MONDAY, Mar. 24, 2008 - David J. Kahn (NOTABLE ARMY INDUCTEE of 3/24/58)

Monday, March 24, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: 50th anniversary of Elvis's induction into the Army

A very professional Monday puzzle by David J. Kahn, the author of this year's notorious Puzzle #5 at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (one of the greatest accomplishments of my solving life was finishing that puzzle in the time allotted without making a mistake - it was a very very close call). I found today's puzzle harder than most Mondays because theme answers were all but impossible to get without first getting ELVIS (39A: Notable Army inductee of 3/24/58), and even after that, you have to deal with plays on words and C-list movies ("G.I. Blues"?!). That said, I liked the puzzle a lot: 10 theme entries, the bulk of them Downs - that's a (hell of a) lot for a Monday puzzle, and they were all clever and entertaining. Given the gaps in my ELVIS knowledge, and the fact that I tend to skip clues that ask me to look at other clues (i.e. 9 of the 10 theme clues plus one non-theme clue), I have no idea how I finished this in an average Monday time (under 4).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Like 39-Across fans on his induction day? (All Shook Up)
  • 56A: Last movie 39-Across made before his Army stint (King Creole)
  • 11D: Army officer who met 39-Across in 25-Down (Colin Powell)
  • 13D: Last Army rank of 39-Across: Abbr. (Sgt.)
  • 23D: Much-photographed event after 39-Across's induction (haircut)
  • 25D: Where 39-Across was stationed overseas (West Germany) - this took me way way longer than it should have, in that I had WEST and remained puzzled. WEST GE- ... still thinking ... and then the geography of the Cold War came rushing back to me and I recalled that there was once a country called WEST GERMANY. Funny how fast I forgot that.
  • 26D: First Army rank of 39-Across (private)
  • 30D: First movie 39-Across made after his Army stint (G.I. Blues)
  • 54D: Record label of 39-Across (RCA)

The non-theme fill in this puzzle was pretty good too. The long Down answers are fantastic. ALPHA TESTS (9D: Some computer software checks) gave me fits, primarily because I didn't fill in ALL SHOOK UP 'til the very end, and without that "P" I could not see ALPHA to save my life. I seriously considered ALOHA TESTS for a second. Then there's the crackling SHELLACKED (32D: Defeated soundly), which both looks and sounds fabulous. SHELLACKED is here to smack you out of your usual Monday puzzle stupor. I am currently in love with the twin pillars of ALTOONA (24D: City with a Penn State campus) and ASTORIA (29D: Waldorf-_____ Hotel). Elegant A-to-A words symmetrically supporting the puzzle. I believe that may be the first time in recorded history that ALTOONA has been referred to as "elegant."

I have criticism and a frowny faces for very few entries today. Here they are:

  • 33D: Actresses Shire and Balsam (Talias) - plural names are always a downer, though on this one, I'm at least slightly ambivalent. Pro: the clue went for an actual second TALIA as opposed to the more common "et al." or "and others." Con: Who the @#$# is TALIA Balsam?
  • 53D: Police hdqrs. (pcts) - I'm not sure which I hate more, the answer (which flummoxed both me and my wife - it's short for "precincts," I think) or the clue. "Hdqrs." I dare you to stare at that letter combo for more than 10 second. My theory is that you will go mad and/or blind. I believe the flatfoots call it HQ.
  • 27D: Like seawater (saline) - I know this is technically correct, and yet I think of seawater as SALTY and my contact lens solution as SALINE.
  • 18D: What the "H" of H.M.S. may be (His)
  • 49D: What the "H" of H.M.S. may be (Her) - I didn't like the repeat here, but then I noticed the symmetry, and all of a sudden - I love it.

The rest:

  • 46A: Balletic bend (pliĆ©) - I just like the word "balletic"
  • 52A: One who makes a good first impression? (aper) - Why just "first?" My wife was flipping between APER and ACER here. Given that the Down is the ungodly PCTS, I can see how the decision between "P" and "C" here could have been a tough one.
  • 62A: Dunce cap, geometrically (cone) - Good news, class: we can humiliate Timmy and use him as a prop in our geometry lesson.
  • 64A: Finger's end (nail) - I believe the actual end is the "tip."
  • 4D: Openers for all doors (passkeys) - nice, interesting, k-containing long answer that I don't think I've seen much, if at all.
  • 8D: "Ally McBeal" actress Lucy (Liu) - violates my "Stop referencing [that show]" rule, but at least Lucy LIU is famous enough to uncover without my having to have watched the show in question. Still, the clue should have gone through "Kill Bill," IMOO.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[astounding drawing by Emily Cureton]

72 comments:

Bill from NJ 7:41 AM  

I realize this puts me in bad with all the pop culture haters, but my wife and I watch "Without a Trace", starring Anthony LaPaglia and Poppy Montgomery and Talia Balsam plays the ex-wife of Mr LaPaglia.

BTW, she also was in "Aly McBeal" for one episode. (Don't worry, I looked it up).

Elvis Presley came of age when I was a kid so this puzzle was simple for me. It certainly takes me back to those "Happy Days."

Sorry.

treedweller 7:42 AM  

I thought this one was pretty easy. Even without being much of an Elvis fan, I got the theme answers pretty easily, and finished in under six minutes, which may be a first for me. Sadly, I had to go back and correct the PCTS/APER cross (I also tried acer) and lost thirty seconds correcting it.

I got TALIAS from crosses and never even read the clue. Which is lucky, because I'd be sitting here trying to decide between "Hobbiton" and "Wella".

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

The theme was apparent to me right away because yesterday Elvis's induction was prominently discussed in a story about the USO on Weekend Edition on NPR (a story that immediately followed Will Shortz's appearance).

Unfortunately, my chance at a personal Monday best was ruined because I had KI-------- for 56A and was sure this had to be KIDGALAHAD.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

I'm far from an Elvis fan, but I got the ELVIS clue easily and the rest were a snap. Probably my fastest Monday ever.

jannieb 8:10 AM  

As Mondays go, this was a breeze. Started at !A and kept going til 67A with only passing glances at the downs. Guess I missed a lot of the beauty of the construction -but my time was right at 4 minutes so no regrets. My last letter was also the P in Pcts - started by trying to abbreviate station in some way that would fit (Dad was a cop and that's what he called his workplace). As I entered the last clue, Matt Lauer gave a brief shout out to "the King" and gave up nearly all the theme clues in one short paragraph. C'est la vie!

ArtLvr 8:49 AM  

Very good fun! Didn't look at a lot of the clues, or I'd have wondered about a LIU and a HALAS. Nice to see FOGG...

∑;)

Ulrich 9:13 AM  

Count me among those who liked this puzzle a lot--clean, lots of theme answers. Probabaly my fastest Monday so far (which doesn't mean much yet), in parts certainly due to the fact that I lived in West Germany (a gimme for me that really got me rolling) at the time and remember the hoopla surrounding the King very well. The p for pcts was also the last letter I filled in.

Ulrich 9:38 AM  

Following up on my last post, I went to grammar school in Cologne at the time (incidentally, the same to which "der Alte" went) and still remember the expression on the face of our music teacher when we brought "Love me tender" to class, to be played after he had tried to raise our enthusiasm for the sonata form: He looked puzzled and only managed to make a lame joke re. the title.

BTW the cool kids didn't like the song--we liked the hard-rocking Elvis and considered "Love me tender" a Schnulze, the lovely German term for an overly sentimental song that mimics the sobbing it's supposed to induce.

Mary In Mpls 9:46 AM  

Talia Balsam is Martin Balsam's daughter, George Clooney's ex-wife and my sister-in-law's cousin.

Arby 9:55 AM  

I thought PLIANT and PLIE, so close to each other, was a bit odd. Had MUG for NEG, and couldn't remember how Chris spells her last name (though vividly remembered her from my tennis playing days as a boy). Got "Elvis" right away, but didn't know any of the trivia - had "Blue Hawaii" instead of King Creole for a while, just because it fit and I just love Hawaii.

Speaking of that: Rex - today's blog definitely passes the Aloha Test! Mahalo.

Zach M. 9:56 AM  

Just a quick point of contention, Rex: When you say "Still, the clue should have gone through "Kill Bill," IMOO.", I think it should be corrected to say "Still, all clues should go through "Kill Bill," IMOO."

Well, at the very least, it would play better to MY skill set...

:-)

Jim in Chicago 10:01 AM  

Can someone please explain why "someone who makes a good first impression" is an APER? I understand "good impression", but why, in particular a "first" impression???

quentin q 10:03 AM  

There is so much jam-packed into this puzzle that it seems impossible that all the words actually crossed! Thank you Mr. Kahn for a great puzzle.

My favorite entry of the day is easily ALPHA TESTS. (Which reminds me, I need to brush up on my greek alphabet so I can immediately know that PSI comes before omega)

Thanks

Rex Parker 10:08 AM  

@Mary in Mpls,

Thanks so much for clearing that up ... :)

Your explanation of who Talia Balsam is is now among my favorite comments ever posted to this site.

I would ask who Martin Balsam is, but I don't want to make anyone angry ...

rp

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Wildly easy. Funny, "PCT" was among the most obvious answers for me, maybe because as a precinct election worker I have to fill in "PCT. No. __" on so many forms, so I'm used to that abbreviation. And as soon as I had the gimme "ARK," "ALL SHOOK UP" jumped out, and it was hard not to go to Elvis after that.

But I didn't want to see "HAWKS" for warmongers any more than I'd enjoy "APPEASEMENT HOUNDS" for pacifists.

Rex Parker 10:11 AM  

I didn't think HAWKS was particularly pejorative.

The HAWK/DOVE dyad is an old one (and one I learned from MAD magazine, oddly enough).

rp

PhillySolver 10:22 AM  

I love Mondays. Believe it or not though, there are a millions of people who will be voting in November who could not make a dent in this puzzle. (Not to scare you or anything!) As to Mr. Kahn, does he have a split personality or what?

I too liked the HIS and HERS hanking there like a set of towels. I suspect there are other symetrical answers.

I see some of you also lived through this 'happening' and I am trying to recall a popular song that referred to a rock n' roll star being drafted without namimg Elvis. I wanted to look at on You Tube, but can't think of the title or the singer. One line was something like, "Give me that guitar and take this rifle." Anyone recall this?

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

"HAWKS" is not perjorative; "WARMONGERS" is. "DOVES" would not be perjorative. "CHEESE EATING SURRENDER MONKEYS" would be. (That for the many Simpsons fans among us.)

Pete M 10:38 AM  

Re: APER

Ok, theoretically I could work for years and finally hone a decent Bill Clinton impression. Does that make me an aper? As opposed to, say, someone who can listen to someone once and immediately mimic them well the first time?

Works for me, with good surface reading to boot.

- Pete M

SethG 10:54 AM  

Philly,

Before my time so didn't "recall", but found this with a search,
sg

emjo 11:04 AM  

maybe it was just my mood. but i despised this puzzle. i had on a real sour face the whole time.

jae 11:06 AM  

Well done and fun Monday. APER was also my last entry.

@philly The musical Bye Bye Birdie was based on Elvis going into the Army but that may not be what you're thinking of.

MargaretR 11:14 AM  

For people of a certain age, the Elvis theme was a gimme today. But APER?? It was the only possibility, but is a stretch for the clue, and the only flaw in this puzzle as far as I'm concerned.

john 11:15 AM  

Hawk: A person who favors military force or action in order to carry out foreign policy.

Warmonger: One who advocates or attempts to stir up war.

Not a big distinction. "Hawk" may be a slightly broader term, but favoring military action and advocating war is pretty much the same thing.

PhillySolver 11:20 AM  

@ stheg

That was the song. All American Boy (sic). Whoopee, my day is complete! Thanks

And yes, Bye Bye Birdie was an Elvis inspired play...I loved it back in the day...I wonder if it is stale today? Oh, wait, I am remembering the songs and stories and I bet the Ipod Generation would think it was close to Neanderthal.


Dovely yours,
Philly

Spencer 11:29 AM  

When I saw the first theme clue, I thought "oh, no!" Then I got ALLSHOOKUP and it was obvious who was the central figure. That didn't help with COLINPOWELL and many of the others, but I didn't feel lost, at least.

@PhillySolver -- a local community theater group did Bye Bye Birdie a couple of years ago, and had a lot of fun with it. And it wasn't just "old folks", either.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I think the above comment was that "warmongers" is pejorative, not "hawks." And I agree. (So if the clue were "Appeasement Hounds" or "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys" and the answer were "DOVES," I don't think many people would be pleased.)

Bill from NJ 12:03 PM  

@Rex -

Re: Symmetry

How about the twin pillars next to ALTOONA/ASTORIA: HAIRCUT/GIBLUES?

Nice touch

Dick Swart 12:04 PM  

Here's real Army trivia: A 'reple-deple' was replacement-deployment and is what brought Elvis's 2nd Armored Division to West Germany from Ft Hood, TX in 1959 to replace the 4th Armored Division of which I was a slip-shod Sp4 teaching 8th grade to sgts.

In those years, serving in the army was an
expected happening. And to his and his agent's credit, Elvis served his two years.

Sir: Swart, Richard, Sir US 52438805, Sir!

Dick Swart 12:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
john 12:22 PM  

If you're arguing that "Warmongers" is not a good clue for HAWKS because "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys" is not a good clue for DOVES, I don't think that's much of an argument. It's hardly equivalent.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Wikipedia: "A warmonger is, pejoratively, someone who is anxious to encourage a people or nation to go to war. It is often used to describe militaristic leaders, or mercenaries, commonly with the implication that they either may have selfish motives for encouraging war, or may actually enjoy war." The equivalent on the DOVE side would have to be a term that implied despicable personal motives for avoiding the burdens or responsibilities of war.

Appreciation to Anon. 11:54 for getting my point.

Megan P 12:36 PM  

I liked how GIBLUES looked like it wanted to be GIBLETS. It still looks that way, actually.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Exactly! My mind was actually going to "GIBLUNS" for a while, trying to find a plausible cinematic connection. I get suckered in every time an answer includes initials.

Karen 12:47 PM  

I liked having EEL and ELL next to each other. I saw that in another puzzle lately too. Only thing better would be to throw Robert E. LEE into the mix also.

John Reid 1:07 PM  

I solved this puzzle at a friend's house last night and didn't want to tie up his computer, so I rushed the last letter a bit and quickly chose a C for ACER/CCTS. It seemed to fit the across clue. I agree that the word 'first' in that clue seems superfluous, if not downright misleading. As a tennis fan it makes me think of 'first serve' vs. second serve, so naturally one who makes a good 'first' impression is an ACER, not an aper! An aper is 'one who makes a good impression' - period! However, having said that, if I had sat for a minute or so and gone through the alphabet I certainly would have puzzled this out, so I still consider it to be fair play.

Anyway, a great Monday puzzle and I enjoyed learning some things about Elvis that I never knew before. It's kind of funny looking backwards in time to think of him and Colin Powell meeting in West Germany at that time as such young men; how differently both of their lives turned out from then on!

I also really liked the symmetry of HIS and HER. I noticed (and enjoyed) the similarity of the clues while solving, but hadn't seen that the answers in the grid had such pleasant symmetry also! Nice touch.

andrea carla michaels 1:36 PM  

Loved ten themes!!!!!!

Even before I got to the actual ELVIS clue, I had COL so started to write in COLONEL TOM PARKER before I realized it was way too long...
(Then was fascinated to learn he and Colin P had met...weird!)

Agree the films a bit obscure...and PLIE and PLIANT really are almost the exact same word, so I would have worked harder to maybe make one of them CLIENT or PKIE into (dare I say) ELEE! but the whole HIS/HER made up for everything!

Usually a tribute puzzle is for someone who has died so I thought it was fantastic that it was a cool anniversary of an interesting event and timely in a weird way, what with the whole hawk/dove discussion and the scarily preserved Priscilla on "Dancing with the Stars", not to mention Lisa Marie having to fight off fat Elvis jokes!

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Philly, whether or not Bye Bye Birdie is dated or not, it never hurts to watch it again and remember what an amazing looking woman Ann-Margaret used to be.

Good Monday puzzle - precinct/aper delays here too.

IMSDAVE

PhillySolver 1:57 PM  

I have a meeting, so I cannot attend, but David Kahn is speaking about crosswords at the New York Public Library on March 26th. Here is a link... http://www.nypl.org/events/branchevents.cfm?location=121

Hope lots of you go and report back to us. Find out if he is really the kind person who constructed today's puzzle or the devious cluer from the ACPT.

Mary In Mpls 2:12 PM  

@ Rex,
Glad I could clear up the Balsams for you. Martin played the brother of Jason Robards in one of my favorite movies, "A Thousand Clowns" and I can't really think of anything else he's been in, but you'd probably recognize him if you saw him. He was a minor character actor. Now you know more about the Balsams than you every thought you'd need to know.

Mary

Jetflyer 2:18 PM  

My Dad was pretty good at crosswords and so when I was a fledgling solver, I would call up Dad to ask why an answer was, well, the answer. You see , back then, there wasn't a Rex Parker.

APER was one of those words that confounded me. My Dad explained the meaning with reference to the clue. I remember thinking "you've got to be kidding me" and laughing about the whole thing. So when I see APER in a puzzle, it makes me think of my Dad. I love APER.

Ulrich 2:51 PM  

@mary in mpls: I remember Balsam most vividly as the detective in Psycho who's hired to track the Janet Leigh character down and gets killed by the psycho in the process.

Mary In Mpls 3:03 PM  

@ulrich: I had forgotten that he was the detective in "Psycho." Now you all remember him--right?

doc John 3:11 PM  

To me, the puzzle was fairly easy (which surprised me when I saw it was a spawn of Kahn). Nothing requiring mental gymnastics, just knowledge- a lot of which was practically spoon fed (La SCALA, Milan Opera House, for example). Although I'm a little younger than the Elvis set, somehow I knew all the answers (except Gen. Powell, which fit the space easily enough, though). I think all the Saturday afternoon TV I watched as a kid helped me here. ("Coming up next, Elvis in 'King Creole'!" "Yuck! Who wants to watch an Elvis movie- let's go out and play.")

I do agree that APER was the weirdest clue/answer in the puzzle (and PCTS was next) but the P was the only letter that worked with both so that's what got written in! (IMHO, maybe PCTS could have been clued as in "percents".)

I also liked the ELL/EEL juxtaposition as well as the presence of SHELLACKED. That's just one of those words that gives a great mental image of the action.

Did you know that ALTOONA is also the home to the world's oldest rollercoaster?

All things Martin Balsam

Finally, if I may- a shout out to Rikki, Jae and any other San Diegans. This Saturday, the 29th, at 7PM, the community band I play in, the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble, is giving a concert at the War Memorial Auditorium at Balboa Park. It's our Spring Concert, so a classical program, highlighted by "Rhapsody in Blue". If you come, I'm the one with the shiny silver tuba.

miriam b 3:12 PM  

I filled in GIBLUES correctly but it took me a while to parse it. No Elvis fan, I.

dk 3:16 PM  

@mary, greetings from Bryn Mawr (Mpls area for those not in the know)

I thought Balsam was in more disaster movies than it seems he was.

Sailed through this one as my sister was a big Elvis fan.

Colin Powell also restores VW square backs (small station wagons). How this is related to the puzzle and any Elvis clues: I dunno?

Rex, Last but not least I hope the A. McBeal reference does not cause a reoccurrence of your recent illness

Mary In Mpls 3:32 PM  

@dk, back at you from SW Minneapolis.

SethG 3:45 PM  

Here by Lake Nokomis (in, yes, S Mpls) we remember cousin Martin most as Ben Kaplan in Delta Force.

What say we all head out to San Diego for Spring Concert?
sg

doc John 3:56 PM  

Gee, Seth, now the pressure is really on! :-D

markus 4:04 PM  

Fingernail. Not the actually end (tip) of the finger (ala Buck's end = aroo). Wordplay man. Wordplay. Of course I'm young and ignorant so what do I know.

Ashish 4:16 PM  

I am a slow solver and I am not into Elvis, but this was my fastest Monday ever - under 4 minutes (makes me want to participate in ACPT 32!)

And then I saw this was from none other than Mr. Kahn! Holy smokes - he can set the evil puzzle #5 as well as this piece of cake?

Only explanation? He has a non-evil twin.

Ashish

mac 4:39 PM  

Back from cold, rainy, snowy and windy London and Holland with a bad cold - laying low and reading all your comments of the past week!
This was a really elegant Monday puzzle, what a pro mr. Kahn is! Loved the haircut and GIBlues line-up.
Back to my chamomile tea, and let's get some chicken soup out of the freezer.....

ArtLvr 4:52 PM  

@ Doc John -- Thanks for the film history link! Now I remember Marty Balsam in All the President's Men and Breakfast at Tiffany's....

∑;)

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Martin Balsam! Now I remember: Hombre, and Seven Days in May. And apparently a zillion Italian movies I didn't know about.

Wade 5:26 PM  

The word "balsam" always reminds me of the potpourri-filled pillow that was owned by one of the elementary school students in the class for which Stuart Little serves a day as a substitute teacher. The pillow (which Stuart covets) was given to the girl by a boy at summer camp and has the phrase "For you I pine, for you I balsam" on it.

One of the joys of having kids is re-reading all the old children's books you remember. Stuart Little, unlike most, holds up beautifully. It's one of the the loveliest, sweetest, saddest books written, probably too sad for most kids. I know it screwed me up. I still get teary-eyed when I think of him out there on the open road looking for that bird. I haven't seen the movie and don't intend to. There's no way they can't have screwed it up.

ramsey 5:33 PM  

Ann Margaret is STILL a beautiful woman.

Crosscan 6:04 PM  

Martin Balsam played Archie's partner in Archie Bunker's Place, the sequel to All in the Family.

Excellent Monday puzzle; easy, lots of theme answers and I learned something new (the Colin Powell connection). All this in under 4 minutes.

David 6:14 PM  

Seems to me CCTS could be as good an abbreviation of "Command Centers" as PCTS is of "Precincts", and as many have said an ACER certainly makes a good first impression, so I'm calling that combo just an acceptable (to me) alternate reality :!).

On WARMONGER <> HAWK, I think it is acceptable to clue a superset with a subset, so since warmongers are hawks it seems fine. It doesn't not mean that all hawks are warmongers!

Eli Barrieau 6:30 PM  

@Ashish: It seems you also have a non-evil twin: Me! Or perhaps vice-versa. I've been waiting all day to crow that I finally cracked four minutes and I'm not even an Elvis fan. Then I saw that you already beat me to it. Congrats.

I would've posted sooner, but my school has blocked Rex's blog! Now what am I going to do during lunch or my prep? Still won't gossip with other teachers.

@emjo: Great link. I was hoping it would be that.

JimHorne 6:40 PM  

Rex, you've hit the big times. You're blocked by a firewall at a school. That's the ultimate sign of a successful blog!

Rex Parker 6:50 PM  

@Eli,

First China, now your school.

Why would my site be flagged?

Maybe it's because Noam Elkies can't seem to make a comment without unleashing a barrage of profanity ...

Seriously, Eli, you should complain.

rp

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

I hope you are not disparaging the youngest ever named professor at Harvard.

Posted from Harvard Yard

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Talia Balsalm, living in the shadow of Martin (who's not in the puzzle)!

Rex Parker 8:44 PM  

Noam Elkies is one of my favorite contributors to this blog's Comments section and one of the nicest guys I've ever met (to say nothing of his apparently legendary status in the academic world). I assumed that the facetiousness of my remark about him would be self-evident. He's the Last guy who would speak profanely in public. So to anyone who thought I was serious, I wasn't I wasn't I wasn't.

Clearly my facetiousness gauge is completely broken and in need of recalibration.

Carry on.

RP

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

Oops, sorry...we got it just took the chance to bolster our fav prof.

Posted from Harvard Yard

Michael 9:38 PM  

Most Monday puzzles are so unremarkable that I am surprised that many people can say much about them. Not this one though -- really a good one with many theme clues (at least one a great piece of trivia -- Colin Powell), nice non-crosswordese fill, and appropriately easy.

I did have to stare a Giblues a bit even after I finished the puzzle by filling it in.

Kim 11:15 PM  

Hey Doc Jon

I live in san diego and read Rex's blog almost daily but don't comment too often. I don't get to this blog until late and anything worth saying has usually been said. I believe I have nothing to add about Martin Balsam.

Will try to see your concert on Saturday - sounds great!

I will say that even though the subject matter involved cheesy elvis movies the puzzle had an elegant feel to it and was a good start to the week.

Mary in Mpls. 12:40 AM  

It's been a lovely day. I don't usually comment here because I live in Syndicationville and am six weeks behind. I calculated forward and chose today because in six weeks I will be helping to administer the local high school English oral exams. Last year I did this with the teacher who taught me to love the subject 33 years ago at the same high school. She said, "I'd still love teaching if I could do it the same way I taught you. I retired because I got tired of teaching how to take tests."

Thank you, No Child Left Behind.

I leave you with the hope that you all will watch "A Thousand Clowns" and that I might run into sethg and dk somewhere in Mpls (I'm the one mumbling to myself on the shore of either Lake Harriet or Calhoun as I fill and cross out in the Strib). On Friday and Saturday I don't cheat, I just fill in what I can and then make up the rest.

And my 10 favorite words, which I don't usually see in crosswords, just because I may see them later: dwell, trudge, chortle, access, willy-nilly, pastoral, riparian, trilby, smattering, onomatopoeia (because I like John Prine)

Peace all.

ds 1:10 AM  

"A Thousand Clowns" was first a play, then a movie; and although Balsam wasn't in the play, he won an Oscar for his role in the movie. In terms of "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Waters Running," Balsam was in that "play" (i.e., in three of the four one-act plays) - and he won a Tony for that outing.

scriberpat 9:38 AM  

@John Reid 1:07 pm
re: "impression" and "first impression"

it may be too late to write to this day's Comments, as it is already the next day but anyhoo --

if one makes a good impression, it is not known who is being aped.

if one makes a good first impression, yes it could be that no one is particularly being aped; but with the tongue-in-cheek predilection of the puzzle, a good first impression would be one where the ability to ape well impresses.

Waxy in Montreal 3:50 PM  

6 weeks later and the theme still makes for a great Monday puzzle. I remembered some of the Elvis trivia but my wife - who saw all of his films back in the day - was brilliant on the GI Blues & King Creole front.

My only quibble (other than PCTS) is with some of the filler - isn't it about time now to retire Mata Hari, George Halas, Phileas Fogg, Noah's Ark, Marc Anthony, Waldorf-Astoria, Itsy Bitsy Spider, La Scala and Talia Shire to the Pantheon? Even for a Monday.

The BOBSfan 4:30 AM  

September, 2009, and our local freebie (Urban Tulsa) gives us this puzzle (consecutive NYT puzzles, but weekly, so we're WAAAAY behind!).

My fastest time ever ... no wrong letters, and only a couple clue checks to make sure. Didn't even stumble over pcts, and didn't see aper. Awesome puzzle, but kept thinking through the whole thing ... this is TOO easy, even for a Monday, and even with all the cool refs and tie-ins.

This comes from me, who usually takes an hour on Thursday, and who took several hours for the one in last week's issue (that's last Saturday to you March '08 folks).

Love yer blog, Rex. Peace.

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