01.19 Wed

January 19, 2011
Michael Sharp & Angela Olson Halsted

[Note from PuzzleGirl: This is the one week out of the year where I'm going to just mention that there is a donation button over in the sidebar. Please read my pitch for donations at the beginning of Monday's write-up here. And thanks so much for being here and for all the kind notes I've received in the last couple days.]

Theme: Tank you sir, may I have another? Theme answers are different types of tanks. Today's sub-theme: PuzzleGirl is PublishedGirl!

Theme answers:

  • 3D: *"Heads up!" (THINK FAST).
  • 8D: *Pioneering Frank King comic strip featuring Walt and Skeezix (GASOLINE ALLEY). Heh, they said Skeezix.
  • 17D: *Award-winning author of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (SHERMAN ALEXIE). "Award-winning" is in there so you don’t think he’s too obscure. I’d heard of him, but couldn’t have named anything he wrote.
  • 33D: *Trendy place for a breather? (OXYGEN BAR).
  • 24D: Sleeveless summer wear, or what each answer to a starred clue might be said to have (TANK TOP).
Today’s authors, Michael Sharp and Angela Olson Halsted, are none other than Rex Parker and PuzzleGirl! Since Doug’s off puzzle-creatin’ too, that just leaves me to talk about today's puzzle. I’m SethG, and I’ll be your host today.

After I’d finished I went back to find the theme. I was sort of thinking it somewhere between the front and the back of my mind, but I knew I’d seen that one of the clues doubled as a theme revealer while I'd been solving. So I went back through and…I couldn’t find it. I went through again. I verified that only the long downs were starred as theme clues. Finally, I wrote them all down. Well, “SHERMAN’s a tank”, I thought. With GASOLINE in there, that’s two. I looked again, finally saw TANK in the middle, and slapped my forehead. But not hard enough to leave a mark.

Interesting grid shape with the entire theme in the downs. If the theme answers had, as usual, been across clues, "top" would have made less sense as a revealer. And LEFT TANK is not as common a phrase as TANK TOP.

Nice: the tanks are different kinds of tanks. Had the puzzle included four kinds of infantry tanks, or even worse three militaries and one not, it'd have been significantly weaker. Also nice: the fill. Clean in general, super-clean for a debut, with a few sparklers and not much that's bad.

Other possible theme clues include DRUNK AS A SKUNK and TOILET TRAINED, both 13s. DUNKIN' DONUTS is close, but not quite.

  • 14A: Like a supportive crowd (AROAR). Ayeuk.
  • 15A: Come as you __ (ARE).
  • 29A: UN workers' gp. (ILO). Two UN workers' gps. = one Philippine province and its seaport capital.
  • 36A: Playwrite Hart (MOSS). One of those is presumably a first name.
  • 49A: Polite links response (GOLF CLAP). Far and away the best thing in the grid, and an early nominee for Best Fill of the Year. Awesome!
    See also:
    16A: China flaw (CHIP). And, sorta, 56A: Drive crazy (DERANGE).
  • 60A: Like former admirals (EX-NAVY). Can't decide whether I love it or loathe it. I think it's love.
  • 62A: Surefooted goat (IBEX). Love this, but probably just because I'm weird. IBEX isn't ideal fill, it's just that I love a clue like [Surefooted goat]. I remember writing similarly before about SMEWS, clued as [Eurasian ducks].
  • 25D: Climbing lane occupant (SEMI). Yeah, I relied on the crosses for that. Apparently, a climbing lane is that extra lane for trucks they put on steep hills so they can go really slowly without impeding traffic.
  • 61D: "Go Simpsonic With the Simpsons" composer Clausen (ALF). Tour buses in the Outback stop to visit a crazy guy named Talc Alf. He doesn't bathe much. I met him, we posed for a picture with his arm around me, and I had to take off my shirt and wash it before I could wear it again.

Crosswordese 101:

52D: Ed of "Up" (ASNER) is an actor, and he's been in a lot of stuff. There are no other ASNERs you need to remember, and you'll never memorize everything he's done. Aside from Up, his major roles were as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and a spin-off and Captain Davies in Roots. He frequently plays characters from the Bronx; he's from Kansas City. He was president of the Screen Actor's Guild and won a tankload of Emmys.

Congrats PuzzleGirl (and Rex)! Great job!
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: They may be indoor or outdoor (PETS).; 5A: Starr with rhythm (RINGO).; 10A: Angel dust, for short (PCP).; 13A: Yearn (for) (ACHE).; 17A: Far from dense (SPARSE).; 18A: Source of rays (SUN).; 19A: "West Side Story" duet (TONIGHT).; 21A: Prepare to seal, as an envelope (MOISTEN).; 23A: Classic Welles role (KANE).; 24A: Whopper (TALLTALE).; 25A: Sunscreen letters (SPF).; 27A: 7-Down's "Casta diva," e.g. (ARIA).; 30A: Fab rival (ERA).; 31A: Agt. under Ness (TMAN).; 32A: Hose (NYLONS).; 38A: Place for a bracelet (ANKLE).; 40A: Suit (EXEC).; 41A: Like some conditional statements (IFTHEN).; 43A: Warty amphibian (TOAD).; 45A: Singer Sumac (YMA).; 46A: Hard-rock link (ASA).; 47A: Eye hungrily (OGLE).; 48A: Hunk (GOB).; 53A: Loll (LAZE).; 55A: Outfit (CLOTHES).; 59A: Back talk (LIP).; 63A: Pre-holiday day (EVE).; 64A: Handle with skill (WIELD).; 65A: Hindu royal (RANI).; 66A: Shriner's cap (FEZ).; 67A: Lowly workers (SERFS).; 68A: Part of Q.E.D. (ERAT).; 1D: Warsaw __ (PACT).; 2D: Bounce (ECHO).; 4D: Dark brown pigment (SEPIA).; 5D: Mesmerized (RAPT).; 6D: George's musical partner (IRA).; 7D: Bellini opera (NORMA).; 9D: 1990s "Inside Edition" host (OREILLY).; 10D: Shells, e.g. (PASTA).; 11D: Unusual companion? (CRUEL).; 12D: 10-Down type (PENNE).; 20D: Tiny biter (GNAT).; 22D: Lifted (STOLE).; 28D: John in Scotland (IAN).; 34D: Hard-to-find clownfish (NEMO).; 35D: Picketer's bane (SCAB).; 37D: Vertical passage (SHAFT).; 39D: Captain Kirk's record (LOG).; 42D: Stays away from (ESCHEWS).; 44D: Pricey (DEAR).; 49D: Staff symbol (GCLEF).; 50D: Drab color (OLIVE).; 51D: 1990s-2000s Braves catcher Javy (LOPEZ).; 54D: Rumble in the Jungle setting (ZAIRE).; 56D: Netflix shipments (DVDS).; 57D: Actress Rowlands (GENA).; 58D: __ poll (EXIT).


Rex Parker said...

Believe me, I tried like hell to get a DRUNK phrase to work.

Thanks, Seth.

rp (mds)

Eric said...

Yay, @PG! That's so cool!

I was the reverse of Seth; I'd heard of the play but not the playwright, so although the theme and some crosses gave me SHERMAN, I still had to Google for his last name.

It didn't help that I'd messed up down in the bottom-center, so couldn't get that one's last couple of letters from crosses. I'd guessed PEONS instead of SERFS, which gave me A_N for the Simpsons clue, and I guessed ANN. Later, once I realized PEONS was wrong, I failed to remember that ANN was only a guess and shouldn't be trusted, so was left trying to fill in W_END and S_RNS. Yuck.

Wanted 1A to be indoor or outdoor POOLS, but just couldn't shoehorn it into four squares.

@PG: I meant to say this yesterday when you griped about fake wrestling, but forgot. Remember when, some years back, the World Wildlife Fund won a lawsuit against Vince McMahon's World [fake-]Wrestling Federation over the rights to use "WWF"? Well, the losers had to change their name to World Wrestling Entertainment -- and tough-guy Mr. McMahon went WWE WWE WWE all the way home! :-)

v-man said...

Fairly easy puzzle, I enjoyed all the starred answers in the down position. I had almost forgotten that Bill O'Reilly was once host of Inside Editon now he's part of a fair and balanced puzzle.

janie said...

congrats, p.g. (swell debut!) and rex. loved the vertical placement of the theme fill -- loved seeing SHERMAN ALEXIE (!) in a crossword. ditto OXYGEN BAR. strong, lively theme set. period.

hope there're more in the pipeline!


Barry S said...

Angela - Congratulations on your debut puzzle! Clever theme and a fun solve! Nice job Mike and Angela.

mac said...

Congratulations on a great puzzle and fantastic debut, PG and Rex!

Loved, too, that all the theme answers were downs, and the clues made the puzzle that much jucier.

Got ex-navy without crosses, somehow, but not Gasoline Alley. Golf clap was a new word, as was the meaning of heads up.

Good puzzle day!

Sfingi said...

Pretty good, Rex and Angela!

I feared I'd have to Google, but after I wrote over rain with SCAB and beige with OLIVE, I got a bunch of things I didn't know from crosses: ASNER's role, ALF Clausen, ALEXIE, Javy LOPEZ, all near the bottom. I actually prefer to get unknown things from crosses.

I didn't get the theme til the end. Do they still have OXYGEN BARS? I always figured they were dangerous since a single match...
They should get themselves an Oxygen Concentrator, which is brilliant and can be used at home.

My only whine is DERANGE as a verb. Like rearrange (one's face). I looked it up and...You're right! I'll have to try it out and see what reactions I get.

I don't say anything in public about WWF being fake. Might get punched.

r.alphbunker said...

Nice puzzle. Interesting theme. ANK/ANK sharing a K is slightly jarring.

For more on Sherman Alexie see

backbiter said...

There's a lot of clever cluing going on here. I really loved this one. I guess the only thing I wasn't familiar with was "golf clap". But then again, I don't watch or play golf. PG and RP = Excellence!!


hazel said...

awesome puzzle and not just because you got Javy Lopez in the puzzle! I'm sure its also his debut. I liked seeing Bill OREILLY being skewered by TALLTALE and AROAR.

I'd be interested in knowing your favorite and least favorite part of the puzzle, if you have one.

Congrats to you both!

Rex Parker said...

Least favorite: ILO. By a mile.

Greg Maddux said...

Could someone please explain 51D to me, because I just can't remember him.

Nhart said...

Very, very nice puzzle. Loved the long clues and the fill was pretty solid. I really liked the cluing and some nice uncommon words...NYLONS, TALL TALE, O'REILLY. Seemed like there was a lot of good editing going on in this puzzle.

This coming from a not-so Rex fan. Learned a lot from his blog but a little too snarky for my taste.

ddbmc said...

Delightful! But I only guessed half of the surprise last week! Thought @PG might have a puzzle for us, but didn't think @RP would be the co-conspirator!

Didn't know: Bellini Opera; Singer Sumac; Never watched INSIDE EDITION but had forgotten why....

Biggest problem for me, was South Central, as I didn't know "SHERMAN ALEXIE" and wanted RTNAVY for RETIRED. Again, a D'oh moment.

Love the new blog page design! Haven't been here in a few days. It looks fantastic!

@SethG, TANKS for the write up AND Nirvana. (Loved the Helium TANK)

mitchs said...

@backbiter: "Golf clap" has evolved into a term more generic than its golf-specific ancestry. It now means any very (overly so) polite, soft applause.

@Michael and Angela, fun stuff. Amazed to find this was PG's debut!


Anonymous said...

It's Moss Hart --- wrote -- the Man Who Came to Dinner, You Can't Take It With You, among others

Joon said...

cool puzzle. congrats to angela and michael. they say you never forget your first time. :)

GOLF CLAP is great. really made me smile. i really liked ESCHEWS and IF/THEN too.

greg maddux: ha! but surely you remember eddie perez, paul bako, and henry blanco. BAKO would be a useful fill option, actually.

i remember when javy lopez was briefly teammates with javier lopez, the LHP, on the 2006 red sox. much to my eternal disappointment, they never played in the same game, missing out on the opportunity to form an all-javier-lopez battery. javy was released after about a month, after which he retired from baseball. javier is still in the majors and is now a world champion with the giants. in elementary school he was my friend's next-door neighbor. he's left-handed, so he'll probably pitch forever.

where was i? seth, i loved your pic of thomas the tank top.

Two Ponies said...

You both now officially have street cred. Very nice work.

Avg Joe said...

Good solid debut puzzle, Angela. Congratulations! (This assumes Rex has seen print before...if not congratulations to both of you).

I wasn't as fond of GOLF CLAP as others since I'd not heard the term. But I did finish the solve and really liked seeing ESCHEWS.
One of my favorite one liners is: Eschew obfuscation!

Also, thanks Seth.

CarolC said...

Congrats on the debut, Angela, and on what looks like it might be Michael's third. Might we expect a continued collaboration?

Although I didn't know SHERMAN ALEXIE or Javy LOPEZ, I got them plus SEMI through the crosses.

I enjoyed having only a few theme answers, having them vertically, no puns!

Loved ESCHEWS. @Avg Joe, eschew obfuscation indeed! I had forgotten that one.

Seth, thanks for the writeup.

Doug P said...

Congrats to Angela on her debut! Awesome to the max! Much better than my debut many moons ago. I had three theme entries and still had to resort to entries like CELLI & PATLY.

This is a rock-solid puzzle with lots of fun entries: GASOLINE ALLEY, OXYGEN BAR, GOLF CLAP. Take a bow, Rex & PG. (You too, Seth.)

GI *David* said...

Congrats on the debut for Angela. I liked the shape as well. I know Rex's points for a good puzzle and this one was solid in those aspects. I found EXNAVY to be the most annoying fill and raised my eyebrow on that one. Otherwise we got the Simpsons and a nice baseball clue in there with Javy LOPEZ.

OXYGEN BAR doesn't seem very trendy to me maybe five years ago. I put it in the pet rock short fad category. SHERMAN was no one I had heard of so that was a disappointment on the theme side. Overall a 8 on the David-o-meter.

JaxInL.A. said...

PG, you should be warned that Rex essentially told Rexites not to go easy on the comments on the puzzle.

I think it's brilliant and had a lovely time solving. I like all the things already noted--theme clues going down, clever cluing, clean fill, great new answers, and humor.

Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite authors, and I commend him to everyone who enjoys compelling stories, skillful prose and characters that stay with you long after the piece is done. He writes novels, plays, poetry, and some of the only short stories that I can read with satisfaction (not my favorite prose form). He's probably best-known for writing the movie Smoke Signals, which won awards at Sundance and got released by Miramax in 1999. He writes with depth and humor about Indians/Native Americans, but his themes are universal.

In case anyone thinks that PG is riding on Rex's coattails in this debut, I think that she did more of the heavy lifting. I refer you to the puzzle's three Broadway musical answers (TONIGHT, IRA Gershwin and MOSS Hart), two (!) opera answers (NORMA and the ARIA Casta Diva). Rex usually complains about these.

Still, the obscure Simpsons composer (ALF Claussen) and even more obscure baseball player (Javy LOPEZ) clues seem clear Rex contributions. But I'm just guessing.

An unqualified success. Congratulations!

Crosscan said...

Never heard of SHERMAN ALEXIE but I know Peabody and Sherman from the Bullwinkle and Rocky show.

I am inspired by the thought of someone who started as a part time crossword puzzle blogger becoming a constructor.
I guess it is my turn next.

Nice job Rex/Michael/PuzzleGirl/Angela and even Seth/Seth.


Masked and Anonymous said...

Gonna have to go way above GOLFCLAPs on this one. Really liked it. Fave puz area has to be ESCHEWS huggin' a long theme answer, plus both of 'em passin' thru the golf thing plus CLOTHES, EXNAVY, WIELD. Smooth.
Weak wUrd of the day = crUel, as only one U turned up today.
Thumbs Up, dynamic duo.

cw stewart said...

What an interesting duo! Congratulations Angela on your debut and to you too Michael. I really liked the puzzle...quite clever and nice fill, too.ini

Neville said...

Brutally honest: Loved this puzzle!

Who decided on having 3 Xs in the puzzle? I see Rex did not want this to be a pangram just for pangram's sake! Big ups for the O'REILLY clue... and the cluing as a whole. And great fill - nothing crosswordese in my book (Ed ASNER's too well known today to be -ese in my book.


Vega said...

I was totally, *totally* on the constructors' wavelength with this one and finished probably the fastest I've ever done a Wednesday. Thank you for the Beatles! And what is it about all-down theme answers that seems so fun on a different level? (Not to mention how perfectly TANKTOP works, given that). Yes yes re: GOLFCLAP. Yay!

Dan said...

Awesome puzzle! Congrats, RP and PG. Love the new design here, too. (I took a look at the "About" page, and the bit about not having been published yet would seem to need a little update...)

Vega said...

Oh, and the K smack-dab in the middle? Brilliant.

@Crosscan/Jeffrey: yes, please!


syndy said...

Loads of fun. I had fishtale which slowed up the north and quad in the bottom but I had fun straightening it out.Did not know golfclap but if it,s real then huzzah! My only real complaint is 38 across I had wrist;If it's on my ankle it's an anklet! just not right

imsdave said...

I am sad to be so late to this party, but there is that whole work thing to deal with sometimes.

I guessed that PG's hint last week about Wednesday would be about her debut. I did not guess she would be partnering with Rex - that made it a big surprise. Congrats to both - this is an excellent puzzle (4 stars on the new Amy scale - and I'm a tough grader)! Scrabbly in a sane way with one easy to solve WTF moment. ALEXIE/GOLFCLAP were totally new to me, but totally inferable (I was pretty sure that GOLFCRAP wasn't going to work).

Love the down only aspect.

IFTHEN was a treat for this old COBOL programmer. Almost felt that you were throwing little crumbs to greene and me with TONIGHT and MOSS Hart.

@Rex re: ILO - look on the bright side - at least it wasn't ILOILO!

Really nice stuff all (including Seth in the kudos here).

Rube said...

What makes a great puzzle IMO is when you can spot the constructor a bunch of words you don't know, like O'REILLY, GINA, ALF, _ALEXEI, ASNER, and MOSS, and still solve from crosses and no Googles. Ergo, this is a great puzzle. (Never heard of a GOLFCLAP either, but that's another category of unknowns, non-proper names.)

I didn't realize that Javy and Javier Lopez were different baseball players, thx, @Joon.

One of these days I hope to see PCP clued as "Compressional wave that has traveled thru the earth's core".

Loved to see GASOLINE ALLEY again. Wasn't Skeezix the kid who willed himself to grow up in three frames so he could date an older chick in the strip?

Congrats PG and RP. Job well done.

Tuttle said...

Very fun.

Japanese cyberpunk has redefined think tank for me.

Anonymous said...

Simple enough puzzle. Theme was good, though there had to be a better bottom for the Sherman tank.

Did not like PCP -- illegal drug.

Did not like AROAR. It doesn't make me atwitter but neither does it make me aghast.

Did not like clue for ALF, ILO, ASA, GOB, DRAT or DVDS.

Did not like the clue for MOISTEN. Did you ever moisten a whole envelope in order to seal it? You moisten only the flap, and than only a portion of that.

Anonymous said...

Who said you moisten the whole envelope?
Why isn't Sherman Alexie worth learning?
What's wrong with the clue for DVDS?
Who said DRAT was in the puzzle?

PuzzleGirl said...

Hi, everyone. Thought I'd pop in and say thanks for all the comments! It's so exciting to have my first puzzle published! And I tell you what: we really worked for this one. The puzzle originally had the theme answers going across which, as Seth pointed out, isn't ideal. We submitted the puzzle to the New York Times and Will rejected it because ... wait for it ... he didn't think SHERMAN ALEXIE was well-known enough. I kinda laughed when we heard that because, no kidding, the first thing I said to Rex when he showed me this theme was "Can we use SHERMAN POTTER instead?" But Alexie was the reason Rex even thought of this theme, so he wouldn't be persuaded, which I'm happy about now because I think the puzzle turned out great.

So we reoriented the theme answers, filled the grid again, and sent it to Rich. There are a couple other parts to that story, but maybe Rex will stop in and tell them later.

GOLF CLAP is my favorite entry in the grid and I think we had a slightly different clue for it that I kinda liked. I also wanted to make O'REILLY a M*A*S*H reference (maybe to make up for throwing Sherman Potter out?), but I think the clue we ended up with is a better fit for the difficulty level.

Not sure what else to say except thanks again! And no, this won't be last you'll see of me. :-)

CrazyCatLady said...

Congrats PG and Rex. Nice debut Angela! Took me a while to finish, but enjoyed it all the way. Got the theme at TANK TOP. Last to fall was GOLF CLAP crossing ALEXIE. My eraser had a workout today. Started off badly by putting pine in for ACHE. Then had beige before OLIVE and peons before SERFS. Sounds like some others had the same missteps. Liked the vertical theme answers.

Thanks for the write up Seth!

Orange said...

Congrats, PuzzleGirl! Lovely debut, and of course I look forward to more puzzles by you and/or Rex.

@imsdave: Thanks for mentioning the star ratings at my site! Thanks to some errant clicking, I ended up giving it 5 stars but I meant to give it 4 (which is a solid A in my book—5 stars = A++ with lots of extra credit). So then I gave it a 4 and averaged out my vote to 4.5 stars.

Yes Sherman Potter would probably have been more familiar to many solvers, but those who don't know Sherman Alexie's work should know it because it's delightful. Wry, sardonic, funny, and moving. If you were a smart kid in high school, you'll be able to relate to his protagonist in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Larry S said...

Let me add a dose of reality to this conversation (Rex asks for that in his blog):

Excellent puzzle, really!

I'm a little worried that PuzzleGirl has produced such a sparkling debut. I doubt she'll TANK, but it will be hard to TOP.

If ILO is the low point, then you're traveling in pretty high territory. btw, ILO and YMA are CW101 entries, as is T-MAN. I agree that Ed Asner is too well known for that category.

I too got through it finally without googling even though there were many words I could only solve with a lot of crosses. That's good mental exercise. I grumbled through the many unknowns, but in the end considered it a very satisfying solve.

Kudos and congrats to the co-constructors!

andrea clapclapCLAP michaels said...

What a wonderful puzzle, you guys!
Honest, funny write-up, Seth, which is great.

I LOVED it!!!!!!!!
FEZ/LOPEZ!!! PASTA/PENNE! CRUEL and unusual!!!

PLUS Such fantastic theme entries...and perfect perfect "reveal".

Fantastic theme... great hard clues...perfect amount of misdirect...
tho I got off to a super rough start thinking
1A "They may be indoor or outdoor" to be POOLS and thought Warsaw,
POland, so tried some sort of PO and then OO rebus type thing!!!!!
(2D Bounce was OOmph!)

It's always interesting and challenging and hopefully fun to collaborate and then parse out what is what... thought I saw Rex's fingerprints all over this...ALF Clausen,
SHERMANALEXIE, but my fave/trickiest strangest most fun answer
GOLFCLAP (I tried HALF CLAP then CLAP CLAP) must be a shout out to
puzzle sis!

anyway, super great debut and collaboration. I was RAPT.

Also like the new clean design of the blog.

C said...

Fun puzzle, I learned some things to day such as SHERMANALEXIE and MOSS Hart. Puzzle answers were outside of my ken sweet spot so I needed more crossings than usual.

On a different note, I really liked the all down clue theme answers, different and different is good in cross word puzzles.

chefbea said...

What a great puzzle by a great team!!

A bug bunch of beets for Angela on her debut. Can't wait for more

John Wolfenden said...

Well done, you two. Way to keep the crosswordese to a minimum. Love "Unusual companion" for CRUEL and "They may be indoor or outdoor" for PETS. The latter is a good example of a clue that makes you rack your brain but when you get it, it seems obvious.

Never heard of a climbing lane. Would've preferred "slow lane occupant." That's one obscure LOPEZ but I like it.

Liked seeing MOISTEN. Isn't it odd that there are otherwise rational people who think it's the most disgusting word ever? I guess because it's onomatopoetic in sort of a graphic way. Anyway, it's a good word.

Out of curiosity, how long did it take you to craft this puzzle?

Clark said...

I was on the wrong wavelength, which made me have to struggle a bit. I had YETI for 'Climbing lane occupant', thinking maybe it was a comment on the crowded climbing conditions on certain famous mountains. And I had GOLF CRAP for a while, figuring it was a meta answer. You know, like, "Dorabella and Guglielmo's duet" would be OPERA CRAP. Fun puzzle. Congrats to you both, Puzzle Girl and Rex.

Anonymous said...

Good job!!!! We've been waiting for PG's debut. I also loved the golf clap clue. Nice Wednesday complexity except for the NE corner which I thought was a level below the overall puuzzle although the close proximity of the 10D/12D combo was interesting. Lots of scrabble-ese which we all know PG loves.

Wanda Woman said...

Fantastic debut, Rex and PG! A great, fun puzzle. As Rube said, some clues I hadn't a clue about, but was able to get from the crosses. I had a few missteps, but that's what makes solving crossword puzzles fun. And no Googling for Roman numeral calculations or obscure rivers in itty bitty countries!

A winner, for sure. Congrats!

Rex Parker said...

I knew getting SHERMANALEXIE by an editor was a longshot, but it was one worth taking. He may not be Stephen King famous, but with a National Book Award, a Pen/Faulkner Award, multiple appearances on The Colbert Report, a young adult book that's constantly in the news for having parents' groups rally against it, etc. he's not what I'd call "obscure." If you really didn't like the entry but end up eventually reading some Alexie, I'll be happy.

GOLF CLAP is breaking very hard, either toward the "love it" camp or the "WTF?" camp. It's very in-the-language to me (is this generational?) as a term meaning overly polite (often sarcastic) applause. Came about in the days before Tiger, i.e. before raucous cheering became more common on the links. I'm really grateful to Rich that he let SHERMANALEXIE and GOLFCLAP through. They were risky. Oh, and that he kept the "Simpsons" clue on ALF. In fact, he upped the ante and named the damn album. Good man.


Just a clarification to PG's timeline. This puzzle was rejected by Will Shortz in both its horizontal- and vertical-theme-answer forms. Just not for him. It happens.

JIMMIE said...

Congrats PG and Rex on a fine puzzle in so many ways.

And I love the new blog layout.

mitchs said...

I forgot to applaud ESCHEW.

Avg Joe said...

Much better atmosphere than yesterday. Time for a Robert Earl Keen song.

Feelin Good Again


Pretty darn good puzzle for a couple of neophytes, but I have to say that it was a bit simple for a Wednesday-level... I actually finished it before my second cup of coffee this morning. Nothing too obscure and the cluing was rightfully direct. Overall I thought it at least merited a quiet GOLF CLAP... nah! I'll give it a AROAR and a standing ovation. Very nice job, PG and Rex, and thank you Seth for a great writeup.

I actually didn't see a theme until I came to this blog. TANKS! Well now that's pretty original.

I guess the main reasons why I liked this puzzle were 1) no corny theme clues, 2) a literary bent (I should have figured, from a literature PROF), and 3)some nice solid and Scrabbly fill words.

Literary entries just for me: Citizen KANE, MOSS Hart, Bellini's NORMA, and SHERMAN ALEXIE.

Best clue: 61D, "Go Simpsonic With the Simpsons" composer Clausen (ALF).

Worst clue: 46A, "Hard-Rock link" (ASA)... there are just so many better choices for this one.

Strange (but Okay) clue: 40A, "Suit" (EXEC)... this is far too slangy.

The highlight of this puzzle was seeing old Walt And Skeezix from GASOLINE ALLEY. This used to be my favorite comic strip.

You two, keep up the good work and don't get all taken up with that trashy Urban Dictionary stuff!


I guess a GOLF CLAP could be akin to a Queen Elizabeth clap. Did you ever notice how soft she applauds with those tiny gloved hands?

I just don't know what the big deal is with this puzzle having vertical themes. You can take any puzzle and rotate it 90 degrees and then flip it horizontally and voile the theme words all go downwards. I actually find vertical themes rather unsettling.

andrea i (heart) hart michaels said...

Re: your very funny "One of those is presumably a first name" line, I don't know if someone else already mentioned it, but MOSS Hart was married to Kitty Carlisle (Hart) who someone @50 would know from "To Tell the Truth", others 60+ might remember her as a diva even in a Marx Bros film...
I have a lot of his work on my Algonquin Round Table shelf.

"Smoke Signals"!!! THAT's where I know SHERMANALEXIE from! That was a great film...thanks for the reminder!

Angela and Michael, hope you are still bathing in all the nice comments!

hazel said...

@joon - you can't reel off a bunch of greg maddux's personal catchers (eddie perez is my personal favorite) without including Charlie O'Brien - who caught him during 2 of his CY years.....he used a really big mitt, as i recall.

and good grief, if they can barely squeeze sherman alexie (?!) by an editor how in the world would paul bako make it through?

Stan said...

Nice balance between high and low culture, simple and surprising answers, jokey and straightforward clues. I think it definitely improved in its second version.

21A was very funny to those who have read Rex on this topic, though we are talking about Angela and Michael here, not P.G. and Rex. Anyway, congrats to all four of you!