Sunday, 1/30/11

[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/29" plug="sunday-13011" puzz="NYT" anchor="ny"]12:09[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/29" plug="sunday-13011" puzz="Reagle" anchor="mr"]11:07 (Jeffrey)/6:50 (Amy)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/29" plug="sunday-13011" puzz="BG" anchor="bg"]21:54 (Sam)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/29" plug="sunday-13011" puzz="LAT" anchor="la"]8:32[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/29" plug="sunday-13011" puzz="CS" anchor="cs"]8:32 (Evad)/4:24 (Amy)[/time_hdr]
[time_hdr postdate="2011/01/29" plug="sunday-13011" puzz="WaPo" anchor="wp"]6:27[/time_hdr]

Kevin Der and Jessica A. Hui’s New York Times crossword, “Circle of Life”

NY Times crossword answers 1/30/11 "Circle of Life"

Last weekend I looked over my favorite puzzles from last year. (Stay tuned for a post on that soon…ish.) There were two Sunday puzzles that knocked my socks off, and one of them was Kevin Der’s lunar eclipse puzzle in December. Apparently he has a knack for the big, intricate, visual, high-concept, symmetrical crossword, because he’s done it again, this time with co-author Jessica Hui.

When I was solving this CHINESE ZODIAC puzzle, I just put in the first letter of each animal to save time. After I finished, I went back to enter multiple letters in the animal rebus squares and do you know what I discovered? That those rebus squares are locked into a tight symmetrical layout in a big circle, and the animals are in their proper zodiac sequence! Holy cow. This one is in contention for year-end recognition for sure. Five stars.

Here are the wee beasties, going clockwise:

  • 1a, 6d. BRASS {MONKEY} meets {MONKEY}ING AROUND. The Year of the Monkey is 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, and assorted other years before and after them by multiples of 12, thanks to the TWELVE-YEAR CYCLE.
  • 7a, 10d. RED {ROOSTER} meets {ROOSTER}TAILS. 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981.
  • 30a, 30d. {DOG}-EAR, DO-G}OODERS. Tough to see the DOG in do-gooders. 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982.
  • 62a, 4d. PORKY {PIG} meets the heretofore-unknown-to-me SEA {PIG}. Also called the Boar. 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983.
  • 100a, 75d. DEMOC{RAT}, ROOM {RAT}ES. 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984.
  • 131a, 121d. F{OX}ILY, T{OX}INS. 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985.
  • 145a, 91d. {TIGER} WOODS, half of the Ang Lee movie title CROUCHING {TIGER}. You know where the other part of that movie title is lurking, don’t you? 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986.
  • 144a, 114d. {RABBIT} RUN, ROGER {RABBIT}. I like the double dose of leporine pop culture. 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987.
  • 125a, 88d. Arthur PEN{DRAGON}, Ang Lee’s HIDDEN {DRAGON}. 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988.
  • 95a, 95d. {SNAKE}SKINS, {SNAKE}PIT. 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989.
  • 57a, 45d. {HORSE}POWER, ON {HORSE}BACK. 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990.
  • 26a, 1d. IN F{RAM}E, BIG{RAM}S. Perhaps the toughest rebus pair, as BIGRAMS is not such a commonly known word and IN FRAME isn’t flatly obvious. Also called the Sheep. 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991.

My favorite clues included the cobra triad:

  • 93a. [Cobra product] is VENOM.
  • 95a. [Cobra products] are {SNAKE}SKINS.
  • 121d. [Cobra products] are T{OX}INS.
  • 39a. [Public person?] is a cute clue NOTARY.

Given the extremely unforgiving intricacy of this theme—the animals had to fit in specific squares equidistant from their neighbors and had to appear in a certain circular order—it’s not surprising to find some tough fill. The UELE River at 111a ([Ubangi tributary]), 81d: ["Hair" co-writer James] RADO, and 17a: ADRIAN III, [Pope after Marinus I], jumped out at me. And answers like LIENEE, ELENI, and the arbitrary OLD CAR, they don’t add much zing.

What’s surprising is the density of interesting and colorful fill the constructors managed to get into the grid. VEXATIOUS is a delightful word. HOT PANTS, the GRANOLA/MUESLIS combo, ROBOCOP, a GOLDEN AGE, a SALARY CAP, Olympic ICE DANCE, DRAGGED ON, a TV SHOW—these are all great. You expect such fill in a Sunday grid with six theme answers, not one with a 12-part, 24-answer rebus theme and an intersecting pair of related answers in the center of the grid.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Phiadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Aliens!” – Jeffrey’s review

Merl Reagle 1/30/11 crossword "Aliens!" solution

Theme: Long words that nobody uses in conversation that rhyme with “alien.”

Theme answers:

  • 18D. [British student] – ETONIAN. Like James Bondian.
  • 23A. [One dressed in ragged clothes] – TATTERDEMALION. Also a Marvel comics villain that I’ve never heard of.
  • 28A. [Resident of a Missouri city] – SEDALIAN. Population 20,000.
  • 30A. [Orgiastic] – BACCHANALIAN. Who doesn’t like a drunken revelry answer.
  • 41A. [Like Cate Blanchett or Geoffrey Rush] – AUSTRALIAN.  Or even Olivia Newton-John.
  • 51A. [Breed of horse used in show jumping] – WESTPHALIAN
  • 60A. [Like bats, cats, and rats] – MAMMALIAN. As found in that familiar phrase: Mammalian embryogenesis is the process of cell division and cellular differentiation during early prenatal development which leads to the development of a mammalian embryo.
  • 72A. [Space traveler whose first five letters, spelled backward, are oddly appropriate] – NEIL ARMSTRONG. The greatest video in the history of mankind.
  • 84A. [Shaw show] - PYGMALION
  • 90A. [Orgiastic] – SATURNALIAN. I was a SATURNALIAN but I recently traded in my Aura.
  • 103A. [Of a Roman satirist] – JUVENALIAN. A good example of this is….did I mention  I traded in my Aura?
  • 112A. [Certain churchgoer] – EPISCOPALIAN. Followers of Joe Piscopo?
  • 116A. [A-list screenwriter (and crossword fan) who won an Oscar for "Schindler's List," Steven ___] – ZAILLIAN
  • 123A. [Long word for a long word] – SESQUIPEDALIAN. Yup.

Other stuff:

  • 14A. [Miss America (1959) who became a film and TV actress, Mary Ann ___] – MOBLEY. Gimmee. I have no idea why.
  • 27A. [Mon follower] – AMI. Did you try Tue, my friend?
  • 48A. [Dollywood's state: abbr.] – TENN. It sounds like Dolly Parton’s theme park. It is.
  • 59A. [Bob Hope's "home" for 70 years] – NBC. Here’s Bob Hope and NEIL ARMSTRONG in the same clip.
  • 77A. [Instrument for Clarence Clemons] – SAX
  • 110A. [Part of a Jedi's name] – OBI. Yoda Obi Detoo.
  • 130A. [He played Yogurt in "Spaceballs"] – BROOKS. May the Schwartz be with you!
  • 133A. [Band instrument] – CORNET
  • 6D. [Part of a circle equation] – PI-R squared is the area of a circle.
  • 53D. [Teri in "Young Frankenstein"] – INGA. More Mel Brooks!
  • 61D. [Rick agonizes over her] – ILSA. Casablanca, the greatest movie ever made.
  • 108D. [He played Oddjob in "Goldfinger," Harold ___] – SAKATA. He went on to be a big singer.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “The First Tea Party” – Sam Donaldson’s review

Here at the Fiend, most puzzles get blogged when they are first published for public consumption.  For the Boston Globe, however, we use the “syndicated schedule,” relying on the calendars used on Will Johnston’s Puzzle Pointers and Ephraim’s Crossword Puzzle Pointers.  On these sites, the puzzles are posted about five to six weeks after they appear in the Globe.  Most of the time, of course, the delay from syndication makes no difference.  But when the puzzle is keyed to a particular time of the year, it can seem a little odd.

This week’s offering, for instance, was a little more timely five or six weeks ago, because it’s a tribute puzzle honoring the Boston Tea Party–and that took place December 16, 1773.  To honor its 237th anniversary, the theme entries offer little nuggets of trivia related to the event:

  • The [Repressive laws that aroused the colonies] were the TOWNSHEND ACTS.  “The what?,” you ask, to which I say, “No, The Who.”  Ba dum tish!  Seriously, as explained by the website “Social Studies for Kids,” “These laws placed new taxes on glass, lead, paints, paper, and tea.  Colonial reaction to these taxes was the same as to the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, and Britain eventually repealed all the taxes except the one on tea.” That, of course, proved to be significant.
  • The [British P.M. who overtaxed the Americans] was LORD NORTH.  His full name is Lord Frederick North, or “Freddie” to his poker buddies.  That’s him over there on the right, pretending to blame the dog for the bad smell in the room.
  • The [Kind of tea that was dumped, possibly] was DARJEELING.  I wanted NESTEA, as I secretly hoped it was the origin behind the “Nestea Plunge.”
  • The [Founding father who spearheaded protests] was SAMUEL ADAMS.  Ever notice how the coolest people are named Samuel?  Exhibit One: Samuel L. Jackson.
  • The [Loyalist governor who angered the patriots] was Thomas HUTCHINSON.  More recently, the guy who angered the Patriots was Rex Ryan.
  • The [Name of a ship that carried the tea] is DARTMOUTH.  According to this site, the Dartmouth was joined by the Eleanor and the Beaver.  I wish the Ivy League had a Beaver College.  (Yes, there’s a good joke there, but I’m too chicken to say it.)
  • SONS OF LIBERTY is [What rebelling colonists called themselves].  More on them later.
  • The [Boston Harbor site of the Tea Party] is not, oddly, Boston Harbor, but GRIFFIN’S WHARF.  Oooo!
  • Finally, [Disguises for some of the Tea Partiers] clues MOHAWK INDIANS.  Why would the Sons of Liberty dress as Mohawks?  It’s not like it’s a subtle disguise or anything.  One website claims that “the Mohawk image was emerging as a revolutionary symbol of liberty in the new land, long before Brother Jonathan or Uncle Same (sic) came along.”  Uncle Same?  Him again?

I don’t know why the Boston Tea Party gets a tribute on its 237th anniversary–I mean, geez, that’s not even a prime number, much less one ending in five or zero.  Is tea the appropriate gift for the 237th anniversary or something?  (“Here, honey, we’ve been married for 237 years, so I got us some tea since we no longer have teeth and can’t manage solid foods.  I love you.”)  But hey, as a history major who digs this kind of stuff, I enjoyed the puzzle.  It reminded me of high school because one of my teachers used to assign simple crosswords he made to help us learn about the New Deal, the 13 colonies, and other topics.  Go figure, I always liked the gimmick.  Anyway, trivia-based themes work for me.  Those who want only wordplay in their crosswords will want to look elsewhere this week.

There’s lots of international flavor to this patriotic crossword.  Look no further than the northwest corner, where we have the [Hindu scripture] TANTRA at 1-Across and TATAMIS, the [Rice straw mats] popular in Japan, at 1-Down.  We also have NIAMEY, [Niger's capital city], and OSSIAN, the [Gaelic bard of legend].  Heck, there’s even EUROPE, BOSNIA, and ST. KITTS, along with an abbreviated Germany (GER) and Tierra DEL Fuego. At the municipal level, we have the [Salerno tourist town], AMALFI, and the [Jordanian capital], AMMAN.  I think this puzzle covers all the continents except Australia and Antarctica.  Fans of world geography will race through this grid.

Early in the solve I came across [A singing Jackson] as the clue for a six-letter entry.  I quickly ruled out MICHAEL, TITO, and ALAN for obvious reasons, then was sorely tempted to use LATOYA before I eventually realized that “Jackson” here was a first name–for Jackson BROWNE.  Aha!  Jackson Browne, of course, is the guy behind “Doctor My Eyes” and my current theme song, “Lawyers in Love.”  My other cluing condundrum was the result of not reading carefully. I read [Corrida quadruped] as “Corrida quadrupled,” and that really slowed me down.  “Wait,” I thought, “isn’t Corrida something related to bullfighting?  It’s a number too?!?  In what language?  I wonder what corrida times four equals.”  I managed to get the answer, ELTORO, from crossings.  But it wasn’t until after I was done that I realized the clue asked about a four-legged animal, meaning the answer was EL TORO.  Not my best moment.

Let’s close with a handful of random observations: (1) I liked the contemporary clue for ARON, ["127 Hours" subject Ralston]. I’d give my right arm to have a movie made about me.  Anyway, ARON is not just Elvis’s middle name.  (2) I always have a soft spot for GONERIL, the [Bad Lear daughter].  Can you blame her?  The poor girl was given a name that virtually ensures she won’t have a date for the prom.  And we’re supposed to hate her for her daddy issues?  (3) The open corners with triple-stacked six-and seven-letter entries intersecting similar stacks with theme entries are a really nice touch.  (4) Has anyone said, “Aren’t we A PAIR?” since the 1940s?  (5) Proof that it’s the little things in life that can mean so much: my favorite clue of the puzzle was ["Help wanted"] for S.O.S. I can’t tell you why, really, but I liked it.  (6) It’s about five weeks since Christmas–think we’ll have a holiday theme next week?

Mike Shenk’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 43″

Washington Post Puzzler No. 43 crossword answers 1/30/11

I found a lot to like in this puzzle but maybe not so much to love. Here’s what I liked most:

  • 16a. [Shocked admission] is “I HAD NO IDEA!” Okay, that’s lovable fill.
  • 24a. Trivia clue that helps explain why the fabric in those nice polo shirts is called Pima cotton: [Tribe that helped the USDA grow experimental cotton] is the PIMA tribe.
  • 28a. [Servers try to clear it] is about tennis or volleyball, getting the ball over the NET. Computer servers are irrelevant here.
  • 43a. [Was fast, or wasn't fast] clues RAN. Fast runners, or dyes that aren’t colorfast.
  • 54a. The DERNIER CRI is the [Latest fashion]. The dernier cri is to not call it that.
  • 59a. Miss MONEYPENNY is a James [Bond backer]. Great clue with the finance fake-out.
  • 1d. Doubting [Thomas, for one] was a SKEPTIC.
  • 2d. [Fats Domino's real first name] is ANTOINE. I learned that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • 8d. An EDITOR in charge of cub reporters might be considered a [Cubs manager?].
  • 36d. The clue [You've got that right] presumes that the solver lives somewhere where people have FREEDOM.
  • 38d. Golf club trivia and it’s not about “mashie niblick”? [It's nicknamed a "butter knife"] clues a ONE-IRON.
  • 40d. CARIOCA is a cool word meaning [Native of Rio de Janeiro]. I don’t know where the CAs come from. Let’s look this one up—Portuguese, from the Tupi word kari’oka, meaning “house of the white man.” Hmm.

I don’t know if the great clues come from Mike or from his editor, Peter Gordon. Both have the Gift of Cluing.

Five more clues:

  • 5a. [Main liner] clues STREET LAMP. Can a single lamp be said to line Main Street, or do you need multiple lamps for there to be “lining”?
  • 39a. [They may speak volumes] clues the noun SILENCES. I think that works better as a verb than as a plural noun.
  • 51a. ["The South-Sea House" pen name] is ELIA.
  • 58a. [Bucks trends?: Abbr.] clues ECON., short for economics. But isn’t that more the study of monetary trends, rather than the trends themselves?
  • 39d. [Anti-inflammatory compound found in willow bark] is SALICIN. I guessed the SALIC part but the ending? Total mystery. Sorta wanted SALICYL, thanks to salicylic acid.

Updated Sunday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review

CrosSynergy 1/30 crossword answers

Constructor Doug Peterson demonstrates today that you don’t require stacked 15s to make an enjoyable themeless that sparkles with unusual entries. The grid’s foundation is an interesting arrangement of 2 14-letter across entries, 2 crossing 11-letter down entries and a pair of double-stacked 10-letter entries.

Let’s start with the long across answers, shall we?

  • “Vice squad’s tactic” is a STING OPERATION. I remember once trying to fill a puzzle with the entry STINGO, clued either as a potent potable brewed in Yorkshire, England or the narrator from William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice. Either ring a bell? No wonder that puzzle was rejected!
  • Somehow I missed that the GUTENBERG BIBLE was on display at the Library of Congress. Project Gutenberg is an admirable initiative to offer any book free of charge for your e-Reading device (Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.) I’ve had a lot of success finding obscure titles there not on Amazon in Kindle format.

Moving to the longer down entries:

  • “Job for an oracle” isn’t database administration (sorry, had to show my geekier side), but the sibilant SOOTHSAYING. Forsooth!
  • Hope “Fizzled” (WENT NOWHERE) doesn’t describe your solving experience with this puzzle!
  • The double stacks are anchored by some great entries: CLEAR AS MUD and WILLY WONKA. The adjoining STALACTITE and POTENTATES seem to serve more of a supporting role.

Strangely, my only error came with the “Storage acronym” where I had BIT and RAM before ROM. (Yeah, I realize now “bit” is not an acronym…anyone out there heard of a “nybble” which is 4 bits or half a byte?) I’m not familiar with Ian McSHANE of HBO’s Deadwood, but the crossing entries bailed me out of that corner. Gotta finish with a listen of “This I Promise You” by boy band ‘N SYNC.

Mel Rosen’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “How to Read the Personal Ads”

LA Times syndicated crossword answers 1/30/11 "Personal Ads"

I really enjoyed this theme. All of the theme entries take some work to piece together, but eventually you hit those punch lines and can appreciate the humor. Mel casts a cynical eye at personal dating ads:

  • 23a. ["Free spirit" means ...] I LOST EVERY JOB I EVER HAD.
  • 31a. ["Enjoys long conversations" means ...] I DIDN’T PAY MY CABLE BILL.
  • 49a. ["Likes home cooking" means ...] I’M TOO CHEAP TO EAT OUT.
  • 67a. ["Adventurous" means ...] I HAVE BEEN TO THE ZOO ONCE.
  • 85a. ["Enjoys the beach" means ...] I OWN A METAL DETECTOR.
  • 103a. ["Likes to cuddle" means ...] MY APARTMENT HAS NO HEAT.
  • 112a. ["Takes long walks" means ...] MY CAR’S BEEN REPOSSESSED.

Ha! Every one of those entertained me, and each one had its own inherent surprise factor.

Among the tougher clues were these ones:

  • 50d. ["La Bohème" waltzer] is MUSETTA. Who??
  • 51d. I forgot TAE-BO was a portmanteau word. [Exercise portmanteau] is the clue. Let’s see…tae kwon do meets bo…xing? I think that’s it.
  • 96d. [New Jersey town near the George Washington Bridge] clues TEANECK. It helped me that I had the C from old crosswordese word ARECA (123: [Tropical palm]).
  • 46d. ["Looking for Mr. Goodbar" author] is Judith ROSSNER. I haven’t heard of her other nine novels, but the Guardian had a nice obituary a few years ago.

SHALL WE?” is lively fill. It’s clued as 57d: ["Let's" evoker], which looks strange but works.

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22 Responses to Sunday, 1/30/11

  1. Dan F says:

    Wow! Four of Kevin’s five Sunday puzzles have been 23×23, intricate, visual, high-concept, and symmetrical, so I’d say he has quite the knack.

    I’m not up on my Chinese zodiac (or classic blues or speedboating), so I couldn’t get the RED ROOSTER/ROOSTER TAILS crossing. Thought it might be Robin, thanks to the “alliterative” hint, which would have been fine for Across Lite, but I was solving on paper. I’ll happily take a “fail” because this was so freakin’ cool.

  2. joon says:

    for a while i had HORSE where MONKEY goes, HEN where ROOSTER goes, and … yeah. eventually i sorted it all out, but only because sam has a book with all 12 animals in it (and the book is in korean, so the only thing we do when we “read” the book is point out the animals).

    btw, 2011 is the year of the rabbit (run!), and new year’s is this thursday.

  3. Neville says:

    Congrats to Jess on her debut and to Kevin for another wonderful Sunday puzzle! I fared much better with this puzzle than with Friday’s, despite NGAIO and MOUE, which look like nonsense to me.

    I went into this puzzle expecting something different from the theme, but I broken in with PORKY {PIG}, as that was the only thing that seemed to fit. I too loved VEXATIOUS (and much of the rest of this puzzle!) Well done, Team K&J!

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    I hadn’t noticed that the animals were in order. That is pretty sweet.

    Kevin Der is the James Cameron of crosswords — ambitious, sweeping epics executed beautifully!

  5. Deb Amlen says:

    Let’s not forget that this is Jessica’s debut. Congrats Jessi and Kevin!

  6. Matt says:

    I agree with all the kudos, quite a puzzle. I got stuck on both RAM and OX, and was sorely tempted to look them up– but inspiration eventually came through. Though, as you say, BIGRAM isn’t exactly a common word…

  7. Rex says:

    Doug Peterson’s CS themeless is brilliant. Too easy, as all “Sunday Challenge”s are, but that grid is butter, if butter were sparkly.

  8. John E says:

    Today’s NYT was simply fabulous – very tough but ultimately fair and a fun challenge.

    My only gripe was with the applet, trying to enter more than four letters in a square….only to realize (20 minutes later) that you only have to enter the first four letters to get “credit” for solving the word. I must have tried to type in “TIGER” 50 different ways before leaving it as “TIGE” and moving on. Oh well, wisdom for next time I guess.

  9. paula says:

    I protest! This is not an intellectual challenge. How many more letters can you crowd into a single 1-letter square?? What ever happened to straightforward puzzles (with challenging gimmicks like puns)? This is a dump site. I appreciate how clever the constructors are. But they are for a select group of fanatic puzzle solvers; not for the Sunday NY Times Puzzle solvers who go back to before Will Shortz. The puzzles are supposed to entertain and engage, not scratch one’s head wondering if it’s a rebus and where those multiple letters will fall. I have (reluctantly) accepted 2-letter squares — but this puzzle is absolutely so far out of reach of most solvers. I have friends who rarely ever missed completing the Sunday puzzle and regarded it as a treat. I was one of that bunch. Now it’s like I lost something that had grown dear to my heart.

    Suggestion: If the Times wants to run a Challenger puzzle for you experts, they should add it to a regular puzzle for the rest of us. We aren’t slouches. I got some of this Sunday’s definitions. But the fun is gone and I really don’t care about phases of the moon, or symbols of the Chinese New Year. I just want puzzles that ask for good vocabulary and some esoteric knowledge . . . like in the good old days.

  10. joon says:

    i’m glad that people like paula are expressing their opinions about what they do and don’t want to see in crossword puzzles… but i’m even more glad that there seem to be many more people who feel the opposite, because i thought this puzzle was terrifically fun and challenging.

    actually, a whole host of good puzzles and write-ups today. sam always makes me laugh, and today was no exception. wonderful write-up for a mostly functional puzzle.

    jeffrey, i took some guff last week for using “tatterdemalion” in guess my word, so i was delighted to see it in today’s puzzle. just wait til i get sesquipedalian in there!

    every shenk puzzle seems to have at least 3 insanely great clues. {Kitchen counter} for TIMER is inspired. ARGUED and FREEDOM and RAN and even ICY—all terrific. maybe not all of them are mike’s clues, but i bet most of them are.

    doug’s CS was terrific. i thought the clues were a mite harder than usual, but still, i really enjoyed it. was it just me, or was there a lot of old testament? ABSALOM, NOAH, MICAH, and ARKS all got the OT treatment… and GUTENBERG BIBLE to top it off. excellent stuff.

  11. Matt Gaffney says:

    What’s a “dump site”?

  12. Meem says:

    Thanks, joon, for saying what I have been trying to figure out how to articulate because the NYT definitely engaged and entertained me today.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Let me single out two of Sam’s funniest lines today: (1) “I’d give my right arm to have a movie made about me” in reference to 127 Hours. (2) “I always have a soft spot for GONERIL, the [Bad Lear daughter]. Can you blame her? The poor girl was given a name that virtually ensures she won’t have a date for the prom. And we’re supposed to hate her for her daddy issues?”

  14. Jamie says:

    I’m with paula in her dislike of the NYT puzzle (although I don’t feel as strongly, and certainly don’t think this is a dumb site). I think that most of the posters here are constructors and it’s understandable that they applaud a masterful construction, which this is. However, crosswords are an entertainment, and I didn’t find this entertaining to solve – challenging, certainly, which is good, but I didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment when I finished. I kinda wanted my 30 minutes *blush* back.

    Give me Gareth’s LAT (yesterday??) with “Yes! There is a God” {triumphant shout} any day. I’m all for innovations in construction, like last year’s nose-dive puzzle, or Byron & Mrs. B’s IDOIDO puzzle. I just found this a bit … tedious. Hat’s off to Kevin & Jessica for pulling it off as a construction feat, but I hope this is not the future of crossword puzzles.

  15. Garymac says:

    I agree with Jamie. While it may have been impressive from a construction standpoint, it was very tedious and not at all fun. I didn’t care for it at all and I generally do like rebus puzzles.

  16. Lois Padawer says:

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the New York Times puzzle today. I have just started doing the Times crosswords (I stuck with KenKen and acrostics before and with Merl Reagle). Although it took me a while, and I had four squares wrong in the NW, I did pretty well and didn’t have to look up anything. I obviously am not an old-time crossworder, although I am old-time enough to find Marsh an easy clue for Ngaio and have done a few puzzles in my day, but I thought this was a satisfying, complex and not-too-difficult puzzle. I’m certainly no constructor (Paula says this puzzle seems to be made for constructors), although I understand that as for some Monday puzzles the construction was far more difficult than the solving. I am glad to learn that the signs were in order, too. I don’t really understand the objections to the puzzle, except for the problems some people had doing the puzzle online.

  17. sandirhodes says:

    re: Merle Reagle to Jeffery …

    While PiR(squared) is the area of a circle, 2PiR is the circumference, which I assumed was the intended “part of a circle equation.” Of course, it doesn’t really matter.

  18. Zulema says:

    I agree with what Jamie’s said. I got bored with it because like with most 23 x 23′s, one is interminably filling in. But if I may be permitted a tiny nit of the kind I used to pick on, 56A”_____ bien” does not mean “It’s good.” One does want different clues for ESTA or ESTÁ, but in Spanish the use of “good” for “well” which has become the norm in the American language, has not taken over yet. BIEN is “well,” not “Good.” It can also be “fine, OK, all right” but not “good.”

  19. John Haber says:

    I’m very late getting to Sunday’s puzzle, but I thought it was one of the best ever, although surprisingly hard for a Sunday. Like Joon, I too had HORSE at first where MONKEY should be (overlooking that HORSE-ing didn’t work) and had special difficulty with OX (not thinking of FOXILY and not expecting such a short rebus entry) and indeed with ROOSTER, my last to fall not knowing either crossing before. BIGRAM was new and not in RHUD (I was expecting some made-up word like, oh, “digraph”). Still, these challenges were great for me, and the symmetric placement helped a lot.

    I must admit that I had no idea what the Chinese zodiac animals were, so it was all discovery, and had no idea till I came here that they’re placed in “proper” order. I’m not normally impressed by things I could never have known, but somehow reading it here made the puzzle more of a feat regardless. I can’t judge the Spanish, so just put in a word in Spanish I’d heard of, and it worked.

  20. Spencer says:

    I didn’t find RADO hard at all. But then, I saw Hair for the first time in Toronto in 1970…

  21. joe says:

    technically the answer is: bi g{ram}, not big{ram}

  22. pannonica says:

    It’s one word, joe. (And to be extra persnickety, it’s plural, as in the write-up.)

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