FRIDAY, Mar. 5, 2010 — Gary J. Whitehead

THEME: N to M — "N" is changed to "M" in the final letter of familiar phrases (all words involved in the letter change are 3-letter "-UN" / "-UM" words)

A very low word count for a themed puzzle (72). Maybe adding a couple black squares could've helped prevent the chain of random names that made this puzzle less-than-stellar. LARISSA? *That* is your central answer? That's weak. Weaker still is LARISSA (35A: City in Thessaly) into ADELPHI (another Greek name) (38D: Long Island university) into [choke] ORLE (52A: Outer area of an escutcheon) into RONSON (wtf?) (47D: Recent Zippo acquisition). Rest of the grid is pretty smooth, but that whole area from center to SE is kind of unsightly. As for the theme gimmick. I mean, it's fine. We've seen this type of thing a million times. It's an adequate basis for a puzzle. Quality of the theme answers *really* matters when the theme is a simple "change-a-letter." Today, one answer wins: ANNIE GET YOUR GUM. The others, I've already forgotten.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Suggestion to singer Lennox after a garlicky meal? (ANNIE GET YOUR GUM)
  • 24A: Jamaican group winding down after a gig? (BAND ON THE RUM)
  • 45A: Moocher at McDonald's? (HAMBURGER BUM)
  • 58A: Feared words from an accountant? (HERE COMES THE SUM)

Made the SE worse by dropping in I REGRET for I REPENT (44D: Words of atonement). Also, since I formally refuse to acknowledge the existence of the so-called Episodes I-III of "Star Wars," I know only one actor who played Obi-Wan, and his name was ALEC (Guinness). Sadly for me, ALEC was already in the grid. EWAN (McGregor) came only with crosses (64A: He played Obi-Wan). Found JUDASES very hard to see for some reason (had every letter but the "J" before I got it). GOIN' isn't the greatest fill, but the clue kind of redeems it (18D: "___ Out of My Head": 1964 hit).

Crosswordese 101: ORLE (52A: Outer area of an escutcheon) — should I wait for you to look up "escutcheon?" Wikipedia's "Heraldry" entry defines "ORLE" as "A bordure separated from the outside of the shield" — so, a border that follows the contours of the shield but is not flush with the actual edge of the shield. A floating border. "Escutcheon," despite sounding like some horrific malady, is simply the shield part of a coat-of-arms.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Bank statement no. (ACCT.); 5A: The Miners of Conf. USA (UTEP); 9A: One way to attend a party (STAG); 13A: Lincoln feature (BEARD); 15A: __ City: Baghdad suburb (SADR); 16A: Cook book (COMA); 17A: Suggestion to singer Lennox after a garlicky meal? (ANNIE GET YOUR GUM); 20A: Half of the Brady bunch, to Carol (STEPSONS); 21A: Clothes line? (CREASE); 22A: Samuel Johnson portraitist John __ (OPIE); 23A: Traitors (JUDASES); 24A: Jamaican group winding down after a gig? (BAND ON THE RUM); 28A: "Yours truly calling" ("IT IS I"); 29A: Downed (ATE); 30A: "Ditto" ("SAME"); 34A: Warmup toss (LOB); 35A: City in Thessaly (LARISSA); 39A: "Oedipus __" (REX); 40A: Sylvester's problem (LISP); 42A: Hägar creator Browne (DIK); 43A: Roman moon goddess (DIANA); 45A: Moocher at McDonald's? (HAMBURGER BUM); 49A: Acid neutralizers (ALKALIS); 52A: Outer area of an escutcheon (ORLE); 53A: Afternoon service (TEASET); 54A: Fragments (SNIPPETS); 58A: Feared words from an accountant? (HERE COMES THE SUM); 60A: Frankfurt's river (ODER); 61A: Canceled (NO-GO); 62A: Emcee's job (INTRO); 63A: Nos. divided by dashes (SSNS); 64A: He played Obi-Wan (EWAN); 65A: Strong taste (TANG); 1D: "__ le roi!": French Revolution cry (ABAS); 2D: Tiny amount (CENT); 3D: Mr. Peanut prop (CANE); 4D: Surveyors' tools (TRIPODS); 5D: Online newsgroup system (USENET); 6D: Does lacework (TATS); 7D: Eponymous ice cream maker (EDY); 8D: Gets by special means (PROCURES); 9D: Roller coaster sounds (SCREAMS); 10D: Senate apparel (TOGAS); 11D: Tickle pink (AMUSE); 12D: Fun partner (GAMES); 14D: Pillage (DESPOIL); 18D: "__ Out of My Head": 1964 hit (GOIN'); 19D: Language heard in Karachi (URDU); 23D: Flies, in a way (JETS); 24D: Law in the works (BILL); 25D: Paris possessive (À TOI); 26D: Writing points (NIBS); 27D: 17-syllable poem (HAIKU); 31D: Libyan, probably (ARAB); 32D: You might get one right after being seated (MENU); 33D: Checkup (EXAM); 36D: Ticket order? (ADMIT ONE); 37D: Barbecue order (RIBS); 38D: Long Island university (ADELPHI); 41D: Sci-fi weapons (PHASERS); 44D: Words of atonement (I REPENT); 46D: Baldwin of "30 Rock" (ALEC); 47D: Recent Zippo acquisition (RONSON); 48D: Gumption (GRIT); 49D: Oldest musketeer (ATHOS); 50D: It's on the Aire (LEEDS); 51D: Carpenter with a soothing voice (KAREN); 54D: Nintendo rival (SEGA); 55D: This, in Tijuana (ESTA); 56D: Make a right, say (TURN); 57D: Industrial pollutant (SMOG); 59D: Cut (MOW).



I liked this puzzle and its M for N swap theme. The fill was great! There were lots of new words for me, especially the geographic ones, like SADR City, LARISSA Thessaly, Frankfort’s ODER river, and ADELPHI University of Long Island. Also, I learned about ORLE (52A) and "ABAS le roi!". I’d give Mr. Whitehead a standing ovation… just because he met all 4 of my criteria for puzzle excellence and I enjoyed working it.

I thought the clue for the book "Coma" by Robin Cook, was very clever. Also, "clothes line" = CREASE.

I’m a huge huge fan of Igor Stravinky and so a couple weeks ago I went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to hear Oedipus REX… a great operatic production sung by the Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus.
Here’s a wonderful video clip from the 1993 movie version (with Seiji Ozawa) of OEDIPUS REX.

Wow, I’m not into sports, but I recognized the Miners team as being from the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP).

And I knew that Hägar the Horrible was created by the late DIK Browne, because I read the comics too!

I’ve tried my hand at HAIKU myself.
Basho Matsuo is known as the granddaddy of HAIKU. Here’s his most famous poem---

An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

~ John

Tinbeni said...

The first theme answer, ANNIE GET YOUR GUM, made the next three almost gimmies.
Though at first I thought the Jamaican Band would be winding down with a spliff. Appleton Rum hits the spot, too.

@Rex - Obi-Wan threw me for the same reason, all by the crosses.

Liked that Lincoln's BEARD crossed his CENT, cute.
Passed the French test: A BAS, A TOI, ORLE.
Even aced the Spanish, ESTA. Remembered my Greek, LARISSA & ADELPHI.
Struggled with some of the English, though I knew LEEDS was on the Aire River.

Don't understand why the "words from an accountant" are feared? Hey, it could be a refund total as opposed to a tax BILL.

Knew DIK Browne created Hagar, but had no idea who Samuel Johnson was, so his artist John OPIE was a learning moment.

Found the hidden "secret answer" upon my re-mix.
That will be a BY NIGHT t'ang later.

*David* said...

The theme was quite smooth and was relatively easy to fill in with minimal crosses. I did not know what to do with the RONSON/ORLE crossing which was awkward. LARISSA was another odd one which intuitively made sense with most of the fill in.

The COMA clue was the best of the bunch.

imsdave said...

Perfectly fine puzzle. I went with IMSORRY for IREPENT. No writeovers other than that.


Once again we get one of your cryptic critiques. I must be stupid, because I just don't understand much of it at all.
1) Where do you get 72 for a word count?
2) How can "adding a couple of black squares" have helped that?
3) What do you mean by "chain of randon names"? And why is that so ugly?
4) What's wrong with LARISSA being in the center?
5) Why are words like LARISSA, ADELPHI, ORLE, and RONSON weak?
6) What exactly do you mean by the SE being "unsightly"?

I need to learn construction rules and your blog is a great resource for that.

Susan said...

The RONSON/ORLE I couldn't get at all, nor the EWAN--I put ALEC, too! Those clues are what finally drove me to the internet! I had put RIK instead of DIK, but even when I got it right, I just this minute looked at the answer and got ADMIT-ONE instead of ADMI- TONE! I guess I'm slow today, but all in all I thought it was a good puzzle. When I started crosswords I had to finish most of them with the internet, but this is the first one in a while that has puzzled me to that point.

lit.doc said...

A relaxing and enjoyable puzzle, though the theme seems awfully easy for a Friday. Wrote all of the theme answers in with only a few crosses needed. Was more amused by my own errors than by the puzzle, which I guess says a lot.

My newly acquired command of CW101 allowed me to confidently drop in RUHR at 60A, till it was run through by ATHOS. “He played Obi-Wan” had me till the dupe ALEC at 46D. 9D “evolved” from SHRIEKS to SHREIKS (huh?) to SCREAMS, and I had HEW before MOW.

Tinbeni said...

I think @Rex (the King) meant 72 clues count.

What I never understand is why is LARISSA into ADELPHI weak? into ORLE into RONSON weaker still?

That would be like sayng INTRO into SMOG is weak? ESTA next to TURN is weak. WTF! Huh?

Would that make LEEDS crossing TEASET good because Tea is an English thing?

Though a puzzle without the letters remixed into Scotch would be very weak.

What I find unsightly is my puzzle when it is blank or later if I have a rorschach ink blot test due to write-overs.

*David* said...

The weakness of those two crossings are you have relatively unknown words crossing each other. The general principle is that you have at least one cross be relatively familiar to the solver.
RONSON/ORLE/ADELPHI/LARISSA are all odd words not known to the typical crossword puzzle solving community.

The other piece is it depends on the difficulty of the puzzle. This puzzle is on the easy-medium side so there should not be any difficult crossings and prefereably no out of the ordinary words. There should be a consistency to a puzzle based on difficulty in its content.

shrub5 said...

It took me quite a while to complete this but did so without any lookups. Final crossing to fall was DESPOIL/OPIE. Had DESTROY for a time there. Familiar change-a-letter theme but I thought the resulting theme answers were all kinda funny.

Since I didn't know ORLE (or escutcheon for that matter), I had put GUTS in for "gumption" before eventually correcting to GRIT.

Overall, thought this puzzle was challenging but satisfying. Thanks, Gary W.


I didn't find any of those "random" words difficult except for ORLE, so I wouldn't exactly call any of those crossings a natick. RONSON/zippo is very common (even to us non-smokers). What's so unusual about ADELPHI? We just had that in another puzzle and it perhaps should even be considered for CW101. You will soon see it in another upcoming puzzle. To me LARISSA was a bit unknown, but the crosses easily revealed that too. I can't exactly buy the "weak construction" thing... it's just an excuse for a weak-solver. We all wanted more difficult LAT puzzles. Now we get a string of challenging words and we start whining... go figure!

Rex Parker said...

Trick that Orange taught me (via constructor Byron Walden). Total word count of a puzzle is number of the last Across clue (today, 65) + number of letters that start both an Across and a Down clue (e.g. the "A" in ACCT, the "U" in UTEP, the "S" in STAG, etc.). Today,

65 + 7 = 72.

All the badness of the SE is just as David said. All those answers are at least somewhat arcane. Any one of them wouldn't make me blink (exc. ORLE, which I just hate); but piled up / interlinked as they are, they turn the grid sour for me. I will say, however, that tortured short fill and abbrevs. are far worse, for me, aesthetically. Problem fill today is more flat and lifeless than outright bad.

Rex Parker said...

You really are "never home" if you think I am a "weak solver." You aren't listening. "Challenging" is not the issue. Arbitrary, dull, and "here only 'cause they're the only things that fit" — that's the issue.

Burner 10 said...

Hmmm. Had a lousy puzzle morning. DNF. LISP was the problem - and, it shouldn't have been - so, clearly I need more coffee and a new puzzle. Yea, its Friday and I eagerly await WSJ for the bus ride home.


@REX, Who said YOU were a weak-solver?
As for me, this was indeed a challenging puzzle!

BTW, my 6x6 avatar breaks all the Shortz rules. IDC

Tinbeni said...

@Rex & @David
Thanks for the clarification.
I guess I would describe the LARISSA / ADELPHI / ORLE / RONSON not as weak but as tough.
I only knew LARISSA since I visited the amphitheater there (plus a whole bunch of other Greek sites).
RONSON I knew from the lighter fluid.

Clue number I knew because being a former accountant, I counted them.
33 across & 39 downs = 72 clues.

Actually I thought the themes were easy today.
The rest of the puzzle at times a bit tough.
Appropriate Friday level LAT.

Joon said...

i liked the theme more than rex did, but i agree with rex about some of these odd words/names crossing. i actually knew all of them except RONSON, although the only reason i recognized LARISSA is because i once wanted to use it in a fill and rejected it because there are no famous larissas. on the other hand, it seems that zhivago's love LARA (of crosswordese fame, though not yet a CW101 feature) is actually short for larissa feodorovna antipova. at any rate, LARISSA cannot be clued in an easy way.

JNH: later in the week, it's okay to have a few challenging words, but they should not cross each other. the way to make puzzles difficult but still fun is to have tricky clues, not obscure answers.

burner10, i hope you have a short bus ride. today's WSJ was one of the easiest 21x21s i've ever done.

Tuttle said...

LARISSA was easy for me. An ancient Thracian witch in Neil Gaiman's Sandman used the pseudonyms 'LARISSA' and 'Thessaly' at various points in the story. Plus I remember Larissa F.C. winning the Greek Cup back in '07.

What killed me was misanswering GUTS for GRIT, SOOT for SMOG and HEW for MOW.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to see HAMBURGER BUM clued as Wimpie

C said...

Heraldic border clued in a manner I hadn't seen before. Guess I haven't done enough early 70's NYT crossword puzzles.

ORLE is my least favorite answer of all time. Never thought I'd see it in a LAT puzzle.

Because of ORLE, hard for me to like this puzzle, then again, I enjoyed doing the puzzle so I'm not complaining.

Gary said...

Aw, Rex. Can't you ever say anything nice about my puzzles? You're such an expert, but I've never seen one of your puzzles in a major newspaper. So there.

huh? said...

Roger Ebert wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Ruth Reichl didn't run a restaurant, Ada Louise Huxtable didn't design any buildings...


Rube said...

I think @Tenbeni's discussion of the LARISSA/ADELPHI/ORLE/RONSON crossings is a classic example of what some people have in their "roundhouse" or as I prefer, KB, (Knowledge Base as in MS's help site). He only knew Larissa from experience. Me? Never heard of Lariussa. But, most who went to college in NYC would have heard of ADELPHI U; ORLE was a gimme because we had it in a NYT/LAT puzzle a few months back; and, RONSON & Zippo are virtually synonymous for those who lived in the 60's when many smoked. It comes down to "diff'rent strokes...". I'm often amazed at some of the words that @Rex doesn't know, that are gimmes for me. (The other way around does not amaze me.)

Similarly, I could comment that @JNH thought the clue for COMA was "cute", whereas I had to come here to find out what the connection was. But I won't.

Then there are words like OPIE. Most college grads should know the English lexicographer Samuel Johnson who is, "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history" (a quote quoted in Wiki). Should you know his portraitist? Why, it's Sir Joshua Reynolds, of course. Or at least that's who did the portrait in his Wiki article and the one I remember from long ago. Okay, you want to add OPIE to crosswordese? Fine. Done. The responsibility now rests on us to remember OPIE and put it in our lists: and not complain when, like ORLE, we forget.

My other big problem -- EWAN who did what? Also had REcaNT, then RElENT, before finally REPENT.

Speaking of rum, the Koloa rum company has recently opened up and has a showroom on Kauai. They now have both light and dark rums made from local sugar cane. I recommend you stop by your next time on Kauai -- it's not exported to the mainland yet. (There is a problem in that sugar cane is no longer grown on Kauai, and the Koloa Rum Co. is currently just using old stock.) @Chefwen, you been there yet?

@Joon, tx for explaining the origin of Lara/LARISSA. This kind of background is what keeps me coming back to this site. Tx @Rex for making it so.

Rube said...

@Gary. I don't care what they say about you. You're great in my book!

Sfingi said...

I didn't dislike the puzzle, but had various hang-ups.

To begin with I had a double Natick, or at least 2 Naticks on one word. USENET crossed UTEP and then, again OPIE. I didn't Google O Johnson, and I had not Idea that UTEP was sports. Thought it was a union that I had never heard of.
I read the whole article on USENET. This was happening while I was a programmer, but not in an academic setting.

Words I had for awhile: SlaG for SMOG, HeW for MOW, I'm sorry for IREPENT.

Did Google for DIK (I like Hagar, but rarely notice cartoon authors unless forced to. Don't they come from silly heaven?), EWAN (starstuff - includes trek and wars, i.e. yuk), ESTA (Sp.), DIANA (knew her as goddess of the hunt. So, she's doing double-duty), ATHOS (had no idea he was the oldest).

Got by crosses, but did not know 'til now: LARISSA, LEEDS is on the Aire (there are 3 Aire rivers), Zippo acquired RONSON, ORLE - actually I tried to Google escutcheon and got no ideas. That's arcane, but a good cw word.

The word JUDASES seemed clumsy, and the hated SSNS was there.

I think the controversy over Rex's use of the word "weak" could be solved by just calling it arcane, his other word.

@Tuttle - checked out your Neil Gaiman. His titles look interesting. I used to read a lot of sci-fi, but became annoyed when it wasn't keeping up with sociology, mostly feminism, ecology. What's Gaiman's main thing? I didn't mind Lem, Dick, Wells, Huxley at various points, but would need something new. I like fairy tales but not "Fantasy" because the former rises organically, and the latter is just a single author's imaginings. At my age I'm opinionated; also, don't want to waste much time!

Anonymous said...

UTEP was in the Tuesday NYT.

Darryl said...

@Sfingi - UTEP is University of Texas, El Paso. Not specifically sports, other than seeming equivelance of education and sports in Texas.

Rex Parker said...


Cheer up, buddy! Your puzzles will be good someday, I just know it! Practice practice practice.

Also, you may be confusing me with the last person not to like one of your puzzles. Wasn't me.

November 24, 2009.

CrazyCat said...

I had the same problem as others with the ORLE/RONSON cross. I have always thought an escutcheon was a piece of hardware that goes around a keyhole on a drawer or door. Didn't know the shield definition. I did grow up in the 60s and 70s and I did smoke for while, but never heard of RONSON. Knew ADELPHI from living in NY. Never heard of LARISSA except for my daughter's friend LARISSA. I was an art history major and I don't remember ever hearing of John OPIE. It sounds as though he was a lesser known 18th century English painter who was eclipsed by Reynolds and Gainsborough. Also had aproblem with UTEP which I know was in a puzzle the other day, but I found the clue to be very confusing. I'm with @Sfingi when it comes to sports clues. Hand up for the ALEC/ALEC dilemma. Had to google to get EWAN. Other than those issues, I found the the puzzle to be enjoyable and challenging. And I gained some new knowledge to boot. Back to cooking Coq au Vin for 20.

Tinbeni said...

Amazingly, back in college, Samuel Johnson didn't come up much in my field of study, Accounting & Finance.
Ergo, his portraitist even less.
What I liked was a different OPIE than Andy Taylor's son from Mayberry. LOL.
But you are correct, what is apparent to one might be arcane to another. I got lucky today, probably will get creamed (ass-kicked) tomorrow.
Also, I never complain about it if an answer like OPIE or ORLE (learned today) falls out of my ears tomorrow.
The old NOB loves to misfile lots of the arcane stuff I come across. (There's a metaphor in there somewhere).

As I grudgingly filled in UTEP (Miners in Conf.USA ... a minor conference in football) I thought to myself, "Can't wait to see Sfingi's comment about this (almost obtuse) clue/answer."
I totally agree about the plural JudasES.
SSN(S) should be banned forever.

@Anon 1:19 - Since UTEP was in the NYT Tuesday, how does that make it relevant to the Friday LAT.
Was it the exact same cluing?

All of the above notwithstanding, I liked your Friday level LAT just fine.
Personally, I like the idea that accountant sums are "feared."
At 57yo, 5'10" 170lbs I am a totally imposing figure.
IT IS I who makes the IRS quake, not the other way around.

Rube I wish I had some of that Dark Koala Rum from Kauai right now. Alas, I'll settle for something else.
Hmmmm? What could fill the BILL? I wonder ...?

JIMMIE said...

The other Frankfurt in Germany is on the Main river, so this messed me up, as did Alec for EWAN and never having heard of Annie Lennox. I find nothing special about PROCURES, just another word for buys.

Rex, I am amazed at the word count calculation! I haven't figured out how that works, but it does. Is there a ghost in the machine?

Charles Bogle said...

had experience very similar to that of @shrub5...fun puzzle, harder than usual here, took me longer than expected, in the dark on ORLE (thanks RP), some European rivers and cities I've never heard of; but, will raise flag in triumph for not having to resort to extrinsic sources (read, google)

Bickster said...

@Jimmie - No magic. Every clue gets a unique number, except for those which Rex described - ones which start both an across and a down. Simply find the max number in the clues, all those that do double duty - The top left squares of answer blocks.

Unknown said...

What's up with Cruciverb? Is it gone forever?

chefwen said...

@Rube - I'll scope it out next time I'm in Koloa checking up on our rental unit.

Really liked the puzzle, got a little hung up on the USENET/OPIE area and LARISSA was a new one for me. All in all it went down pretty easily, unlike the NYT puzzle, which I didn't finish. BAH!


In the past few days I've learned much about puzzle construction rules, aesthetics, balance, and liveliness; paying particular attention to the comments and advice of Rex and Orange. As an ex aerospace scientist and avid puzzle solver, I have this strong desire to someday master the construction of my own puzzles. I have some great ideas for themes that would appeal to two different scientific communities. Perhaps on the high end and a bit esoteric, but quite marketable nonetheless. At the other extreme, I would like to develop easy CWP's for newcomers to the United States, as a learning aid. I tutor internationals who are interested in learning American History, Government, and ESL; so as to pass the exams and obtain their citizenship. Proper spoken English is one thing, but the American usage is rife with idioms and slang.
Any suggestions from the blogsters or solvers is greatly welcomed.

Reno911 said...

Liked the puzzle. Try to do them everyday in Reno Gazette Journal. I chuckle every time I read this blog and comments. I do the cw`s to help stim the brain and learn a few things. I chuckle because I never thought anybody took it so seriously. (Something else I learned.) Don't think I'll ever reach some of your passion but I do get satisfaction solving a late week puzzle. Keep up the good work.

Van55 said...

Testy exchanges today. More's the pity. Less snarkiness and more camaraderie would be a good thing.

Maybe this one was in my individual wheelhouse, but I thought it was fine. I know ADELPHI, but didn't know it was on Long Island. Got it from the crosses. ORLE is crosswordese from way back in my book. RONSON is perhaps the second best know lighter after Zippo, so with a couple of crosses, it was easy.

LARISSA was totally new to me, but it fell without a serious problem.

The puzzle theme was just fair, and I wouldn't say this was the most inventive puzzle ever. But it was fine in my book.

Van55 said...

Testy exchanges today. More's the pity. Less snarkiness and more camaraderie would be a good thing.

Maybe this one was in my individual wheelhouse, but I thought it was fine. I know ADELPHI, but didn't know it was on Long Island. Got it from the crosses. ORLE is crosswordese from way back in my book. RONSON is perhaps the second best know lighter after Zippo, so with a couple of crosses, it was easy.

LARISSA was totally new to me, but it fell without a serious problem.

The puzzle theme was just fair, and I wouldn't say this was the most inventive puzzle ever. But it was fine in my book.

Sfingi said...

@Guys - Testy testier testiest. Do you know what I do with the sports sections? If there are no bones around, I might throw it out, leave it in McDonald's, or if it has the cw in it, tear it apart. Sorry. I'm sure some people do that with the opera and science sections. I don't even read the sports headlines, as in who cares. The difference is, I don't expect people to share my tastes, and am delighted when they do. I'm sorry if I made you cry.

By the way, is it minor or miner or both?

@John - I have some insane ideas for themes.

@Reno911 - when I tell people the crossword forums were brutal, they think it's hilarious. But then, I can't believe people take sports seriously.

Thank you @Tinbeni and @Crazycat.

I learned a lot from this puzzle. I looked up this Opie dude and he's pretty good. As I said before, I read up on USENET. Also, ATHOS is the oldest, DIANA is a double goddess, RONSON is still around.
I think H & R Block should have a new theme song, "HERE COMES THE SUM." That expression is tops, Mr. Whitehead! And I continue to conetemplate the word JUDASES.

My captcha is cranca and I am cranky.

Orange said...

@JNH: Two pieces of advice for any budding constructor:

1. Buy Patrick Berry's how-to book for crossword constructors. It's called Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies but should really be called Crossword Construction for Smarties.

2. Head to Cruciverb.com and spend a lot of time with the "Sage Advice" sections. Heed the accumulated wisdom of the masters.

Rube said...

A parting shot from the Twilight Zone. While I was discussing the 4 words of controversy in the LAT puzzle at dinner tonight, RubeWife informed me that she spent 2 months in Larissa, Thessalonika as an exchange student. I knew about the Greece part but not precisely where. Wierd.


A while back I expressed an interest in constructing and at that time you advised similarly. I immediately bought that book and printed off all the goodies on Cruciverb. Now in our discussions I'm getting all the little nuances. I sure appreciate all your help... tx

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why so often Rex Parker and Orange post so late (for me) on the east coast. I leave the house about 9:00 a.m. and am not able to check areas of the daily puzzle where I need assistance. What determines your posting time?

Carol in North Carolina

Orange said...

Carol, I write my posts the night before and usually schedule them to publish by 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

I think Rex writes up the NYT puzzle first thing in the morning and follows that up with his LAT post, but I don't know for sure.

Given that we're not getting paid for this blog, we have busy lives, and there are three of us writing, we can't promise to always get our posts up early enough for every first-thing-in-the-morning solver.

xyz said...


I thought your puzzle was fine, although there were a few tough words for me as i am not a CW geek.

I get a little perturbed with the search for a perfect construction as when the top puzzle geeks love a puzzle, it's just no fun to me at all.

I don't know all my crosswordeses and I don't like to Google, check CW 101 nor study my Bible, obscure literature and certainly useless Yiddish.

So To you Gary, I say thanks since after plugging away for a fairly long while I got it all filled in with two errors only, so I had both fun and satisfaction.

The redamnan sends you a hug.

Anonymous said...

Rex. I enjoy reading your comments, and as far as I am concerned you have the first, best and final say about the puzzle. I never find you dull or whiney, like I do with several other posts. Thank you for your wisdom!!

Orange said...

Anonymous, who are you calling "dull or whiney"?!?

Also, please give yourself a name to use here. Anonymous commenters' words are often discounted.