SATURDAY, Apr. 26, 2008 - Brad Wilber (GUNSMITH REMINGTON)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Ha. I wish.

This was tough - an old-fashioned kind of tough, with an old (relatively speaking) tennis player and an old movie and an old play and an old gas company name and an old (now dead) Swedish soprano and an old French song and an olde timey phone contraption and a 19th century gunsmith and a largely 19th century sociologist and more high-end Masleskaesque vocab than you can shake a stick at. And yet - I enjoyed it. If all I had to do were Quarfoot and Nothnagel puzzles every weekend ... well, I'd have a lot of fun, but my pre-1980 knowledge muscle would go all soft. This is a well-constructed puzzle that gave me a real sense of accomplishment once I'd finished it. Very little of this puzzle was in my wheelhouse, and still I persevered. I did not hit it out of the park, but I managed to make contact and bloop a weak single into shallow centerfield to win the game. Think of the last hit of the 2001 World Series. Seriously, think about it. Sweet. It's like a narcotic. Where was I ... ?

Oh, right, success. My favorite part of this puzzle was the fact that I finished it with a giant, magnificent, impossible flourish. Imagine you're down against the best team in baseball and you're facing the best closer in baseball and defeat seems assured, but in the space of a few short minutes you go from dead to victorious. That was me in the North Carolina section of this puzzle. I had a gaping hole - a MAW (53D: Cavernous opening), if you will - south of ASL (36A: Syst. of unspoken words) and east of CIDERS (43D: Some like them hot) and all the way to the SE corner. Eventually that hole got partially filled in, but I was still missing virtually everything between CIDERS and ISLE OF MAN (32D: Douglas is its capital). The triple stack of 40A on top of 43 on top of 47A was Killing me. At some point, out of desperation, I wrote in the only Swedish name I could think of that fit for 47A: Swedish soprano noted for her Wagnerian roles: NILSSON. This was brilliant move #1, as it turned out to be right, and got me one step closer toward accepting the answer I wanted at 41D: Timecard abbr. (hrs.). When I imagined HRS into the grid, it gave me -H-LO for 40A: Gunsmith Remington, and even though the only PHILO I know is PHILO Vance, the detective in S. S. Van Dine mystery novels of the early 20th century, I thought "Why not?" - I still had to commit to CURLEW (43A: Cousin of the sandpiper) and PULE (40D: Whimper), two words that leaped to mind late but felt too absurd to be right. Once I had this whole tenuous mess in place, I looked at it and knew that it was right. It felt both entirely made-up and absolutely indisputable. And the puzzle was done. Final note on this section: even though I knew "sandpiper" was a bird, I thought multiple times about writing in CASHEW at 43A.

But that was not the only trouble spot by a long shot. Started fast in the NW with 1A: Pound sign letters (SPCA) and 15A: Galley output (chow) and 4D: Sounds of feigned sympathy (aws), then guessed ISH incorrectly at , wh34A: Ending like -like (-ine), which allowed me to drop (correctly) SCHEMATIC (1D: Techie's drawing) right down the NW coast. And then, for a while, nothing happened. Went over to the NE where I got the uncharacteristically easy FRAU (21A: Married woman abroad) and EVERT (12D: Winner of six U.S. Opens) with no trouble, and then - the most astonishing thing I did all puzzle long - I got MRS. MINIVER (16A: Title housewife in an Oscar-winning film) off just the "V" in EVERT. I have no idea what that movie was about or where that title came from, but there it was, and when crosses started proving it right, I was stunned. And then, for a while, nothing happened, because the long answer on top of MRS. MINIVER and the long answer underneath MRS. MINIVER would not coalesce into anything even remotely recognizable. One of the big problems up there was that set of short Downs. Kept switching between HMO (which I really wanted) and AMA (which I didn't) for 8D: Overseer of some practices: Abbr. Then back and forth between CIT (which I really wanted) and TIK (which I really didn't) for 9D: Summons: Abbr. To be fair (to me) TIK was a desperate guess brought on by one of my many preposterous guesses for the monumentally absurd clue that is 18A: Something damned with faint praise, in British lingo (curate's egg). I thought A BROKEN EGG might be right, hence the "K" that made me consider TIK. Then I was vacillating between -ENE (wrong) and -ANE (correct) for 10D: Hydrocarbon suffix. Turns out ENE, ANE, and INE are all in the puzzle. Hurray? Thankfully, I refused to give up MSRP (7D: Letters on a new car sticker), even though it was mocking me as potentially wrong for much of my NE journey. At some point, later in the puzzle, I finally got 11D: "Lose" at the office (misfile) by backing into it, which gave me the -MERA letter string I needed to recall the title I AM A CAMERA (5A: Play for which Julie Harris won the 1952 Tony for Best Actress). I have no idea how CURATE'S EGG finally made it into the grid, but it did. I am indebted to the word ARUMS (6D: Green dragon and skunk cabbage) for (finally) coming to me out of nowhere for no good reason and allowing me to pin down the NE once and for all.

The center and SW of this puzzle were a breeze by comparison. My other MRS. MINIVER moment (which is my new term for when a tough term you have no business knowing just falls in your lap - i.e. a Very good guess) came when I almost jokingly threw out AXIAL for 28A: Kind of skeleton or symmetry. I had the first "A" and that was it. But AXIAL skeleton and AXIAL symmetry sounded ... like something. "But that's absurd," I thought. "That gives me an "X" in this Down clue which ... hey ... wait ... no ... EXXON? Could 24D: Replacer of the Humble brand in the early 1970s really be EXXON? Let's see ... 30A: Rhapsodize = ... WAX POETIC! Yes yes yes!" Final MRS. MINIVER moment of the day: STOMP (44D: Jazz Age dance) which I got off the "T" from 48A: Rent (tore).

Grand Tour:

  • 17A: Burdens on some shoulders (hods) - if you are a mason, yes. I could think only of epaulets and organ grinders' monkeys. There is a 1918 movie called "Smashing Through" featuring a character called Hod Mason. Inaptly, he is a prospector.
  • 27A: Old-style call to arms (alarum) - most often seen (by me) in the stage directions of Renaissance drama.
  • 37A: Song title followed by the lyric "Lovers say that in France" ("C'est si bon") - mmm, Eartha Kitt. I wanted "C'est la vie" at first, but that was ... Robbie Nevil.
  • 42A: Croaking flier (raven) - it croaks? I like the RAVEN / CURLEW juxtaposition.
  • 44A: Titular author of two books of the Bible (St. Peter) - "Titular" is a funny word.
  • 50A: Crispy Twister sandwich offerer (KFC) - this puzzle is full of -er clue words. "Offerer," plus the aforementioned "replacer" and "overseer" and "flier," and then 31D: Some airplane runners (tail skids), 55D: Announcement carriers, for short (PAs), 3D: Indicators of intelligence? (code names), 38D: Small, furry African climber (tree rat). I can't believe that poor animal's actual, technical name is TREE RAT. Adam must have been really tired when he named that poor guy. "It looks like a rat, it's up in that tree ... TREE RAT. Next!"
  • 55A: Gila River native (Pima) - high-end Native American vocab. Nor ERIE or CREE or HOPI today.
  • 56A: Its currency unit is the ariary (Madagascar) - would have gotten this sooner if it had been clued as an animated movie.
  • 57A: Time of Ta'anit Esther (Adar) - does this rhyme with "Gay-dar," because it looks like it does. ADAR is my go-to Hebraic answer.
  • 58A: O. Henry specialty (plot twists) - seemed too obvious to be right, but there it was - first long answer I had in the SW.
  • 2D: Cell's lack (phone line) - took me a while to figure out which kind of "cell" was being referred to.
  • 5D: Response to "Don't panic" ("I'm calm") - wanted "I'm cool," but only after I wanted "Shut the @#$# up don't tell me what to do I'm trying to @#$# think here so that I can save our sorry asses from the meteor / killer shark / yeti / Huns / etc.!"
  • 26D: Process of nature by which all things change (tao) - man, I knew this one. Too bad I never saw this clue (that rarely happens on Saturdays).
  • 28D: One of a pair of biblical brothers (Aaron) - and Moses. AARON is known for his ROD (!).
  • 30D: Max who wrote "Politics as a Vocation" (Weber) - wanted WEBER, but then the title of the book sounded weirdly modern to my ears, so I resisted. My favorite Max in five letters is MAX POWER - the name Homer takes on after a popular TV cop also named "Homer Simpson" is retooled from hip and suave to comically buffoonish. After failing to convince the producers of the show to change the character's name, Homer decides to change his own:
After reading through a list of ridiculous names Homer gave him, including "Rembrandt Q. Einstein", "Handsome B. Wonderful", and "Hercules Rockefeller", the judge allows him to change his name to "Max Power" (which Homer got off a hair dryer and was the only name he spelled correctly). The family is surprised to learn of his name-change, but "Max" starts speaking of his new personality — dynamic, decisive, uncompromising and rude.

I am such a dork that I am laughing out loud just reading the summary of this episode at Wikipedia.

Good day.

Signed, Max Power, King of CrossWorld

PS I have noticed just this week a marked increase in robo-sites that are essentially stealing my words in order to direct traffic to their ridiculously ad-laden sites. Some of these sites simply lift my posts in their entirety. If you are still using Google to find me on a regular basis (and gajillions of you are, even regular readers), I would ask you simply to bookmark my site - your browser should have a menu heading that allows you to do this with ease. You can use your web browser bookmarks to access your favorite pages directly, without having to keep looking them up. So ... bookmark! And just come here directly - the completed grid will always be here (assuming it's after 9am on the date of puzzle publication), so any answer you don't have - whoop, there it is. Thanks.


ArtLvr 9:29 AM  

Rex, I enjoyed your commentary as much as the puzzle! It wasn't a difficult solve for me, most likely due to the age thing....

I had MADAGASCAR because of the "gas" in three small crosses: AGT, MAW, and "esp" -- the last being wrong, but corrected soon. Also found MRS MINIVER easily, but it took a while to get I'M CALM because so much else could finish the phrase, though in retrospect CALM is the best answer to "panic".

My last lettter was the first N in PHONE LINE, oddly, because I had thought of botanical cells with photosynthesis capabilities, etc. Oh wow, cell phones!

Great fun, and lots of neat old phrases -- could WAX POETIC!


Doris 9:41 AM  

Re 42A: Indeed, the raven doth croak! The Bard cometh to the rescue again!

Hamlet: Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge!

Lady Macbeth: The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements!

That's how I knew it, anyway. Poe's raven apparently just quoth, not croaketh.

ArtLvr 9:47 AM  

Doris -- wonderful quotation! Can you elucudate on CURATE'S EGG? Loved that one.... whatever.


Howard B 9:47 AM  

Rex, your path through the puzzle was almost exactly like mine, with a good portion of the same missteps and fortunate guesses. For me, MRS MINIVER was also the surprise answer that came from somewhere in the subconscious. I couldn't tell you much of anything about that film, and yet there it was.
Weird. Eerie. Weerie.

ArtLvr 9:51 AM  

(quotations, plural!)

Doris 9:54 AM  


Never heard the expression "curate's egg," but good old Wikipedia came to the rescue. I had worked it out but it was an accident that I got it. Then I looked it up:'s_egg

JC66 9:56 AM  

@sethg - and Jo Ann Pflug as his savior!!!

Wendy Laubach 9:58 AM  

I was often lost, but never quite stumped until I came to the end in North Dakota and the crossings of "Curate's Egg," "MSRP," and "arums." Arums sounded like some kind of plant family, but I had to take MSRP on faith (though now I suppose I remember "manufacturer's suggested retail price," and I've never heard the expression "Curate's Egg." I read now that it comes from a story about a junior churchman served a bad egg by a senior churchman at breakfast. Asked how it was, he stammers, "Parts of it were excellent!" Very nice.

Oddly, this one felt very difficult while yesterday's did not, but I find that today took only 4 minutes longer than yesterday -- a small percentage increase considering my overall time.

Wendy Laubach 10:05 AM  

PS, "Exxon" is a gimme for anyone who grew up in Houston, where the "Humble Building" of our childhood became the "Exxon Building" and then the "Enron Building," though I can't remember who owns it now.

Wendy Laubach 10:12 AM  

PPS, and then that's it for me for the day! What was I thinking? Humble and EXXON go with ENCO and ESSO, not Enron.

imsdave 10:16 AM  

Don't google, don't google I kept telling myself staring at an almost blank SE. Back to the NW - pheneline sounds biological to me - oh wait, it's a gag. OK. Don't google - ASL, great, that should do it - IS........ ISLEOFMAN? KFC seems like an abbr. to me, but try it anyway. Still stuck. Damn it, I just can't go over these again. Sigh - had to google PHILO, then everything fell into place. Really nice tough puzzle.

Wendy Laubach 10:24 AM  

OK, I lied, just one more. I had no idea arums and skunk cabbage were so interesting. A skunk cabbage is a little like a calla lily. It's one of the first flowers to appear in spring. Not only do the deep trumpets provide insects shelter from the wind, but a substance at the base actually provides its own heat. I didn't know plants could do that. Little heated insect-caves. And the bulb is called a "burrowing bulb," because it sends out a subsidiary bulb from the bottom, then contracts the connecting root and pulls the top bulb down. This plant is darn near an animal! I want one for my swamp!

ArtLvr 10:24 AM  

@ Doris and Wendy -- The Punch cartoon re "Curate's Egg" is delicious... thanks! Also glad to be reminded of the meaning of MSRP, and like KFC that will probably now stick in the gray cells.

Speaking of which, who didn't get a kick out of CODE NAMES for "indicators of intelligence", since recent indications are that spy-type Intelligence has been anything but? Went well with PLOT TWISTS though...


billnutt 10:30 AM  

First Saturday puzzle in WEEKS that I was able to solve without googling! I take particular pride in this fact because for the LONGEST time, I stared at a blank puzzle. Interestingly, one of my first answers (ESP) was WRONGSKI! Fortunately, I've read enough science fiction that I could think of PSI.

Thank goodness I thought of PULE (isn't "puling" in the "All the world's a stage" speech?) and finally accepted that NIELSON (my original answer for 47 across) could also be NILSSON. (Could use "Harry" in the clue, could you, Brad Wilson? No....)

CURATESEGG definitely gets the WTF award for the day.

I keep forgetting that Julie Harris created the part of Sally Bowles in I AM A CAMERA (later musicalized as CABARET).

Greer Garson won the Oscar as MRS. MINIVER, about a plucky British woman whose husband is off fighting the War. Since the movie came out in the midst of WWII, it was a really rallying point for the homefront. It's also noteworthy because Greer Garson's acceptance speech at the Oscar lasted about a HALF AN HOUR! Shortly thereafter, limits were set on aceptance speeches, which is why you get that music drowning out the final words of the Oscar-winning editors, cinematographers, etc.

I digress.

Challenging puzzle, but a worthwhile one. On to Sunday!

Oh, and as far as finding Rex's site without bookmarking? I type in "Rex Parker Times" in Google and hit "I Feel Lucky." (shouldn't there be a "punk" in there somewhere?) Works every time.

Belvoir 10:33 AM  

Toughie today. I wanted "NOT A BAD EGG" for faint praise..

I think "Plague" is kind of overblown as a clue for the triviality of NAG AT. The Black Death, locusts, - that's a plague, not wondering if you left the iron on at home.

jannieb 10:38 AM  

This puzzle left me puling! A real good entry for a Saturday. Loved code names and clown cars. My "Mrs Miniver" moment was in the opposite corner - I divined Madagascar from the D and G. I hate US Open clues - there's one for every sport. My first entry was Snead. Altho Frau quickly tode me that was wrong. Had the entire southern hemisphere done first. Then the NE (except the Dakotas), then the plains. Last (as always) was the NW, with phoneline my last fill. I kept trying botanical stuff - especially anything "photo" related, but nothing felt right. Tried hummers, then minions, before finally getting menials. PS - I actually worked with Birgit Nilsson once - but on Turandot, not anything Wagnerian. She was amazing.

PhillySolver 10:53 AM  

I had an interesting time solving this one last night. I knew Curates egg, Mrs Miniver, Madagascar, c'est ci bon and Shortstory. Oops, shortstory only gets you two downs. My last fill was getting LAUD instead of rave, which gave me a song from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, I'm Calm. I liked the reminder of one of the WWII HEROS at Iwo Jima (a PIMA Indian), comfortable shoes as a reason for Operatic success and my favorite flag in the world belongs to the Isle of Man. It really is a bit eerie though when you examine it.

@JANNIB, I have been owned by a string of Westies over the years and smile with each of your posts.

SethG 10:57 AM  

@JC66, only in the movie. In the book they gave the Pride of Hamtramck a blue ribbon, gave him a shot of benzedrine and a parachute, and dropped him eight feet from a helicopter into a waiting blanket.

This puzzle killed me. Think I equaled your feat of MRS MINIVER from just EVERT, (maybe MSRP too,) and correctly guessed WEBER, but that's about all I'm proud of.

I'd never heard of C'EST SI BON or I AM A CAMERA, don't remember CURATE'S EGG from Wodehouse (the source of all my British knowledge), and knew nothing about Renaissance drama or (embarrassingly) O. Henry. (Though I can talk about ALEPHs for hours...) In the end, I googled.

Now Max Power, on the other hand, him I did know. "They fight and bite and fight!"

imsdave 11:09 AM  

@jannieb - Something I know, finally. Sam Snead is notable in that for all of the success he enjoyed on the PGA tour - he never won a U.S. Open.

@phillysolver - enjoyed your Big Bertha remark the other day and have decided to try to construct a puzzle based on golf equipment. I continue to fail in my building efforts, but love the challenge.

p.s. sorry about my rambling post of frustration earlier, good for me, probably not so much for the rest of you.

bill from fl 11:10 AM  

This one was among the toughest that I've been able to solve without help. There were a lot of answers I didn't know or could only dimly recall. To make matters worse, I _knew_ Birgitte Nilsson, but confidently and completely misspelled her name. That hurt, because PHILO and CURLEW were totally new to me.

wade 11:25 AM  

The EXXON/WAXPOETIC cross was my first foothold in the puzzle. The center came easily from that, but the corners were hell. No idea how long it took me to do this one, probably well over an hour of actual butt-in-chair time--I got up and walked away a few times. My proudest moment was getting ISLEOFMAN off only the IS and the last letter (okay, there's not a whole lot else it could be, I know.) I finally had all but the SW--those three long answers just wouldn't come. I messed with my three-letter down answers for a long time and finally was about to give up and come here when I saw MADAGASCAR staring out of the blanks (after I'd been seeing GARAGESALE for a long time). Even after getting that and PLOTTWISTS, I had YAW instead of MAW and couldn't figure out the King Kong clue immediately. But I finished it, dang it.

Funny about the croaking RAVEN. I got it because of misremembering Poe. (In my mind I heard, "Croaked the raven, 'Nevermore!'") I also misremembered MRS.MINIVER as being based on a Graham Greene novel, getting that GG mixed up with Greer Garson. I liked puzzles that reward you for your impressionistic mind-wanderings.

Smitty 11:27 AM  

I googled my way shamelessly through this one but I was proud to get a lot on my own

Had FRAGILE EGO (damned with faint praise) til I looked up and found CURATES EGG

mike 11:30 AM  

Hardest puzzle for me in a while. FInally went to rex for the idaho, kansas, and georgia sections. I almost tried googleing, but I just gave up.

In my world there are different levels of cheating, with going to REX being to the worst, it is a total concession of being p3wned by the constructor.

Asking people in the room is totally fair especially since where I work there are only two other skilled solvers.

Looking at objects in the room is OK if they are in plain view and coincidental.

Looking at my cell dial pad for those number clues is a mild cheat. I almost looked at the pound sign today (it has no letters) but I went with SPCA and it was good.

I have a globe and use to consider it part of the room but have since moved it to the world of a definite cheat.

Dictionaries etc are almost up there with Going to REX.

The point of this is to respond to REX's complaint of being robo'd. I think most/some of use feel less p3wn'd if we google an clue instead of going to the grid. Which is why we still google first.

I think I will just do wiki search in the future. It is will feel better than using REX, or contributing to these robo sites.

Maybe a new metric for rex should be number of robo steals instead of google hits.

Ulrich 11:36 AM  

I also managed to get through this with "google lite", my term for checking a guess after I wrote it in as opposed to going for the answer outright--got Philo, curate's egg, arum that way. Tough, but fair puzzle.

Except: In Germany, nobody has been calling an unmarried woman a Fräulein for at least a decade--actually, some would consider this an insult nowadays. The Germans solved the Miss/Ms/Mrs conundrum the sensible way, i.e. by calling all grow-up women Frau, no matter what their married status is, as all grown-up men have been called Herr for ages, married or not. So, for Germany, the clue for "Frau" is hopelessly outdated (by at least a decade). I cannot call it outright wrong b/c I do not know the practice in Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

mike 11:37 AM  

8 down

Overseer of practices = AMA

this is wrong the AMA has no oversight role, it is glorified trade union/PAC

jls 11:40 AM  

>the most astonishing thing I did all puzzle long - I got MRS. MINIVER (16A: Title housewife in an Oscar-winning film) off just the "V" in EVERT.

and for me it was *just* the opposite! thank you "mrs. m."!

flat-out loved this puzzle, which required the overnight method of solving. but what a difference some sleep makes! ;-)

"c'est si bon" reminded me of the alan ("my son, the folksinger")sherman parody: "i see bones"...

happy saturday, all!


miriam b 11:43 AM  

This was a rich satisfying puzzle. I forgot to drink my coffee in ther process of solving it and am now sipping a bitter nuked version of same.

Some ramblings:

@rex, aka Max: Adar is pronounced ah-DAHR. During leap years, there's a second Adar.

@Billnutt: It's "Mewling and puking in his nurse's arms." I'd rather have PULE to deal with along with my breakfast.

The brother-in-law of a late relative is named PHILO. When my kids were in high school, two teachers - a married couple - had the surname CURLEW.

I had ISH at first for -like, and decided that OID was better, and eventually put it on the back burner when that failed to make sense. After a while INE emerged.

Jim in NYC 11:47 AM  

Loved the writeup (Homer Simpson! I'M CALM!) and the puzzle and all your comments.

Misleads: "shortstory" instead of PLOTTWISTS (why not clued as plural?) I've seen that painting in the PRADO but you know me and art museums, too fast, no context, no memory, so I first had to deal with "earth" and "hades" and other wrong dribble. Can't say I've ever heard "torpedoes" for HEROS (sandwiches I presume).

Hot buttons: ONARAMPAGE is decidedly politically incorrect for poor Kong's situation in NYC. How did our word for "name" become ENTITLE rather than "title"?

MSRP--We're increasingly seeing abbreviations clued as "letters on/for/of ..." rather than being clued as abbreviations.

Happy Saturday, all. Get outside!

Jim in Chicago 11:55 AM  

Lot's of problems today.

This is the second time this week I was done in by a saint. We had Saint Anne just yesterday, and now we have St. Peter. Today, the answer I put in was TIMOTHY, and I would argue that St. is an abbreviation, with nothing in the clue to indicate that.

For the O. Henry answer, I wavered for awhile over SHORTSTORY, which is the right number of letters, but would cause all kinds of other problems.

I got MRS MINIVER very early, but groaned since I always think of her a a troubled women walking back and forth on the seashore rather than as a "housewife". That IS the correct movie, right?

Never heard of "curate's egg", so that's something I learned today.

I never connected "phone line" with a cell phone until I read the blog and just figured it was just a particularly bad clue for one of the millions of things that prison cells don't have. Now it makes sense.

All in all, a challenging but fair Saturday puzzle. Oh - really liked the clue for PRADO.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

All of you puzzlers amaze me. I am a non-puzzle-solving English student of Rex Parker, and his wit and your wit (not the puzzles) keep me reading this blog (while I should be writing a paper on Paradise Lost for his class). Anyway, I post because no one has made the connection between PIMA and the Johnny Cash Song "Ira Hayes" ("From the land of the Pima Indians..."). Of course, the song plays off the WWII heroes at Iwo Jima and the empty life drunken Ira returns to after the war.

Jim in NYC 12:07 PM  

Abbreviations Dept.: I agree with my fellow Jim: I would argue that St. is an abbreviation, with nothing in the clue to indicate that.

Not so sure about KFC. WE know it's an abbreviation, but I believe Pepsico has now decided that the name is now the three letters, standing for nothing. Are we bound by that decision?

wade 12:19 PM  

anonymous rex student, I gotta take issue with characterizing "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" as a Johnny Cash song. Johnny Cash takes way too much credit for way too much stuff already. Peter Lafarge wrote it. JC did it, and his version is probably the most well known, but a lot of other people did it, too (pretty much every sixties folkie did a version, in fact.)

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

The fact that "Ira Hayes" is not a Cash song is not surprising, although it makes me sad :(. Of course, the same thing could be said for any Shakespeare plot, some Elvis songs, and tons of other hits by white musicians originally done by black musicians. Even Cash's last song, "Hurt," was originally a Nine Inch Nails song, although Cash's treatment far exceeds the NIN version. I have not heard the original version of "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," so thanks for enlightening me.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

I meant "Cash original" not "Cash song," as it obviously was a Cash song.

wade 12:36 PM  

anon, sorry if I sounded snappish--I didn't mean to. I just have a complicated relationship with JC. The Sun Records stuff is great (holding back temptation to expound here). It's Cash's eagerness to be beatified by anybody who would beatify him that irks me. I'm signing out for the day--I've taken up too much space on the board the last week or so and neglected my hygiene. But if you need a Paradise Lost paper, let me know. I know people.

Eli Barrieau 12:47 PM  

KFC is indeed now the name. It's no longer an abbreviation. It is much too hip an eatery to actually use words. Words are sooo 20th century.

I have no problem admitting to Rexing (I don't bother with Google - it'll all be here.) It's always nice to finish a hard Saturday, but it doesn't happen all the time. Oh well. I had never heard of I AM A CAMERA or many other entries today. That's not a source of shame. The shame comes in a fortnight when I will forget everything I've learned today.

Now, like Max Power, I could go for some Pad Thai.

Rex Parker 12:57 PM  

I like the connection between a beatified JC and Paradise Lost (which has its own JC).

And yes, be nice to my students or I'm going to have a @#$#ing heart attack, OK?


bill from fl 1:19 PM  

One weird coincidence helped me today: within the last week, on, one of the bits of conversation was about a guy who was trying to jam his way onto a subway train, and woman yells at him: "This is train, not a clown car!"

andrea carla michaels 1:50 PM  

Rex, I so agreed line for line with you again today, (except the whole baseball thing! ;)
I'm thinking of starting my own blog and having the only thing on the page say "See Rex Parker...sans sports metaphors")

The two problems I will admit to today are having ONTHELOOSE for way too long, and secretly hoping AMOK would appear...
and at one point with ISL____AN i tried to remember if ISLAMABAD was a) a country or a city and
b)if there was a way the name Douglas could EVER be connected...

Props to any puzzle with the word CLOWNCAR...and thanks to bill from fl about!

PS I didn't get Buds/MACS connection till this second.

andrea carla michaels 1:52 PM  

By the way, having KFC just the other day (in the puzzle, not in real life, I would never step foot in there, the smell alone!) was helpful.
As for repeating clues, like NABES, when I first started solving a million years ago, I was convinced there was one word repeated from the day before each day and I honestly thought that was part of an intended construction/cluing rule!

JC66 2:04 PM  

I thought today's puzzle was a bear. I was able to finish in over an hour with much Googling: IAMACAMERA, NILSSON, PHILO, etc. and to confirm CURATESEGG. So, tough, but. for some reason. not really satisfying.


Thanks for all the M*A*S*H info. I never read the book, but I think I'd prefer Jo Ann Pflug to a blanket :-).

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Thanks for the funny talk-through. I, too, wanted to be "cool," until I came across %$#%# "Curate's Egg" and then became "more than upset."

Jane Doh 2:30 PM  

A beautiful thing is this puzzle. C'est si bon. C'est si intelligent.

Must have been hard to clue -- not too much word play today. Especially loved the clues for SPCA, CODE NAMES, CLOWN CARS, and CIDERS.

A perfect puzzle week.

Norm 2:37 PM  

Ouch, ouch, ouch. I am bruised, bloodied, and be-something-or-othered. I actually did okay on this puzzle -- except for the NW. I had SPCA and even SCHEMATIC, but just kept staring at it for ... not hours but at least 20 minutes ... until I finally got it. Kept trying different "-like" endings and kept winding up in dead ends. Finally deleted everything and kept repeating CELL like a mantra until all finally became clear. It took me three hours to recover enough to post this comment. Ouch, ouch, and ouch again.

joe 2:38 PM  

Too abstruse for me. A four-googler.

chefbea1 3:08 PM  

what a hard puzzle. Finally gave up. Rex - your blog and Google are my first two bookmarks. Now to read what everyone has said before I try to make a KFC crispy twister out of some Philo dough

imsdave1 3:29 PM  

Chefbea1 - too funny - I must admit to the flaw of actually enjoying 'orignal recipe' Kentucky Fried Chicken' - hate the extra crispy crap, but prefer all of your recipes.

jae 3:44 PM  

Very tough and an overnight for me also. Needed my bride's help with CURLEW and ARUM. Also had SHORTSTORY and ESP for a while, as well as MAD for IRE. MRSMINIVER came early but I've never heard of CURATESEGG or the Harris play so NE was the last to fall for me. It was nice to guess right on NILSSON, AXIAL, and PIMA.

@andrea: I've also noticed that answers often show up in close proximity and wondered if it is intentional?

kate 3:49 PM  

I did the north half and found it enjoyably challenging. I know movies and plays so MRSMINIVER and IAMACAMERA were pretty easy, and SPCA and CHOW helped me get SCHEMATIC and PHONE LINE. But the south was a total bear for me, and eventually I gave up.

Now that I see CLOWNCAR I'm mad at myself, I should have gotten at least *that* fergawdsake, plus, I had the I and S of ISLEOFMAN so I should have been able to figure that it was an island or isle.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

A "five-googler" for me, but I finished -- and on the same day! Yeah, MRS MINIVER pooped out of nowhere, sorta like Samantha's mother-in-law Endorra! Heehee. But alas, I had to wiki the history of Remington and Sons to fill in PHILO, son of Eliaphet...whoa! Rex, your *&%$#-filled rant on "don't panic" had me rolling! Maybe due to the Maleska-esque feel of the puzzle, my reply for "don't panic" was "I musn't" for ever so long. And its really fun to see one of your students visiting! How cool is that?!? A beatified Johnny Cash in Paradise Lost.... sounds like a million-dollar idea for a re-make of "Jesus Christ Superstar"

Rock Rabbit

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

OOOPS! Mrs Miniver POPPED out of nowhere, not POOPED.....


dk 4:37 PM  

"Tough puzzle" puled Tom.

Curlew, Madagascar and Nilsson killed us this am.

I was happy to see KFC emerge as a new reoccurring clue (not).

Thank you all for the croaking raven info. Again, this site should offer a degree.

"It is snowing here in Mpls, MN" croaked the raven.

JimHorne 4:52 PM  

The New York Times has an odd relationship with initials in company names. The world may use KFC but that holds no water.

I first ran across this with IBM. That company used to be called International Business Machines and I.B.M. was the abbreviation. Now, the company is just IBM and it officially doesn’t stand for anything yet the NYT, following its wacky style guide, continues to refer to I.B.M. which, according to official business records, doesn’t even exist.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Here's a robo-site.
Looks like Microsoft grabbed you ... first JimH and now you!

green mantis 6:21 PM  

So...I guess I'm the only one who had "Pirate's Egg," huh. It's still cracking me up. I totally blew the Great Lakes region because I finally dropped in "trim" for the plants, thinking maybe they were ornamentals best suited for, um, trim. Then, unable for the life of me to figure out a response to "Don't panic!" I surrendered to the godawful--wait for it--"I'm pale."

Yeah. I'm pale. Sometimes my brain just hits the wall and nothing comes. That said, I'm liking Pirate's Egg a lot. We have a pirate supply store here in San Francisco ("San Francisco's Only...").

They sell glass eyes, peg legs, and yellowed parchment-looking signs that say things like,

"Things To Do Today:

Meet new people."

fergus 6:47 PM  

Well, I took a little nap after "finishing" this puzzle with a PIRATE'S EGG still sitting in the grid. I was surprised as well that no one had come up with that, until the Green Mantis signed on. So, did you have MINIONS, too, instead of MENIALS?

I'm sorry if I read through all the commentary too quickly to notice whether TONAL for Center of Industry and the PSI for Telepathy, e.g. were explained. I don't understand either.

Where in SF is the Pirate Store? When I was in Seattle recently I saw another interesting business entitled The Space Travel Supply Shop. Great window display and lots of good signs.

Walkuere 7:00 PM  

This puzzle made me so happy. I've loved Birgit Nilsson's Wagner singing for many years, and ravens are my favorite bird. I also giggled when my first thought for "like King Kong in NYC" turned out to be the answer. This puzzle took me a while, but I felt I'd accomplished something worthwhile when I finished.

PuzzleGirl 7:09 PM  

I toyed with the idea of PIRATE'S EGG too, green, so you're definitely not alone.

My first "don't panic" response was I'M FINE, said in the same tone as Rex's "Shut the @#$# up" rant -- "I'm fine, dammit! Leave me alone!"

I also wanted "REALLY REALLY FAST" for "Like Olympic races." (Like Calvin says: "These idiots make you write real small.")

I wanted Mrs. Robinson to fit in MRS. MINIVER's place. What? Mrs. Robinson wasn't titular? I beg to differ....

Ulrich 7:23 PM  

To all to whom "I am a Camera" means nothing: It's the play on which the movie "Cabaret" with Liza Minelli was based (I assume Julie Harris played the part of Sally Bowles in the play). The play, in turn, was based on the "Berlin Stories" by Christopher Isherwood.

Michael 7:42 PM  

This one was really hard for me. I couldn't even get the NW with googling. Count me in the "pirate's egg" group. "Curate's egg" is news to me.

I did better on the infamous Klahn puzzle last December.

Win some, lose some, I guess.

jae 7:58 PM  

@fergus -- If you haven't already realized it you have confused clues (something I do frequently, unfortunately). 35d is Center.. HIVE, while 45d is like much music TONAL.

Bill from NJ 9:55 PM  

I am a big Julie Harris fan and got IAMACAMERA as a gimme. Nice way to start a puzzle, with 10 letters across the top. Two other gimmes MSRP EVERT produced MRSMINIVER out of what seemed like mid air.

The same mid air produced the King Kong clue ONARAMPAGE with NO LETTERS AT ALL! I confirmed this with the downs TONAL AGT MAW before filling it in. I was thinking of plot twists when I first read the OHenry clue and, lo and behold, there was TW in the answer! I got MADAGASCAR from STOMP and there I sat (on a Saturday yet!) with 5 of the 9 stacked clues.

I think I've used up my quota of exclamation marks. I moved in a scissors manuever up the coast of California into the NW, with the C in CESTSIBON/WEBER producing SCHEMATIC, and the W in WEBER producing WAXPOETIC/EXXON. leading me back into the NE.

It took about half an hour to develop the NW corner. I was particularly proud of getting CODENAMES PHONELINES, parsing out the true meaning of "cell".

This left me with all the West filled in, most of the Delmarva Pennisula and a vaccuum in the SE.

Having gone to school in Arizona, I was able to gain a toehold in the SE right away with PIMA, followed by ADAR KFC PAS and ASL, guessed like Rex on NILSSON, worried out PHILO, and finally got out with CLOWNCARS.

I was in a little over an hour and was faced with British slang that ended in EGG. I hadn't Googled up to that point and, by God, I wasn't going to start! (oops). I finally put in CURDLESEGG which I knew to be wrong and went to bed, waiting for Rex's blog to come out at 9AM. Which it did. And I discovered my errors.

Two things:

I seem to remember that Kentucky Fried Chicken had its name changed in the late 80s because they were worried the word "fried" in their name was costing them business because of health concerns.

Seven or eight years ago, I saw Julie Harris in "The Belle of Amherst" at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. One of Emily Dickinson's poems opened with particular interest to crossword solvers:

I never saw a Moor . . .
I never saw the sea . . .
And yet know I how the
Heather looks
and what a wave must be.

fergus 10:05 PM  

Thanks, JAE. A bout of dyslexia sure doesn't help on a Saturday. I'm amazed I could continue to misread that Clue number. At least I knew it was a Down.

imsdave 10:26 PM  

Thanks, Bill from NJ, a bit of Emily Dickinson is always comforting.

mike 11:02 PM  

I had PIRATESEGG, IMCOOL, IMFNE, PHONEWIRE, MENIONS, ARIAS, CLEANCARS. All seemed plausible. I think the misdirections is part of what makes this puzzle hard. Not to mention the obsucre alternatives. I found this harder than the December Klanhn too. I like to think I could have gotten CLOWNCAR and ARUMS, but had no chance for CURATESEGG, or CURLEW. LAUD was an incredibly easy miss for me.

mike 11:12 PM  

No one commented on my accusation the the AMA clue was wrong. I am not an uniformed unhappy outsider. I am an unhappy card carrying member of the AMA and so should have some credibility when I say that it has no oversight role. In the medical field oversight is provided by individual medical specialty boards, and the sate boards of medicine.

PuzzleGirl 11:14 PM  

Well, as long as you're not uniformed. ;-)

Barb in Chicago 11:34 PM  

@ Mike -- I used to work at the AMA, so I'll back you up on the "no oversight" remark. I've noticed that if you know a lot about a subject, crossword clues can throw you off because they're either wrong or kinda half wrong/half right (like Frau, today, also).

I slogged through today, comig back to the puzzle after breaks for brain R&R. Got everything except Philo and Curate's egg. Was stumped by Philo because I substituted "mule" for "pule" (not realizing that the mule I wanted is spelled "mewl."

Joon 11:36 PM  

this puzzle kicked my ass pretty thoroughly, but i'm pleased at having finished it. i did have two bad crossings. one was just careless (TORN instead of TORE, and didn't really check the crossing nonsensical TRENRAT). the other... well, i've never heard of MRSMINIVER, and so i put in MRSBINIVER. the ABA oversees legal practices. (not sure about whether it "really" oversees anything, and i won't get into the AMA mess.) in retrospect, that one was pretty bad too, because MINIVER is actually, you know, what some people are named. or at least, MINIVER cheevy, child of scorn, of e.a. robinson fame.

i loved two things about this puzzle:

1. CLOWNCARS. that had me cracking up. god, clown cars are funny. great clue, great answer.

2. EXXON, with AXIAL stacked on WAXPOETIC. very nice.

i had a strange experience with this puzzle. the SW came almost instantly, and then the center. then incredibly long stretches of nothing. in the SE i picked up CLOWNCARS and ISLEOFMAN off of the first two letters, but i had serious problems with TAILSKIDS (is that even a thing?) and the same three acrosses that rex did. but i eventually got it.

the NE was even harder. IAMACAMERA, MRSMINIVER... these meant nothing to me. eventually i did get the last three downs, so when EGG showed up i quickly filled in CURATESEGG. why do i know this expression? about a year ago a friend of mine asked me if i had ever heard of it. i said no. he told me what it meant and that he planned to use it as often as possible. he hasn't used it to this day, that i know of, but there it was in my saturday crossword. after that, i actually got the whole NE (except for the M in MINIVER, as mentioned).

the NW was last, not because it was hardest but because i had the most false starts over there. BLUEPRINT at 1D (though that was quickly nixed), for starters. AHS for AWS. HOT for IRE (is IRE really a verb? i thought it was IRK); both RAVE and GUSH for LAUD; IMFINE or IMOKAY or eventually IMCOOL for IMCALM. TIGHT for TIMED. etc. but yeah, it was pretty satisfying to work it out eventually.

i actually take issue with the clue for LAUD. LAUD is a transitive verb, and the clue is an intransitive verb phrase. it seems to fail the substitution test. anybody else feel this way?

mike 11:36 PM  

I'm not uniformed. I meant uninformed. Spell checkers don't catch properly spelled words. :-)

Karmasartre 12:37 AM  

@jimhorne -- What? No I.B.M.? Did they do away with the I.B.M. OS/2 Fiesta Bowl, too? What about the Easter Bunny?

roro 8:27 AM  

had Cyranosegg for a while which seemed to fit nicely with faint praise

Lynn in Va Beach 6:18 PM  

Am I the only one in the puzzle universe who, on my first go-round, thought "Like King Kong in New York City" (Saturday, 51A) was "on a bad date"?

Bill D 10:09 PM  

Pulled the overnighter on this one myself. Having been there, my first long answer was ISLE OF MAN without crosses!

[Douglas is a quaint little (very little!) seaside town with a promenade ending in a low sea wall fronting the town. They still run horse-drawn trams along the promenade. Actually, old-timey transportation was the reason for the trip - steam trains, electric trolleys, horse trams. I took an electric tram driving lesson, which sent me out on the main line for 45 minutes - have the graduation certificate to prove it. Good times!]

Back to the puzzle - IOM & MRS MINIVER turned out to be of little help. CLOWN CARS came to me in my sleep, which may not be as strange as it sounds as I used to work for a circus, and "clown car" is a staple act.

Hero sandwiches are sometimes called torpedoes, especially in NY/NJ where the long Italian roll they are served on is known as a torpedo roll. Other local names I have heard of for submarine sandwiches are hoagie and grinder.

I had actually heard of CURATE'S EGG, but my assumption of its derivation was faulty. I understood it to mean something that was "good in parts", so I assumed it was a museum curate they were talking about and the egg was a paleontological specimen, like a cracked dinosaur egg. It did not help that my familiarity came from reviews of model kits, and I assumed the reviewer was using a double-entendre on "good in parts", ie, the kit looks good while still in pieces, but is difficult to assemble properly.

CAlady 2:19 PM  

A toughie, but goodie! Eventually got almost all of it, though a lot was from saying "that looks like it could be." Only unsolved mess-up came from misspelling Nilsson-never heard of the lady, but the result was that I couldn't get ciders-maybe if we had cold winters?
Did anyone else think of Candid Camera-first thing I thought when camera showed up-gee, a play about Alan Funt? Finally got it, but thought "I A Camera" was a book title. A little knowledge....

TimM 3:06 PM  

Rex -

I can tell you're more sophisticated than I, since you go to Eartha Kitt when you see "C'est Si Bon", and I go straight to Stan Freberg.


Homer: Kids, there's three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way.

Bart: Isn't that the wrong way?

Homer: Yeah, but faster!

penny 4:07 PM  

Mrs. Miniver was an American propaganda film, set in England, with Americans playing "ordinary" English people. However, they were stinking rich, and, curiously enough, in the middle of rationing, were able to buy fancy hats (for her) and a sports car (for him). At a time when petrol (gas) was severely rationed, new cars virtually extinct, no luxuries existed, they ate unavailable I need to go on? The film might have won an Oscar in America, but generally ticked off the natives!
Just thought you might like to know. I do find it comforting that, today, nobody remembers it!
Penj. (Originally British.)

Anonymous 5:50 PM  


As a Brit ex-pat, I have a totally different take on MRS. MINIVER. First of all, most people I know from the old country cherish the film as a masterpiece and a rallying point during the darkest days of WWII - it certainly hasn't been forgotten. Also, of the main stars, Greer Garson was English and Walter Pidgeon was Canadian from New Brunswick - hardly American!

embien 1:57 AM  

A TAILSKID(s) is that non-wheeled plate under the tail of many smaller planes. They have two landing wheels, but just a skid at the back. (More prevalent in the days of non-paved landing strips, I suppose.)

I blew up in the NW because I had RRR for 19A "Navigation abbreviation"(Red Right Return, a boating term, where you keep the red buoys/markers on your right as you "return" inbound through the harbor) and AHS instead of AWS for the sound of feigned sympathy.

Sure wanted 5D Response to "Don't Panic" to have something to do with Hitchhiker's Guide, maybe a towel?

Yancy 8:12 AM  

Never did get NW as I insisted it was imcool with rappel as the call to arms. And, never once thought of a cell phone. Had to throw in the towel, sadly.

penny 1:50 PM  

Oh dear, poor Anonymous: you missed my point about "Mrs. Miniver" being forgotten: I was referring to the comments on the blog. Also, although I stand corrected on Walter Pidgeon's nationality, to the average English ear, there is no difference between a Canadian and an American accent. I still wonder why a British actor was not used. Yes, indeed, the film was a smashing success both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain, "Mrs. Miniver" was a popular serial in The Times, I believe, so it was a little like putting "Mrs. Dale's Diary" on film. However, the propaganda value of the film in America was greatly appreciated by both by Mr. Roosevelt and by Mr. Churchill. The latter made a comment at the time, which I shall have to paraphrase as my memory is not perfect, to the effect that the film was worth six divisions to him in its effect on American public opinion.
Can we now consider the subject closed?

jpchris 2:04 PM  

I don't get 24A: Call (entitle). "I'm going to entitle home and see what we need."? "I"ll entitle you and raise you $5."?

miriam b 2:23 PM  

@jpchris: I think it refers to something which has a name, as in "The book is entitled 'Through the Looking Glass'."

I mention that particular book because I've always loved the following exchange between Alice and the White Knight, during which he turns the art of semantics on its ear, though he never actually uses the word "entitled".


"...The name of the song is called 'Haddocks' Eyes'!"

"Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?" Alice said, trying to feel interested.

"No, you don't understand," the Knight said, looking a little vexed. "That's what the name is called. The name really is, 'The Aged Aged Man.'"

"Then I ought to have said "That's what the song is called'?" Alice corrected herself.

"No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called 'Ways and Means': but that's only what it is called you know!"

"Well, what is the song then?" said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

"I was coming to that," the Knight said. "The song really is "A-sitting on a Gate": and the tune's my own invention."

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