WEDNESDAY, Sep. 26, 2007 - Lee Glickstein and Craig Kasper

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Broadway musicals - 13 starred clues all have answers that are titles of famous Broadway musicals

Wow, this puzzle was kind of a shocker, first because of the sheer number of theme entries and their impressively symmetrical placement (including a CABARET - EVITA - CANDIDE triple-stack right in the middle of the puzzle); and second because some of the non-theme fill was really high-end, insane-looking stuff. I'm surprised that I did this puzzle as quickly as I did - the theme was easy to get (I got it off of 1A, after I realized SHARON was not the "Stone" in question), so that helped, but there's a fat handful of words I've either never heard of or never seen clued in the way they were today.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: *Stone of Hollywood (Oliver)
  • 7A: *Home for Will Rogers and Garth Brooks (Oklahoma)
  • 16A: *What some unscrupulous e-businesses do? (spam a lot) - best clue / theme entry by far
  • 19A: *Torn (rent)
  • 31A: *Extremely narrow winning margin (hair)
  • 35A: *Kind of club (cabaret)
  • 41A: *A Peron (Evita)
  • 44A: *Student of Dr. Pangloss (Candide)
  • 46A: *Lover of Radames (Aida)
  • 62A: *Renown (fame)
  • 67A: *Site of much horsing around? (carousel)
  • 69A: *Perform ostentatiously (showboat)
  • 70A: *Destiny (kismet)
Now it's time for the first ever installment of "What Does That Look Like?"

Ever wonder what you'd get if you crossed a Minnie MINOSO (15A: 1950s All-Star outfielder Minnie) with a Sydney O'MARR (1D: Astrologer Sydney) [whoops, it's an apostrophe-free "OMARR" - he's not Irish, I guess]? Of course you haven't. Until today, that is. In the grid, the cross was tough (I thought) - in real life, it would not be much prettier:


OK, he's handsome enough, but ...


Uncle Fester?

Next, many of you may be thinking "Hmmm, LAVALIER sounds familiar, but I can't quite picture it..." Further, you are almost certainly thinking "What the hell is a K-PAX and why have I never heard of it?" [answer: it's a horrible movie and 99.9% of America never saw it, so you're not alone] Here are some helpful visuals. LAVALIER (18A: Bejeweled pendant):


K-PAX (8D: 2001 film set in a mental institution):




Let's see if I can knock the rest of these off in a short paragraph. I blanked on COXES (20A: Regatta crew leaders) and CARAVAN (20D: Dodge on the road - "something about a CAR..."), and had SITUATE for SET DOWN at first (30D: Lay). An ANADEM (48D: Ancient garland) is simply a "wreath or garland for the head." A DIADEM is a crown, which I'm sure you knew. I have never seen OCULAR as a noun (28D: Eyepiece), and I have never heard of ALISO Viejo (52D: _____ Viejo (California city near Laguna Beach)). I know nurseries are for taking care of babies, but NEONATAL nurseries (47A: Like some nursery care)? ... o, this must mean a hospital "nursery" - I was thinking, "Who puts their newborn in a nursery? Isn't that a little young?" Maybe I was thinking daycare. Love the FRIEZE (68A: Architectural decoration) / LAMAZE (49D: Kind of class) intersection, though was briefly unsure if the intersection was "S" or "Z." Two rarely-seen words that I got very quickly were REBEC (24D: Renaissance instrument) - from my Ph.D. training - and EVAH (57D: Cole Porter's "Well, Did You _____?") - from my love of Cole Porter, which I developed backwards, from an early 90s tribute album ("Red, Hot, and Blue"). BRINE is a very unappetizing word (29D: Curer of feta cheese), though feta is, of course, tasty (despite sounding a bit like FETID). Lastly, I love a good "Simpsons" clue - 13D: Place to which Bart Simpson makes prank calls (Moe's). Hell, I love any "Simpsons" clue, but you know that. Here is a master list of Bart's calls to Moe over the years.

Thank you all for the kind messages of congratulations yesterday. Sorry I didn't reply. I was in prison. On which, more later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

34 comments:

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

SM -- In PRISON ? Wow -- you do know how to have a good time on your day off. :)

Rick 8:43 AM  

Almost the same comment as the other day: K-PAX may be a bad movie but it's a pretty good book.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

As a 15-year resident of Aliso Viejo (a perfectly-planned, scraped-hillside, stucco-box community invented way back in 1990), I was thrilled to see it clued in today's puzzle.

Alex 9:34 AM  

I haven't a clue where exactly it is, but Aliso Viejo immediately came to mind for me.

I was one of the 0.1% who saw K-PAX and don't remember much about it other than that it was in a mental institution and Kevin Spacey really ate a banana with the peel on for a particular scene.

Mary 9:46 AM  

This puzzle had me humming.

And I liked the homage to the King of Crossworld, 34D:King's title, REX!

Isabella di Pesto 9:48 AM  

"and I have never heard of ALISO Viejo (52D: _____ Veijo (California city near Laguna Beach)."

A gimme for me since I visit this city every year. My daughter lives there. She calls it "Beigeville."

The best thing about it is its proximity to beautiful Laguna Beach and the estimable "Javier's" restaurant on the PCH.

I liked the theme, but got off on the wrong foot by putting in SHARON for 1A for my first answer.

Fun puzzle.

wendy 10:04 AM  

HowEVAH did you land in jail, REX? Was the posting of bail involved?
Could this post be any INANER?

Just killing time til the answers come ...

Spencer 10:06 AM  

I didn't get the theme until I had SPAMALOT -- OLIVER didn't give it to me, but the two together made it pretty obvious.

Of course, I put in EVER instead of EVAH but the problem made itself known pretty quickly. I loved the Debbie Harry / Iggy Pop rendition on Red, Hot & Blue.

I visited Laguna Beach this summer, but not ALISO Viejo, so I was clueless on that one.

shaun 10:35 AM  

Come on, man, you can't give a build- up like that and not . . . deliver.

HappyDad 10:45 AM  

I am going to guess that Rex teaches in prison. The clues are everywhere.

Beata 10:48 AM  

never got the theme.... kpax was actually quite interesting.. to me anyway

whoever that saw it : was he really an alien?

Tadpod 10:49 AM  

In prison? Yes, you buried the lead. As long as it wasn't "Sweeney Todd" related.

Wade 11:10 AM  

Did you shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

Four squares in the top center of the puzzle gave me fits: I couldn't figure out what capital started OS_ _. The OS beginning put me in a Far East frame of mind from which I never recovered. Didn't know the bejeweled pendant, didn't remember KPAX and didn't remember COXES. (I was trying to make the movie be KPII, as in a sequel to KP, a movie that I convinced myself must have existed and then sequelized, since everything else is.)

Not to take anything away from the cleverness of the puzzle, but speaking for the small percentage of us Americans who don't live in NYC, I think Broadway-themed puzzles make many of us feel left out. I've heard of all of those musicals, but the chances of my ever seeing one of them is pretty remote (okay, maybe most have been made into movies or put on by traveling revues, but still.)

THE Ohio University 11:32 AM  

There is a point on "Red, Hot and Blue" (if memory serves) where someone sings a fairly languid version of "Miss Otis Regrets" which segues, medley-style, into an amazingly scorching version of "Just One of Those Things" by the Pogues. Worth the price of a down-load.

I got the theme quickly, and with the help of a lucky guess (PROVERBS) (who isn't pro verbs?), everything fell pretty quickly except the SW. Started with EMTS instead of DOCS. After correcting that, still had EVER for EVAH and SCRAP in SCRUB's spot. So SHOWBOAT and CAROUSEL took some cogitation.

REBEC would still be blank if not for the crosses. It's like Trebek missing a letter, and reminded me of a special on Alex Trebek. He was showing the interviewer his obsessively-compulsively acquired tool collection, and one of his Stanley tape measures (he had each length) was not in its assigned spot. He was not happy.

ANADEM was another that required all its crosses. As JUDY didn't fit for "ancient garland", I had no idea.

I thought the theme was "Broadway musicals not starring Mario Lanza or Ezio Pinza". Thoroughly enjoyable Wednesday puzzle. As always, good to see PHIL in the fill. Now off to explore Rex's link to "Bart's calls to Moe's".

profphil 11:37 AM  

Wade,

I live in New York and pass Broadway all the time. However, I have not seen any of the theme answers either. I think more non-New Yorkers see the musicals than native New Yorkers, especially the last ten years. Most of them are advertised to attract foreign tourists.

wendy 11:38 AM  

Oh hahahaha. ;)

Happydad is right; now I can recall Rex mentioning in some earlier post that he was going to be teaching in prison this year.

campesite 12:25 PM  

Welcome back, Rex. Not many of us are inclined to take a day off and go to prison, so good for you.
I have a tendency to sleep through musicals when I see them--hmmm... I wonder if that's why my wife drags me to so many of them. Thus this puzzle's theme answers were fairly easy as I've nodded off to at least half of these, despite the valiant efforts of the cast.

Sue 12:27 PM  

Yep, Rex told us he'd be teaching in prison.

I found this puzzle very easy. I got 31across HAIR and knew we were headed for the age of Aquarius or maybe for OOOOOklahoma.

What a feat to fit all those one-word musicals into a grid. I'm in awe.

jae 12:47 PM  

We have friends in Laguna Nigel who we visit a lot and I still never heard of Aliso Viejo. Back when dating was sort of a ritual (think 50s/early 60s) a college girl could get "pinned" if she was going steady with a frat guy. I believe one step below getting pinned was getting lavaliered (I realize that sounds a bit obscene).

Most of this clever effort was pretty easy for me, but I also got hung up in SW with EMTS, EVER, and a mistake in the RSF initials slowing the process.

jae 1:27 PM  

...that should be RSA initials.

Michael5000 1:31 PM  

Prison, wow. You know how to celebrate an anniversary.

I don't think I've ever seen so many theme answers in a weekday puzzle. Nice!

Have you ever thought about giving a summary rating for excellence of design, as well as challenge?

PamJo 2:21 PM  

I need to strike one note of dissent on the praise for this puzzle; although I enjoyed teasing out all of the musical titles, it bothered me that some were clued in a manner unrelated to the subject/theme of the musical (e.g. Spamalot, which was a brilliant clue/answer pair), and some were not (e.g. Evita). I think the theme therefore lacked a certain consistency that would have made it really clever (although I'm sure it would have been a stretch to figure out unrelated clues to some of the answers--resume company on the web, for short? e-vita.) That quibble aside, I enjoyed this puzzle, especially when I figured out that a nickname like Minnie had to go with Minoso and not any of the other _inoso's that seemed workable at that cross.

rick 2:31 PM  

I can't believe I finished the puzzle and didn't realize it had a theme until I read Rex's page.

Fergus 3:40 PM  

Didn't know what day it was for a while staring at the blank SW. Wednesdays usually go at a sprightly pace, but that corner was a stalwart.

I guess OCULAR must be a noun somewhere but that answer really didn't look right for Eyepiece.

By chance I dropped an inksmudge by the 47A clue so ended up bewildered about that smash-hit musical "NOENATAL." An Accidental Asterisk might be a better show title, but I don't anticipate seeing that one either.

Martin 6:50 PM  

Fergus,

The lens assembly of a microscope, telescope, binoculars, etc. closest to your eye is the "ocular." Oculars are often interchangable for varying magnification vs. field width. The lens at the other end of the tube is the "objective."

Strictly speaking, "ocular" and "objective" are adjectives and the assemblies (they each comprise several lenses) are the "ocular lens" and "objective lens." In practice, astronomers, microscopists and other practitioners use the words as nouns.

Aaron 7:14 PM  

I agree with michael5000, it would be nice to see a quality summary alongside the difficulty summary.

I was really dumb about this theme. I asked a friend what OLIVER, OKLAHOMA, RENT, CABARET, HAIR, and EVITA all had in common. I was trying to figure out something about starting with vowels (no), ending with vowels (no), containing A's (no)... Until he told me and I felt like an idiot.

Impressive number of theme answers, though, and I always like symmetry.

Kim 11:22 PM  

I teach physical science so I had trouble with the clue kg and oz for weights. Technically a kilogram is the international standard unit for MASS not weight. I was just teaching the distinction between mass and weight to my classes today so this bugged me a bit.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

For a true Broadway lover (as I am), there is also an egregious error in today's puzzle...

FAME is not a Broadway musical. It was a movie. It was an (ill-fated) OFF-Broadway musical called "Fame on 42nd Street," but it was never done on Broadway.

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, Mr. Shortz...

flailer 1:10 AM  

Actually, I am wondering about the "musical" status of many of the theme answers. Is AIDA a musical? Isn't it an opera? Unless it was mangled into some sort of production? And why SPAMALOT for "Camelot" (a musical) when none of the other answers are puns? Unless...is there some monstrosity called SPAMALOT stalking Broadway? I hope not, for the sake of all those tourists.

My dissertation is about A Perón and I still didn't get the oft-clued EVITA. Shouldn't there have been a period after the A in the clue? Otherwise I was left thinking it was a Spanish prepositional phrase.

And Kevin Spacey has been in WAY too many bad movies for the status he enjoys as a 'serious actor' ("Pay It Forward," anyone?).

Congrats, Rex, even if you are incarcerated. You make the crossword snarky, smart, and funny.

Anonymous 1:33 AM  

Welcome back, Rex! Enjoyed the list of Bart calls. RENT tipped me off to the theme, have seen it in San Francisco. But still found the puzzle challenging, eg, Kismet, Anadem, Aliso, KPax.

jae 2:12 AM  

Flailer -- Actually, SPAMALOT is/was (?) a Broadway musical based on a Monty Python bit. Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria and Eric Idle were among the original cast. I believe the A in the Peron clue means "one of the" Perons. Yes, Spacey has made some bad choices lately.

wendy 7:22 AM  

Flailer: That first image inserted into Rex's commentary? That's a poster for the hugely successful, Tony-award-for-best-musical-garnering SPAMALOT.

Waxy in Montreal 11:23 PM  

Back from the future -

Orestes (Minnie) Minoso is way more significant in baseball than the 15A. clue, "1950's All-Star outfielder". As borrowed from Wikipedia -

He is one of just two players in major league history to play in five separate decades (1940s-80s), the other being Nick Altrock. With brief appearances with the independent Northern League's St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003, Miñoso is the only player to have played professionally in 7 different decades. He was also the last major leaguer to have played in the 1940s to play a major league game. He is currently a Community Relations Representative for the White Sox.
In his 1980 appearance at age 57, Miñoso was the oldest player ever to bat in the majors and the second-oldest ever to play, behind only Satchel Paige (who made an appearance at 58). He would have made an appearance in 1990 and become the only professional to play in six decades if Major League Baseball had not overruled the idea. However, at age 80, in 2003 appeared in a professional baseball game by drawing a walk for the independent minor-league St. Paul Saints, becoming the only player to appear professionally in seven different decades.

Dave 5:20 PM  

Six weeks later...

My paper said the co-author was Lee Glickman, not Lee Glickstein. Hmm.

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