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CELEBRITY SPOONERISMS

New York Times, Sunday, September 14, 2014

Author:
Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
264/6/20043/3/201915
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
16044101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.67021
Tony Orbach
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
657/21/200510/17/201821
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
14561317118
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59252
Patrick Blindauer

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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
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Speedy Northeast conveyance : ACELA
8
Leaps : VAULTS
9
They go around the world : ATLASES
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"___ out?" (question to a pet) : INOR
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Fail to keep up : LAG
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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
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"The Fog of War" director Morris : ERROL
44
Ephemeral : EVANESCENT
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San Francisco gridder : NINER
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Time piece : ERA
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Man, in Milan : UOMO
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Foot-long part : SOLE
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Stay out of sight : HIDE
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Set on a cellphone : BARS
57
Bandmate Barry, Maurice or Robin : GIBB
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Get-out-of-full-screen button : ESC
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As well : TOO
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Dr. ___ Spengler ("Ghostbusters" role) : EGON
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___ pro nobis : ORA
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Some chip dip, informally : GUAC
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List abbr. : ETAL
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Elation : GLEE
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Old NBC drama : LALAW
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Heckle : TAUNT
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Little bit : SKOSH
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Bygone Dodge : OMNI
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Clove hitch and sheepshank : KNOTS
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Boycotter of the '84 L.A. Olympics : USSR
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Feng ___ : SHUI
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Not in pounds, say : METRIC
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___ Paulo : SAO
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Organic compound : STEROL
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Tempting words for shopaholics : ONSALENOW
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Accords : ENTENTES
90
Impeccably : TOAT
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Home to the Blues and once the Browns: Abbr. : STL
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Noted hint giver : HELOISE
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German ___ : MEASLES
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Advil competitor : MOTRIN
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Lake that's the source of the Mississippi : ITASCA
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Lens cover : EYELID
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Davis of "Commander in Chief" : GEENA
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One side in a pickup basketball game : SKINS
109
Department store section : SHOES
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Nut jobs : LOONS
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Verve : GUSTO
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Burning desire? : ARSON
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What 105-Acrosses do : BRAG
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Days gone by : YORE
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"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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