Thursday, April 17, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CHARLTON / HESTON (17A: With 18-Across, "In the Arena" autobiographer)

Wow, you don't normally see Byron Walden's work on a Thursday. He's usually more of a torture-you-on-Friday-or-Saturday kind of guy. But I guess if you're going to do a tribute to Moses, you gotta bring out the heavy hitters. Byron's puzzles are almost always first-rate, and this is no exception. Like any good tribute, most of the attention here is on the honoree, the recently deceased Mr. HESTON, and his movies. I was very impressed not just at the number of movies Byron managed to squeeze in, but at the fact that the movies involved all featured iconic roles for HESTON. Luckily for us, Byron didn't plumb the dregs of HESTON'S oeuvre to get films that would fit. It would have been painful, for instance, to see "The Pigeon That Took Rome" or "Airport 1975" in this puzzle alongside the likes of "EL CID" and "BEN-HUR." Sadly, there was no room for "Soylent Green" or "Touch of Evil," but it's just one puzzle. It can only do so much.

Theme answers:

  • 27A: 1956 movie starring 17- and 18-Across, with "The" ("Ten Commandments")
  • 39A: 1961 movie starring 17- and 18-Across ("El Cid")
  • 44A: 1968 movie starring 17- and 18-Across ("Planet of the Apes")
  • 58A: 1959 movie starring 17- and 18-Across ("Ben-Hur")
  • 60A: 1971 movie starring 17- and 18-Across, with "The" ("Omega Man")

I could not get the applet at the Times's site to accept my grid this morning, which was completely maddening. Even checking my grid against another blogger's grid, I could not see my mistake. . . until I realized that I had a handwriting problem: I had written, correctly, YEW and OWES at 42D: Material for Voldemort's wand, in Harry Potter books and 47A: Isn't in the clear?, respectively. But I wrote the "W" so close to the left side of the box, that unless you look very closely, it looks only like the letter "N." Which gave me what appeared to be YEN and ONES, which, as you can see, are not words that stand out to you as wrong. I wonder if Sahra (my 7-year-old) knows what Voldemort's wand is made of - I'm going to bet 'no.' She knows her Harry Potter, but that's a bit arcane, even for her. I'm going to go ask her ...

And here's the transcript of that conversation:

Me: "Hey, Sahra honey, do you know what Voldemort's wand is made of?"
Sahra: "Phoenix feather."
Me: "Yeah, but do you know what the wand itself is made of?"
Sahra: "Wood"
Me: "Do you know what kind of wood?"
Sahra, without hesitation: "Wand wood."

Then I explained to her that it was YEW and that that was an answer in today's crossword and then I think the conversation ceased to hold interest for her.

There were a few answers that were completely new to me today. Let's start with BEIGE BOX (1A: Run-of-the-mill computer, in tech slang). Never heard the phrase. It makes sense - i.e. it's very descriptive. I can visualize said computer very easily. Are the non-run-of-the-mill computers different colors? Like those early iMacs that came in (almost) every color of the rainbow? Next, there's TOO NEW (65A: Jarringly unfamiliar). Hey, you know what's TOO NEW? This answer. Zing! Seriously, folks, this is a phrase? I thought ALL NEW at first. Managed to get EDISON (16A: Town near Metuchen, N.J.) despite knowing nothing about it. Lastly, in the unknown category, is ALP, a supremely common crossword answer. I know what an ALP is, obviously, but the clue threw me: 62D: Jungfrau, for one. I had the AL- and put in ALE, certain that I had seen or heard of such a brand of alcoholic beverage before. Is it at least mildly ironic that a mountain named "Maiden" or "Virgin" has not only been climbed before, but has a railroad running through it? As for my thinking ALE instead of ALP, I think I had this fairly local brewery in my head, causing the interference.

Other stuff:

  • 9A: Part of a dirndl (bodice) - remembered "dirndl" as a skirt, thus did not consider BODICE as an answer for a while.
  • 25A: Some scullers' trophies (oars) - kind of a bulky thing to keep in a trophy case.
  • 36A: Barnaby Jones portrayer (Ebsen) - Get him confused with EPSOM - the salts and the English race track - all the time.
  • 37A: "Taking Heat" memoirist Fleischer (Ari) - White House spokesman in Bush's early days. Man, my computer does not like the word "memoirist" at all. Angry red line underneath.
  • 43A: Alternative nickname for the Gloved One (Jacko) - ew, did people really call him "the Gloved One?" I know he wore that silly solitary glove for a while, but ... something about that phrase is creepy.
  • 49A: Transnational cooperation (axis) - wow, the clue sounds so positive, and the answer so negative. That disconnect threw me for far too long.
  • 52A: Country with a five-sided flag (Nepal) - had a girlfriend once who studied there for a semester, so I know a few facts about NEPAL. This was not one of them. Whoa, I was expecting a pentagon, but no:
  • 64A: Throw the flag on, so to speak (penalize) - just the gimme I needed in the SE, complementing perfectly (and symmetrically) the gimme I needed in the NW: ACT ALONE (15A: Not have an accomplice).
  • 66A: Textbook offerings (examples) - stared at EXAMELES for a while because of the whole ALE-for-ALP debacle (see above).
  • 1D: "English Suites" composer (Bach) - I own more music by Bach than by any other classical composer (save maybe Beethoven and R. Strauss). And yet, and I'm not kidding, it was not until I started this write-up that I realized BACH was the BACH. I figured he was some "English" guy I just hadn't heard of.
  • 4D: Long-snouted fish (gar) - a great great crossword fish.
  • 6D: Bench warmer? (bottom) - thought the clue was going to send me in the direction of Johnny Bench for a while.
  • 9A: Like Sydney Carton at the end of "A Tale of Two Cities" (beheaded) - great clue / answer. Gruesome, but great.
  • 63A: Tabitha's grandmother on "Bewitched" (Endora) - my favorite character on this fabulous show. ENDORA is the original drag queen.
  • 13D: Masked critter (coon) - I guess "critter" tells you we're in the land of vernacular, hence the clipped COON.
  • 14D: Elevated Sicilian city (Enna) - with a name like ENNA, you (and I) had better remember it for future crossword reference.
  • 24D: Ellipsis component (dot) - tripped at first thinking the clue said "ellipse" - wanted ARC.
  • 31D: Grading gamut (ABCDF) - cheap or genius? You be the judge.
  • 33D: Little shaver's conveyance (trike) - "Little shaver," HA ha. Answer should be TRIKE ... IN THE 1950S.
  • 39D: Like sushi fish, typically (eaten raw) - perfect. And tasty.
  • 40D: German tennis star Tommy (Haas) - I'm more familiar with his American counterpart, actor Lukas.
  • 46D: State capital originally called Crabtown (Helena) - possibly the best idea Montana ever had, this renaming. "We're thousands of miles from the ocean ... let's call ourselves Crabtown!" "Hurray! Yee haw! [gunshots into the air]"
  • 49D: Support in skullduggery (abet) - ABET is exceedingly common, but this may be the best clue it's ever received.
  • 53D: Ring of the Fisherman wearer (Pope) - something to do with Christ making his apostles "fishers of men," I'm guessing. Too lazy to look it up.
  • 55D: Czech runner Zatopek (Emil) - shows up a surprising lot in xwords. I've even seen ZATOPEK in the puzzle once.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[drawing by Emily Cureton]


Pope Jacko 8:41 AM  

It may gave been called Crabtown because of hygene issues.

Jenny 9:01 AM  

I'm brand new to crosswords. I was never intrigued before but have decided it is part of pushing myself from smart to scary-smart. I'm still getting into a groove of how to solve the puzzles, you really have to think differently I think. Anyway, your blog is helping me when I'm completely stuck (although I try not to go there).

Rex Parker 9:07 AM  

@jenny, glad to be of help. It's always been my dream to have a blog that people try Not to go to :)


jls 9:09 AM  

fell into the same trap with "jungfrau" -- and "dirndl" -- the former being more troublesome than the latter. whole puzzle was *really* going well til the lower se.

ah, chuck! we'll miss yer jaw (if not yer [non-scripted] jawin'...)



jls 9:23 AM  

jungfrau again -- seems it turns up as a mixed drink made of blue curacao and o-saft (a non-alcoholic mixer):

bottoms up



PhillySolver 9:40 AM  

@ jls

Please be careful when you post a list like the one of drinks. First, if crossword constructors find it, some of those weird names may well end up in a Saturday puzzle from hell. Second, any site that prescribes Red Bull as an ingredient is clearly demented. :-)

@ anonymous
Actually I know this one...Crabtown was named after one of the four guys who founded the town when they were finding minerals (gold) in them thar' hills...John(?) Crab.
It was renamed after their home town in Minnesota, but they thought the weather was horrible and started to pronounce it 'HELL in a'
rather than the more common hellena.

A fine puzzle, but it was one of the fastest solves for a Thursday for me ever.

Ulrich 9:40 AM  

Two surprises for me: Easy for a Thursday and then from Byron--who couldda thunk it?

Re. dirndl: it's not only the skirt, it's the whole dress, worn by Bavarians, who are considered Germans in some parts of the world--to the never-ending annoyance of the rest of us :-)

The only reason I couldn't get really into the puzzle is the theme--I'm soooo not a Chuck Heston fan (and no, it's not b/c of his politics). I considered him somewhat of a joke as an actor. Perhaps I never forgave him for being the only weak link in one of my favorite movies, Touch of Evil, by playing the most unconvincing Mexican I have ever seen. But as they say, De mortuis...

@Rex: You got the Jungfrau bit down pat LOL

Pete M 9:40 AM  

I fell into the ALE trap as well. Lots of clue pairs that were one-letter apart: XENA/XENO, ONES/OWES, GAM/GAR, not to mention the nice ACLU/NCAAP combo.

Re: COON. Years ago, my wife and I were driving to see the Red Sox for a spring training game (back when they were still in Winter Haven), and we passed this funeral home.

After yesterday's EmJo offering, I found myself cringing just a bit to encounter a puzzle with CHARLTON HESTON crossing BEHEADED... :)

- Pete M

treedweller 9:44 AM  

SE was sticky for me, too. Penalize finally broke it for me.

PhillySolver 9:57 AM  

@ Rex

The link to the Pope and his Fisherman ring was pretty easy, but I had no knowledge of the details behind it so I looked it up for you/us. The Pescatorio is part of the official Pope's regalia and a new gold one is created for each Pope. The previous one is crushed in front of certain church officials to keep it from being fraudulently used for its original purpose which was to imprint in the wax seal those decrees and letters from the Pope. You were correct that the ring reflects the Pope's commitment to be fishers of men, but it also represents the fact that Peter, the first Pope or Omega Man churchwise, was a fisherman.

Pete M 9:58 AM  

Btw, I've been in computers for 20+ years and I needed the crossings to get BEIGEBOX. I had the -BOX part right away, but S*%T just wouldn't fit.

PhillySolver 9:58 AM  

ooops, that would be Alpha Man. I guess it was all Greek to me.

Joon 10:03 AM  

rex, that nepal flag is a pentagon. any 5-sided polygon is a pentagon. it's just not a regular pentagon with pleasing 108-degree angles.

sweet puzzle today. i, too, was caught off guard by a) byron on a thursday, and b) byron that was quite a bit easier for me than most thursdays. but a lot of good stuff here.

i knew voldemort's wand material. but sahra has no reason to be ashamed--the fact that it's yew is totally trivial, whereas the fact that it has a phoenix feather core is critical to the plot of both goblet of fire and deathly hallows.

ABCDF: i'll go with cheap, but i still have a sneaking admiration for it. i like it a whole lot more than your everyday alphabetic run, i'll tell you that.

any use of the word "skullduggery" is a welcome one. i wonder if it's been a puzzle answer.

speaking of disconnect between positive- and negative-sounding clue/answer pairs, how can you have nothing to say about CONSIST? that clue was completely ingenious, with more than a touch of evil. exist? don't exist? exist!

Teresa 10:04 AM  

I surpised myself by getting this done before heading out to work. I got Charlton Heston with just the C. Must be a magical day...usually I'm a julie-come-lately on the puzzles. Really enjoyed it. Loved the Yew answer - had to go through the alphabet for it.

Stalky 10:05 AM  

i don't get the answer to 57d georges. the rest wasn'+ too bad. just goes to show you how we all get stuck at different places.

PhillySolver 10:15 AM  

George Washington appears on One Dollar Bills.

Jim in Chicago 10:24 AM  

I also got Charleton very early on, so found this puzzle on the easy side, but it would have been a different matter if I hadn't.

I was wondering about the vernacular COON, but accept the idea that "critter" in the clue makes this OK.

Loved BEHEADED although I did spill a bit of coffee at that point.

My one quibble is 21D "Are made up" with the answer CONSIST. I don't feel like the answer quite follows the clue and I'd have rather seen "Are made up OF".

Wade 10:26 AM  

Easy but nice puzzle. Am I the only for whom "five-sided flag" conjured a three-dimensional image, e.g., some sort of box kite? ("Don't all flags have only two sides?" I thought.) I dig Nepal. I got a thing for sherpas.

I detest the word "nosh." It's worse than "smores," another hated word. My most hated word is one my wife's family uses: "morish," as in "These potato chips are morish" (as in you can't eat just one.) Maybe it's a Britishism. Keep it across the pond, I say.

Pete M 10:32 AM  

@Jim: Problems with "ARE MADE UP OF" is that then you have to clue it as "Consists of", which is a no-no, since the word "of" would appear in both the clue and answer. A common format would be to clue it as "Consists (of)", and I'm a little surprised it wasn't used. I think in an earlier week puzzle it would have been.

- Pete M

John 10:34 AM  

I declared myself done after having a heck of a time with the NE. Had BOMECI as a guess for 9A, not knowing the Sicillian city, MIStakenly having MISUSE instead of DISUSE and thinking that the believers referred to in 12D were ESTS (that human potential movement thing). And I had No Idea what a dirndl was -- assumed it was a form of currency from a far off land, and BOMECI was a dirndl's equivalent of the dollar's pennies.

How wrong can a guy be in such a small space????

ArtLvr 10:35 AM  

@ stalky -- sounds like one-dollar bills to me, though I never heard of Georges! I just accepted that it had to fit....

Also wondered about JACKO, I suppose that's Dempsey? One certainly learns a lot of weird things here every day! Also finally figured out the sports image in throwing the flag, I think, but I always thought the referee was tossing a hanky. That went nicely with the obscure NEPAL flag clue.

Many thanks to pope jacko for the "hygiene issues" suggestion for Crabtown -- too funny, in fact wholly hysterical. BEHEADED, not so much and highly unbreakfasty... But it was an enjoyable puzzle overall, just right for a Thursday.


Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Am I the only one who put in WACKO for 43A, saw WET as 43D and thought I had it?

I got stuck at 1A, wanted WHITEBOX, which is where manufacturers sell the equipment without logos to resellers, then got annoyed because WHITEBOXs are usually not run-of-the-mill. The downs pretty quickly forced BEIGEBOX, which is simultaneously more common, but less common to techies of which I am one.

Wade 10:36 AM  

Jim and Pete, I think it was correct to omit the "of" (whether in parentheses or not.) The substitution test doesn't work otherwise:

"The plans CONSIST of . . . ."
"The plans ARE MADE UP of . . . ."

Wade 10:36 AM  

Jim and Pete, I think it was correct to omit the "of" (whether in parentheses or not.) The substitution test doesn't work otherwise:

"The plans CONSIST of . . . ."
"The plans ARE MADE UP of . . . ."

Doris 10:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doris 10:44 AM  

Agree that "nosh" lacks euphony. It's a popular Yiddishism, also widely used in Britain, at least in London. Leo Rosten in "The Joys of Yiddish" writes, "...from the German 'nachen,' i.e., 'to eat on the
sly.''' Nowadays many people nosh publicly, however.

PuzzleGirl 10:55 AM  

I had EBSEN for 36A, then changed it to BUDDY when I thought [Grading gamut] must be CURVE. Then changed it back to EBSEN, of course. I have a sneaking suspicion Byron did that on purpose.

I gave up on the SE. I had all the correct downs except for AMEX at one time or another, but not all at the same time. I choose to believe that if I had given myself one more sitting I would have cracked it.

@artlvr: JACKO (and "The Gloved One") is how Michael Jackson is referred to in trashy mag headlines.

@wade: I'd love to hear Orange weigh in on this, but I do believe that if both the clue and the answer require a following word to "work," that following word is typically included in parentheses after the clue. Because it wasn't done that way here, there must be some substitution of ARE MADE UP and CONSIST that works without the "of." I can't come up with it, but I'm lazy.

Margaret 11:01 AM  

Luckily, I got Charlton Heston right away -- maybe because I just saw him last night as Cardinal Richelieu in the Four Musketeers.

Ring of the Fisherman was a gimme, NOT because of 12 years of Catholic school but because of the movie Shoes of the Fisherman with Anthony Quinn. Just went to IMDB to see if Quinn and Heston were ever in a movie together but couldn't find one. But they did both play artists: Heston as Michelangelo in Agony & Ecstasy and Quinn as Gauguin in Lust for Life.

Jane Doh 11:04 AM  

Snappy, supereasy puzzle. Alas, I'm not a fan of Chuck on any level. BEHEADED -- eew. Wish someone had stolen my paper today.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

I never did get EDISON and ENNA, thinking it was EDISOT and ETNA -- I object to two crossing obscure place names. Otherwise I thought the puzzle was great. It took me forever to see "PENALIZE," as I had "GAPE" instead of "GAZE." PENALIPE? I thought. What's that?

I've noticed that a quick run through the satellite channels brings an unusual number of Heston movies this week, in memoriam.

The "Ring of the Fisherman" made me think of Anthony Quinn in "The Shoes of the Fisherman," so it was an easy jump to "POPE" even for a non-Catholic.

Sarah Kirk 11:26 AM  

Any leads on the meaning of the answer to 61d "Bit of Cheesecake"?

according to my dictionary a GAM is a herd of whales...thoroughly lost.

GlennCY 11:34 AM  

Ha ha, like your comments on Jacko (but isn't he a bit creepy anyway?). Funny thing is, when I wrote the answer in, I was thinking Jacko was a nickname I didn't know for Jackie Robinson.

Joon 11:39 AM  

GAM is slang for legs (particularly of somebody like a female model). here "cheesecake" is used in its sense of a photographic display of shapely and scantily clothed female figures. (by the way, lists the slang definition of GAM as definition #1, ahead of the whale definition.)

the clue for CONSIST was ultra-sneaky but perfectly legitimate. sure, they could have given us [Are made up (of)] but that would have been a monday-level clue. the (of) is a courtesy, not a cluing requirement. "consist" and "are made up" are interchangeable in pretty much any sentence where you might use CONSIST... but not any sentence where you might use "are made up," which is what makes the clue so delicious.

according to cruciverb, ABCDF is a virginal (jungfraual?) entry. okay, i'm changing my vote from cheap to genius. (at first pass, i wondered why ATOF wouldn't fit.) also, nobody has yet used SKULLDUGGERY as an answer. a pity. 12s are super-awkward for themelesses, so we'll have to wait for an anatomy theme, perhaps.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Cheesecake is slang for scantily clad pin-up photos. Gam is dated slang for a woman's leg.

jae 11:51 AM  

I also found this pretty easy but got hung up in the SE with PAUL for POPE and LEER for GAZE. PENALIZE fixed things but it took a few minutes. Other missteps included ETNA for ENNA, MISUSE, and EXULT. A very impressive tribute puzzle.

@Sarah kirk -- GAM is 30s/40s slang for a woman's leg.

ArtLvr 11:53 AM  

p.s. Talk about sneaky clues, I just tried the LA Times puzzle for today, and was buffaloed at one clue with qestion mark given for a vertical answer in the center. Good luck to anyone who takes a look!

The puns in the NY Sun are tough too! Time for a more productive afternoon....


Anonymous 11:53 AM  

I temporarily screwed up the 27A and 44A Heston movies. At 27A I actually thought of "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS" (note "THE"), saw that it didn't fit; then tested out "PLANET OF THE APES" and confidently penciled it in. Then I struggled around that area before noticing that 44A also had 15 letters, so I erased much of what I had done.

Other than that, the SE was the hardest part; finally I sort of lucked into "EXAMPLES" after staring at it for a long time, and used that and "EGO" to figure everything else out. Wasn't too familiar with "OMEGA MAN" (a little more familiar with the Police song of the same name).

miriam b 11:55 AM  

For some reason I got started working in the mid-right section, mostly with Downs. It became clear that the movie title spanning the puzzle was something OFTHEAPES. I filled in TARZAN (showing my age), but soon realized that I needed PLANET. That was the key to the entire puzzle, which turned out to be pretty easy after all.

Back in the '30's or '40's some US clothing designer decided to call a full gathered skirt (a style unbecoming to all and sundry) a dirndl. Happily, he/she didn't attempt to adapt the entire Bavarian garb to American fashion. The clue didn't immediately evoke a complete outfit - took a bit of thought.

BEIGEBOX: Huh? Got it via crosses.

Agree about Charlton Heston. I don't mind flying into Bob Hope airport (Burbank), but I'm a little put off by John Wayne airport (Orange County)with its heroic statue of the Duke; and I'm really hoping no one names a terminal after Heston. But as you say, de mortuis...

@doris: Isn 't that German verb "naschen"?

Bill from NJ 11:55 AM  


NOSH is a yiddish word that has been so "gentile-ized" that real Jews don 't use it anymore! Kind of a cultural thing, don't you know.

My wife's mother went to high school in Wenettka IL with Charleton Heston and, as a result, has become a legend in her family. I do agree with Ulrich - the worst Mexican I ever saw in a movie. (I kind of kept that to myself when

Like everyone else, my problem was in the SE. I stared at it for a long time until I had an aha! moment with AMEX and the logjam broke.

OMEGAMAN was the worst remake of Richard Matheson's book " I am Legend".

Ulrich 12:05 PM  

@miriam and doris: Yes, the German word is "naschen" (didn't want to nitpick, but now it has come up anyway). "Nachen" in German is a keel-less long and narrow boat propelled by a pole, at least as I know it from my childhood on the Mosel river.

Ulrich 12:20 PM  

Addendum: The "sch" in naschen is pronounced like the sh in nosh. The "ch" in Nachen is pronounced like the ch in Bach or in Scottish loch.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Fun seeing Gam, popular in my younger days. Often used when commenting on Betty Grables legs.

Tenuous connection: Gam brings to mind Rita Gam who had her own fling with epics in "King of Kings". She was considered for a roll in "The Ten Commandments" but DeMille rejected her when she claimed not to be religious.


Anonymous 12:31 PM  

To Sarah KIrk:

(piece of) Cheescake are sexy women especially in an earlier era and their legs are gams. Although, that would more likely be a term out of a noirish 1940's movie.

Beef cake is the male equivalent.


mac 12:32 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle a lot and had only one area where I was stumped. I didn't know "Omega Man" and the clue "cheesecake" meant a male pinup to me for some reason.... A female one would definitely have made me think of gam.

Rex, maybe you were thinking of "Jungfraumilch", a light white wine. Come to think of it, very strange name.

The Germanic "Tracht" doesn't always include a bodice, I've seen it with a skirt and puffy-sleeved white blouse, but always with a pretty, lacy apron.

I got the ABCDF, but where is the E?

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Isn't in the clear? (OWES)
This clue seems really off ... it doesn't work..even punwise.
Clearing, in the sense of netting a
profit, is a verb.

Karen 12:41 PM  

I had trouble with the stack of EBSEN and ELCID, not really knowing my Barnaby Jones or Charlton Heston. Well, not the non-fantasy/sf/religious Charlton Heston.

Does Byron get a bonus for every x he uses?

Anonymous 1:02 PM  


There is usually no grade of "E". A student can receive an A, B, C, or D but the it jumps to F (for FAIL I guess). I had the A and the F and tried to fill in many versions of the word "through" before I settled on BCD.

miriam b 1:11 PM  

I imagne that a grade of E could be misconstrued as standing for Excellent.

artLvr 1:26 PM  

As to "clear", it doesn't only mean making a net profit. You can clear an account by paying what is owed... However, I agree that isn't the same as being "in the clear"!


PuzzleGirl 1:28 PM  

I can imagine saying "I finally paid off my car yesterday and now I'm in the clear."

Bill D 1:40 PM  

I'm not a big movie fan and less of a Heston one, so I just passed over the theme answers without bothering to work them out. It wasn't until I got to BEN-HUR that it dawned on me, and that dropped the rest of the puzzle fairly readily. I had the SE early thanks to having taken the Jungfraujacht railroad up the mountain to view Mt Blanc (an incredible sight) and knowing EMIL Zatopec from Olympic history. With the POPE in town the ring thing came easily, and I knew NEPAL right off, as vexillology (the study of flags) is another of my offbeat interests. Not crazy about UEY and TOO NEW, but the rest of the puzzle makes up for it. Liked ABCDF, GAM, and the generally inventive cluing. The "W" in YEW/OWES was the last thing I filled in.

CONSIST can also be a noun - it is a term used to describe the make-up of a (usually passenger) train.

PhillySolver 1:56 PM  

More trivia...The first record of an A to F grading school appears in documents at Mt. Holyoke College in 1897. Th scale was A to E and in a revision the next year, the F grade was added. Each grade represented a percentage range (e.g. 95% to 100% = A) It was too easy and too often that an F was changed to an E that caused the E to be dropped. The term 'E for Effort' developed as some teachers would let the parent know that although the student failed, they were trying.

Margaret 2:23 PM  

Well, I now have a new favorite word: vexillology. Thanks, Bill D. Can't wait to see when that one will get used in crossword. How might you clue it? Perhaps [the study of annoying flagmen?]

imsdave1 2:35 PM  

Loved this puzzle. Whether or not you liked his politics (I didn't), he was one of the good people. What great words: Skulduggery, Kerfuffle, Nary, Bodice!

@artlvr - enjoyed the LATimes today and know what you mean

@Bill from NJ - 'Last Man on Earth' is no bargain either, haven't seen Will Smith's yet

Loved the Wacko for Jacko comment.

Thanks all, for making my day.

JC66 2:43 PM  

@ joon

After the example Rex set in yesterday's write up, I was disappointed that the link you provided for CHEESECAKE provided a definition rather than a photo.

chefbea1 2:44 PM  

can someone please explain 57D Georges=ones??
havent read the comments yet maybe it's already been explained

Wade 2:46 PM  

They did take his gun, though. Granted, just like he predicted, they had to pry his cold, dead fingers off of it. . . .

Ulrich 2:51 PM  

Re. Jungfrau: This peak in the Bernese highlands (Berner Oberland) is one of a trio: Eiger (also of crossword or The Eiger Sanction fame), Mönch (monk), and Jungfrau. I tried to find out something about the history of these names, but w/o success so far. I for one have always wondered how the monk got next to the virgin--and no, I don't think it's the Virgin Mary ;-).

Bill D 2:59 PM  

Margaret - Vexill- is Latin for flag or standard. A vexilloid is an object, often a staff with a carving atop it, which functions as a standard, usually in traditional societies; kind of the precursors of flags. A royal sceptre could be a vexilloid, eg.

chefbea1 3:01 PM  

I now understand georges are ones tho I have never heard anyone say "do you have five georges for my $5
Will now go do the LA times puzzle

JC66 3:34 PM  


Maybe If one just paid off her/his bookie, they might say they're in the clear.

puzzlemensch 3:54 PM  

My favorite part of this (very easy for a Thursday) puzzle was the combination of Charlton Heston (yuck for both his acting and his politics!) and the Rights Grp. clues (23D ACLU and 32D NAACP) both of which crossed 27A (TEN COMMANDMENTS). Brilliantly ironic in multiple dimensions!!

Doris 4:05 PM  

Ulrich, et al.:

Mea culpa. There's apparently a misprint in my very dog-eared copy of Leo Rosten's "Joys of Yiddish." He does have "nachen," and obviously he's wrong! It didn't make much sense as to pronunciation with his spelling anyway. Thanks for the correction.

bour3 5:15 PM  

This here is an awesomely fun but rather breezy puzzle innit? I mean, after you get Charlston the rest sort of falls into place. I'm happy to report I saw bits of every one of those movies. *buffs nails on shirt* Yup. I especially liked the one about the guy who wore a dozen watches up his arm -- Omega man. And the one about Evil Knievel touching everyone. Cor! Woot to the puz.

Bill from NJ 7:12 PM  

I got the same response from my grandchildren about Voldemort's wand as you did.

@imsdave- re: Omega Man

I saw all 3 movies and, now that I think of it, all were victims of the times they were made.

Charlton Heston was a graduate of New Trier High School which also produced Ann-Margaret, Rock Hudson, Hugh O'Brian and Bruce Dern.

fergus 9:18 PM  

Amazing what a difference the type of article can make in a clue. Stuck for a while on 64A Throw THE flag on, so to speak ... but if it were Throw A flag, I would have immediately thought of a football penalty. Since the article was definite, I persisted with thoughts of flag-draped coffins, and skullduggery in displaying examples thereof.

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

I got skunkied by the NE corner. Was convinced dirndl was a gathered skirt, and had "misuse" instead of "disuse."

Did anyone notice that women who live near the Jungfrau may in the past have worn dirndls?

Barb in Chicago

andrea carla michaels 10:28 PM  

wow, synchronicity! Just watched Jeopardy! and the final question was (WWII) "The word in English that was first used by Mussolini to describe the relationship between Berlin and ROme."
Two of the three wrote "AXIS"...the winner (but only bec she couldn't be caught) wrote "UNHOLY".

miriam b 10:51 PM  

I can't imagine how she came up with "unholy". Now, if THAT had been in the puzzle...

Larry 12:00 AM  

Yesterday I answered "coon" to hound's quarry, which turned out to be "hare" so I was pleased to recylce the coon as masked critter.

Larry 12:10 AM  

I first saw Jacko used in headlines in the London tabloids during one of his various trials. Can't imagine anyone other than an irreverent headline writer coming up with that nickname.

Looking back did we get themed puzzles after the death of singers like James Brown or Ray Charles?

Rikki 2:49 AM  

Beheaded? Tsk tsk, Will. I come to the puzzle to escape the violence of our times and don't need those kinds of images invading my peace and quiet. Perhaps a better answer for the Sydney Carton clue would have been hero. It was a far, far better thing...

Still, I love Byron Walden's puzzles and agree with Rex that it was nice to run into one on a Thursday. Kerfuffle. Now there's a great word.

Retired_Chemist 11:05 AM  

GAM presumably derives from the Italian word for leg: gamba, as in viola da gamba. Interestingly, the number of gams in a gam of whales is, a la Monty Python, well, nearly ... one.

Liked the puzzle a lot. Deciding 16A/14D in favor of Edison/Enna (WTF) instead of Edisot(WTF)/Etna was a good call.

John in Alaska 11:49 AM  

Anyone else first put in "Bush" for the clue "Georges" at 57 D?

embien 5:48 PM  

6 weeks later:
The teeny, tiny type in my syndicated print version of the crossword had me misreading 9A as "Part of a diMdl" and so I was trying to think what kind of currency is a BOD_C_ (unknown terms often seem to be obscure foreign currencies in my mind).

Didn't help that one of the crosses was what must be a pretty obscure Sicilian town. You can barely find it in my World Atlas, but in any case I only know a few Sicilian cities: Palermo, Messina, Etna and, of course, Corleone. (I guess I was somewhat surprised to find that last is actually a town in Sicily--I thought it was maybe pure fiction.)

Since I live on the West Coast, NOSH is only known to me from crosswords. I've never heard anyone around these parts use the term in everyday speech. I chalk it up to "New Yorkese", along with the Hebrew months that continually crop up in NYT puzzles.

I worked with computers for nearly forty years and this is the first time I've seen BEIGE BOX, though admittedly most generic PCs are, indeed, beige.

And as for "Georges" being slang for ones, here's a nice site where you can track where bills go: Where's George?

Waxy in Montreal 8:55 PM  

Thanks embien - I've just retired after over 40 years in IT and also never heard the term Beige Box ever used.

Great Thursday puzzle otherwise. Particularly enjoyed the Sydney Carton reference. I wonder - do kids still have to study Dickens novels as we did back in the day?

Anyway, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known" made slogging through A Tale of Two Cities worthwile.

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