off to the Stumper."

Sure, you need to know how the language works and have a good vocabulary, but you only get to mastery by doing a huge number of puzzles. This develops the pattern recognition ability needed to accurately to sort out the stuff you don't know or have forgotten.

For solvers who only do the NYT every day PPPs are always going to be a problem.

Unknown 7:25 PM  

Who says stars don't truly glisten? Go to google images and search for Kardashians.

old timer 7:39 PM  

@Chaos, I was sorry not to be mentioned. But maybe *you* can explain what GLACE has to do with a candy apple.

Sheryl 7:52 PM  

I cop to being Tier 3 in your breakdown. I detest competitive sports, and take a contrary pride in knowing absolutely nothing about it. But you make a good point. If I think of the player names, league acronyms, and other terminology as just crossword-ese, I can stomach learning it.

You're right about remembering words you struggle with. I remember trying to finish a NYT crossword when I was getting my Masters degree (37 years ago, OMG!) and I could not get the very last word. Turns out it was because it was a word I didn't know, and I still remember it: aerie. Drove me nuts at the time, and I never forgot it.

You haven't read Harry Potter? Oh, read it! It's wonderful. :)

Hartley70 9:37 PM  

@Tita, regarding and your arrest-me-red wheels are a cute picture. I'm thinking they'd have to catch you first!

Charles Flaster 10:10 PM  

Your movie titles are hilarious as well as creative!

Nancy 10:44 PM  

You left out Category #5, @Chaos. The Hedonists. People who think that solving puzzles should be fun -- which mostly they are -- except when they're not, at least for the particular person in question. Now if I were working on the Human Genome Project and even though my work that day was a crashing bore and the A/C wasn't working well and the room had a kind of funny smell and I hadn't gotten a decent night's sleep the night before -- well, I might "soldier on", knowing that the very future of humankind could be resting on what I did or didn't discover that day. And I have been known to continue on the tennis court after pulling a muscle or feeling a twinge in my wrist, because, well, it was only another 25 minutes and I didn't want to leave my partner in the lurch. But who am I hurting when I decide that I've had enough PPP for one week and that rather than having to wrestle with figuring out the pop music albums and the TV sitcom characters and the "neighbor of Irkutz on a Risk board", I'd rather immerse myself in the news pages of the NYT and find out all the truly awful things that happened in the world yesterday? Not only is crossword puzzle solving supposed to be done for enjoyment, but it's also one of the most solipsistic activities in the world: No one else is remotely affected by whether or not you finish the puzzle. Or even if you fail to BEGIN the puzzle. Or begin it, and then throw it across the room. I may not share all the opinions of various puzzles on the blog, but I believe that every single person's opinion is valid and should be respected. One of my best friends on this blog loves most PPP puzzles. I asked her why. "I mean I know you know a tremendous amount of this stuff, but why do you find all those names enjoyable?" And she said: "I'm always happy when there are things I know that I can write in immediately." And I thought:"That makes perfect sense and it's absolutely valid." It may not be what I enjoy, but different strokes...

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

It seems clear that the seed from which this puzzle grew can be found at 84A.

paul kurtz 9:54 AM  

What is the LINK between LINK and SAFARI SIGHT?

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Great puzzle! From talented Mr. Der.
Tough start, though. Had to go through and guess all the THEME answers first. Then struggled with the fill.
Learned some stuff along the way.

D and A

Leapfinger 11:24 AM  

First runner-up: The Confederacy of DUNCES WITH WOLVES
Hands-down winner: SILENCE OT THE IAMBS,for that upper-case/lower-case handoff combined with the poetic undercurrent of meaning. Muito elegante.

Have to go hunt to see what My Fair @Ludy had to say. Tough to find anything, seems to have been more chaotic than usual out there.

Eamonn Lorigan 12:18 PM  

I'm still trying to figure that one out. I think it was an error. Stasted out as LION, got changed to LINK in the construction and the clue never got changed with the word. Fess up, puzzle maker

Validation Q Cornpone 12:29 PM  

Guess I think less about different kinds of solvers than I do about different kinds of commenters. (I think that's probably true.) The commenters' profiles are mainly the complainers, the enjoyers, the man/womansplainers, the this-is-what-I-was-reminded-of-ers, and the sharers of neat stuff they noticed or thought of. Thankfully, most commenters have a tolerable mix of the previous, and show up here mainly because there's something they really love about this weird pastime. Still and all, I'll bet that, to some extent, there's a component of "run it up the FLAGPOLE to see if anyone salutes".

Unknown 1:12 PM  

The smart phone BROWSER Safari.

Katzzz 1:41 PM  

Referring to the Safari web browser.

Paul Rippey 8:52 PM  

37A clue should just be, "a fat Monarch". The inclusion of Eastern is an echo of the original movie, but none of the other theme clues do that.

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

I found it fun and mostly easy (the long movie titles had only one changed letter.)

Glace (with an accent on the e) is a French term for hard, shiny dessert coatings -candied apples have

thicker coatings, but close enough.

kitshef 10:48 PM  

Failed to live up to my very modest expectations for a Sunday. Dull, yet time-consuming.

ARHAT/AIT basically a guess.



Glaring error in 1-Across.

"Her" was nominated for Best Picture in 2014, not 2013.

Jamie C 12:57 PM  

Glaring error by RYLANDER. Search for Rex's note regarding academy award clues. There are similar comments pretty much every time such a clue appears.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Stars do not glisten! How did this terrible clue get past the editor. Glisten:(of something wet or greasy) shine; glitter.
"his cheeks glistened with tears"

Burma Shave 10:47 AM  



BS2 11:18 AM  


and the NIB of my SCEPTER makes her horny,


rondo 11:47 AM  

The wackiness was overwhelming, almost TRIPPY. So were a coupla notable write-overs with Gooey for GLACE and then TIEdin for TIERED nearby GLImmEr/GLItTEr/GLISTEN. And a few one-letter things sprinkled around. Slowness ensued. Not exactly easy, I'd say.

Having been multiple winners of yeah baby status before, I must pass over singers REBA and ANI and go directly to ALI Krieger. If you haven’t seen that issue of ESPN’s Body Issue, well . . .

And speaking of ALI, there may never be another like him.

Glad to see OFL put up a URIAH Heep LINK. “EASY Livin’” may have been more apropos.

Too nice to waste any more time indoors. Outside stuff calls, and then perHAPs time to be a BEERHUNTER.IAM what IAM (not IAMB).

spacecraft 11:49 AM  

DNF. What is wrong with me? I did the top half, with its CORNY theme titles, but kept bumping into obscurities that only a handful of people (different people in each case) would know...and I just didn't care enough to keep on WORKING. I'm retired, guys; I don't WORK any more. And today, I came to realize that that's what I was doing. And THIS particular puzzle just plain ain't worth it. So I just QUITIT.

Make me care. That's true even on weekdays, but on Sundays: you REALLY have to make me care. A 15x15 is a diversion; a 21x21 is a chore. That's all I have; never mind the DOD or the golf rating. Sorry. See you next week.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

I thought this puzzlw was fun, and not as hard as usual for me. NW corner was last to fill.

Only dissapointment was theme didnt have more bite.

Tiered sponsorship was a decent clue, and makes sense to me... charity event donations often have levels (or tiers), the more you donate the fancier the type of sponsor tier you fall into (platinum, gold, silver, etc.).

AnonymousPVX 3:30 PM  

I thought this tougher than easy-medium. Not easy at all, IMO.

Diana,LIW 4:07 PM  

I haven't yet read all the comments, but did peruse the comments bet. Lobster, Nancy, and Chaos. Interesting

BTW, Chaos left out those of us who are still in Puzzle Fourth Grade and have no idea of our mastery level once we graduate. Since I stopped solving in the mid seventies, when I went back to school to pursue my endless interests, I only have 2+ years under my belt. I ran thru kindergarten thru 2nd grade pretty quickly. Welcome to the land of Oslo, etui, epee, Esme, (etc.) These little "eses" are quite helpful at times. Too many and yes, the puz gets drab. (I still do some "simpler" puzzles that rely a bit too heavily on ese, but there's a game for everyone.

OTOH, if a puz has too much PPP trivia, it too can become wearying.

However, I have learned to persevere.

Case in point. Today's puzzle. My initial reaction was similar to Nancy's - I just don't know these folks, names, albums or whatever. But I've learned that sometimes the tiniest of toeholds can lead to success. First go thru I had maybe 10 answers, and too many were three-letter ones. Back thru again - got some more. Repeat. Repeat. Hah! Got a theme answer! Got the joke! Yeah baby! (No, not that kind Rondo.)

Tho I had a dnf in the end, due to lack of PPP knowledge, I did get 95.67% of the solve. And (one of my standards) I got all of the theme answers, which were lots of fun IMHO.

So fun is where you find it AND where you make it. I learned that ANA is a collection, and can be used as a noun or an ending, as in Americana. (See Bill Butler's blog first if you even wonder what an answer means. Then go to Uncle Google.) (Speaking of BB, his time today was about 20 minutes, compared to 78 minutes for yesterday's fight to the finish.)

Since I'm in the pun/word play camp, today was a pleasure. But I still persevere through the Rebi (which I still think is cheating) and the PPP fests - I can still learn something from them. And when an answer emerges from the crosses or the depths of my memory, I love those moments.

Not that I don't give up some days - often days when I have other plans and less time. Today I only have to return a moldy lasagna to the store. Bought it for dinner yesterday, and had a nice surprise when I removed the cardboard sleeve. Reminded me of a (warning: grossness factor ensues) pimple popping video on some "doctors" show that was on the tv at the gym the other day. Always amazes me to see what there must be an audience out there for. Pimple innards? Really? I was very glad when someone came along and switched the channel to Top Gear.

Au revoir ALI - flit like a butterfly. We'll see you in the crosswords.

My cat Quincy looks like a Chihuahua. He has never said "HOLA."


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana,LIW 5:25 PM  

BS1 - Hilarious. Took me a while to figure out which syllables to accent. Really hard to see.

La Dee Dah, Lady Di

rain forest 7:21 PM  

I almost quit, but decided to suss out that maddening array of three-letter entries at the very bottom, and I think I finished. I say "think" because I didn't bother checking every single square.

I thought the theme entries were pretty good, and I especially liked @Burma Shave's poem "Silence of the Iambs"--brilliant.

Kind of between a slog and an OK Sunday, but @Spacey, I want you to CARE.

Unknown 9:42 PM  

It was in 2014, not 2013.

Ben Eggenberger 2:20 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith your hilarious comment reminded me of one of my favorite lines from an episode of The Simpsons: "Some folk'll never eat a skunk, but then again some folk'll..." :-)

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

The Chaos theory is interesting and mostly rings true. However I disagree with the assertion that 26A should be a gimme. Not everyone lives in or even close to the "Northeast corridor"-I'm in Nova Scotia. Furthermore, Acela is merely a piece of corporate gobbledy gook.

If not for the gripings of the category 2-4 denizens there wouldn't be much of a blog now would there?

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