Jails British slang / SUN 2-20-11 / Astrologer to rich famous / Band 1998 song One Week / Three-stringed instruments / Spartan walkway

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Wunderbar!" — Each rectangular "bar" formed by three contiguous black squares represents the letter string "BAR" and thus forms part of the answer adjacent to and in line with it, e.g. [three black squares]ELY = [BAR]ELY


Word of the Day: QUODs (39D: Jails, in British slang) —

noun, dated

1:
Prison; often in phr. in quod, in prison. (1700 —) .
Listener Now, one of this chap's maternal uncles...has got to pay a 50 quid debt or go to quod (1968). verb trans.

2:
To put in prison. (1812 — 1930).

[Of unknown origin.] (answers.com)
• • •

A lovely, clever, original puzzle. Unusual theme, interesting execution — just cool all around. Even outside the theme material, the puzzle was exciting — several big, open spaces filled (mostly) beautifully, esp. in the N and NE (OCTOMOM SASHIMI is on the menu in hell, I believe) (21A: Noted parent in tabloids + 25A: Food often dipped in soy sauce). MAKE HAY, DOG HANDLER, OH DEAR ME, and BALALAIKAS (100A: Three-stringed instruments) all really liven up the joint, as does SADISTIC (which is how some might describe the highly ambiguous clue, 12D: Really mean). Once I picked up the theme, I found the rest of the theme answers very easy to get (spot me three consecutive letters to any answer, and I'm pretty confident I'll take it down fast). But the non-theme stuff was varied and tricky enough to keep the puzzle right at a typical Sunday difficulty level for me. I picked up the theme fairly early on with ***ENAKED LADIES and had no trouble with any of the theme answers that followed. There are some slightly rough patches—the center, perhaps because of the theme density in that region, has some unlovely stuff like NGOR and QUODS and EBEN and GOL, but it was all short and gettable (though QUODS / QTY gave me a bit of a fright). Not a huge fan of RESOLDER and (esp.) ISOLATORS, but these are minor infelicities in an otherwise delightful grid. Grade: A.

Theme answers:
  • 26A: Band whose 1998 song "One Week" was #1 for one week (***ENAKED LADIES) — To understand how I feel about the ***ENAKED LADIES, please watch this highly informative video from a recent episode of "Community" (Jeff Winger says it all):

  • 46A: Pear variety (***TLETT)
  • 48A: Milky Way, for one (CHOCOLATE ***)
  • 66A: Onetime head of the Medellin drug cartel (PABLO ESCO***)
  • 69A: Mattel announced their breakup in 2004 (***BIE AND KEN)
  • 84A: Classic western slugfest (***ROOM BRAWL)
  • 87A: It's just below a B (SPACE***)
  • 109A: Plan on ordering a drink, say (BELLY UP TO THE ***)
  • 27D: Sharply reprimanded (***KED AT)
  • 28D: Just (***ELY)
  • 99D: Cravat holder (TIE ***)
  • 88D: Lounge in a many a hotel (PIANO ***) — a few point off here for essentially replicating the "BAR" meaning from 109-Across
I know of Fibber McGee and Molly (20A: Hometown of old radio's Fibber McGee and Molly=>PEORIA) only from the sitcom "Newsradio," where Andy Dick's character gets a set of Fibber McGee and Molly audio tapes as a gift from his boss, while the rest of the staff gets new sports cars. I can't embed the clip, so I'll just embed a different clip from that show featuring the late, more-than-great Phil Hartman:


I have no idea how I know Sidney OMARR (30A: Astrologer to the rich and famous)—possibly because I own some old paperback by him. "My Bed Has Eyes" ... is that right? No, here it is: "My Bed Has Echoes." Even better. Talk about obscure (the book, not the astrologer himself). I have a BETTIE Page mug on my desk, right here (40A: 1950s pinup queen ___ Page). If you put a hot beverage in it, her bikini top disappears. In huge letters on the bottom of the mug it reads: "NOT MICROWAVE OR DISHWASHER SAFE," so I don't drink out of it. It's more a paperweight / decorative item. Yesterday, people wanted STOA instead of ODEA. Now, here's STOA (42A: Spartan walkway). Yesterday, people wanted OMNI instead of EVER. Today, here's OMNI (49D: Present opener?). Weird. Haven't seen Tea LEONI in a long time (in crosswords or otherwise) (80A: Sandler's "Spanglish" co-star). I thought the "Simpsons" had invented Dolores DEL RIO (114A: Actress Dolores of the silent era) as a fictional costar of Troy McClure (voiced by the aforementioned more-than-great Phil Hartman) who appeared in such films as "Calling All Quakers" and "Preacher With a Shovel." But that was Dolores Montenegro, it turns out. Took me a while to fully read the second half of the clue at 18D: Civil war locale beginning in 1991, so SOMALIA stayed hidden for a bit as my mind scoured mid-19th-century America. Speaking of, apparently "Fourscore" is one word. I did not know that, which caused me to wonder why the answer to 32D: Fifth word of the Gettysburg Address (AGO) wasn't YEARS. Of course I also tried to solve 83D: Part of the next-to-last line of the Lord's Prayer (DELIVER US) by reciting what turned out to be not the Lord's Prayer but whatever you call the prayer that starts "Now I lay me down to sleep..."

Bullets:
  • 6D: "Star Wars" guru (YODA) — I have a wee YODA figurine on the shelf in my bedroom. I think I found it in the gutter one day. Or else I got it for nothing at some garage sale.
  • 14D: Pioneer in quadraphonic records (RCA) — got an angry email from someone who insisted the correct answer was CBS. Refrained from yelling at said someone for talking about the puzzle before I'd even solved it. (Please don't write me about the Sunday puzzle until after 7pm Saturday evening, thanks).
  • 100D: Recurring Matt Damon title role (BOURNE) — not RIPLEY. He should do another RIPLEY, though. I'd like that. Malkovich did a great RIPLEY in "Ripley's Game," btw.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

91 comments:

Matthew G. 12:57 AM  

Wow. I completely failed to notice that the black squares made the BARs. I saw this as a standard word-deletion theme. I should have known better with Liz Gorski. I just looked at the grid a second time and realized how beautiful it is.

Nevertheless, I did fine with the theme entries anyhow. Having once been a huge Barenaked Ladies fan made getting the first one easy, so the puzzle as a whole was easy-to-medium.

That clip from "Community" amuses me, because the Barenaked Ladies really did become an unlistenable mess after their fourth album, which coincided exactly with when they became a major act. And "One Week" is the song that started the downward spiral -- it had been Stephen Page's ballads that made them a great band --- not that horrible breakthrough single by Ed Robertson, which changed their direction forever. When I first bought "Stunt," the album that leads off with "One Week," I sort of stared at the wall wondering if I'd picked up something from the wrong band. The rest of the album after that song was actually very good stuff in their old mold. And then every album after that was dreck.

We learned much, much later that war had broken out between Stephen Page, who wanted to write nice touching songs, and the rest of the crew, who wanted to gun for being mainstream pop stars despite lacking the chops for that scene. Page finally had the good sense to leave. You might catch me at one of his solo shows someday, but never at another BNL show.

Noam D. Elkies 1:32 AM  

I too had to read about the 1x3 "bars" (in the NYTimes blog, in my case). As I noted there, no two non-theme blocks share an edge, which emphasizes the significance of the thematic ones.

A couple of years ago I ranted here that if gossip columnists appear in the grid, celebrity astrologers may be next. Now 30A:OMARR mars a mostly beautiful grid. (xwordinfo remembers four OMARR precedents, which makes a total of five too many.) And it's not even in one of the wide-open fields near the top and bottom of the grid where one expects to need things like 81D:ISOLATORS to make it all work. Here, appropriately for a replacement of a practitioner of a crackpot pseudoscience involving the stars, STARR would work fine in 30A (SDS/TOT). Maybe change the "My stars!" clue for 85D:OH_DEAR_ME to some other old-fashioned exclamation and you're all set.

Matthew G writes that the 26A:[BAR]ENAKED_LADIES "really did become an unlistenable mess" just as they became a "major act". Cause or effect?...

Anyway, enough kvetching about minutiae; this was a really neat puzzle to start a three-day weekend. And two [BAR] themes in two consecutive Sundays! Is Will Shortz raising the bar?

NDE

Gil.I.Pollas 1:52 AM  

MY STARS, Ralph LAUREN's last name is really Lifshitz? I'll never look at a pair of sheets the same way again.
This was a hard puzzle. Did not FINIS maybe tomorrow but now I'm off to "Lay me down to sleep."

Anonymous 2:17 AM  

Malkovich sucks...

andrea carla michaels nee eisenberg 2:51 AM  

Gorski on a Sunday, the best, bar none.

@Gil.I.Pollas
Must be something with L-ITZ names...Here is a L-ITZ LIST off the top of my head:
Jon Stewart ne Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz;
Lorne Michaels was born Lorne Michael Lipowitz;
Hal Linden: Harold Lipshitz...
Ralph Lauren = Ralph Lifshitz...
(You'd think he'd have dumped the Ralph too while he had the chance!)

@NDE
I thought it was a bit odd to have two BAR-related Sundays in a row... but, if it was intentional, I love your idea that Will is "Raising the bar"!!!

Ray 2:57 AM  

@Matthew G. and @Noam D. Elkies, wow, that makes three of us, for whom the true meaning of the theme was elusive. Solved quickly by my own modest Sunday standards anyway, but found myself racking my brain afterwards to make sense of why "Wunderbar" would mean a disappearing "bar". Is invisibility so wondrous? I even went as far out as looking for a "w" "under" each missing "bar", before realising that was a stupid line of thought. Learned the true beauty of this puzzle here on Rex's blog, with an audible "ooohhhh...."
Anyone else?

acme 3:28 AM  

@Ray
W under BAR??? That's not a stupid line of thought! That's brilliant and puzzleworthy and someone should do it!

jae 4:50 AM  

Ok - I had this one as easy until I realized it wasn't a rebus. Then, it was still pretty easy, except for the LOME/EST cross. I had RAE for the middle name and AST for the bible thing, so I missed it by two squares. There goes an error free week but I really liked this one. Fun to figure out, e.g what you would expect from Ms. Gorski.

Rex Parker 7:11 AM  

@Ray,

My first guess about the theme was most certainly "'W' under 'BAR'".

Off to make my THUNDERBALL and BLUNDERBUSS puzzles now... or possibly AND over MD ... PASS over SEDER ...

rp

imsdave 7:47 AM  

Add me to the list. The puzzle seemed solid but ordinary until I read about the blocks. Shame on me for thinking Ms. Gorski could produce something ordinary.

@jae - I tried ANN, then SUE, before _AE. Even though my sister's middle name is RAE, I didn't think that was common enough to count so I guessed correctly.

I thought the coolest thing in the grid was PIANO in grid position 88.

Gil.I.Pollas 7:52 AM  

Woke up and finished this wonderful puzzle. It took a while but it was well worth sleeping on it.
@Rex "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord for chocolate cake.
@Acme Thanks for the L-ITZ list. Does Hal Linden make sheets too?

Greene 8:18 AM  

I did Ms. Gorski's WSJ puzzle yesterday and found it delightful, but I guess she saves her "wow puzzles" for the NYT. Add me to the list of dullards who didn't realize the true beauty of the grid until Rex explained it. Like others, I was looking for the W under BAR and coming up short. Of course, here's what I really think of when I see Wunderbar!

As has become my habit lately, I solved this one starting in the south and working north. First theme answer was BELLY UP TO THE *** which is another song title (from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown). I'll spare everybody that clip. I had a little trouble seeing ***E NAKED LADIES and that area was the last to fall. My very last letter in the grid though was that pesky Q in the QTY and QUODS cross. Yikes, that was a thorn in my side.

Just a lovely puzzle Ms Gorsky. Thank you so much.

mmorgan 9:18 AM  

Maybe it's just my mood, but I thought the fill was okay (some I really liked though much I didn't care for), and I found the theme to be meh. (But hand up... I also just thought the word BAR was missing and didn't catch the 3-black-square trick till I got here. So that makes it a lot cuter.)

Had iRMAS at 10D and CRu at 79A, which caused other problems. Fortunately, I was able to give up DOGTRAINER.

*COULD NOT* get the Q in QTY/QUODS cross or the L in TLETT/LEBON (was thinking BARNETT for the pear variety but couldn't make it work).

But if I'd noticed it was a Liz Gorski I probably would have loved it...

foodie 9:20 AM  

While solving, I realized that the disappearing BAR only disappears in one direction (Across or Down) and therefore abuts a black square. That helped immensely in not worrying about it all over the place. But I did not notice the 3 square pattern! That would have made it even better/easier. I should have thought about the fact that E.G is very visual and that there would be more of a design pattern than I estimated. Really cool to see how her mind works.

Before reading Rex, I was mainly surprised at the inconsistency in the way the missing BAR was used.
In some cases it was a drinking place:

---ROOM BRAWL
BELLY UP TO THE ---
PIANO ---

In other places, the "bar" was part of a word: ---TLETT, ---BIE, ESCO---, ---KED AT.

Finally there was a third category where BAR is a straight flat rectangle: CHOCOLATE---, SPACE--- and TIE---

It felt disjointed and I thought that if this is about the wondrous ways that BAR can be used, I would have liked to see less repetition of the drinking joint and to encounter other meanings of BAR (BAR EXAM, RAISING THE BAR, BAR NONE, etc...)

A long way of saying that it really is helpful to get the visual theme-- it ties it all together much better and makes me like it a lot more!

joho 9:27 AM  

As others have mentioned, Ms. Gorski had raised the bar yet again. What a wunderbar puzzle!

Loved seeing BALALAIKAS, SASHIMI, OCTOMOM and CAMPIER. The only tool I didn't like was EVENER.

This puzzle gave me visions of BARBIEANDKEN and the BARENAKEDLADIES walking into their local watering hole to BELLYBUPTOTHEBAR before starting a BARROOMBRAWL.

@andrea carla michaels nee eisenberg ... "You'd think he'd have dumped the Ralph, too, while he had the chance! = LOL!

Smitty 9:31 AM  

Me too - didn't see the "Bars", but that would have helped, as I left out a few....leaving me to wonder how ELY meant Just, or how KED at meant Sharply reprimanded.

Also got TIE and ESCO strictly on crosses....

(head slap)

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

It took me a long time before I found PABLO ESCOBAR and BAR ROOM BRAWL. I thought this was a rebus puzzle which I don't particularly care for. Saw SPACE but there was no blank to insert BAR. Could not see any consistency so I gave up and was ready to write off this puzzle as a clunker.
I did not realize the trick until I came to Rex blog. Very clever indeed as the other commenters have said.
But it was not easy for me.

Paucle 9:55 AM  

Another one who missed the 3 boxes = a bar aspect until now. And now that I do, the only thing that would've made this puzzle more satisfying is had there been a cross-bar dead smack center. I wonder if Ms Gorski tried to do that and passed, or if it never occurred to her?
Playing with it mentally, I was able to make about 75% of that adjustment in just a few moments, but gave up tweaking about an hour later, so maybe it was just undoable in any kind of practical way.

JC66 10:01 AM  

Another hand up for thinking it was a rebus before coming here.

JenCT 10:36 AM  

And another for a rebus - thought that BAR was written in one square, but then sometimes it worked out to BARE, BARR, EBAR...then realized that couldn't be. Then looked for W under BAR.

Didn't get the full theme until I came here. Impressive construction.

Tough getting the spelling of BALALAIKAS. Liked MAKEHAY. Also had DOGTRAINER at first.

@ACME: LOL!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Just got back from Lowe's and nobody there could tell me where to find an evener tool, in fact they had never heard of it.

Farrier Fred 10:52 AM  

@Anon 10:40

Wrong type of store.

Let Google do your shopping.

Cathyat40 10:54 AM  

Challenging for me as I was trying to solve it as a rebus. Also, had a couple of misspellings (LEONe, BALeLAIKAS) and didn't get QUOD/QTY. Still had fun, though.

@Greene: thanks for the Wunderbar clip.

@Rex: enjoyed the Newsradio clip.

Lindsay 10:55 AM  

DELIVER US from rebus puzzles that only work in one direction.

I totally, totally swung right through this one. Totally.

At first I thought the "wunder" part of the theme was that the solver has to wonder what letter goes in the square with the bar. Like maybe it was a slot machine gimmick where the puzzle would turn up a letter, a bar, and another letter all in one teensy box. But no, the bars and the letters they roomed with turned out to lead entirely separate lives, and took no notice of each other whatsoever.

Back in pre-Rex days I would have shrugged, thought "What a dumb puzzle," and forgotten about it. But now I come here and see what a bonehead I can be. :~(

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Finished the puzzle without seeing the black threesies. Just thought 'bar' was dropped, which didn't match the title very well. Knowing it doesn't make it much better.

Glimmerglass 11:01 AM  

Wonderful puzzle! Didn't realize the whole trick until half way through. I saw that BAR was missing, but didn't right away notice the three-black-square "bar." For a while I thought it was mean not to signal the wacky answers with an asterisk, and checked every clue to see if the possible answers might contain "bar." I finally saw that no asterisk is needed because the signal is in the grid. That made some previously obscure answers reveal themselves (ESCOBAR, e.g.).

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@ Farrier Fred so just where would you go to buy an evener tool?

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

DNF here - couldn't come up with the "Q" for QTY and QUODS, and couldn't remember Tea Leoni from Spanglish.

Figured out the theme fairly early on when I had PABLOES-- and -IEANDKEN from crosses. I agree with foodie about the inconsistency in the theme answers - several times a drinking establishment, sometimes a stand-alone word and sometimes part of a word or proper name (leaving the fill a set of nonsense letters).

I assume GOL is "goal" in some language I'm not familiar with. Wanted NIL there until I recognized ARRANGE.

Two DNFs this weekend. Glad there's a Monday coming.

Farrier Fred 12:23 PM  

@Anon

You obviously didn't try Google as I suggested.

Also you didn't look closely at my "nom de blog".

I bought my "evener tool" where I bought all my professional supplies.

Now, you're on your own.

F.F.

quilter1 12:31 PM  

Did not know QUODS and could not remember SUI so DNF, but that's OK, I had a ball looking out for those bars. I love clever cluing, puns and misdirections so I felt that finishing with three blanks was OK.
Mom does the syndicated puzzle so we'll see what she thinks next week--84 and quite sharp.

I disagree that the theme word must be used to illustrate only one thing, such as a drinking establishment. That wouldn't have stretched me nearly as much as I had to think of BarE NAKED LADIES (don't know them) and PABLO ESCObar (don't know him either). I even choked for a mo on BIE AND KEN (he had another girlfriend?). Everything was fair and gettable with some effort.

I hope QUODS comes up again.

marotn: how we have felt the last week of fighting the crud. Please be over.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

This tidbit may come in handy at some future date, and don't ask me how I remember this, but Fibber McGee and Molly's street address was 79 Wistful Vista. Haven't thought about that in donkey's years.

Rob

Stan 12:50 PM  

Agree that the bar theme was an elegant surprise -- especially since I had seen the constructor's name and scanned the grid for something 'architectural' but found nothing.

Lots of good words, but Natick-y moments in the short fill made finishing a challenge.

Never heard of an E-boat (disrupting Allied convoys by spamming their in-boxes?) but looked it up and it's legitimate: the 'E' apparently stands for 'Enemy'.

Identified with Rex's "Now I lay me down to sleep" comment. Mrs. Stan said: "Someone as liturgically challenged as we are!"

David L 12:56 PM  

I got PABLOESCO and BIEANDKEN quickly, but then it took me a long time to see that the adjacent black spaces represent the missing 'bar,' which meant it took a long time to make sense of [BAR]TLETT.

Random anecdotal data point: I'm British, and I've never heard of QUOD.

austinarborworks 1:01 PM  

It's Sunday, so I skipped the puzzle and came to see the writeup. Saw Gorski's name and decided to do the puzzle after all. Still too big and a bit of a slog, but a well-done one.

I guess I should be proud to have caught the BARs without anyone pointing it out, but I can't get that excited about it. I think I'd like this better if "Wunder" in the title had any bearing on the puzzle. Anyone come up with a plausible story, given that "W" is not under the BARs?

chefbea 1:08 PM  

Fairly easy puzzle. Just thought the Bars were left out. Never got the real theme til I got here.

Do they still sell TV sets at best buy. Thought they were called flat screen TVs

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I'm glad nearly everyone had a great time solving this, but from a conceptual viewpoint I think this has to be said -- it is a MAJOR FLAW in the theme if so many excellent solvers would never have noticed what the theme was without the benefit of this blog. This means that the vast majority of Sunday solvers won't fully appreciate this theme, period. And unless I'm missing something, the title is another flaw -- since the theme is so ingeniously tricky, it's completely logical to think that "Wunderbar" has something to do with a W under the bar -- but it's a completely pointless bit of misdirection. The powers that be have to be attentive enough to catch this kind of thing so that a truly inspired puzzle like this one can be truly appreciated by as many solvers as possible. --TW

Rube 1:23 PM  

Like many, I had the BAR in the square, rebus-like, at first. Then when I moved it to the adjacent black square it made sense. It wasn't until I came here that I realized the BAR was the 3 black squares only and that all of the other black squares were singles.

The inordinate number of pop culture clues forced me into 4 Googles, most notably [BAR]ENAKEDLADIES, (at my age I had no clue). Got the theme at [BAR]BIEANDKEN although I never knew that they had broken up. Guessed at QUODS because of the U, giving me QTs, which was changed when the themem gave me [BAR]ELY.

Most of the fill was excellent with very little hard-core crosswordese, (e.g. MII). Still, did not like ISOLATORS, EVENER, and CAMPIER all in one area... made me scowl.

Wanting "It was" before ATALE made that area the last to fall.

Enjoyable late Saturday/early Sunday experience.

r.alphbunker 1:33 PM  

@joho. Ahem. I have read that Ralph Waldo Emerson preferred be to be called Waldo.


124A PESaTA-->PESETA
118D ciA-->NSA
97D Eth-->EST
43A weST-->EAST
37A DOGtrainER-->doGHAndLER
46A anjou-->TLETT
27D haDAT-->KEDAT
75D niL-->GOL
40A paTTIE-->BETTIE
35D EnOla-->EBOAT
80A LEONe-->LEONa-->LEONI
23A SkewED-->SLOPED
4D PArtyHATS-->PAPERHATS
30A OMARa-->OMARR
50D fIfER-->PIPER
47D LEBan-->LEBiN-->LEBON
39A QTs-->QTY
28D ELs-->ELY

I got the missing BAR from BELLYUPTO but did not see the placement of the black squares until I read RP's write up. I rationalized the puzzle title as "wondering where the 'bar' was supposed to be"

Awesome puzzle.

Frances SC 2:04 PM  

Did it, got it, loved it! And I owe it all to the fact that I could not find my glasses, so had to hold my clipboard w/puzzle way out, thus enabling me to see the lovely pattern of bars! Now on to other things, sadly not a football game.

The bro 2:05 PM  

Clever enough, but what is the deal with all the authors names? That took some fun out of it.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

anonK - If you are Catholic the Lord's Prayer line is not second to last. We only use '. . .for thine is the the power, etc at mass. Didn't get clue for qty 39D if she meant quantity. Enjoyed the puzzle very much but didn't see bars either. Still wunderbar tho. Thanks for this blog. 1st time to comment.

PuzzleNut 2:29 PM  

Hand way up for missing the figurative bar. Suspected a rebus, but ROOMBRAWL convinced me that the BAR was simply missing. Thought this was extra difficult because the locations of the missing bars seemed so random, with no crosses to confirm, or even hint at where they might belong. After reading Rex's notes, I really feel foolish, and certainly in much more awe of the puzzle.
Similar problem as @jae with the LOME/EST area. Guessed right on the M, but thought AST was a better answer than EST. Obviously didn't know LOME.

Barry T 2:34 PM  

The title was a cherry on top of a big ice cream sundae. We understood "Wunderbar" as a play on words, WONDER BAR. The three-black-square BARs magically become part of the theme. Excellent title that could have been a theme entry itself.

Devilishly difficult, and this is how we like our NY Times Sunday puzzles. Thanks for a tough workout.

mac 2:36 PM  

What a stunner. Have to admit that I didn't think that before I read Rex's write-up! Now I think the inconsistency is acceptable, and the "rebus" -bar or bar- only going one direction is explained. I had the hardest time in the barket at/ Bare Naked Ladies area (at one point had Enamel Ladies). Of course I was also hunting for Ws under bars.

I thought Garrison in Minnesota was a fun misdirection (instead of from): I was wondering if I was supposed to know another army post or Fort.

Ruth 2:42 PM  

I posted a question earlier asking if anyone can explain KEDAT to me. My query seems to have disappeared and I'm still wondering. If anyone is still reading and can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it!

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

@austinarborworks - How about "Where's the bar?" - a question I've often asked, and wanted to when I finally gave up on this puzzle?

Ruth - KEDAT is one of the theme answers - (BAR)KED AT.

Ruth 3:31 PM  

Oh, duh. Thanks!

NYTAnonimo 3:44 PM  

@Anon 11:45
Picture of a Hoof Evener:
http://www.stockhoffsonline.com/acatalog/info_795.html

I think it would have helped me if the clues for the BAR/theme words had been italicized.

Shamik 3:46 PM  

Just surprised. While I was solving, I kept thinking that Rex would excoriate this puzzle for all the yucky fill. Guess it's just me doing any excoriating around here. Easy-medium for a Sunday.

burgundy 3:58 PM  

105 across "Death of a Salesman" role I had the "L", quickly ran through the cast in my head and confidently put in "Linda." There ARE 4 Lomans in the play, so I guess technically it's accurate but it crosses my line as a good clue. Rex??

Burgundy

R. McGeddon 4:35 PM  

What? Barbie and Ken broke up???

OH NOES!!!

erik 4:49 PM  

...after months of struggle, trying to create a puzzle that satisfies the NYT rules (I'm still trying, Mr. Shortz), I'm humbled by the difficulties of construction. Today's puzzle is a monumental work.

12(!) thematic phrases, some intersecting. Low black-square count. 33 black squares that double as 11 rebus-y BARS. On top of that, a top-notch fill:MAKE HAY, PAPER HATS, OCTOMOM, DELIVER US, DOG HANDLER, ITS GREAT, OH DEAR ME, BALALAIKAS, YOU PAY.

Fantastic puzzle and a teachable moment for an aspiring constructor who hopes to see his name on a Sunday puzzle some day...

IdahoConnie 5:02 PM  

Yes, they did but apparently they are back together. Matel has been running ads about this off/on relationship to jump start sales. I never liked dolls growing up so I'm a little jaded but the ad campaign has left me cold. Who cares? My only mistake in this puzzle was Lome/est. I had Hayak/Salma instead of Leoni at first. The puzzle started for me at Barbie and Ken so I had the theme down right away. "Wunderbar" in German is "wonderful" as everyone should know and from all the comments, the puzzle certainly was.

abvollmer 5:44 PM  

The Gettysburg Address, as penned by Lincoln, is "Four score and seven years ago....", hence the fifth word is not 'ago', but 'years'.

TimJim 5:56 PM  

Loved it, loved it! Got the missing-bar theme pretty quickly, but took a while to figure out the method for their placement on the grid; as there were no asterisks, there had to be another rationale -- aha! Thanks, Ms. G.

SethG 5:56 PM  

Saw the bars when I first figured their missingness rather than rebusitude, used that to find and solve the rest of the theme entries.

I had to run the alphabet three time for the cross between LYxE Waggoner and Dolores DExRIx. No running needed for ISOLATER/ISOLATOR, just a guess.

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

@ Farrier Fred if you mean a rasp as in filing off a horse's hoof its still called a rasp not an evener. There is no such thing as an evener tool as stated. A lot of different tools will even something up but they are not named evening tool!!

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

I Googled, as Farrier Fred suggested, and found an "evener" for sale at nctoolco.com. As it turns out though, the "evener" is a measuring device to determine when hooves are even - not the tool that _makes them_ even.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

A trace is either of two straps, chains, etc. connecting a draft animal's harness to the vehicle drawn.

A singletree, or whiffletree (or whippletree), is the pivoted swinging bar to which the traces of a harness are fastened and by which a vehicle or implement is drawn.

An evener is a bar to which two or more singletrees are attached, which in turn attaches to an implement and balances the load that each animal pulls.

See this, or this.

"Leveling tool" might be slightly inadequate, but the item exists.

Octavian 7:35 PM  

Fun puzzle -- realized "bar" was missing from the theme clues but didn't get the three-black-square angle until I read read the professor's blog. Interesting.

I knew Sydney Omarr quite well. Met him through a friend in the early 1980s and visited his condo in Santa Monica from time to time. He had a sort of "salon" in which he would basically invite a lot of Hollywood and author types to his place for conversation and drinks.

He was known publicly as an astrologer but I always thought of him as a numerologist. I realize it seems wacky to mention, but the main reason for his renown was that he was incredibly intuitive and insightful about personalities and the world, and I think his numerology/astrology was a marketing overlay for that.

When you were on the phone with him, he might say, "Give me three numbers from 1 to 100." You would say, like, 7, 84 and 19. And he would say, "You're having trouble at work aren't you? Let's talk about that" ... or "Someone will ask you to go on a trip soon."

Nine times out of ten he was right on, which mystified everyone. But that wasn't what made people enjoy his company. It was that you felt he was genuinely interested in you, and incredibly helpful at talking through issues. I think he was more of a therapist than a astrologer.

Lost track of Sydney in the 1990s, and was sorry to hear he passed away. He was an icon of a dearly missed part of Old Hollywood, when stars were bigger than life and did not Tweet or Facebook or appear as guests anywhere but variety shows.

Fun to see him in the grid. He would like that.

Sparky 7:39 PM  

Woe is me, I was all set to say something clever about the little rebus that isn't there and then...oops. Thanks Rex and you all for the explanation. Now I see it. Got the first one with BARBIEANDKEN. I thought Wistful Vista was the name of the town. Too long. Downs filled it in. Natick on OMARe/AMENeA. Don't understand qTy for Reduced amount? Weight? Price? I put red dots where the BARs went. Well, it worked for me. All in all fun to play with.

Middle of puzzle broke for Symphony. The Gherey buiding very impressive with a lovely county park attached. Music very grand.

Here's to a fresh new week.

syndy 7:44 PM  

Went wiyh LOPEZ instead of leoni and had a hard time because of it my answer for 81 down was zenophobs !-Loved Bette Midler and dolores del rio in the same puzzle ! I hereby swear from this day forward to examine all grids before I enter any words!!!!

Farrier Fred 7:56 PM  

evener : rasp :: straightedge : pencil

All are tools.

FF

smoss11 8:30 PM  

The fact that the middle of the puzzle has Pablo and the dolls sharing a bar just blows me away. amazing!!!

analogy guy 9:17 PM  

evener:rasp::line maker:pencil

ksquare 10:12 PM  

Did no know Dolores DelRio was in silent pictures. Since I started seeing films in the Thirties, all her movies then were talkies. so the clue was misleading, even though I got the answer right. And she was beautiful.

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

Dolores Del Rio played Inez in Wonder Bar.

Alan 11:41 PM  

Didn't anyone get the "W" that was formed by connecting a straight line between the center of the correct "bar"s needed to form it?

Alan 11:43 PM  

Hence "W under bar"

Grey Lady 11:45 PM  

@abvollmer - The NY Times disagreed with you then, and disagrees with you now.

Alan 11:59 PM  

Ok but I'm right.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

The phrase "too clever by half" comes to mind--hardly anyone "got" the puzzle (I, too, finished without ever seeing the black bars), therefore a failure in my book.

Dan 12:55 AM  

We LOVED this puzzle-the bars were hidden in plain sight! Many of us "got" the theme and enjoyed the layers unfold. Brilliant, memorable construction, worthy of the praise expressed here.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

I understood the puzzle just fine. Count me in as getting the theme and enjoying it very much. Thx, Will and Liz. More, please!

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Hated this puzzle! I got all the answers and still didn't "get" the theme. Too smart-assy for me!

joefromboston 10:42 AM  

I agree with Rex. Awesome construction and theme execution..!!

Loved, loved, loved this puzzle with a surprise ending; I enjoyed the aha! reveal at the very end (the bars were there all the time); after solving the grid, I stared at the answers... and then POW! As an architect, I admire fine construction.

Mr Shortz, thank you for a cerebral, high-quality Sunday challenge. As others have said here....more, please.

papa haydn 11:37 AM  

Surprise, surprise .... this magnificent puzzle held my interest until the "aha, now I see the bars!" ending. A pleasure to solve and save as a favorite. it's on the fridge door, as of this a.m.

..you had me at "wunderbar"

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

i am a relative newcomer and not very good at it so am really WOWED when I read Rex and all the comments after I can't in good conscience spend any more time on it. pabloescoBARbieandken - double WOW.

Alan 1:04 PM  

C'mon now Rex, show me the "W".

I skip M-W 9:27 PM  

Didn't see the 3-blalck-square bars thing,(thanks @Rex for pointing it out) but found the puzzle quite fine, not hard, even though, as usual, had never heard of song "one week" but lome was a gimme, and I loved PabloEsco_____ and bellyup to the; hd ot look twice at Dickens clue, but then pretty easy, I read it A tale of 2 cities in the last year, cause it's a free download on the ipad. Also" Our Mutual Friend", but mostly Trollope.
Like @r.alphbunker had partyhats before paperhats, hadat before kedat & Pattie before Bettie, though thought PP had an i in Paige. Otherwise, once I saw it didn't have as @SethG puts it "rebustude" great word, plain sailing.
forced to recite lord's prayer in public school, didn't learn until much later it was specifically Christian, and I wasn't. But since prayer has been outlawed in school, nation has become much more religious. Anything the schools make you do, many tend to end up hating, imho. so outlawed prayers = mixed blessing. reminded of this by captcha = holdicr, i..e hold onto Iesu Cristo I guess.

efrex 9:08 AM  

The late Dan Naddor did a similar theme a few months back, where a 2x2 black square stood for "block" in every entry entering or exiting it.

Very enjoyable theme, but a smattering of white spaces left behind thanks to some of the more obscure fill.

JaxInL.A. 12:04 PM  

I had a memorial service for my cousin on Sunday (my age contemporary--only in his early 50s). I wrote this comment but never did post it. The puzzle gave me a real smile on a sad day, so I thought I'd come back and post it anyway, though I know that few will stumble on it now.

This is my favorite puzzle of 2011 so far. Hooray for Liz Gorski and if you have not checked out her delightful Crossword City blog, you are missing a treat.  

I solved this mostly from the bottom up and, like @Greene, got BELLY UP TO THE *** from remembering the song in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  Clearly a rebus would not work, and then I saw the "bar" and had that delicious AHA! moment that is a big part of why we do these puzzles.  I kept chuckling, oohing, aahing, and muttering about how I love Liz Gorski as I filled in the theme answers, until my husband demanded an explanation. I nearly came to the blog right then to share that sweet feeling, but decided to finish the puzzle and fell asleep before the end.  

Finishing the NW this a.m. was really hard for me. I forgot that the bars worked vertically too, and wrestled for too long with "Reprimanded sharply" as KE_AT.  And even though I could remember that Amos and Andy lived in Pine Ridge, Arkansas, I could not remember in what city Fibber McGee kept his famously stuffed closet.

In the end I finished with one wrong letter, as I took a chance that Dernier CRu was a wine appellation, rather than a synonym for fad.  

By the way, I love all the stuff that @Andrea knows. My mum had a crush on Hal Linden in the Barney Miller days. Actually, I love what everyone knows here. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks very much, Ms. Gorski!

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

@Alan
How do the bars at the top factor into your theory? You're not 'still right,' in fact you're reaching. But kudos for a good idea. Made me really think.

Tita 11:09 PM  

Liked the puzzle, didn't notice the bars until I was done, scratched my head over ELY and KED AT...

Only thing I didn't like was the title...
Why "Wunderbar"? I too searched for "W", even searched for double "U"...!

I read lots of the comments here, still dont' get the title. Not even Alan's attempt at explaining it.
Ah well, this has been a VERY slow puzzle week for me.

Tita 11:11 PM  

@Jax - condolences...I'm with you that curling up with a good puzzle is a comforting diversion from even a profound sadness.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

If you are new to these puzzles, as I am, and have no idea what an ETUI is, you might appreciate this article:
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/02/15/farewell_etui/

Palmdalian 11:41 AM  

Greetings from Syndication City. Had a great time doing this puzzle after being sure and certain I would get nowhere with it. Nice surprise. I think I know "quod" from reading old English mystery writers like Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie.

@Octavian: thanks for the fun Hollywood history.

@syndy ("examine all grids") Ditto! Just learning here TODAY that grid shapes can have clues to the themes.

@JaxInL.A. Sorry to hear about your cousin. Thx for referral to Liz Gorski's blog. As a newbie I am on the lookout for spiffy crossword sites to read and learn from.

@Anonymous 10:36 AM Smiling at "etui" article. May it never fade.

jerryg 12:30 PM  

@tita,it's "Wunderbar" because the bars magically become part of the puzzle ("wonder" bars); it's German for "wonderful" Nice doubleplay on words. Superb title.

Cary in Boulder 5:39 PM  

Amazed that little ol' me got the bar theme as soon as ROOMBRAWL popped out, when so many others didn't. I immediately raced around looking for the others. Toughest was the band -- never heard of "One Week" or actually heard any of their music. Speaking of bands, "Pablo and the Dolls" would be a great name for one.

The "fourscore" misdirect had me giving a big "Huh???" Figured Simon from Duran Duran had to be LEBON but ELIAn just would not tumble for me. Who? But just when I went to Google it the light went on above the little Cuban kid.

Still not sure about QTY, but I guess the "reduced" clue = abbr. Also, there's a NOHO in NY? Nevah hoid of it here out West. EFT was another head scratcher, but possibly relevant as I see the slimiest NEWT of all is preparing to run for President again.

All in all, fun for a Sunday. Finished by noon, although with a couple mistakes.

NotalwaysrightBill 6:55 PM  

Better syndi-late than never, maybe.

Fun theme, discovering it made everything else so much easier. Except for the occasional SADISTIC resort to obscure authors of obscure books, of course.

Biggest nit: relegating Delores del Rio to the "silent era" when she made such important film acting contributions later as well, although mostly JUST in Mexican talkies.

Reports here of GOD'S END may be somewhat exaggerated.

Robin 12:36 PM  

Great puzzle. First time that I ever finished a Sunday Puzzle. Loved the "bars". Discovered the theme at Pablo Escobar. Made rest of puzzle very easy.

First time leaving a comment. I have been reading this blog for 2 years now. Learned a lot.

Thanks.

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