Sunday, 5/27/12

NYT 17:21 
LAT 7:58 (Jeffrey) 
Reagle 8:09 
Hex/Hook 13:40 (pannonica) 
WaPo 11:03 (Neville) 
CS 10:10 (Sam) 

Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword, “State Quarters”

NYT crossword solution, 5 27 12 "State Quarters"

Holy crap, I don’t know how one would undertake to make such a crossword. The theme entries are 12 states, each packed into four squares by means of squeezing two or three letters into each square. Each state name is 8 or 12 letters long, so the number of rebused letters per square is the same within each state name. And then! These 12 (!) answers that lock down two or three letters in every single crossing? They’re placed in symmetrical locations in the grid, occupying every sector except the NE and SW corners. The title plays two roles: One, it tips you off that the states’ clues describe what’s on their commemorative 25¢ coin; two, each state’s name is broken into quarters. Not to mention, the states’ names are in rather tight quarters.

This puzzle is an intricately woven creation and a worthy challenge.

Looking past the theme, you’ve got a grid with lots of long fill. While LAUGHING FALCONS (24a. [Snake predators named for their calls], and no, I’d never heard of them before), GEORGES DELATOUR, ABLE SEAMEN, and RADAR RANGE don’t crisscross any rebus-action states, all the other long fill does. SHA{H O}F IRAN, “RI{PEN}ESS IS ALL,” COR{N SY}RUP, BRITAN{NIA}, primal bluesman W.{C. H}ANDY, and all four of {NEW} {HAM}{PSH}{IRE}‘s crossings are particularly nice double plays.

8d: [Outgrowth from the base of a grass blade] clues LIGULE. This is not a word that was in my vocabulary. Why, I never needed a word to label any sort of outgrowth from any part of a grass blade. If you’re curious, here are a couple paragraphs and pictures. Didn’t know CAR{LO}TTO Massimo, HYMIE the robot, and Sir Walter Scott’s Saint RONAN, nor that I{CO}NIFY was a word; I know INA C{LA}IRE and Jorge AMADO from crosswords. {KA}RELIA is vaguely familiar but I needed lots of crossings. I managed to get through it without any mistakes, so I’m calling the puzzle fair with no deadly crossings. (Your mileage may vary.)

Five stars. A coup in technical construction, with fewer tricky/twisty clues than are typical of Byron’s puzzles (on account of the need for solvers to actually make it out alive).

Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Suitable Employment” – Jeffrey’s review

Los Angeles Times crossword solution Sunday May 27 2012

Theme:  Professions with appropriate descriptions

Theme answers:

  • 23A. [Scientist who is tedious to a fault?] – BORING GEOLOGIST
  • 35A. [Bread maker not earning his bread?] – LOAFING BAKER
  • 50A. [Arranger growing into her job?] – BUDDING FLORIST
  • 63A. [Attorney who turns heads?] – APPEALING LAWYER
  • 80A. [Nightclubbing club pro?] – SWINGING GOLFER
  • 92A. [Belle in blue?] – ARRESTING COP
  • 111A. [Practitioner who likes to practice?] – DRILLING DENTIST

I am sure we have seen this type before, but this is very nicely done. The fill is really clean. Easy (I solved in under 8 minutes, very fast for me on a Sunday) and enjoyable. The best Sunday LAT puzzle in quite a while.

Other stuff:

  • 6A. [Spaceship Earth locale] – EPCOT
  • 115A. [Fantasy land] – UNREALITY

Evangelist Billy Graham once told Walt that Disneyland was “a nice fantasy.” This did not sit well with Walt. He replied, “You know the fantasy isn’t here. This is very real…The Park is reality. The people are natural here; they’re having a good time; they’re communicating. This is what people really are. The fantasy is – out there, outside the gates of Disneyland, where people have hatreds and people have prejudices. It’s not really real!” – Sam Gennawey, “Walt and the Promise of Progress City.”

  • 75A. [Williams who played Potsie on “Happy Days”] – ANSON
  • 86A. [Flier with Chicago H.Q.] – UAL. United Airlines is awesome. They turned a two hour flight to San Francisco into an 8 hour adventure, for NO EXTRA CHARGE! We even got to sit on the tarmac for two hours! Thanks UAL!
  • 5D. [16th-century work also known as “La Gioconda”] – MONA LISA
  • 69D. [Beatles hit with the line, “Treasure these few words till we’re together”] – P.S. I LOVE YOU
  • 79D. [1972 video game debut] – PONG. If you are of a certain age, the invention of PONG was the greatest advance in the history of technology.

Updated Sunday morning:

Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review

CS, May 27 solution

Today’s Sunday Challenge was like a wedding on steroids–many things old, many things new, many things borrowed, and many things blue. Let’s talk about them in that order.

Old Things: Some old friends from Crosswordland pay a visit today, including GNAR, the [Snarling sound] that I almost always want to be GRRR. Also stopping by are TNS (that’s “tons,” sans the inconvenient “O”), LEERS, the ASP (little-known rule: every fifth puzzle has to have either an ASP or AN ASS–today’s puzzle has both), and the TERNS.

New Things: Oh, there were so many new things for me that it would be easier to itemize them–

  • BILLETS are not small bills, they are living [Quarters] for soldiers.
  • The proper spelling of the [Soft little shoes] is BOOTEES, not BOOTIES.
  • Someone named EDA LeShan is a [Child expert].
  • DREAR is [Bleak, to Blake]. His favorite author is Beverly Clear, his iPhone-4 assistant is just named Cyr, and when he’s tired he just feels wear.
  • The answer to [Quarter grooves] is REEDING.  That “D” was my last square, and I confess I was just typing random letters at that point, hoping something would eventually cause the “Congratulations! You have solved the puzzle!” message to appear.

Borrowed Things: What’s “borrowed” in a crossword? How about a clue that’s borrowed from one entry but used for another. By that, more specifically, I mean the devious little traps assorted throughout this puzzle. Sure enough, I fell into one right away at 1-Across, as I had FLORIDA as [Georgia’s southern neighbor] instead of ARMENIA. Then there’s the three-letter entry ending in C that’s clued as [D.C. Advisory Group]. That has to be a PAC, right? Wrong. Today it’s the N.S.C. And the [Egg containers] should be CARTONS, except that they’re OVISACS.

Blue Things: This one may be a stretch, but give it a chance. The “blue” wedge in Trivial Pursuit is for Geography, and there was a lot of that here. In fact, there’s a neat “Seven-Letter Geographic Terms That Begin and End With A” theme working around the entire perimeter. That’s right, kids, this Sunday Challenge has a theme! In addition to the aforementioned ARMENIA, there’s ALBANIA, ALTOONA, the ARAL SEA, ALGERIA, ASSYRIA, ALABAMA, and ALAMEDA. Anybody in Arizona feel left out?

Favorite entry = ART FERN, the [Johnny Carson character]. Favorite clue = [Grace period?] for AMEN.

Doug Peterson’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 112” – Neville’s review

Post Puzzler, 5 27 12

Post Puzzler, 5 27 12

Neville here, in for Doug who wrote this great puzzle. One word I wouldn’t use to describe it: UNEVENTFUL.

  • 1a. [Urban clothing line] – PHAT FARM. This is the sort of entry you expect at one across – a real winner. Urban meets preppy. I never understood why the women’s line they have is called ‘Baby Phat’ – shouldn’t that be the kids’ line?
  • 18a. [DH, often] – RBI MAN. Something about Kevin Youkilis, maybe? I don’t always understand the intricacies of the AL, which can make a DP puzzle a learning experience.
  • 23a. [“30 Rock” locale] – GE BUILDING, aka The Slab. (It’s like a pro wrestler.) “30 Rock” shoots exterior shots there, but the indoor shots are actually done in Queens. I guess building a studio around a studio would be tricky.
  • 35a. [Fictional CTU agent Jack] – BAUER. First, why is ‘fictional’ in the clue? CTU is fictional! But have you been watching “Touch,” which also stars Kiefer Sutherland? I keep wanting him to beat the hell out of someone, but he’s a much milder character in this show.
  • 44a. [Drumstick alternatives] – ESKIMO PIES. Favorite clue. Would’ve been tricky if I hadn’t figured out Doug’s wavelength by the time I got to it.
  • 59a. [The engagement ring once belonging to her was given to Kate in 2010] – LADY DI. That’s some neat trivia that you can pretty easily figure out if you don’t already know it.
  • 6d. [Marine skeleton sold as a decorative “plant”] – AIR FERN. The air fern is also called a Neptune plant. I know nothing about it beyond that. This entry seems a little forced is what I’m thinking.
  • 8d. [TV character whose shoe size is 65 GGG] – MR. Aloysius SNUFFLEUPAGUS, the best “Sesame Street” character! Remember the old days, when he was thought to be Big Bird’s imaginary friend? Me neither – we’re young, aren’t we?

Happy Memorial Day!

Henry Hook’s Sunday crossword, “Irrational Numbers” — pannonica’s review

Hex/Hook • 5/27/12 • "Irrational Numbers" • Hook • solution

Puns with numbers. Not irrational, not even inane (as puns are often wont), just some longer phrases with words swapped out for near homophones and clued appropriately. Most of them are rather good.

  • 22a. [Breakfast hour for some?] DAYLIGHT SEVEN TIME (…saving…). Well. One of the weaker themers for a first entry.
  • 31a. [Cheese that’ll feed over a dozen?] WHEEL OF FOURTEEN (…Fortune].
  • 56a. [Venue for eight weddings?] THE SIXTEEN CHAPEL (…Sistene…). Ah, getting better.
  • 64a. [Teacher’s concerns in a crowded classroom?] PATIENCE AND FORTY-TWO (fortitude). Ha-ha, pretty good. No insight into the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, though.
  • 75a. [Contenders on “Jeopardy!”?] THREE OF KNOWLEDGE (Tree …).
  • 98a. [Three couples renewing their vows?] SAME SIX MARRIAGE (…sex…). Again with the matrimony? Irrespective of underlying message, this one is to me the most satisfying and successful, despite the modest alteration.
  • 112a. [Situation if the dice lack sixes?] NO WAY TO MAKE ELEVEN (…a living). I suppose it presupposes that there are just two dice. The only themer in which more than one word is punned. Duplication of the SIX in 98-across?

Since the numbers employed seem to have no order, no relation to each other, to the clue numbers, or to anything, I guess that aspect can be deemed irrational.

Can’t put my finger on it, but there was a sense of incompleteness while solving the puzzle. Don’t know if it has to do with the content and execution of the theme, the structure of the grid, or the makeup of the ballast fill. As I said, there isn’t any one thing that can be pointed to, it’s just a feeling. Onward.

  • Longer non-theme fill includes the sciencey AMMONIAC and ASYMPTOTE in the northwest, EDGEWISE and “DEEP RIVER” in the southeast. Tried at first to fill in OL’ MAN RIVER; the superficial duplication of EDGEWISE and 93a [Judicious] WISE is all right, as the former is an alteration of “ways” and doesn’t share an etymology; I need to get back to R&D on my ASYMPTOTEBAG™—it’s a revolutionary design that can be almost, but never quite, filled all the way. Others are 43d [There… (reminiscer’s words)] WAS A TIME, 55d [Abutting lengthwise] END-TO-END (now there’s a bit of duplication with EDGEWISE), 20d [Prep for a career change] RETRAIN, and 83d [Major crop in Fresno] RAISINS.
  • 38a [MBTA bldg.] STA. is a ½ duplication of 96a [NYC transp. grp.] MTA. That’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for those keeping score at home. Oh, and the clues are just ugly too; happens a lot with abbrevs.
  • 39d [“The Honeymooners” role], nice to see Joyce Randolph’s TRIXIE get some recognition. On the other hand, I am so very tired of 45a [Actor Morales] ESAI and 109d [Ward of “CSI: NY”] SELA—even if they are both cruciverbal manna—and having them in the same puzzzle is too much.
  • Partials! 25a [Cartesian conclusion] I AM (I never know whether to fill in that or SUM); 62a [Pour OIL ON troubled waters]; 11d [ACT OF Congress]; WAS A TIME; 46d [“A VIEW from the Bridge”]; 77d [“You have to KISS A lot of frogs…”]; 89d [Tex-MEX]; 104d [“If I WERE a Rich Man”].
  • Oddness and some crosswordese: 27a [Money-exchange fee] AGIO; 10d [Lessen] MINIFY, which is completely legitimate but seems weird (more so than ICONIFY in today’s NYT); 45d [Town near Helsinki] ESPOO; 52d [Scolded] CHID; 65d [Hersey’s bell town] ADANO; 68d [Oahu town with an all-vowel name] AIEA (at least the clue was practically helpful); 76d [First king of modern Egypt] FUAD I.
  • Favorite clue: 92d [Stand for something?] EASEL. Did-not-like clues: 96d [Jason’s wife, et al.] MEDEAS—is there really more than one? 78d [Compass letters] NNE—some have just N, most have N, W, E, and S, some even include NE, SE, and so on, but I have yet to see one that includes further delineations labelled as such. 88a [Venus’s lack] ARMS—really? an indirect reference to a particular statue for a goddess represented myriad times? Without even a question mark?
  • Last square filled: 5a [1982 TV-movie role for Ingrid] crossing 6d [Lake Ontario city]. I had GILDA/ISHAWA at first, but of course it’s GOLDA/OSHAWA.

After running through these points, I realize that perhaps that inchoate sense of dissatisfaction and incompleteness had to do with what seems like less-than-scrupulous editing.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “A Four-Star Puzzler”

"A Four-Star Puzzler" crossword solution, 5 27 12 Merl Reagle

I hope many of you enjoyed this puzzle because I found it disappointing—no wit or wordplay involved in the theme, and a few too many ugly answers in the fill. The title hints at four-star generals, and each theme answer contains the letter chunk GEN. Yes, 12 of the grid’s 21 rows are filled or half-filled with theme answers, but that doesn’t make them fun.

  • 23a. HALLUCINOGENS, [Trip requirements?]. The most entertaining theme clue.
  • 25a. INGENUE, [Young female lead]
  • 29a. SECRET AGENT, [Austin Powers, e.g.]
  • 31a. DETERGENTS, [All and others]
  • 39a. EROGENOUS ZONES, [Sensitive subjects?]
  • 49a. EUGENE MCCARTHY, [1960s presidential hopeful]
  • 65a. GENUFLECT, [Show reverence, in a way]
  • 68a. GENUINE RISK, [Derby-winning filly]. Who? 1980 Kentucky Derby horse.
  • 74a. A DEGENERATE, [Mr. Robinson’s ultimate opinion of Ben in “The Graduate”]. The “A” threw me off. Might have felt better to me if the clue had hinted that the answer was straight from dialogue. But isn’t it an 11-letter partial?
  • 79a. TED NUGENT, [Author of “God, Guns, & Rock ‘N’ Roll”]
  • 91a. SARGENT SHRIVER, [First director of the Peace Corps]
  • 99a. GENTRIFICATION, [Neighborhood rejuvenation issue]
  • 109a. CRYOGENICS, [Low-level science?]. What, a “low level” of temperature? That’s awkward.
  • 114a. IMOGENE COCA, [1950s comedienne]
  • 121a. GENETIC, [DNA-related]
  • 122a. FRONT-PAGE NEWS, [Presidential election results, e.g.]. This is the only one in which the GEN is split across words.

Sixteen theme entries is a ton, and the surrounding fill suffers as a result:

  • 129a. TANACH, [Judaism’s Holy Scriptures, which include the Torah (anagram of A CHANT)]. When you see an anagram clue, that’s a signal that the word is rarely encountered by most solvers, not even in crosswords.
  • 20d. OSCAN, [Ancient dweller of south-central Italy]. This could’ve used an anagram clue, but “anagram of CAN SO” would have duplicated the partial entry in 35d: SO CAN.
  • 75d. DAT, [Recording tape]. Largely extinct.
  • 100d. ELMER A., [Corporation founder ___ Sperry for whom an annual engineering award is named]. Whoa, middle initial. It’s a transportation engineering award, specifically. One with an amateurish-looking website.
  • 106d. AGOGUE, [Dem or ped ending]. I would’ve guessed the suffix was just -gogue, but no. From the Greek agōgos, meaning “leading,” as in Whiskey A Go Go.
  • Plus all sorts of blah short fill. Not one, but two [Phone letters] trios, PRS and MNO? Also two vague [Greek letters] clues, for THETAS and ETAS.

Favorite clues:

  • 7a. CANAL, [Timesaver with locks]. Much quicker to traverse a canal than to go the long, long way around.
  • 85a. RENE, [“I think, therefore I am” guy]. More casual and free of last names than the usual RENÉ clue. Somebody was just telling me they’d heard from a solver who complained that she teaches Descartes and had never, ever heard of the Latin form of the quote, Cogito ergo sum. For real! She thought that was obscure fill. (The French version is Je pense, donc je suis, though Descartes included the Latin phrase in his French treatise.)
  • 7d. CANINE, [Woofer, not a tweeter]. Tweeters are avians or social media junkies.
  • 42d. SOS, [Soap pad for emergencies?]
  • 99d. GEIGER, [Man behind the counter?]. Kind of tough when ELMER A. is right next to him, though.

Mystery clue: 95a. ABE, [He beat G. McClellan]. Abraham Lincoln? I don’t think abbreviating George McClellan’s first name is a good cue for shortening Abraham to Abe and skipping the last name, and I had never heard of McClellan before. He lost the 1864 presidential election to Lincoln. Maybe his nicknames, “Little Mac” and “The Young Napoleon,” would have been more suitable for an ABE clue, but they’re not famous nicknames to most people.

2.9 stars.

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31 Responses to Sunday, 5/27/12

  1. Howard B says:

    Mistake at …DELATOUR / NOTILL. One of many killers in here including RIPENESS IS (I am not a Shakespeare expert). An amazing construction feat that I loved uncovering. Enjoyed much of the incredibly difficult fill in this one so much, and such a challenge on a Sunday. Just not some of those crossings – ouch!

  2. Jeffrey says:

    My mileage varies. When did LIGULE, CAR{LO}TTO, ICONIFY, AMADO, KARELIA etc etc become good fill? Great idea, but ultimately unfair. Less than 3 stars from me.

  3. joon says:

    couldn’t decide whether to give this 5 stars—i loved the puzzle but yikes, some of that fill is beyond the pale. i was stunned when i checked my answers against xwordinfo and found it clean. i’m familiar with KARELIA and GEORGES DE LA TOUR and AMADO, but LIGULE, HYMIE, RONAN, SKYLER, RED RYDER, PANEL VANS, RIPENESS IS ALL, LAUGHING FALCONS, NURSERY MEN, CARLOTTO, SNORKEL PARKA, NO-TILL, … all wildly unfamiliar. i ended up rating it **** because it’s still jaw-dropping, but yikes. one thing that can be said for it is that the short fill is fine, and the fact that the mystery entries are long makes them more inferable.

  4. John E says:

    The whole Sunday NYT puzzle was very challenging and, at the same time, fun to solve. The Pennsylvania and New Hampshire sections were particularly complex and well thought-out. I thought all the themed entries were filled in with two-letters per box so these took me a bit longer than the rest. Very well done – 5 stars!

  5. Matt says:

    LIGULE, RONAN, and SNORKEL were really the only notable unks for me, the rest either known or mostly guessable. Amazing feat; Bravo to Bryan.

  6. paula says:

    Once again ths crochety (sp?) old gal must protest about the rebus as unfair to average solvers. I am strictly a one letter per square stickler. To me the original reason for the squares was to put one letter in each — right? I can tolerate 2-letter rebuses on occasion, but when you cram a whole world, or in this case, whole state names into each square, it’s like anarchy. Of course I don’t have anywhere near your solving skills or speed, I’m just someone who grew up and grew old on crosswords and I hark back to what, in my eyes, were the halcyon times of yore – 1 letter, 1 square.

  7. Matt says:

    Ooops, sorry, Byron– not Bryan. That’s what happens when you post at 7:23 am, I guess.

  8. Bruce N. Morton says:

    WOW. Definitely 5***** from me. I lucked out, since I’ve read *The Goodbye Kiss (bleak, savage, but fascinating and compelling), I remembered Delatour, Hymie the robot, Skyler; no-till, nurserymen, iconify, and a few others seemed intuitive; the only rappers are ones who appear regularly in Xwds. I think Byron – WS tailored the NW to reveal the theme fairly quickly, (with one lap and Selma) which I needed to get into this difficult puzzle. Snorkel parka is a mystery. One of my all-time favorite Sundays.

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I wanted SNORKEL to be followed by JACKET or COAT rather than PARKA, as we didn’t call our snorkel coats “parkas” when I was a kid. They were big, at least in the Midwest, in the mid-’70s. We began with the classic olive green before advancing to fancy navy blue. Then disco-era puffy down jackets took over, the shinier the better.

    @Paula: There aren’t any whole state names crammed into a single box–only 2 or 3 letters per square. (I know that’s still 1 to 2 letters more than you like).

  10. mike S. says:

    Bravo to Byron for a masterfully constructed puzzle. although I’m not as much a purist as Paula I do echo her sentiments about the limits of what should be acceptable in a crossword square…..

    Bravo to Byron nonetheless.

  11. tony orbach says:

    A super cool construction, and I ultimately really enjoyed solving the tough and strange fill of all lengths – many things I’d never seen nor heard of before, but you can’t know everything, can you? Crossings made it all gettable and, considering the constraints, I thought it was worth the effort.

  12. ArtLvr says:

    Fantastic NYT, even if I had to stay up late and return for the finish after a nap! Six stars…

  13. pannonica says:

    Very impressed with Byron Walden’s NYT. Like John E, I suffered for a time under the misconception that the rebus squares would only contain two letters and that all the states would be eight letters long.

  14. Angela Osborne says:

    When a crossword puzzle begins to feel like a homework it brings back scary memories of all-night crams. I do crosswords not to beat someone elses times or to show how smart I might be on Jeopardy, but to take a break from life and all its complications. I “got” the state thing right away with Oklahoma, but as I progressed it simply became a chore to figure out which letters get crammed into which boxes, so about two-thirds of the way I got bored and slipped the Times Magazine into the recycle bin. One letter to each box is the way I began doing crosswords. Two letters on a Thursday puzzle are about as far as I want to go. Yes, the puzzle was a challenge, but sometimes I just want to relax and enjoy the day and to leave the challenge to someone else.

  15. Tuning Spork says:

    I’ve never heard nor read the phrase RIPENESS IS ALL. It’s clued as [Much-quoted line from Edgar in “King Lear”], which reminds me that nearly every time I see the word “famous” or “popular” in a clue, I can expect that it’ll end up being something that most people have never heard of.

  16. granbaer says:

    Very innovative and clever construction, but not so good for the iPad solver. Those multi-letter, multi-rebus squares were not user friendly. Also, far too much obscure fill here to make solving enjoyable. I agree with Angela about it feeling like homework.
    Still, an amazing feat of xword construction.

  17. AV says:

    WES TVI RGI NIA does not have a coin? What’s the matter with Byron? Can’t he find a central down entry to incorporate this wonderful state? Slacker.

    The puzzle has been rated “Incomplete” due to this glaring omission! :-)

  18. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Sure he can: It crosses elwes, Latvia, urging and niacin.

  19. Zulema says:

    Like Amy, I cannot fathom how Byron constructed this (or how long it took him), but this old lady thinks it was a superb workout to solve and totally worth the effort.

  20. pannonica says:

    This is a repeat complaint from a recent puzzle: did not care for the 1d clue in the LAT: [Library catalog no.] ISBN.

  21. John Haber says:

    All right, allow me to differ from everybody. “Lear” was one of my few footholds. Otherwise, I just kept finding things I’d never know. The falcons aren’t in RHUD and cross LIGULE and a designer. I didn’t recognize CARLOTTO, RED RYDER and SKYLER crossing RADAR RANGE, KAY crossing the parka, and a lot more. It was just a chore for me, nothing more.

  22. pannonica says:

    Ahhhh-go-go! Made me laugh; glad I saw the late review of the Merlpuzz. (while I was shifting a dreadfully misplaced comma in my own write-up).

  23. Winnie says:

    Angela and Paula — Thankyou for articulating so eloquently the frustration of this kind of puzzle. I used to love Sundays and fiddle with the NYT puzzle all day. Of late that has been sadly not the case. I agree that this type of puzzle is creative, but just not fun anymore.

  24. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Wish I weren’t ending the day on such a negative note, but after trying to do the Post Puzzler, I’ll probably have nightmares. Can’t believe that anyone actually preferred it to the NYT. One of the most bizarre, incomprehensible puzzles by Doug or anyone else I’ve ever seen. Is Phatfarm real, or a joke or pun? What is CTU? What is 8 Miles High? What does alt country mean? What is 8 d? What does an eskimo pie have to do with a drumstick? Who is John Cho? Is Friz a word? What is CSNY? What is air fern? Amazing that with the obsession with Simpson clues, I haven’t the foggiest idea who Nelson is or what his catch or any other phrase is. Blow flY? Fly blow? Acrobat output? Kakuro? To me this is like the worst and most extreme Eugene Maleska, from another era, dressed up in modern clothing.

  25. Doug says:

    Sorry my Post Puzzler made your head explode, Bruce. I’m especially sad that you didn’t know 8-D, since he was the seed for the puzzle. Mr. Snuffleupagus has been a “Sesame Street” regular for the past 40 years.

  26. Tuning Spork says:

    re: Post Puzzler, Bruce said:

    Can’t believe that anyone actually preferred it to the NYT. One of the most bizarre, incomprehensible puzzles by Doug or anyone else I’ve ever seen.

    ‘kay. :-)

    Is Phatfarm real, or a joke or pun?

    Both. As the clue lets on.

    What is CTU? What is 8 Miles High?

    CTU is old stuff. Like, 15 years ago. “Eight Miles High” is a Byrds song that was once assumed to be replete with drug references. Maybe it was.

    What does alt country mean?

    “Alternative country”. It’s a term used by country promoters who are trying to sell records.

    What is 8 d?

    Snuffleupagus! (Knew him as a child, but hadn’t known that’d had “Mister” attached to his name at some point in the past 40 years.

    What does an eskimo pie have to do with a drumstick?

    Ice cream!

    Who is John Cho?

    Dunno. That one was all crossing for me, too.

    Is Friz a word?

    Sure. So is “ick”.

    What is CSNY?

    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

    What is air fern?

    No idea. Again, crossings. I feel your pain on this one.

    Amazing that with the obsession with Simpson clues, I haven’t the foggiest idea who Nelson is or what his catch or any other phrase is. Blow flY? Fly blow? Acrobat output? Kakuro? To me this is like the worst and most extreme Eugene Maleska, from another era, dressed up in modern clothing.

    Say it with me: “HAH hah!” Just like that.

    “Maleska in modern clothing”. You may have a point, there, Bruce.

  27. john farmer says:

    Back in the day when you could buy a word in a Fireball puzzle, MR SNUFFLEUPAGUS was my pick. It was a memorable name from “Sesame Street” and something my son could relate to. (LIGHTNING MCQUEEN would have been his choice but it’s 16 letters.) A good seed, imo, though admitedly not something that everyone would know.

    Speaking of names from the past, the NURSERYMEN was my very first Little League team. Either someone thought that was a fearsome nickname or we were sponsored by the local nursery. Can’t remember. Anyway, thanks, Byron. The check is in the mail.

  28. joon says:

    doug, i thought your puzzle was great, but it took me darn near forever because i couldn’t dig up PHAT FARM (which i’m sure i’ve only ever seen in crosswords… and only one crossword, at that, probably a fireball) and i had GUN for {Word with blow or pop}, which i was so sure was right. messed me up pretty good.
    ed: ah, that’s why i couldn’t get the second half of PHAT FARM: in fact i’d never seen it before, but only BABY PHAT (which was, in fact, in a fireball—last year’s oscars puzzle, which i just looked up).

  29. oeuftete says:

    Put me in the haters for the NYT. I’m sure it’s a spectacular construction, but the fill killed any fun I might have had in solving it. Being a Canadian who can’t remember ever coming across a state quarter didn’t help.

  30. Chris MTA says:

    I made such a dog’s breakfast of the NYT that I had to print out a fresh puzzle, transfer the things I had some faith in (I had all the states by then) and THEN try to finish it! Didn’t help that I was sure that “doing dos” had to do with marrying or with hair-styling.

    Aside from the extra tree that died in the cause, I enjoyed the puzzle.

  31. Tina Curran says:

    Loved Sunday’s Times puzzle. Yes, some very tricky fill and much of it could have been more in the culture rather than obscure (Karelia, ligule, snorkel parka, even Ronan, but eventually they were inferrable. Loved the Lear. I have heard that often without knowing the source. I’d rather be stumped a bit than breeze through too quickly.

    Is there anywhere with a discussion of this Sunday’s diagramless?

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