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Puzzle of the Week

CELEBRITY SPOONERISMS

New York Times, Sunday, September 14, 2014

Author: Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer
Editor: Will Shortz
Tony Orbach
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/6/20044/13/201613
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
15043101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66021
Patrick Blindauer
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
647/21/20057/2/201720
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
14561217118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59252

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 68 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Orbach. This is puzzle # 54 for Mr. Blindauer. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: TONY: For a delightful stretch of years, Patrick and I were never without some puzzle idea brewing that we could work on together, and this one served to get us back in the flow. I had a bunch of entries and ... more
Constructor notes:

TONY: For a delightful stretch of years, Patrick and I were never without some puzzle idea brewing that we could work on together, and this one served to get us back in the flow. I had a bunch of entries and knew it would be something Patrick would enjoy joining forces on. As usual, we had plenty of fun trying to find a good theme set. Adding the commonality of names, and having the changes all happen the same way, made it come together in a way that felt worthy of making it for public consumption (as opposed to our own entertainment). It's fun to make crosswords, and it's really fun to make them with Patrick!

We had a long list of rejected near misses and, as anyone who's ever tried to think up spoonerisms can tell you, it was not the easiest task to keep them straight and pick through them. In defense of one early one I had — FRIED COWELL [Gave a scorching review of talent judge Simon?], which was not a true spoonerism because it conveniently separates the changing sound (a proper one for CRIED FOUL would/should be FIED CROWEL) — I told Patrick "I know of no governing body of spoonerisms that would disallow it." As a character played by John Cleese on "Cheers" said: "Ah. The cry of the truly desperate!" With desperation on this one now passed, I'm looking forward to the next one with Patrick.

PATRICK: It's a blast making puzzles with Tony, too! We work really well together, and we each bring our unique personalities to the table, as well. I sure do miss kicking around ideas with him over various lunch tables since I moved to STL, but I'm not missing things like the smells (or the prices) of the City So Nice They Named It Twice, that's for sure. As for this puzzle, the first email I see about it was back on 10/28/13, and we sure did go back and forth a bunch before settling on the theme answers. The grid came together pretty quickly, and I took far too long to write my clues (something called Lollapuzzoola seems to have gotten in the way). Sorry to see some of my favorite clues on the cutting room floor, but I guess that means we just get to use them the next time those words come up. I'm ready to make another whenever you are, Tony!

Jeff Chen notes: So much fun, I didn't want the puzzle to end. Given my short atten — something shiny! — I tend to bog down on Sunday puzzles. Not today. I thought I knew what to expect from the title, but I didn't ... more
Jeff Chen notes: So much fun, I didn't want the puzzle to end. Given my short atten — something shiny! — I tend to bog down on Sunday puzzles. Not today. I thought I knew what to expect from the title, but I didn't expect nearly so much entertainment from these clever spoonerisms of celeb names. BEER GOGGLES to GERE BOGGLES is pure gold. Strong base phrase, laugh-inducing kooky result; it doesn't get much better than that.

Sometimes I'm guilty of wanting Sunday puzzles to do too much. I have to remember that I'm not the average NYT solver. So many people leave the NYT Magazine out on the kitchen table, working on the puzzle over hours or even days (by themselves or with friends), and if the theme is too tricky or intricate (a "puzzle more for constructors than solvers"), it's not satisfying if they don't grok it. This puzzle is a fastball straight down the middle for that demographic; a known theme type, not too difficult, with a high degree of solving satisfaction. Even a couple of chuckles.

And check out how well-executed it is. Nine themers is good theme density, and there's a lot of strong fill. I wouldn't expect any less from these two veterans. I like how they break convention a bit. Note how the first themers are in row four? That's unusual, since putting themers in row three is the norm (that helps maximize spacing between theme entries). But they take good advantage of this arrangement in the NE and SW corners. Look at the juicy stuff: WASHRAG, AT PEACE, and the crazy GETSANA = GETS AN A. Now that's using your seven-letter spaces wisely. And a big thumbs-up to SPY-FI. I don't know if that's a term in common use, but I'm going to start using it.

Just like most Sunday NYT puzzles, it had a couple of rough spots. ALY/KIEL tripped me up pretty good, for example. AVY/KIEV sounded just as good, by gum! And as much as I liked OH HAPPY DAY! it caused a high level of fill constraints. Check out the pile-up of UOMO / UNHIP / RPTS / ORA / ANS. Perhaps another piece of long fill would have produced a smoother region. Or a set of cheater squares could have been employed to smooth things out. The rest of the puzzle is relatively smooth, so this concentration of glue stuck out a bit for me.

Finally, one of the nicest a-ha moments in a while. I could not for the life of me what [Polo grounds?] was talking about. I knew some trickery was happening because of the giveaway question mark, but it would not come until I had almost all the crossing answers. Great big headslap when I realized it was all about the (Marco) "Polo grounds." Beautiful stuff.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0914 ( 23,686 )
Across Down
1. Sissy who's not a sissy : SPACEK
7. Benefits : AVAILS
13. Blade in the back? : SCAPULA
20. Lost lady in "The Raven" : LENORE
21. Refresher : CATNAP
22. Cleaning aid : WASHRAG
23. Bid : INVITE
24. Something given when someone has been taken : EULOGY
25. Tranquil : ATPEACE
26. Actor Michael's means of support? : CAINEPILLAR
28. Comic Tina recovered from her wound? : FEYHEALED
30. Early "Project Runway" sponsor : ELLE
31. No-see-ums : GNATS
32. Obama caricature feature : BIGEARS
33. Ocho ___ (Jamaican resort) : RIOS
35. Blood products : SERA
37. Big name in ice cream : EDY
38. Positive signs of life in outer space? : AOKS
42. Heir of martial artist Bruce? : LEESCION
46. Tennis champ Monica : SELES
48. Square : UNHIP
49. Hip-hop record mogul Gotti : IRV
50. Civil rights leader Roy : INNIS
52. Annoyance for actor Colin? : FIRTHBOTHER
55. Org. that takes donations for the strapped? : NRA
56. Caroler's quaff : EGGNOG
58. 2007 3x platinum Alicia Keys album : ASIAM
59. 2012 gold-medal gymnast Raisman : ALY
60. Person whose number is up : GONER
62. Ins : ELITE
65. Sag : DROOP
67. Flamenco cries : OLES
68. Thunderstruck critic's review for actor Richard? : GEREBOGGLES
72. Studies: Abbr. : RPTS
75. Ball club position : SCOUT
77. Word in a Yale fight song : BOOLA
78. Popular airfare comparison site : KAYAK
79. Trojan's home, for short : USC
81. Sirs' counterparts : MAAMS
84. Thriller writer DeMille : NELSON
87. The Judds, e.g. : DUO
88. What actor Martin calls his athletic footwear? : SHEENCLEATS
92. "His wife could ___ lean" : EATNO
93. Q&A part: Abbr. : ANS
94. Branch of Islam : SUNNI
95. Dental unit : TOOTH
97. Urban legend about rapper Kanye? : WESTMYTH
99. "The Great White Hope" director Martin : RITT
100. It came down in 2001 : MIR
102. Out of the wind : ALEE
104. Bring down, in England : RASE
105. "Me, me, me" sort : EGOTIST
108. Cleaning aid since 1889 : LYSOL
110. Aquatic organism : ALGA
114. Musician David's equestrian accouterments? : BYRNETACK
117. Tart cocktail named for comic Amy? : POEHLERSOUR
119. Components for wireless networks : ROUTERS
120. Philippine province with a repetitive name : ILOILO
122. "Good riddance!" : NOLOSS
123. Suspected cause of Napoleon's death : ARSENIC
124. Subject of a Scottish mystery, informally : NESSIE
125. Not totally against : OPENTO
126. Aces the test : GETSANA
127. Some mounts : STEEDS
128. Oil giant based in Memphis : WESSON
1. Piece of cake : SLICE
2. Kind of code : PENAL
3. Rural block : ANVIL
4. Creative word people : COINERS
5. Folies-Bergère costume designer : ERTE
6. "Don't stop!" : KEEPGOING
7. Speedy Northeast conveyance : ACELA
8. Leaps : VAULTS
9. They go around the world : ATLASES
10. "___ out?" (question to a pet) : INOR
11. Fail to keep up : LAG
12. Ian Fleming genre : SPYFI
13. Influenced : SWAYED
14. Polo grounds? : CATHAY
15. In accordance with : ASPER
16. Partridge family member : PHEASANT
17. Russia's ___ Airlines : URAL
18. Teddy material : LACE
19. Kept underground, maybe : AGED
27. One way to break out : INSONG
29. Casts out : EGESTS
32. "Eat, Pray, Love" setting : BALI
34. More slick, in a way : ICIER
36. Call : REF
39. "Praise the Lord!" : OHHAPPYDAY
40. German city on the Baltic : KIEL
41. Surprisingly agile : SPRY
42. Jargon : LINGO
43. "The Fog of War" director Morris : ERROL
44. Ephemeral : EVANESCENT
45. San Francisco gridder : NINER
47. Time piece : ERA
48. Man, in Milan : UOMO
51. Foot-long part : SOLE
53. Stay out of sight : HIDE
54. Set on a cellphone : BARS
57. Bandmate Barry, Maurice or Robin : GIBB
61. Get-out-of-full-screen button : ESC
63. As well : TOO
64. Dr. ___ Spengler ("Ghostbusters" role) : EGON
66. ___ pro nobis : ORA
68. Some chip dip, informally : GUAC
69. List abbr. : ETAL
70. Elation : GLEE
71. Old NBC drama : LALAW
73. Heckle : TAUNT
74. Little bit : SKOSH
76. Bygone Dodge : OMNI
78. Clove hitch and sheepshank : KNOTS
79. Boycotter of the '84 L.A. Olympics : USSR
80. Feng ___ : SHUI
82. Not in pounds, say : METRIC
83. ___ Paulo : SAO
85. Organic compound : STEROL
86. Tempting words for shopaholics : ONSALENOW
89. Accords : ENTENTES
90. Impeccably : TOAT
91. Home to the Blues and once the Browns: Abbr. : STL
96. Noted hint giver : HELOISE
98. German ___ : MEASLES
100. Advil competitor : MOTRIN
101. Lake that's the source of the Mississippi : ITASCA
103. Lens cover : EYELID
106. Davis of "Commander in Chief" : GEENA
107. One side in a pickup basketball game : SKINS
109. Department store section : SHOES
111. Nut jobs : LOONS
112. Verve : GUSTO
113. Burning desire? : ARSON
114. What 105-Acrosses do : BRAG
115. Days gone by : YORE
116. "Too much rest is ___": Sir Walter Scott : RUST
117. Sit to be shot : POSE
118. Tug-of-war need : ROPE
121. Call from the sidelines : LET

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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