Mystery of McGuffin Manor / SUN 5-24-20 / Sprint competitor / Tech debut of 1998 / Hungry game characters / Style for Edward Hopper George Bellows / Music to hitchhiker's ears / Big launch of 1957 / Leader whose name means literally commander

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Constructor: Andrew Chaikin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9-something to fill grid in correctly ... then 5 minutes to read the novel-length notes that were way way way way way less interesting than any novel I've ever read (and I read a *lot* of mysteries) ... then 10 minutes to grumble about how there's no way I'm gonna take the time to figure this stupid thing out ... then about two minutes to figure it out (once I actually sat down with the "Notes" and the grid, ugh)


Puzzle Notes: 
"This crossword contains a whodunit: "Thank you for coming, Inspector," said Lady McGuffin. "The famed McGuffin Diamond has been stolen from my study! The eight members of the staff had a costume party tonight--it has to be one of them: the butler, driver, cook, baker, page, porter, barber or carpenter. They have all been confined to their respective rooms around the parlor [center of the grid]." Can you determine who stole the diamond ... and where it is now? // In the print version of this puzzle, nine sections of the grid are shaded: most of the central area, and eight large regions surrounding the center--the upper left, upper middle, upper right, middle left, middle right, lower left, lower middle and lower right."
THEME: "The Mystery of McGuffin Manor" — a mystery puzzle involving the theft of a diamond ... read the above "Notes" and then follow the weird-ass "clues" in the grid and then solve the mystery, I guess:

Theme answers:
  • As you inspect each room, you find staff members dressed as APTLY NAMED CELEBRITIES (25A)
  • They're all WEARING NAME TAGS, so you can easily identify them (39A)
  • In the study, you find that the thief accidentally left behind an APPLE SWEATSHIRT (85A)
  • "You caught me!," says the thief, who then admits: "The diamond isn't here in my room, but it's hidden in THE ONE TO THE WEST OF HERE" (102A)
Soooooo..... the "staff members" / suspects described in the Puzzle Notes (i.e. the butler, driver, cook, baker, page, porter, barber or carpenter) are all actually last names of celebrities, who are clued as [Suspect #1] thru [Suspect #8]. So [Suspect #1] (28A) is COLE so that's COLE "porter," [Suspect #2] (50A) is GERARD so that's GERARD Butler, etc. Annnnnnyway, the "cook" is Apple CEO TIM Cook (65A: Suspect #3), and since the thief left behind an APPLE SWEATSHIRT (sidenote: I cannot get over how dumb a theme answer that is), we can assume that TIM Cook is the thief, and since he left the diamond not in his own "room," but in THE ONE TO THE WEST OF HERE (sidenote: seriously, wtf with these themers...), we should look not in the section where TIM is (the east) but to the "room" west of there (i.e. the "parlor," or middle section), and there you will find the McGuffin Diamond, in that you will find MCGUFFIN spelled out in diamond shape, starting with the "M" at the end of SUM (63A) and proceeding clockwise through all the letters adjacent to the little black "+" sign at the center of the grid:


Full list of suspects:
  • ELLEN Page (10D)
  • TIKI Barber (13D)
  • TIM Cook (guilty!) (65A)
  • CHET Baker (101A)
  • KAREN Carpenter (115A)
  • MINNIE Driver (114A)
  • GERARD Butler (50A)
  • COLE Porter (28A)
Word of the Day: SEA ROOM (81D: Space to maneuver a ship)
n.
Unobstructed space at sea adequate for maneuvering a ship.
• • •

NOTE: THERE WAS A PRINTING ERROR in the Sunday Magazine version of this puzzle (digital versions unaffected):


***

OK, so, see, the thing about mysteries is that there is a narrative. Characters are developed. Their identities, jobs, behavior, all that matters. If they're well written, you get invested, even when you know the plot is contrived. There's ... story. A reason to care. There's ... something. As opposed to this puzzle, where there is nothing. This is a nothing. It's not even a good parody, in that it doesn't seem to understand the terms of what it's parodying. First of all, here's the wikipedia definition of McGuffin: "In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin) is an object, device, or event that is necessary to the plot and the motivation of the characters, but insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant in itself." But here the alleged McGuffin is all that there is. It is the central visual motif. It is the opposite of a McGuffin. In a real mystery, the McGuffin is the thing everyone's chasing so that The Story Can Be Propelled Forward And We Can Learn Things About The Characters. The "characters" here ... are totally irrelevant. TIKI Barber ... sits there. In ... what room is that? Oh, that's the other thing: does this puzzle think it's modeled on the board game "Clue"???! Because the whole "room" thing is totally "Clue" ... and yet in "Clue" there is a murder ("so and so, with the such and such weapon, in the something room," you might guess). Here', there's just a dumb theft. And a .... sweatshirt, was it? Sweatshirt!?!? What in the godawful arbitrary hell is that? It could have been APPLE [anything] but we get ... sweatshirt? And what does WEARING NAME TAGS even mean? Is that just a reference to the fact that the *first* names of the "celebrities" are what appear in the grid? But you already told us that with APTLY NAMED CELEBRITIES, so this WEARING NAME TAGS thing is a ridiculous redundancy. This puzzle manages to ruin crosswords and mysteries, two things I love, simultaneously. I guess that after four (4!) good puzzles in a row, we were due for a regression toward the mean. A hard regression.


It would be cool if the SEA ROOM were just a room in your house that was filled with sea water and like a kelp forest. "What's behind this door?" "NOOOoo don't open that!" But instead it's this dumb thing about room for ship maneuvering. Somehow SEA ROOM got in with SEAWEED already present (44D: Major source of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere). Weird. The grid itself ... I mean, there it is! Not much to like or dislike. The only thing I particularly like is the HYMN / FUNK juxtaposition, mostly because it sounds like a cool new genre of religious music. That's SUM FAR out HYMN FUNK, man" "It's actually ASIAN HYMN FUNK, man" "Whoa ... well turn it up, man." See, I'm inventing dialogue for this damn novel because it hasn't got any. With THE USA, I believe we have had definite article answers in roughly 93.2% of May puzzles (93D: Springsteen's birthplace, in song). The hardest I laughed was when I had CUN- and had not yet looked at the clue, and the most I was confused was by RACER, until finally I realized Sprint was an actual race, not the telecom (7A: Sprint competitor). Here's a good name for a mystery: "ENTER O for 'Omicide" (16D: Intestinal: Prefix). It's like "Dial M for Murder" but dumber. OK bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

237 comments:

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Never have been a huge fan of Clue, but I enjoyed this puzzle immensely. It took until the end for me to understand the yellow spaces as the various rooms. The only major problem was the SW corner, where the numbers of the clues got screwed up (at least in my print version): There are two 92A's! And no 95D space with no 92D clue!!! For a while, I thought this was part of the solve, but no. A rare error in editing.

I didn't know all the suspects. Cole Porter, Tiki Barber, Tim Cook, Minnie Driver, Karen Carpenter, and Chet Baker... yes.

"Always read the intro to the puzzle," I have to remind myself. Once the puzzle was solved, there was still the matter of whodunnit. And here, I still hadn't read the intro thoroughly enough, and was looking for some famous diamond in the correct room, when I finally realized I was looking for the McGuffin Diamond, duh.

With wishes to all for a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Colin

Patrick O'Connor 12:06 AM  

I also thought this puzzle was charming and I felt it my duty to come here and say so, because sometimes our fearless leader Rex Parker can be a party poop.

WhoisMark 12:09 AM  

Got it all done, figured it out and then thought the diamond was in the IMAC, so missed the real hiding spot for the diamond. That's what I get for being a PC guy.

jae 12:09 AM  

This did not make a good first impression. I really didn’t feel like slogging through the “mystery”, but when I finished the puzzle and didn’t get the happy music I thought it might have something to do with the theme. So, I went back and read the plot note and saw the name/celebrity connection. I checked the names in my grid and sure enough there was TaKI Barber where TIKI should have been...happy music. I also caught the MCGUFFIN diamond in the center.

Ended up liking it, and it’s not like I have better things to do these days anyway.

Oh, easy-medium.

Bruce Fieggen 12:18 AM  

Can’t believe I missed McGuffin in the central diamond. Especially after thinking to myself: ‘What’s with all the Us Gs and Fs in this area!’

Joaquin 12:19 AM  

I thought the construction of this puzzle was quite a feat and worthy of high praise. But solving it left me cold for some reason. So ... another interesting crime that has become a cold case (at least to me).

Steven Kaplan 12:19 AM  

There is an incorrect numbering of the Down clue numbers lower right, in the so-called Chet Baker "room". 92 is repeated twice in the puzzle, so that the clue given for 93 Down actually gets filled in to the 92 down spaces. Similarly the 94 clue pertains to the 93 down squares and the 95 clue into the 94 down squares. This is just sloppiness, but caused me to waste extra time. Since the puzzle's entire conceit is about the location/position of the diamond, and the 102 Across answer is "to the west", it made me think something meta- was being attempted in the puzzle construction, that the 92 was purposely doubled, that this is where something was "hidden". But no, it is pure carelessness, causing further disappointment in this particular puzzle.

MommaJ 12:19 AM  

Maybe it happened in only one edition of the paper (mine is the suburban CT version), but my puzzle had mis-numbered squares. There were two 92 downs; the second one should have been 93, and the next two adjacent squares, which were numbered 93 and 93, should have been 94 and 95. A little extra confusion was NOT needed in this puzzle!

EdFromHackensack 12:26 AM  

someone has to explain to me the SW corner that appeared in print. there was no clue for 92D, I left it blank ,C HET, H ERE, AR OUSE, TA SSEL, ST EADY all had a space and I had to write in the right margin TEELY to complete the words, I was looking for a diamond here somehow for half the day. This puzzle made no sense. though I did originally dig the premise, matching the names and occupations with celebrities. I stayed up til midnight to have Rex explain it to me. Colin is telling me this is an error? If so its a little worse than an "error". I was hoping for an AHA payoff. Fire the editor and typesetter if this is the case.

TinPT 12:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam12 12:31 AM  

First , I solved it. The I parsed it out. C’mon Rex, give some credit for cleverness. Why always so dour?

ulysses 12:31 AM  

I had Tim Butler and Dane Cook. So obviously didn’t solve nor did I get the SE quadrant. Oh well. Doesn’t seem like I missed much. Tim Cook isn’t a celebrity. Kiss my grits, puzzler.

ulysses 12:32 AM  

Oh yeah. There was no 92 down clue. Apparently that was a print error? Didn’t help me finish that SE quadrant.

ulysses 12:38 AM  

Sorry for all the comments but missing clues in the print is not helping me here. What’s “That’s TVS” mean?

Joe Dipinto 12:47 AM  

First off, as I mentioned yesterday, there's a numbering error in the grid in the print edition. I got held up in the SE by having put THEUSA where box 93 was indicated, and then having that corner become incomprehensible because THEUSA was actually in the wrong place, until I finally noticed the misnumbering. If I were timing myself I'd have fallen way behind because of that.

I generally like this sort of puzzle if it's done well. The things I don't like here are mostly mentioned by either the constructor or Jeff Chen over at XWord info. The constructor wanted the first names clued in a normal fashion rather than as Suspect #1, etc., which I agree would have been better for the purpose of creating the mystery.

I also don't like that McGUFFIN shows up four times – in the puzzle title, then "Lady McGuffin" and the "McGuffin Diamond" in the notes and then the actual "diamond" hidden in the grid. It's overkill: change some of those names. And then the admission of guilt is awkwardly planted in the grid, as Jeff observed, being nowhere near where Tim Cook is situated.

Still, it was fun trying to anticipate the first names of the suspects. The first one I "found" was TIM and almost immediately got the link to "cook". I was expecting ADAM instead of MINNIE, but figured on COLE, KAREN, ELLEN and GERARD. I was thinking "barber" would be SAMUEL, and CHET stupidly never occurred to me for "baker". (Favorite Chet Baker story: Chet was playing a gig in Italy in the 1960's and the pianist was Romano Mussolini, a successful jazz musician who happened to be the son of Il Duce. Upon being introduced to him Chet said, "Hey, sorry about your old man.")

So for me this was enjoyable, but it could have been tightened up quite a bit to make it a truly memorable solving experience.

Break time.

Paint Drinking Pete 12:50 AM  

Once I got the theme, I assumed it was RHET Butler...not CHET, so that messed me up a bit, but I had fun with this

And yes, I now realize it's "Rhett" and that's a fictional character

Z 12:50 AM  

Who pissed on my puzzle?

I’m sure lots of people will love this little misadventure. I was not one of them. And, seriously, stick to gray unless there’s a reason. Or I guess green. Rooms painted green might work.

CHET Baker? Can you be any more OK Boomer when picking a famous Baker? I was looking for Anita and was thinking that was dated (BTW - CHET was friends with Elvis Costello and played on a couple of tracks.) PPP is ughly and the whole costume party thing came off as annoying, not cute, here. I got CHET easy enough, but have to wonder how many under 50 folk will struggle. KAREN Carpenter comes up once in awhile these days and is probably still the most famous Carpenter (it seems like Mary without the Chapin wouldn’t really work). Still, very much with the OK Boomer vibe. Gosh, even the fresh-faced ELLEN Page is 13 years from starring in Juno. I guess she’s in a fairly famous Netflix series now, so no Boomer vibe there, at least. Anyway, you can’t have PPP as a core element of your theme and get thumbs up here.

Z 12:54 AM  

Oh, I forgot, There’s a Numbering typo in the print version with two “92’s” in the grid. Briefly wondered if it had something to do with the mystery, but it seems to be just a copy-editing mishap.

CS 12:56 AM  

@Patrick O'Connor .... or a Debbie Downer :-)

I love puzzles with layers and this one was just challenging enough - gettable with a little extra thinking. Not sure how it would play if one didn't know who Tim Cook was but I still had fun figuring out who all the suspects were and looking for the diamond.

An enjoyable confection ....

Z 1:00 AM  

@ulysses - That’s AMORE. TVS is the answer to the 93A clue “Some modern ones are smart.” TVS should be numbered as 93/94/95 down to match the down clues, too.

Tom R 1:07 AM  

In contrast to other solvers who enjoyed this, I think it was the most idiotic, stupid Sunday puzzle I can recall. The theme sucked. I mean, c'mon, I want to solve a crossword puzzle, not play clue. I'm supposed to pull those names out of my hat? Basically, I just got them from crosses or guessed a few. Clue: Where fun goes to die.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

Woooeee, extra salty Rex today! I thought this puzzle was delightful. I will say it was more fun solving it the way it was designed—that is reading the notes first and trying to figure out the game as part of the solve. Treating it like a regular grid is kind of NO FUN. I sometimes think Rex just wants every day to be Saturday.

Anonymous 1:45 AM  

So, we're given a list of staff members by occupation. We're given suspects identified by number. Why aren't these in the same order? I have a hard enough time with proper names when the puzzle makes it clear which name I'm trying to identify.

Frantic Sloth 1:48 AM  

I thought it was an ambitious concept that pooped the bed in the execution, but I did have some fun with this. First skimmed the novella...er...note, then:
1. Solved the puzzle
2. Re-read the note
3. Matched names
4. Solved the "mystery"
5. Missed the "McGuffin" as the diamond!

I hate when that happens. πŸ™„
The fill wasn't the worst or the best. It was just...there.

Like @Z 1250am I found the tinting of the "rooms" wholly unnecessary. (Don't eat yellow snow.) This not only didn't add any value, it detracted from an already teetering theme.

🧠🧠+1/2 out of 5

KevCo 1:53 AM  

I got waaaaaay too deep in the weeds on the "APPLE SWEATSHIRT" hint. If you look in the NW corner, you can spell "APPLE" starting with the A in "PATINA," then going back a space, then southeast diagonal. That leads you down to the section below that (midwest?), where you can start "SWEATSHIRT" with "SWEEPEA" and turn south at the first E, then southeast...you can see where this is going. Probably just an unfortunate coincidence, but there is enough there that I was sure I was just going to trace the "APPLE SWEATSHIRT" to the name or room of the thief. Then I realized it's Tim Cook. Oh.

Alan_S. 2:19 AM  

I couldn’t wait to see what Rex had to say about this one - plus - same wrong numbers problem here too - made for another awkward and cornball Sunday surprise! “A diamond in the Guff”
Pure corn,
Worse than porn,
But better than peas and carrots!

webwinger 2:28 AM  

I thought this was going to be fun based on the setup, but it turned out not to be. I completed the grid in a little under average Sunday time, noted the connections between occupational last names and celebrity first names, figured out that the thief was TIM Cook (agree with @Rex the incriminating themer was astonishingly dumb) and that the diamond must be in the central “room”, then did not discover the hidden MCGUFFIN despite assuming something like that must be going on—I was looking for the word Diamond, but had pretty much lost interest by that point.

Dave S 2:37 AM  

I really have to admire the work that went into the puzzle, and the fact that the main theme fell flat I ascribe to my own shortcomings. I was pleased that I recognized all the other celebrities, but did not know Tim Cook, even after realizing that none of the other clued people had any association with Apple. So I had to google him-does that count as a DNF? So that confirmed him as the suspect,then I looked for the diamond but all I saw was that the middle "room" was sort of diamond-shaped and completely missed the MacGuffin part until I looked at teh blog. So all the cleverness of the theme pretty much whooshed over my head, but I still thought it was an enjoyable mid-range solve.

Oh yeah, except for the doubling up of the number 92 in the print version, which temporarily had me wondering I'd had a stroke.

Richardf8 2:48 AM  

First, the mystery: Think less “Hercule Poirot” and More “Slylock Fox.”

Second, I solved in the App, so I did notget to enjoy the numbering error.

Third, I thought IMAC in the parlor was really cute, just the sort of thing that Slylock Fox would latch onto.

Fourth. Will needs to trust the constructors a little more. The solving experience would have been much better with the constructor’s cluing for the suspects.

I mostly enjoyed the solve, but had my suspect before completing the grid, which felt weird.

Frantic Sloth 2:54 AM  

From late yesterday- Many thanks @Z and @Nancy for the info/gifts! I'm on it! πŸ€”πŸ’»

chefwen 2:57 AM  

I’m with Rex, Z and Tom R. Did not care this at all, by the time I slogged my way through it I was in no mood to play Clue. Didn’t like that game when I was a kid. Sure don’t like it as an adult.

Just call me DEBBIE DOWNER.

Anonymous 3:31 AM  

If you listen to the Iris Dement video, “Let the Mystery Be,” which is a charming song,
you will hear reference to “sweet pea.” Did Rex know this line was included, or was this
just a brilliant coincidence. My guess: the former. Despite his curmudgeonry, OFL seems
to know everything about everything. How else could he solve these puzzles with such
ease?

tc

Anonymous 4:22 AM  

Once I finished—fast—I had ZERO interest in deciphering the mystery. I sometimes think the constructors enjoy their work more than we enjoy solving. It’s like, “Hey, hey, look me and at all the work I put into this.”

Anonymous 4:32 AM  

My wife and I were extensively frustrated by the 92/93/94 numbering error in the paper edition. The SE corner stayed blank for most of Saturday. I guess the NYT can't afford copy editors any more. :(

JOHN X 5:00 AM  

I totally solved this puzzle but had no idea what was going on.

I solve on the iPad, so I looked at the notes, but didn't see anything. The explanation was below, and I would have had to scroll down, but after 8 weeks of quarantine I did not have the spare brain cells to do that. I used them all in solving the puzzle.

I always like everything (I have no taste) which means I could possibly also like you. But this is Rex's blog and I like to get in the spirit of things and hate an answer. I'm going to hate ONEVOTE. I think this is very unfair. I'm a veteran and here on Memorial Day (even though I'm not dead) I think veterans should get TWO votes.

I'm right, you know.

Ciao, babes

Anonymous 6:09 AM  


definitely a DNF. Not helped by the paper NYT having a huge error in the SE with 92, 93 and 94 not numbered correctly. Should have been a fun puzzle but as Re says, the fill was just yukky.
M

Lewis 6:16 AM  

SO creative and out of the box! Look at that kaleidoscope grid design, take in the clever conceit behind the suspects' names, note the diamond-shaped MCGUFFIN. A crossword that doesn't just spur the brain with some thorny areas, doesn't just play around with words for a theme, no, it actually tells a story! What a fun and fresh use of squares in a square, dropped down from Oz by one with a twinkle in his eye. This was, for me, a buoyant solve of a grid with an ascendant wow factor, by an AC set on high. Bravo and thank you!

tavara 6:22 AM  

how could they let this puzzle get out with 2 92D? does anyone edit?

ZenMonkey 6:42 AM  

Glad I came to see the reaction because it gave me the opportunity to send a screenshot of the correct clues from the app to my mother, who solves on paper. She is a connoisseur of both the NYT puzzle (since Farrar) and of mysteries, so I’m anxiously awaiting her review.

I think it’s fun to see new ways to use the crossword format. Maybe this one didn’t hit all the right notes, but I enjoyed the concept and the originality.

BarbieBarbie 6:44 AM  

The staff members were DRESSED AS the celebrities, so yes, they needed name tags, @Rex.

Solved on iPad, no numbering issues. Saw the wordy explanation so I skipped reading it until the grid was filled in, then went back and read it, made the name connections, and made myself find the diamond before reading anything about the puzzle.
I even misdirected myself into thinking the shaded room-shapes must have a meaning, so there were more moments of entertainment looking, followed by a feeling of giving up, followed by joy when I realized I’d gotten everything. Yay! I liked this one.

Rex's complaints about the definition of a McGuffin are stupid. It’s a puzzle, you’re done in 8 (or 18) minutes; how much character development do you want?

Diver 6:46 AM  

This was a complete waste of time. On to the the LA Times and Washington Post. Hopefully something more worthwhile there. I'd say more, but Rex has already said it. I rarely agree with him, but today . . . hoo boy!

lukiegrifpa 6:47 AM  

Me too. I was totally convinced the 92D absence was related to the ultimate solve. Wasted a great deal of time on it. Oh well.

Hungry Mother 6:48 AM  

No idea what was going on. I couldn’t relate it to Clue. But, somehow I got it done anyway, and in good time.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

Oof, baaad puzzle. I’d like a good crossword or a good mystery. This is a bad puzzle and uninteresting mystery. We suffer entries like osmosed and the compass as nesw? Not good.

Unknown 6:53 AM  

Best part of this puzzle was to hear Iris Dement at the incredible Trans Atlantic Sessions. Also brought back memories of John Prine. Thanks for that Rex.

QuasiMojo 7:04 AM  

I saw a post somewhere yesterday promoting this puzzle as some sort of fascinating tribute to Hitchcock, who often used a MacGuffin in his plots (think of the uranium in "Notorious") but this didn't seem to have anything to do with Hitch or even the great mystery writers. This was almost as bad as the movie version of Clue. Complicated, yes. Confusing, AHEAP. Clever and amusing?? NOS.

After I was done, I pondered the suspect names. I knew Cole Porter. Expected Rhett Butler; Dane Cook; Elaine Page; Samuel Barber; Carleton Carpenter and Adam Driver, whom I only know from crosswords. But there were apparently lots of people I've never heard of. TIKI?

Most of all the themed clues were dull and dippy and endless.

And what could be more of a letdown than the geeky product placement for Apple?

Re CHET Baker, he is not only a boomer fave, as Z points out, he is the TOAST of the current Gen Z hipster set. He has legs. I would prefer to listen to Yma SUMac, but that's just me.

amyyanni 7:10 AM  

S'pose I am easily amused as I loved this. Going to go look up Tiki and Gerald now, so I will learn something.

Stix 7:23 AM  

Came here for “This puzzle manages to ruin crosswords and mysteries, two things I love, simultaneously.” Was not disappointed.

Unknown 7:37 AM  

Couldn't agree more...how could Rex not even address the error

Leslie 7:40 AM  

Absolutely loved it! So clever!

Jofried 7:44 AM  

Didn’t read the note, never do, had no idea what was going on, thought the suspects were just random names and honestly if I had read the notes I’m not sure it would have helped as I’ve never heard of most of these celebrities. Blech.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Great puzzle! Can someone explain to me 93A "That's ___" (answer: TVS)?

GILL I. 7:58 AM  

Poirot and Miss Marple must be turning over in their graves.

C. Dreyfus 8:18 AM  

OMG. 52D!! It's a tribute puzzle to Michael.

pabloinnh 8:30 AM  

Bad, bad start with LLAMAS instead of ALPACA, which was getting me nowhere, so I skipped around blithely here and there and eventually finished the whole thing. Noticed that the first names, which in solving seemed completely random, matched the occupations. Oh. OK. Missed, like some others here, the MCGUFFIN in the middle. Drat.

OK for a Sunday but I couldn't help thinking it was way more interesting to construct than to solve. I'm just considering it to be a fine tribute to the M&A, who frequently references McGuffins in his own inimitable puzzle analyses. Thanks for a noble effort and a good workout, AC.

ChuckD 8:33 AM  

I don’t know what to make of this one - I guess I can appreciate the attempt at changing it up but the result is rough. Once the trick was apparent - it went quick but not something I wanted on a Sunday.

EdFromHackensack 8:34 AM  

PS What was the clue to STEELY? and TVS? I am still reeling there was such a huge error in the SE corner. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure it out. Is Will going to offer an apology? this is worse than ELKS

BMB 8:42 AM  

Solved on an iPad, where there WERE no notes. Went to Rex to try to figure out WTF it was all about. Blarg.

Nancy 8:46 AM  

Maybe the most fun I've had on a puzzle all year. You should know that I'm a former editor of The Mystery Guild and that I love whodunits.

I got this !!!!!! -- without seeing the McGuffin Diamond at all. I just saw the "X".

So my thinking process was this: TIM "Cook" is the CEO of APPLE, so if "the thief" left behind an APPLE SWEAT SHIRT, TIM is the thief, natch (85A).

Now, there are many suspects' rooms TO THE WEST of TIM's, but none are due west. So which one should I choose? Oh, wait -- now I see the "X" and it's due west of TIM's room. That must be it. Why can't X be a room? X marks the spot. X always marks the spot. Natch.

What a wonderful puzzle!!! I hope a wonderful time was had by all. It certainly was by me.

pmdm 8:52 AM  

It is always possible to ignore a theme when solving a crossword puzzle. It is even possible to ignore the meta solution. Harder to ignore mis-numbered entries in the grid.

Had I ignored the meta aspect, I would have understood the problem with the numbers. As it was, I did not complete the SE section of the puzzle. And as one who is poor at PPP, ignored the list of suspects (even though I correctly thought they were somehow related to the grid entires. And completely missed the McGuffin in the grid.

Given the constraints imposed by the theme clues [all 13(!) of them - taking McGuffin as an entry - strewn about the puzzle] I am mightily impressed that somehow the gird did not become a complete mess. And since I try not to overthink the puzzle, I care much care that the true meaning of the word - as used by Hitchcock - is really not reflected. Except maybe from the point of view that the concept tied together the puzzle but was ignorable when actually solving it. At least for me.

I enjoyed playing Clue a lot when I was younger. I would have preferred the diamond to have been hidden in one of the two tunnels that are part of the game. And for the life of me, I don't understand why I always insisted upon being Miss Scarlet, since I am in no way transgender. Other than having liked the color red.

By the way, there is a link provided in the XWordInfo.com site to the NYT explanation to the solution of the meta theme. Perhaps more lucid than the "story" attached to the puzzle.

Nancy 8:55 AM  

Thought for the day: I haven't read the comments yet, but anyone who allows Rex to mar/spoil/pour cold water on/ruin/taint/undermine/debase/degrade/or contaminate the pure delight of this puzzle in any way is a bloody masochist.

kitshef 8:57 AM  

Fantastic idea for a puzzle with terrible execution.

Top issues:
1) Inadequately famous celebrities. I still don’t know who GERARD, TIM, and CHET are.
2) Crossing names with names: most notably crossing a very uncommon TIKI with the very uncommon CIMINO, but also MINNIE with NONI.
3) Once you have the whole grid filled in, you are apparently supposed to know that one of the celebrities is associated with Apple (or possibly apples). Which one? Don’t know and don’t care.
4) SEAweed and SEAroom.

Mary 8:57 AM  

Loved it! Fun crossword even if I didn’t find it! Able to complete on my own which isn’t always the case.

OffTheGrid 9:00 AM  

I'm definitely in the thumbs down group. I usually don't read titles or notes before solving but today I did. My first instinct was to not waste my time. Just hit REVEAL and quickly check it out. I didn't. I went ahead because I like to do puzzles and the theme was not much of an obstacle to simply doing it.

Piling on: The clue for AMITY (14D) was in error. Good will used in this sense is TWO words, not one. Goodwill is the non-profit organization we're all familiar with.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

X? There's no X in the online version.

Nancy 9:07 AM  

A huge HUGE thank you to @Joe Dipinto for letting us know early (yesterday) about the errors in the cluing from 92-95 and for being so wonderfully specific about how they should be rectified. If I had gotten to almost the very end of my solve and not been able to finish the puzzle for that reason (which might well have happened) it would have ruined a perfectly wonderful puzzle for me. My sympathies to those who didn't see Joe's earlier comment and had their solving experience spoiled or even thwarted. A real shame.

Sgreennyc 9:07 AM  

Rex was clued in this puzzle: Debbie Downer.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Anonymous said: Can someone explain to me 93A "That's ___" (answer: TVS)?

That's the clue to 92A, and the answer is AMORE. In the paper puzzle there were two 92s in the grid. I (and no doubt many others) thought it was also the clue to what is really 93A but was labeled 92A. I was thinking along the lines of That's ALL.

RooMonster 9:13 AM  

Hey All !
Today is proof that it's true you lose brain cells when you are younger and drinking at bars. I couldn't figure out the mystery. Biggest fault of that, the one name I heard of, but didn't know who he is, TIM COOK. Once I got APPLE SWEATSHIRT, I knew it was The APPLE Computer Company, but not grokking TIM COOK as the APPLE guy left me with searching for some non-existent diamond somewhere in all the Green Shaded areas. (@Z, they were shaded Green in the NYT puzzle site.)

Never thought it would be the titular MCGUFFIN Diamond, looking for something like the HOPE diamond being hidden in a shaded area.

I do give major props and two thumbs way up for the idea and the execution to Andrew. Awesome piece of construction. Solving was OK, and props also to those with the required brain cells to figure it out.

I was also imagining if all those shaded areas were circles instead. Yowza, that would've been a nightmare!

Had my famous one-letter DNF, STAMaN/aNTERO. Defensible, if you ask me. So I guess you'd call this a double DNF, ad missed that one letter and missed the dang MCGUFFIN. I was wondering why the center "room" had so many odd Abbrs. there. UAL, UOFA, NSEW, ENV. But did enjoy the F-ness of it!

A different type puz, which was NICE. Probably about as good as can be expected for something like this.

Having __MO_S for 83A, I put in raMOneS!

@All
Misnumbered squares as 143 others have mentioned. Go back to Rex's write-up, scroll to the end, and you'll see it. I probably wouldn't have finished if I ran into that. I do online or print out (when I go to work) on the actual day from the NYTs site, so it's usually correct. YAY ME!

Three F's (all in Center, two in theme)
FAR FUNKy
RooMonster
DarrinV

Jstarrracewalker 9:16 AM  

The editing error should not have caused me as much of a problem as it did, but my one-track brain created the idea that the missing 93D contained the solution to the mystery or the name of the thief or - or? So eventually gave up in frustration. Sigh!

Diane&Dick 9:18 AM  

I disregarded the Apple Sweatshirt clue and decided CHET Baker was the thief, and the room to his west, which had the word "oven" spelled backwards, was where he had hidden the diamond (perhaps inside a loaf of bread??) Oh well, despite being completely off the beam, I greatly enjoyed this puzzle!

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

This was fun, and the depth of the theming is quite amazing.
There are times your whining reaches intolerable levels, Rex. This is one of them.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

It's very hard to understand why someone who has little appreciation of and derives no pleasure from crosswords wants to write about them daily. Even harder to understand why anyone would compare a crossword with a mystery theme to an actual mystery novel.

TJS 9:28 AM  

I am totally amazed. This is a Sunday. Does anyone remember that Sunday NYT puzzles are usually total wastes of time, simply requiring fill-in-the-blank exercises, but longer than Mondays or Tuesdays? This puzzle at least had more going for it than that.

Loved OFL's review. It seemed to me that I could just hear him sputtering in rage as he couldn't get his outrage expressed fast enough. And I have a nomination for the best comment of the year :@anon. 3:31, "Despite his curmudgeonry, Rex seems to know everything about everything". Mike drop...

Interesting how some can't wait to adopt the latest insulting term from the twitterverse as their own. OK Boomer, indeed.

Loved the Chet Baker story, Joe.

RooMonster 9:29 AM  

**This is a SB post, skip if you are sick to death of hearing about it!**

Maybe the ole brain has finally woken up today? Got QB in just about 5 minutes! Yow. Third time for me since started Beeing about two months ago when I was furloughed by this CV (CoronaVirus). YesterBee got me short 5, of which I should've gotten 2 of them. But what the hell was that 8-letterer that started with BIB? If Anyone got that, I'd be impressed!

RooMonster Triple Queen Guy

F.O.G. 9:38 AM  

Today I had an epiphany. My enjoyment in a Sunday puzzle is oftentimes inversely proportional to Rex's contempt for same. This was the most fun I've had solving a puzzle in years. Thank you Mr. Chaikin (and Will).

Nancy 9:39 AM  

Despite my unqualified rave, I forgot to praise the humor of this puzzle. Well done, Andrew Chaikin. Using the word McGuffin for the Manor, the Diamond, the Lady and the grid design clue is inspired. For those of us who are die-hard Hitchcock fans, the meaning of the term is probably well-known and brings back memories of "North by Northwest"; "Notorious"; "The 39 Steps"; "The Lady Vanishes"; "The Man Who Knew Too Much" et al. The McGuffin sets the plot in motion, but then you sort of forget about it. Hitch described it as "the thing the spies really, really care about, but the audience doesn't." Quiz*: Name the McGuffin in each of the aforementioned Hitchcock films.

*I can't either.

Birchbark 9:43 AM  

Many of these celebrities need their name tags.

In corporate elections, ONE VOTE per share is often the rule. One person with a 51% stake has a controlling interest and outvotes the thousands who hold the other 49%.

@Rex, your Maltese Falcon photo -- I read about half of that novel yesterday and will finish it today. It really is a blueprint for the noir genre. (And it's hard to read without putting Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet into the voices of Peter Cairo and Mr. Gutman, a blessing and a curse when reading the original.)

If I owned a controlling interest in a production company, I would remake the Maltese Falcon stripped entirely of the noir conventions and stereotypes which have since become a comfortable kind of dogma, just go back to novel's precision and see what it looks like on the screen, including Spade's interior life (or lack thereof) as reflected in his facial expressions. Everything would be anchored squarely in the late 1920s, when the novel was written. I would ask David Lynch to direct it.

DRY MOPS crossing WRINGER. This janitor hasn't really been himself lately.

Cliff 9:46 AM  

I loved the cleverness of this puzzle, and working through the mystery actually helped my solve. Fun. So Rex's dismantling of my joy was not so welcome ... UNTIL I got to the "HYMN FUNK" part of his review, where Rex totally redeemed himself! I haven't laughed that hard in awhile!

marykathleen 9:49 AM  

I loved this puzzle! It gave so much more to think about. Many puzzles to figure out. Thumbs up,

KnittyContessa 9:55 AM  

I absolutely loved it! I always read the notes, for me it adds to the experience and today's notes loomed large on the page. Reading it, I was so excited for the adventure in solving and it did not disappoint! What a fun week of solving it's been!

George 9:57 AM  

CIMINO crossing TIKI?? Really, I never heard of either of these people. Totally agree with Rex on this one. What a stupid puzzle. But I liked SEAROOM, and Rex included an Iris Demint video in the write up, so I suppose all is not lost.

GG 10:00 AM  

OMG, Rex I love you but how churlish you are today! Is it the social distancing? This was the best puzzle in years! Just like the old days

Ed Rosenthal 10:03 AM  

Loved this puzzle. And if I HATED any activity as much as Rex Parker hates solving the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle EVERY WEEK, I’d stop doing it...

oisk17 10:12 AM  

I seldom disagree with @Nancy! This is one of those times. I figured out fairly quickly that I had to add "one" to 92,93, and 94, and decided that it was probably a printing error. And so I completed the grid without too much difficulty. (But DNF because I never heard of a "genre" called "funk." I had "punk," which gave me "pava" for a bean...)
And I never connected the names to the professions, and some of them were unfamiliar anyway..No t knowing who Tim Cook is made the sweatshirt "clue" meaningless, - I tried to relate it to 56 across "IMAC", so I "correctly" assumed that the diamond was in the parlor....
I agree that this is brilliantly constructed, but more frustration than fun, as far as I was concerned.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

I didn’t solve the mystery completely...but it was fun.....
Although I never heard of some of the suspects...
Fan? Swing and miss?

double_a 10:22 AM  



Is anyone else offended by nooses in your Sunday crossword?

CDilly52 10:22 AM  

@Frantic Sloth, 1:48. Very nicely said. And funny!

Hartley70 10:27 AM  

This was a marvelous Sunday solve for me and even Rex’s negative review can’t spoil my pleasure this morning. It wasn’t difficult but it was such FUN! Thank you for brightening day 162 million of social distancing.

BT 10:29 AM  

That 92 across answer is “That’s amore” then the typo, which is actually 93 across, so that answer is “some modern ones are smart”: TVs

BT 10:34 AM  

Besides the numbering glitch, there’s also a typo at the end of the 83 down clue, where there should be a parenthesis and not a bracket. Never saw multiple typos in a NYT crossword before.

BillT 10:41 AM  

@double_a - Not me. I think it is much less stressful to go through life not looking for things to be offended by.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Where does it say the staff were dressed as the “celebrities”? How would one dress as, say, Minnie Driver anyway? That would explain the Apple sweatshirt though.

AW 10:44 AM  

Not my cup of tea. I had no idea what the shaded areas were supposed to be (those are rooms?), no idea about most of the celebrity names (Tiki, Chet, Ellen, Karen, Minnie who?) [I thought the latter might be Mouse.) I thought APPLE SWEATSHIRT was weird. Had to read Rex to learn about the whole "McGuffin spelled out around the middle cross" thing and the identities of the celebrities, still largely unknown to me. Hats off to the constructor for sheer effort but this is one of those puzzles that sacrifices solving experience for cleverness. Sorry, thumbs down.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Not I.

CorsairAffair 10:47 AM  

Can someone explain the suspect numbering to me? Suspect #1 in NW, then jumping to #7 in north-mid, etc. Feels like it must be part of the theme but I'm not groking

DCDavid20003 10:50 AM  

First time ever commenting n here. Felt compelled because this was fun and lighthearted and perfect for a Sunday in the 10th week of quarantine. FFS Rex, lighten up. Let us have a little joy. Sometimes you really know how to ruin things.

OffTheGrid 10:52 AM  

I did not notice it until I read you. The E subscription has (through} on 83D. A hybrid?

O’Gie 11:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sofia DB 11:03 AM  

Same!!

Sofia DB 11:04 AM  

Same!!

Joe Dipinto 11:05 AM  

@CorsairAffair – the suspects are numbered by their positions in the clues: the Across clues contain 1-6 in order, the Downs have 7 & 8.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

@ AV: Amen

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@OffTheGrid:
Goodwill is the non-profit organization we're all familiar with.

In lower-case, it's how corporations hide over priced assets, usually ones they bought.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwill_(accounting)

Couldn't find a 5 letter synonym for 'stupid'.

CorsairAffair 11:11 AM  

Ah! Duh. Thank you!

Frantic Sloth 11:19 AM  

Was there a problem with the grid today? I'm getting a whiff of irritation from the commentariat.
Seriously, could there be a worse time for such a snafu?? It's Sunday - arguably the prima donna of the XWord week and not only do you commit an epic fail in the grid, it just so happens it's smack-dab in the big fat middle of a mystery theme, thereby adding that extra level of je n'ais ce quoi-TF to every poor solver-schlub's tsuris. This is a blunder of the highest magnitude and completely indefensible. Had I been solving on paper and ran into that "mystery meat" of an error, I wouldn't be as kind as some of the victims here. I wouldn't be as kind as this comment. Z
End rant.

@Roo 929am Congrats on your SB conquests! I'm one word away from QB today and it's making me a little crazy. (See previous section of this comment)
@Nancy 939am I looked up the McGuffins for all of those films and I still don't know what they are. Fun to be me!

@CDilly52 1022am Thank you! I always enjoy your posts, so I'm quite flattered.

@Anonymous 1111am "Couldn't find a 5 letter synonym for 'stupid'." Hint: What's an orange bloat-bag that's squatting in the White House?

JC66 11:23 AM  

@Anon 10:42

"Where does it say the staff were dressed as the “celebrities”? How would one dress as, say, Minnie Driver anyway?"


Read both the clues and and the answers for 25A & 39A in their entirety.

Nancy 11:26 AM  

@OISK -- I understand completely and I sympathize. Normally, like you, I don't like puzzles that are based in any way on proper names. Here, I was fortunate enough to know TIM Cook and who he is. If one doesn't know TIM, as you evidently didn't, you can't figure out who the murderer is. And that's certainly a big weakness in the puzzle, though it wasn't a problem for me.

Almost all the names rang a bell for me, even when I didn't have a clue what many of these people actually do. But all I needed was the bell. I got COLE Porter first, a gimme, TIKI Barber, another gimme, and I've heard of CHET Baker, KAREN Carpenter, and MINNIE Driver. I think they're all entertainers of some sort? It doesn't matter, though -- it's all about their occupation-derived last names. There were a couple of names I didn't know, but none of them was the murderer, nor did their "rooms" figure into the solution, so they didn't prevent me from getting the meta.

You might have really liked this puzzle, OISK, had you known who TIM is. Since you didn't, your not liking it is very easy to understand.

xyz 11:27 AM  

I'm perplexed Rex didn't spout "I figured this out way before I filled in the puzzle". Well - I sure as hell did. I liken this to solving 10 mini puzzles and reading the easy to deduce whilst solving theme 'spanners' to get the answer really quickly and without much, no make that no challenge whatsoever.

As I said somewhere else, the best part of this is that a Monday level puzzle solver can do this one (maybe even in INK!) and check off a life achievement box.

X - #1354 - Finish a Sunday NYT Crossword without cheating!

LIFE ACHIEVEMENT ACHIEVED!

Only kudo to the puzzle was the diamond MCGUFFIN, the rest was the very definition of meh.

Frantic Sloth 11:30 AM  

*run πŸ™„
Always brilliant to commit an error while ranting about another error. I continue to amaze myself.

egsforbreakfast 11:31 AM  

I’m absolutely awe-struck that this puzzle could work as well as it does with everything that’s going on within. Many of the criticisms are valid, but I doubt that it could have been done a lot better within its obvious constraints. To Rex with his demand for character development, I would suggest that a 200 page crossword puzzle would prove unpopular.

@John X 5:00 am. If you’ve got no taste you should get checked for Covid.

CDilly52 11:33 AM  

I’m a sucker for this type puzzle. Puts me in the WBAC (“wayback”) machine and I’m off with Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman to my youth - when I watched Rocky and Bullwinkle religiously.

This was the kind of Sunday puzzle that would literally put a sparkle in Gran’s eye. She would never. Never. N.E.V.E.R. open her Sunday NYT that Dad picked up at the newsstand for her until afternoon. I learned from a very early age - way before my crossword study began, that nobody opens Gran’s Times but Gran. The Times was hers. Her luxury and the only thing in her about which she was at all possessive.

So, Sunday. Everyone was back from church and Sunday dinner was under way and the afternoon break began. She would read all the news and her many other favorite parts, share the sports news with Dad and I would be practically salivating to get to the puzzle. She would give me a few little glances, sitting there in “her” recliner with her feet up, looking a lot like Yoda. Today, I can see a speech bubble above her head: “Patience my young Padawan.” When she was ready, she would always say, “well, let’s see what kind of fun we will have today.” Back almost sixty years ago, the NYTXW had more of the (to @Rex wholly objectionable) cleverness in the Sunday puzzles: pictures or shapes, really silly themes and we enjoyed them. As tough and daunting as the giant grid could be, it entertained. Gran would open it up, fold the page back so we could easily see the whole grid, put it on her lap desk and say, “well, let’s see what we can see.” She liked constructor notes on Sundays and said it gave us a little head start. As the puzzle unfolded and the theme revealed itself, she would always react enthusiastically with little laugh and a wink at me when “we” figured it out. She would have just adored this one!

Thank you Mr. Chaikin for a vintage Sunday. I truly appreciate the time and effort you spent to create this complex drama and enjoyed not only the solve, but the memories it evoked. Loved the multi-layers of the experience. I almost missed the McGuffin because of the struggle to complete all the answers. But as I surveyed the grid, checking for all the “characters,” I felt Gran prodding me as she would occasionally do when I was ready to give up. “Check everything,” she would always say. It was great life training, that. Measure twice, cut once. Always check your work. And, with an enjoyable puzzle such as this, she would always review the cleverness and say, now that was fun.!” Amen!

Newboy 11:34 AM  

Yep, better than the usual Sunday slog. Read Rex & could see why he was chagrined and then read comments up to @Franticsloth (1:48) who said all I had been thinking. I’ve always loved Rex’s song with its MYSTERY & SWEE PEA, though better versions exist; perfect choice for today’s grid. iPad solvers missed out on the yellowed grid or green painted rooms, but it was NICE to have something different to make the weekend incarceration bearable πŸ˜‰. Guess I’ll check back later to finish posts and see what else I missed.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Egads, Rex. This was really cute, a play on Clue and all. Pity about the mess in the print edition at 92 / 93 though!

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

For someone who hates the NYT crossword puzzle so much and keeps writing this idiotic blog that is so trite that it must appeal to utterly bored people, I have only a few word of advice: get a life.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Same!

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

πŸ₯°

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

but that makes sense for Tim Cook being the thief! I can see why you thought that.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Wait! Rex didn't like it? Badge of honor in the community! Even more reason for the constructor to celebrate a remarkably creative effort! Cheers!

burtonkd 12:00 PM  


ASIAN HYMN FUNK is actually a thing, enjoy:)

Whether or not the audience cares about the McGuffin, it seems okay to use it in this context because the characters in the puzzle care about it. McGuffin in the shape of a Diamond is pretty clever. Must confess that I completed the puzzle, but didn't take the time to figure out the gimmick. Fill seemed pretty good, if mostly full of shorter words other than the themer phrases.

Frantic Sloth 12:01 PM  

@Z I wasn't calling your name in my 1119am comment. I have no idea where that "Z" even came from. Perhaps it fell out of my spazz, where I apparently keep my extras.

@egsforbreakfast 1131am Nice one re: the folly of "character devolopment"!

@CDILLY52 1133am Rocky & Bullwinkle rule! I used to recite (both parts of) the various "watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat" snippets ad nauseam. I was a charming child. Loved your Gran story. What a gem she was!

Question of the day: What's more pathetic? Someone who doesn't "get a life" or the one who's ready and available to point it out?

Knitwit 12:01 PM  

Me too!

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Never ever heard of Tiki Barber. Should have figured sports-related. Also wanted Anita for Baker, but yes I know Chet. I was glomming onto celebrity name thing and at first had "Loren" for Karen. Then matching surname with job description clicked. Completely flummoxed by print edition error, also thought it had to do with mystery, and still didn't get "that's tvs" until saw explained above.

burtonkd 12:09 PM  

@CDilly52 - thanks for sharing the beautiful memory. Reminds me of solving with my mom, and wondering how she knew everything. As I progressed and she has recently receded, it is a milepost of life when we get together to do these.

Robt 12:14 PM  

I don't understand the complaint that there wasn't a full story here. It's a crossword puzzle, and in that limited format we were provided a Sunday crossword, a mystery, and a fun whodunnit with enough info to appreciate the story that was provided. I am reminded of the old Infocom (and others) text-only computer games ("You are standing in an open field....") where one's imagination did so much to paint the picture. I started this puzzle late last night and, like a good story, literally could not put it down until I finished (despite drowsiness and better judgment telling me to finish it in the morning). Glad I stayed up for this. It was far more than I ever would have expected from any crossword, and was a fun and well-done change of pace. Loved it.

Ernonymous 12:18 PM  

@anon 11:41 This blog does appeal to me, I like the writing style and the ranting amuses me. But you are right, I am utterly bored. But why do I need to Get A Life? Why is this important to you? If I enjoy the blog as part of my leisure time, that I have tons of, that's my choice. Why does it bother you that I don't have a life? What do you suggest I do that would be getting a life enough to appease you?

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Thanks for the explanation. I completely agree with your assessment of the puzzle. Should have picked up my current Nero Wolf book instead.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

I appreciated the theme (love a good Clue-like mystery), and the note helped me quite a bit in the solving, but the reveal about the Apple sweatshirt soured me on the whole experience. I ended up wasting time going down an Internet rabbit hole to nowhere trying to figure out if Apple sweatshirts were a pop culture thing I just missed at some point. Ugh.

David 12:35 PM  

Wife did it yesterday in the magazine. When I walked by and asked how it was she said something like, "Oh it's stupid. It's just their first names." I take it from the above this was not the fault of the constructor.

I did it this morning on the MacBook. Didn't read the long introduction, rarely even look at the Sunday puzzle names for clues. Slog of a slog with little of interest for me. No clue whose first names they were (I actually presumed Minnie Pearl). Finished, started reading the intro and got even more bored, came here for Rex's rant. Was not disappointed, except I wanted him to go on a bit about "UofA" along with the "the".

Not for me.

Elle54 12:44 PM  

Loved it!!!!!!!!

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

I've never fully understood what kind of answer would constitute "green paint." But I suspect THE ONE TO THE WEST OF HERE qualifies quite nicely.

I had THE ONE TO THE WEST OF and figured the remainder was very likely to be either HERE or THIS, but neither worked with my downs (which were all wrong because of the numbering issue).

Bill Weeden 12:53 PM  

Me too, and I wound up thinking the thief was Steely Dan, since all the letters got shoved to the outside of the grid and came out “STEELY.” That printing error was a real problem.

Maddie 12:53 PM  

So Rex Parker:
First, I read your page every week -- after I finish the puzzle, natch.
You are smart and well versed -- but such a snark. Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE snarkiness. It is an art.
However, week after week, month after month, nay, year after year, you've got nuthin' but disses for the constructor or the puzzle. Listen, some puzzles are better than others -- more clever, more engaging, more memorable -- but there seems to be NOTHING that pleases you. Even a little. Putting everyone and everything down wears thin and -- worse! -- reflects not on the endless array of your disappointments but on YOU. You make yourself look petty -- and I suspect over a glass of wine you might be quite charming.
Just to say, though -- the best and most talented people I know, the "real deals," are NEVER the ones you take mean stabs at everybody and everything. People who do that are usually the most insecure. I don't know, Rex -- here's hoping you find more generosity of spirit.

Carola 12:55 PM  

I appreciated the effort to do something different on a Sunday and eagerly pursued the clues to the crime through the grid....until the missing 92D in the SE corner (in the mag) was one red herring too far and caused enthusiasm to flag. I rallied to the extent of being able to identify TIM as the thief, but my search of the parlor was in vain, as, like some others here, I had my eye out for a diamond rather than a MCGUFFIN.

sixtyni yogini 12:57 PM  

Same here with print error. Thought it was part of or the solve of the mystery. Might have liked puzzle better otherwise. πŸ‘ŽπŸ½πŸ₯ŠπŸ€―πŸ₯ŠπŸ‘ŽπŸ½.

NY Composer 12:59 PM  

Enjoyed this a lot. The Apple sweatshirt is a lame “solve” but other than that it’s a fun and diverting puzzle. Rex wants a fleshed-out Agatha Christie thriller packed into a crossword. Hey, it’s a crossword puzzle!

Unknown 1:00 PM  

HEY REX—— TRY TAKING YOUR SSRI AT BEDTIME. YOU VERY WELL MAY HAVE WELL-BEING ON WAKING, AND TAKE PLEASURE IN THE SUNDAY PUZZLE WITH THE REST OF US.

Brooks 1:08 PM  

I'm with you Lewis. Thought it was very clever and innovative adding a new dimension to a crossword puzzle. The editing error didn't help...at first I thought it was part of the mystery...but I got it finally. And I am not about to slay Will Shortz like so many others. Like the bumper sticker says...**it happens.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

My first time commenting here. I don't know much about you, Rex, but I never thought you were very old. However, reading your review makes me think you are a grumpy old man. Possibly? This was a fun puzzle, I just didn't make it all the way to the mystery solution. I was SURE you'd have a positive review for this puzzle.

PGregory Springer 1:19 PM  

Puzzles within puzzles. A four course meal of puzzles. What a shame some people think snarfing it down in ten minutes is an accomplishment. I savored it and solved it along the way. Delicious.

Joe Welling 1:23 PM  

I loved it. The bonus themers ALOU and IMAC were great.

My only quibble is that "HERE" did not fall in the room to which it referred. I spent a lot of time thinking the Inspector caught up with the thief in the baker's room (rather than in his own) and therefore I looked in vain for the diamond in the carpenter's room before spotting it in the parlour, and understanding that HERE meant over there in the cook's room.

CaryinBoulder 1:26 PM  

@anonymous @10:18 — the “swing and a miss” clue refers to baseball: “There’s another 102 mph fastball from Randy Johnson ... and the batter just FANS at it.”

Well now, this one would’ve been so much more fun for me if I’d seen the notes, which I didn’t. So it was just a bunch of random names leaving me with a DNF when I crossed TImI (Random name( with AmINTO (“Like”). Made perfect sense to me, given the rest of the fill. And now it’s prevented me from coming here to say how enthusiastically I AM INTO BENTO. Needless to say, I never saw the central diamond either. So this was a pretty terrific feat of construction that I definitely did not appreciate while solving.

Is Chet Baker really a Boomer icon, as someone here complained? I’m of that generation and Chet was 19 years older than me. I certainly wasn’t listening to him when he hit the scene in the ‘50s and neither was anyone else I know — and most of my friends were very much into music. I knew about him but didn’t really get into his orbit until I saw the film, “Let’s Get Lost.” He was a giant of jazz and one of those artists you simply MUST appreciate if you want to have any claim to musical literacy, i.e., timeless.

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Different. Kinda like different. Sooo … kinda liked this puppy.
But, but …

Exhibit A. There are two mcguffins to suss out in this puz:

1. The Moo-cow Eazy-E McGuffin: We found the diamond pronto, due to the obvious diamond-shape of the Parlor room. No sweat.
2. The McGuffin of Mystery: Where the heck is the APPLESWEATSHIRT? That there 85-A (at least in my puz) clue assures us: "You find … an APPLESWEATSHIRT". But M&A ain't found that. No sweat. shirt.

Exhibit B.
Sooo … here's what we already know …
1. Tim Cook did it with the IMAC in the Parlor.
2. Andrew Chaikin did it with the NSEW [har] in the Parlor.
3. There are 9 rooms, which should -- for our convenience -- be called: that there Parlor room. the CUNY room. the AVEDA room. the ENTERO room. The AWN room [staff weeject pick, along with TIM, of course]. the REREAD room. the TAHINI room. the SWORE room. and the STEADY [ahar!].

Exhibit C.
What we therefore also know ...
1. We are told that the Cookmeister left an APPLESWEATSHIRT in the STEADY room.
2. FRAT is in the STEADY. FRAT anagrams to FART.
3. The PARLOR room has the most U's in it. [just sayin.]
4. TASSEL is in the STEADY. TASSEL anagrams to STEALS.
5. SWEATSHIRT anagrams to ITS WEST HAR.
6. FALA the dog mighta drug the SWEATSHIRT off to the basement?
7. M&A don't have a clue.

M&A has got to think …
I shall retire to the SEA ROOM and contemplate a cinnamon roll. yeah.

Thanx for the day-um mysterious SunPuz, Mr. Chaikin.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

sixtyni yogini 1:28 PM  

Just because one critiques a puzzle - mostly backing it up with valid reasons - doesn’t mean everyone and anyone can’t find it enjoyable and interesting even with its flaws pointed out. ✌🏼ENJOY ✌🏼 IMHO , one ☝️ can agree with the points made by the yeas and the nays and still enjoy the solve process. ⚡️😎⚡️

Z 1:32 PM  

Just to be clear, when I posted my early morning/late night comments there was only one comment showing and Rex’s blog post did not include the Tweet from the New York Times Games account. My 1:00 a.m. explanation of the typo was the first I was aware of. @Everyone asking does a TVS explanation after 1:00 a.m. - If you just glance through the early comments or actually read Rex’s post you will have your answer before you post.

@ROO - Green? Too funny. My NYTX iPad app renders the shaded rooms in gray while my PuzzAzz app renders the shaded rooms in the same piss yellow as the magazine. PuzzAzz so faithfully replicates the print version (something the software people at NYTX can’t seem to do) that I half expected to see the numbering snafu. But no, the PuzzAzz only has one 92 in the grid.

@QuasiMojo - IMHO liking CHET Baker is a signifier or hipness. Good on them. I almost changed my comment when I was reminded of him working with Elvis Costello. But then I remembered that both Elvis Costello and I are Boomers.

@OffTheGrid - Merriam-Webster says the first use of “goodwill” was before the 12th century.

@Birchbark - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½ for your janitor comment.

@Frantic Sloth12:01 - I thought you were saying my 1:00 a.m. comment was fairly gentle, and since it was no worries. No I’m hurt that you didn’t like my 1:00 a.m. comment. πŸ˜‰
Also, the only thing more pathetic than someone saying “get a life” is someone saying it who doesn’t even have a name. So sad.

Doc John 1:35 PM  

I cannot possibly hate a puzzle that has my last name in it!

Joaquin 1:41 PM  

@CDilly52 - What a lovely remembrance of your Grandmother. Your reminiscing (as well as @Malsdemare's story of her "yacht" a couple of days ago) does make me nostalgic for the "good old days", while wondering if today's children will have memories of the same quality and same power. Will playing video games with Grandpa evoke the same feelings that you get from remembering Grandma?

One thing I do know for sure: Our music was better!

JKGiants 1:43 PM  

Agree completely. I loved this puzzle. Why be so harshly negative? Even if you don’t like it, Rex, you come off as a snobby jerk. Sorry.

Lorelei Lee 1:44 PM  

@Richardf8, Slylock Fox! Thank you. Back in the paper paper days, I'd give the kids the Sunday funnies for that little adventure. As teenagers, they were still solving it because they loved its utter awfulness (along with everything else in that block). When they were in college, I'd text them a picture of it.

On to the puzzle. The NW corner baffled me. Nothing across, nothing down. Blank. Forgot about the concept of tattling. Thought, "Relate??" Kept picturing those chiefs with feathered capes, and reached back to the civil war for Charge! So that eliminated Aptly Dressed.

With that gap the puzzle was a meta experience, "What the hill is this thing about?"

And btw, how exactly does one dress as Gerard Butler?

What? 1:47 PM  

How to explain this mess? Because of the quarantine pandemic, Shortz must think we’ll accept anything, even misnumbered clues.

Masked and Anonymous 1:48 PM  

p.s.

Exhibit D[og].
1. FALA the dog clearly has the run of the mansion. There are big yellow puddles in very room.
2. FART was in the STEADY room. We blame all FARTs at our house on the dog.
3. STEALS [in the STEADY room] definitely points to the dog, since whenever we can't find a missin object at our mansion, we blame the dog.
4. The dog clearly then stole the APPLESWEATSHIRT, which was left in the STEADY room by TIM the Cook.
5. Dogs are apt to drag stuff off to darn near anywhere, to hide it.
6. Ergo, U won't find that SWEATSHIRT in any of the main rooms.
7. QED.

M&A Detective Agency and Dog Shamer.

jp flanigan 1:51 PM  

DNF...well, i finished with one error that I couldn't find. I've just never heard of AMANA appliances...so, I had EMANA (which looked equally weird to me, but EMIR looked right. Oh well.

Z 1:56 PM  

@CaryInBoulder - That was me and not quite what I said. CHET died in 1988, KAREN Carpenter in 1983. Of the two she she is probably the more widely known, but both are going to be more familiar to people 56 and older than people younger. I didn’t say it earlier, but Clue™️ has an OK Boomer feel to it, too. If you want to suggest the puzzle was written in the 21st century you might do something built around Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride or MineCraft or Animal Crossing. There were fresher PPP answers but the overall feel of the puzzle is still 1979.

@M&A reminded me of something else that was fingernails on chalkboard to my solve, NSEW. I typically write the directions as a word, NEWS. I can accept clockwise, NESW, I can accept top to bottom left to right, NSWE. But who writes the directions top to bottom right to left? When I was solving the random direction placement really bugged me, but then I had to suss out the typo and it stopped bothering me until our Mighty Masked One reminded me.

Pamela 2:00 PM  

I’ve been reading mysteries all my life, stating with the Bobbsey Twins, at least I think they were the first. I felt very adult when my father introduced me to Nero Wolfe and Ngaio Marsh, both of whom occasionally shows up here. By the time I was thirty I’d read all of Agatha, including, sadly, her last: Elephants Can Remember. My current list of favorites is nearly endless, as I discover new delights often.

So I was excited to see the theme today, and looked forward to having some fun. Unfortunately, there were some extra hurdles along the way. I solved in the app, so didn’t get the pre-amble. Without the setup, including the list of the help, I didn’t see the significance of the suspects names. And APPLESWEATSHIRT pointed nowhere, as has been mentioned.

In the app, clicking on ‘more info,’ where the preamble is today, leads to way too many solving hints, so I never go there until I’m finished. And today, as expected, just below the preamble there is way too much discussion of specific clues, which I would have been very unhappy to see in advance. Eventually, with that assistance, I did find the MCGUFFIN, completing the solve.

Nevertheless, even though I knew I was too much in the dark, I enjoyed working on this puzzle. Sprint took way too long to click, Eagle before EGRET, and SEAWEED was a revelation. Who knew? Glad I do now. Elon Musk has been in the news a lot lately, so TESLA was a gimme. TaKI /CaMINO blocked the happy music for far too long.

Another week gone, easy Monday coming up. Maybe soon NYC will be unlocked, at least a little. Much to look forward to. Sigh.



Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Andrew Chaiken the science writer, or another Andrew Chaiken?

Pamela 2:06 PM  

@John X- My brain cells are the same size and shape as yours, I didn’t scroll down, either. Thanks to you, now I know where to look next time I get stuck like this!

jberg 2:08 PM  

I figured out the numbering error pretty easily, once I noticed that there were two 92s, so I completed the grid but I couldn't figure out the mystery, partly because I knew only a few of the celebrities--well, 4 of them, Cole Porter, Chet Baker, Tim Cook, and Karen Carpenter. But I only noticed the match-the-name-with-the-job thing with CARPENTER. Naturally it then occurred to me what aptly-named meant, but I couldn't make it work. I couldn't get my mind off ELLEN Degeneres, since she's usually who people mean if they just say ELLEN. And partly because the APPLE SWEATSHIRT means it was TIM Cook thing was too obvious, so I never even considered it. Then I took THE ONE TO THE REST OF HERE to mean the room to the west of the word HERE in that answer, which would be the middle of the bottom. Lo and behold, there's a little diamond of Es running up 2 diagonal squares from the E in KAREN, then turning back inward to meet in square 108 -- which, unfortunately, has an S in it, but I was danged if I was going to think about it any more, so I came here.

Rex generally solves online, or from a printout, so he wouldn't have noticed the misnumbering until some paper solver pointed it out to him, whereupon he added a note about it at the end of his comments.

Rex's comments on SEA ROOM confirm once again how much of a landlubber he is. It surprises me every time.

Barbara S. 2:20 PM  

I have no time to blog today but I can see by the numbers of posts that this was a controversial one.

I'm here because of 1D: ALPACA (Source of the robe material for Incan royalty)

Reading that clue gave me a flash of what surely must be one of the strangest casting decisions in the history of Hollywood: Christopher Plummer as Atahualpa in the 1969 film "Royal Hunt of the Sun." Robert Shaw was in it, too, as Francisco Pizarro, half a dozen years before he got eaten by a shark as Quint in "Jaws." But back to Plummer -- his was a strange, oddly mesmerizing performance, but his presence in the role is completely unsuitable by today's standards.

However, here he is in all his glory. You'll see that he eschewed the ALPACA material and, in fact, just about everything else.

THE INCAN KING

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

NSEW??? That's the way I was taught decades ago, and the only way I express it. Here's a possible reason(s) why:
1 - the sign of the cross goes head, chest, right shoulder, left shoulder, which becomes NSEW (although, being totally lapsed, so not sure, but I recall that order of processions flipped sides in church and may be so did the shoulder touches. anyone?)
2 - the USofA was northeast centric when education began, North above South and East before West. southerners and westerners won't let us forget it
3 - they ain't the Great Lakes, which get mixed up as HOMES

QuasiMojo 2:27 PM  

I was beginning to wonder if the constructor was related to Maury Chaykin whonplayed Nero Wolfe years ago. But then I noticed the spelling diffΓ©rence.

PS re my mentioning Carleton Carpenter earlier. I forgot to add that he wrote some very funny mysteries of his own after his movie career was over.

Some of today's highly positive reviews make me wish I could go back and do the puzzle again with fresh eyes. I missed some of the subtleties. Just noticed NOOSES too. Hitchcock directed ROPE. :)

Frog Prince Kisser 2:42 PM  

@CDilly52 11:33 AM

Amen!

Crimson Devil 2:46 PM  

Only redeeming feature was reminding solver of the incomparable Cliff Clavin’s Buffalo Theory of Beer’s Effect on Brain Cells.

Dogsears 2:54 PM  

Not to be that guy, but the original Busch Gardens was on the Busch estate in Pasadena, CA. Technically, it wasn’t one of the amusement parks, but they did charge a fee for entry and it was a hugely popular tourist attraction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busch_Gardens

Nancy 3:00 PM  

@Joaquin (1:41)-- "One thing I know for sure: Our music was better!" Damn straight, @Joaquin -- it surely was!

And thanks, Joaquin, for calling my attention to @CDilly52's charming and evocative memory of her grandmother. I had read it earlier and loved it, as I love all her memories of her grandmother. That's a woman I'm sure I would liked to have known.

But you also called my attention to @Malsdemare's YACHTIE reminiscences from two days ago, which I somehow missed. Maybe I was avoiding reading it because I thought I'd be too envious? (How close have I ever been to a yacht? What's the distance between NYC and Newport? NYC and Cannes, even?) So I caught up with it just now. And all I can say is...

Yes, I'm envious of the beautiful lake and the swimming and the wining and the dining and the scenery. I'm envious of the ability to travel by boat to the swimming and the wining and the dining and the scenery. What I am not envious of is trying to sleep or bathe for even one single night on that "yacht". The lack of creature comforts would have had me off the boat every evening before the sun went down. (See my blog profile for creature comfort details.)

Destiny’s child 3:12 PM  

Sequestering seemed a perfect time to go back to boarding school days and dig up some Agatha Christie!!! This puzzle tied in nicely. Loved it.

kitshef 3:31 PM  

Nobody would be foolish enough to leave their Apple sweatshirt at the crime scene, so that is clearly an attempted frame-up.

With no other clues to go on, I fall back to 'the butler did it'.

There is no room to the west of the butler, so that is also a misdirect. The diamond is actually at 95D.

thefogman 3:37 PM  

Started off loving this one but ended up with a lunch-bag letdown feeling at the end. Solved it but did not find the McGuffin diamond hidden in the study. That I blame on the clue which states the one (room) to the west. A study is not a room so did not look there. Instead, I looked in the room to the west of Cook’s which is Butler’s. The fact that the was clued like that really threw me and kind of ruined it. That, and the time wasted trying to figure out how the misplaced numbers for 92, 93 and 94 down factored into the mystery turned what should have been a great solve into an annoying one. Too bad, it could have been a contender. Will Shortz owes us all an apology.

thefogman 3:47 PM  

PS - There is a video by the NYT about today’s puzzle. Just cut and paste the following URL:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ps1PtIjKnYE

DigitalDan 3:55 PM  

Tim Cook wouldn't be caught dead in a SWEATSHIRT of any kind.

Once I solved it, I didn't work very hard to solve the mystery. (And didn't.)

Sprint, the telecom, ceased to exist a couple of weeks ago, so I guess it's good the clue wasn't referring to it.

KnittyContessa 3:57 PM  

@Nancy I am a HUGE Hitchcock fan so here goes!

"North by Northwest" - The microfilm being smuggled in the statue
"Notorious" The uranium
"The 39 Steps" The secret they had to memorize (can't remember the specifics)
"The Lady Vanishes" The secret message the lady who vanished was delivering
"The Man Who Knew Too Much" I'm not sure. I'm going to guess it was the message whispered to Jimmy Stewart either that or the actual assassination attempt.

Xcentric 4:08 PM  

Just a slog with very little joy once solved. Mystery was a slog. McGuffin spelled out in a diamond shape was meh. Where is the sparkle?
New word for me - zythology.
Aveda was a total Natick for me.
Had mini me before minion. Wrote in Anther before stamen, because pollen is actually produced by the anther. The stamen consists of a long slender stalk with an anther at its tip. This really slowed down the northeast until I changed to stamen after realizing 17D had to be nooses.
One nit: Osmosis (osmosed) is not seeping. It involves diffusion. I never heard anyone in any of my many chem classes say osmosed through. Poorly clued.


Lars Larson 5:05 PM  

Yeah, but I do these on my phone.

I did NOT have the puzzle notes. I didn't know what the hell was going on. But the puzzle was easier than almost any they ever create. So, I completed the puzzle and STILL didn't know what the hell was going on.

Equals = Not a lot of puzzle fun.

Joe Welling 5:15 PM  

I also love that Minnie the Driver said HOP IN before she tried to STEP ON it and tool around the streets of GOTHAM in a GT.

Marfalite 5:21 PM  

Rex’s critique would have been even worse had he been aware of the error in printed version. I too thought the missing diamond had vanished just like the clue for 92 down.

Kathy 5:26 PM  

In my one year and five months of solving the NYTXW on an iPad, I never realized that the Notes box was scrollable! All this time, I have never bothered to check it out because there didn’t seem to be much information inside it. So...I’m kinda proud of myself that I actually solved this crazy puzzle despite being clueless as to what was afoot. (Good thing I didn’t encounter the numbering error to make things worse!) I started out hoping it would be based on the game of Clue and was already conjuring up Plum, Peacock, Scarlet, et al. But those hopes were dashed when I saw three letter answers. When what seemed like random first names came up as suspects, I couldn’t see any relationship among them or with the Apple sweatshirt so I just forged ahead as if it were a themeless, grumble, grumble. I only wish I could re-wind with the occupation list in hand and savor this whodunit romp the way it was meant to be. Maybe I would have figured it out? Oh well. Lesson learned—I will consult the notes from now on. I am very impressed with those who were able to solve without said list!

I agree with @kitchef, he wuz framed!
@cdilly52, take us back to Sunday’s with Gram anytime! Your stories are like a cozy blanket!

Ann Hedonia 5:34 PM  

Can't believe I wasted my time on this. I really need to stop doing these. Between this and the spelling bee, I'm wrung out and not in a good way.

Lion 5:38 PM  

Same!

Doxma33 5:44 PM  

Wow, me too. Comforting to know I wasn't alone.

Doxma33 5:46 PM  

The problem was in the SE, not SW, as some readers are reporting.

Unknown 5:49 PM  

This was fun. Amazing how taking a nap then restarting jogs the memory. I still didn't get the location, though. ???

Nancy 5:53 PM  

@Knitty (3:57) -- Very good!!! Much better than me. Everyone remembers the microfilm but I didn't -- nor anything about a statue it's being carried in. Mostly what I remember is the crop duster, Mt Rushmore and the train compartment. However I do remember...

The song the lady who vanishes is humming.

"Mr. Memory" who is about to reveal what the 39 Steps is/are.

A dying Arab whispering a secret to James Stewart.

And, of course, the uranium in the broken wine bottle.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

Well, the Crossword app didn’t contain the intro with the story, so I had to get the suspects’ names by filling In the other clues. I had no idea what was going on.

Kathy 6:04 PM  

Earlier I meant to say I am impressed with those who solved the WHODUNIT without the list. I did manage to solve the PUZZLE, but without knowing who the suspects were or where WEST OF HERE was, I never found the diamond. I thought it was in GOTHAM and didn’t understand why.

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

Didn’t read all comments so apologies if someone made this point. The narrator of Born in the USA isn’t Bruce Springsteen any more than Huck Finn, Scout Finch, and Lemuel Gulliver are Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Jonathan Swift, respectively, 93 Down is wrong IMO.

Anonymous 6:29 PM  

To be clear that song was written in the first person as were the three novels referenced.

Monty Boy 6:38 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I'm with @Nancy, @Lewis, and all the others in the "enjoyed" column. I especially like the suggestion of a 200 page Xword to accomodate Rex's issues. As several have said: It's a puzzle, not a novel.

Joe Dipinto 6:56 PM  

Re "North By Northwest" – I remembered Eva Marie Saint grabbing the statue away from James Mason just as she was supposed to board the plane, but then I was wondering, what happened to it after that? So I watched the ending, and Cary Grant is just holding the damn thing in his hand while they're trying to climb down Mount Rushmore! I don't think I ever noticed that before. Look.

Nancy 7:16 PM  

Okay. New Hitchcock quiz for @Kitty Contessa, or anyone else who wants to jump in.

In which Hitchcock films do you find the following iconic lines? (These are completely from memory, so a word or two could conceivably be wrong).

1. "You know as well as I do that this necklace is imitation."
"Well, I'm not."

2. "Would a nun be wearing high heels?"

3. "Mother, I'm married to an American spy."

4. "His hands were on HER neck. But he was strangling me!"

5. (written) They're onto you! I'm in your room."

6. "Que sera, sera"

7. "That's the trouble with latch keys. They all look the same."


And my nomination for the most chilling line-cum-visual in any (non-horror) Hitchcock film:

8. (Holding up hand) "Are you sure you don't mean THIS one?"

Joe Dipinto 7:21 PM  

@Anon 6:25 – does that mean Cher wasn't born in the wagon of a traveling show and her mama didn't dance for the money they'd throw? I'm crushed.

BarbieBarbie 8:04 PM  

So nobody else thought there might be a Mickey Mouse Club theme somehow, when both MINNIE and KAREN were suspects? Huh.

Anon@ 2-something: you use your right hand, and you reach first on the horizontal part. So: top, bottom, left, right.

Ernonymous 8:11 PM  

My big mistake was I had A PALE SWEATSHIRT and Juniors Jr. I had SOAH and I was all done and knew that was wrong. I hate when you stare at something you know is wrong but all the crosses seem right. Yeah I went right into the trap of thinking it was father and son, not school. This is the kind of thing that comes with practice, dammit. Eventually it came to me I felt duped!

Lorelei Lee 8:26 PM  

@Joe, But I do think Mick was a man of wealth and taste.

Masked and Anonymous 8:43 PM  

yo, @Nancy:

I definitely know quote #5, which is from my fave Hitchcock flick of all time. It was actually written inside a matchbook with initials R.O.T. on it.

I think #6 is TMWKTM.
#7 might be DMFM.
'Bout all I can do for yer list.

How'bout this one, tho?: "She wouldn't even harm a fly!"

M&Also

Frantic Sloth 8:50 PM  

@Nancy 716pm
1. To Catch a Thief
2. The Lady Vanishes ?
3. Notorious
4. Strangers on no a Train
5. North by Northwest
6. The Man Who Knew Too Much
7. Dial "M" for Murder
8. Not a clue πŸ˜₯

Masked and Anonymous 8:59 PM  

p.s.
@Nancy: oooh oooh … and #1 might be from TCAT.

M&A Delayed Reaction Quiz Contestant

egsforbreakfast 9:06 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 7:21 pm. I feel your pain, bro. Your comment made me LOL.

egsforbreakfast 9:10 PM  

It makes you wonder if Lead Belly actually sometimes lived in the country and sometimes lived in town.

Frantic Sloth 9:16 PM  

@M&A 843pm. Psycho. I'm not calling you names, just answering the question. πŸ˜‰

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

I was certain that Springsteen's home was JERSEY, because I had the RS crosses. A half an hour later, after trying to make sense of "That's _J_" ("That's Aja," replied the Steely Dan fan when asked his favorite album), I finally figured out that the real 93 Down was to the west of the newspaper's 93D. For me, that was solving the true mystery in this one.

Joe Dipinto 9:25 PM  

@Nancy:

1. I think this is To Catch a Thief but I'm not remembering the precise scene
2. The Lady Vanishes
3. Notorious
4. Strangers on a Train
5. North By Northwest (message in the ROT matchbook)
6. The Man Who Knew Too Much (remake) - did someone actually say that, or just sing it?

#7 and #8 I'm not sure of.

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