THURSDAY, Apr. 24, 2008 - Michael Langwald (EDUCATION PROVIDER SINCE 1440)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "I GOT YOU BABE" (62A: 1965 hit by the performers suggested phonetically by the ends of 18-, 24-, 37- and 56-Across)

And your rebus:

SUN - from MIDNIGHT SUN (18A: Summer arctic phenomenon)

KNEE - from WOUNDED KNEE (24A: 1890 battle site that's now a memorial)

ANNE - from SAINT ANNE (37A: Grandmother of Jesus)

SHARE - from MARKET SHARE (56A: Measure of a company's dominance)

I did this last night right before bedtime, and now barely remember it. Not sure that's the puzzle's fault. What I remember most is not the theme (though the theme is admirably outlandish), but some answers that made me balk. The first was BATCH (9A: Trayful of cookies), which my brain is assuring me is right, but which my heart is rejecting. I think my heart wants "baking" to precede "trayful." Perhaps that's implied. No one said the balking was rational. Then there was UIE (33A: Turnabout, in slang), which irks me only because I have only just acclimated myself to this word, and that was difficult enough when it was spelled UEY. Now I've got UIE to contend with? Hang on ... checking database ... UEY is 3 times more prevalent, although I have, apparently, seen UIE several times in the past couple years. Harrumph. Last balk: A BEAR (71A: Cross as _____ (annoyed)). I wrote in A BOAR, figuring BOARs are fare more likely to be "cross" than BEARs. I love "cross" as a word meaning "angered." It's very retro. I remember hearing it (possibly from mom) in the 70s, but I'm not sure anyone's used it in earnest since. The hyperbolic "furious" or the crass "pissed" have driven "cross" to the margins. I'm going to try to bring it back. Somehow.

The stuff I really liked today includes CARTONS (47D: Smokes in bulk) - the answer's ordinary but the clue is hot - and BERTHA (36D: Mother of Charlemagne), which, like "cross," feels decidedly old-fashioned. You do not want to make BERTHA cross, believe me. Ooh, one more balk: RAN AWAY (1D: Escaped). I had GOT AWAY, which I find to be much the superior answer. Just because you RAN does not mean you "escaped."

Your xword vocabulary of the day (after UIE / UEY):

  • 23A: Predecessor of Romans (Acts)
  • 66A: Daybreak deity (Eos)
  • 27D: Education provider since 1440 (Eton)
  • 34D: Foreign visitors? (ETs)
  • 39D: River to the Rhine (Aare)

And ... a long list of stuff:

  • 14A: Alicia Keys #1 album "_____ Am" ("As I") - remarkably hard for me to parse. YO, I AM? AM I AM? Alicia Keys is insanely talented.
  • 20A: Bad off, after "up" (a tree) - this wins for "Most Insane Looking Clue of the Day." I keep reading "bad off" as a verb. "BAD OFF, mutha@#$#!" Or "I'm gonna bad off now ..." (whatever that might mean - just typing that made me laugh very hard ... still laughing even as I'm typing this).
  • 28A: Mayo can be found in it (año) - the SANE (58A: Sound) answer here would be JAR. Please keep in mind that we have already heard, a million times, the complaint that ANO (sans tilde) is scatological.
  • 31A: "Solaris" author Stanislaw _____ (Lem) - I should really read this guy. I see his name everywhere.
  • 45A: Pool accessory (rack) - which pool?, you ask. Precisely.
  • 61A: "Sanford and Son" setting (Watts) - made myself laugh out loud mid-solve when I got the two T's (--TT-) and tried inventing my own variant spelling of GHETTO.
  • 67A: Classic sportster, for short ('vette) - that "RTST" letter run in "sportster" is rubbing something in my brain the wrong way.
  • 4D: Field for Fields (comedy) - works for Totie, W.C., and, on occasion, Kim.
  • 7D: European capital (Minsk) - the outer reaches of "Europe." I wanted a unit of currency here.
  • 8D: Like some bagels (oniony) - "I'd like an ONIONY bagel please ... but not the ONION bagel ... too ONIONY."
  • 10D: Baja's opposite (alta) - I like that this answer sits right next to the word that sounds like the French word for "baja" - BAH (9D: Cross word). CROSS!
  • 12D: Condiment made with a mortar and pestle (chutney) - great answer. Up there with ONIONY for deliciousness, but far more ... legitimate as a word.
  • 13D: Two-wheeled carriages (hansoms) - the puzzle's most common carriage. Everything I know about carriages, I learned from xwords (having never lived in the 19th c. myself).
  • 25D: Item for a travel bag (etui) - HA ha. I've kinda missed this word. Haven't seen it since the tournament. Probably belongs up with the other answers in today's "Crossword Vocabulary" section.
  • 51D: War preceder (Man-o-) - the horse or the sea creature, it matters not. Few words are as xword-clue specific as "preceder."
  • 57D: Cookout offering (kabob) - tricky word. Many acceptable spellings. Thought it's probably not traditional, I would think a KABOB and CHUTNEY on an ONIONY bagel might actually work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld


Wade 9:19 AM  

Easiest Thursday I remember in awhile--I go through all the clues in order (i.e., I don't alternate between across and down clues to fill in blocks; I'm not that dexterous on AcrossLite), and I had dang near the whole puzzle filled in by the time I went through just the acrosses (slight exaggeration.) I kept a mental tally of the clues I found borderline or objectionable--I'm with you on BEAR, UIE and BATCH (the last thing I filled in was the B in BATCH.)

My wife uses the word "cross" more often than "angry" or "mad" or other more normal words. It'd be kind of cute except that she's usually mad when she uses the word.

And now, just having congratulated myself so profusely about finishing the puzzle so quickly, I see that I left the N blank in MANO and that I have ONIONS instead of ONIONY.

ArtLvr 9:21 AM  

Very good Thursday puzzle! Didn't see "Mayo" as Spanish for month of May until reading Rex's comment re ANO without tilde! In French, the diacritical marks may be omitted in capital letters, but I can see that's a problem in Spanish.

I also overlooked the rebus part after I'd finished, though if I'd paid attention I'd have known Sonny an' Cher. Will add LEM to names one should remember...

Think MANO for MAN O' war might qualify as a Quaretoe (dangling digit, variant of a Quarfoot).


PuzzleGirl 9:23 AM  

The spelling for UIE made me cross. It just occurred to me that one of the spellings should be labeled as "var." -- but which one? They both suck!

I'm sure this will provoke some controversy, but I'm going to go ahead and proclaim the theme to "Sanford & Son" the Greatest TV Theme Song of All Time. ("Barney Miller" and "Mission:Impossible" are, obviously, nipping at its heels.)

wade 9:26 AM  

Puzzlegirl, I proposed to you late last night. I'd been drinking and was going to shamefacedly revoke my proposal this morning if you brought it up (seeing as how I'm already married and all.) But I had the exact same thought about Sanford & Son's theme song and Barney Miller's and almost made the same comment, so obviously it was meant to be.

ProudMemberOfTheUteTribe 9:30 AM  

Is it just me or should the constructor have made 25D DOTE to cross it with our favorite UTE tribe at 33A? Also, change 8D to ONIONS and 30A to SET. In both cases, you would avoid questionable words.

Bill D 9:33 AM  

Theme was unusual, to say the least. Today it actually helped me, as the CHER-SHARE completely filled in MARKET SHARE for me. Worked out SAINT ANNE myself - had to change Charlemagne's mom from Martha first; better theme awareness would have prevented that!

I liked that MAN-O-(war) was not clued as "Spanish hand"; maybe we could see something like "A negative vote" or "A dial help letter" as clues for A NO / AN O. Also liked SOL clued as G, rather than "Fa follower" or something equally as obvious.

Totally agree on UIE - last time it was UEY, who knows what incarnation it will take on next - UEE, YUIE, YUY, YUEY - let's settle on one, people!

I envision using a mortar and pestle on dry or leafy foods. It's hard to imagine the jelly-like chutneys of my experience with such a preparation method.

I also think 22 3-letter answers is a bit much for a Thursday, but that could just be my personal aversion to short words in puzzles.

Doing the puzzles regularly and sharing on this blog made so many of today's "typical crossword" answers come more readily to the front of the brain. The give-and-take with Rex and all the regulars and occasional visitors and lurkers is all now part of my puzzle enjoyment.

Finally I will say, since Rex mentioned it, that Stanislaw Lem is one of the great Science Fiction writers, and is more than worth a read. Since I got in trouble with going off-topic SF-wise yesterday, that's my last word on the subject!

Rex Parker 9:33 AM  

First, puzzlegirl is already married, and second, if she weren't and I weren't (happily), she'd be married to me. Third, the theme to "Sanford & Son" is, objectively, the best TV theme ever. Can't even imagine a debate on the subject... although this one is pretty memorable ... :)


treedweller 9:34 AM  

I never got a complete score on this one. I stared at the screen for what seemed like hours trying to find my mistake. I couldn't even find answers I was iffy on to google, though I did try a couple halfheartedly. I dozed off in front of the computer. I made a quick trip to Orange's blog in case she had some help for me (no such luck).

Now I see my mistake was UWE (which I entered with a wince). As much as I hated it, UIE never occurred to me, and DOWN for "Off" seemed reasonable enough, even when I considered the homocide angle (mostly I was thinking a machine might be turned off, or DOWN).

We must rally to stop this creeping U-turn abbreviation madness now! Help us, Rex, please.

imsdave1 9:35 AM  

I hope this doesn't bode ill for Friday and Saturday for me, but I had a tough time with this one. Finished the south easily enough, but GOT instead of RAN really slowed me down in the NW. Probably 25 minutes, but at least no errors. No need to comment on UIE.

Puzzlegirl - Man from U.N.C.L.E

wade 9:36 AM  

Rex, I'll be in the parking lot.

And I'll see your Perfect Strangers and raise you a Rockford Files.

Ulrich 9:47 AM  

In order to calm myself down sufficiently to be able to compose a coherent post, I have to start with a simple question: Would you consider "city W of New York" an acceptable clue for "Harrisburg" (PA)? Of course not: there's too much inbetween and no direct connection. Or to put it differently: If you put on your Saul-Steinberg glasses and look W from New York, what do you see (if anything?) A few towns in the beautiful Garden State (aka Joisy), and they could be called "towns W of New York". Now put on your Steinberg glasses and look NW from Frankfurt--what do you see? No #$$%^@ Essen, that's for sure. You see Cologne (Köln), my howetown: There's nothing inbetween, really; a large portion of the trains passing through Frankfurt station have Cologne as their next or last major stop; you can reach Cologne from Frankfurt airport in 1 hr flat on a train able to hit speeds of more than 200m/hr (the same amount of time it takes me to get from JFK to Grand Central Station) etc. So, Cologne is a city NW of Frankfurt--Essen isn't.

Should the constructor have known? With a name like Langwald ("Longwoods") for sure! Should other readers care? I don't give a @#$t! The clue is inane. It's an outrage. In the olden days, it would have demanded satisfaction in the form of a duel fought with long-barreled pistols.

Yes, there are cities Essen can be viewed as being in the direction of, but none of them is really a household word outside of Germany. But Essen needn't be clued directionally. I have seen "center of the Ruhr valley" or "City of The Damned" in the past--both legit. And here is a revolutionary suggestion for you, Mister Langwald: "to eat in Berlin", yes, to eat, b/c that's what "essen" (the verb) means in German--it is, after the auxiliary verbs, one of the most important words you have to know in Germany. "Essen" (the noun) means "meal"--so how about this: "lunch for Ulrich" (or Siegfried, or Lohengrin, or Florian Henckel von Donnersmark, if you want a really glorious German name) :-)

Ulrich 9:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mike 9:48 AM  


I considered DOWN/UWE too as "I'm in an off mood", and thought UWE could have been one of the numerous UEY variants.

Ramsey 9:49 AM  

Accent marks may be omitted on capital letters (vowels) in Spanish. But the "N with a tilde" (sorry I have no idea how to do diacritics) is a separate letter from N in Spanish.

Margaret 9:52 AM  

I had the most trouble in the Pac NW w/ this one -- although it would've helped a lot if I had read the "Bad off" clue accurately ("Hard up? What else can it be but Hard Up? Oh, it says 'AFTER up' ") I got Sun and Share right away so the theme actually helped.

I thought I saw several sub-themes in here. First, the horse names continue w/ Man o'War (buried in Lexington at the KY Horse Park.) Also, there was a Sun thing going with Sol, Sun and the author of Solaris. And also, fittingly w/ Mother's Day approaching, we had 2 mothers (Charlemagne and Jesus), plus Babe.

I'd be interested in hearing from the constructors out there how much of occurance of sub-themes or groupings like these are conscious vs. subconscious?

PhillySolver 9:54 AM  

My, oh my. I will 'fess up' to an error and join treedweller. Uwe worked phonetically for me and is in the Cruciverb database (so beware). I started to put in Milan for a capital, but I would have to have said arrivederci Roma. I also tried Martha and imsdave will understand what I mean when I say I carry a Big Mother of Charlemange in my golf bag.

Personally, I prefer the theme song for the Huntley-Brinkley Report and I am certain it has a bigger MARKETSHARE.

I Got You Babe was one of the answers at Trivia last night. The string of consecutive Win or Place remains intact. Two weeks ago, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was an answer and I book I remember fondly,

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I was surprised I finished this puzzle before going to bed last night as at first glance, nothing was coming to me.

My only errors were that I also had DOWN and UWE, though I was thinking of "down" in the sense of sad or depressed (which I'll grant is not as appropriate as DO IN for "off"). I don't think I would have come up with DO IN and UIE in any reasonable amount of time.

I usually read this blog daily but don't often participate. It's entertaining and educational just to follow others' comments, and often by the time I check it, someone else has made most of the comments I might have. I jump around when solving a puzzle (on paper) and don't time myself. I measure my success in other ways.

Mary in NE

Alex 10:06 AM  

There is much I would have liked about this puzzle. And this is a kind of theme I could really get behind (better than "flip the p in a phrase upside down so it is a b and clue the result).

However, anything in this life that tries to tell me that UIE is a legitimate word simply fails. I don't care how crossword legitimate it is, unless it is clued as "Stupid crossword acceptable spelling of u-turn slang" it is an irredeemable fatal flaw.

In fact, it is such a fatal flaw that I can confidently state that Michael Langford's next four puzzles will automatically be failures as well just from the residual stink of UIE.

Not that I have strong feelings about this.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Who remembers the theme to Secret Agent? That's a strong contender. And I think the singer - Peter Gunn - may have shown up in past puzzles.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Elizabeth 10:09 AM  

Re cross, the word is a staple of my 2 year old son's vocabulary as a result of his current obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. Our circle of adult friends have since picked it up as well (in addition to the mild oath "cinders and ashes" and the exclamation "bust my buffers").

Glad to read I wasn't the only one who decided to accept UWE as a variant...

Wade 10:11 AM  

@alex, I'm starting a band right now just so I can name it Residual Stink. Me and puzzlegirl on vocals, doing "I Got You Babe" to the tune of the Sanford and Son theme.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Oops - Peter Gunn was the character and Johnny Rivers sang the "Secret Agent" theme song.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Frances 10:16 AM  

Constructor Michael Langwald may not know his German geography, but he is astonishingly knowledgeable about CHUTNEY. I've always eaten (and cooked) chutney as a semi-liquid, sweet/spicy mixture of fruit and vegetable chunks , so where would the mortar and pestle come in? Turns out, according to Wikipedia, there is a dry, or powder, form of chutney as well. The article goes on to say:

"The Hindi translation of "to make chutney" is a common idiom meaning "to crush". This is because the process of making chutney often involves the crushing together of the ingredients."

Jim in NYC 10:24 AM  

At 8D and 30A, I had ONIONS and SET (as proudmember noted above) rather than the official answer. It works (bagels can be "onions" as dogs can be "labradors"; "set" can be added to "in" to make "inset").

I'd also give credit to DOWN at 26D and UWE at 33A. UWE is nearly as good a phonetic version of the U-turn utterance as UIE or UEY.

As Ulrich has pointed out, this puzzle's horizons are limited. G (22A) might be sol, and it also might be do, re, me, fa, se, si ... etc. It depends on the key. G is sol only in the key of C. If you assume that a piano without any black keys is the only musical instrument in the world, well then, OK, G is sol.

Jim in NYC 10:28 AM  

Tom in Pittsburgh, Peter Gunn was not a character in Secret Agent. Someone else will tell us the Agent's name. Peter Gunn was a different detective show, also with great theme music.

PhillySolver 10:28 AM  

@ ulrich, our erudite friend

After posting about Huntley-Brinkley's theme (Beethoven's 9th, Second Movement) I went to YouTube and discovered one of my absolute favorite versions (Leonard Bernstein in Berlin) and I can recommend it to soothe your soul.

Posted from a city West of Minsk.

Ulrich 10:31 AM  

@phillysolver: Just caught this before leaving for the day--thanks, it helps!

Margaret 10:36 AM  

Battle of the Bands: Spotty Erudition vs. Residual Stink

Best theme song: The Jeffersons. HATE the show. Couldn't watch it even as a teen but LOVE the song. It doesn't matter how DOWN or OFF I am, it makes me happier.

dk 10:39 AM  

I am on the UWE and DOWN team.

My lovely wife (alleged one time Bethel student, etc.) again failed to get the biblical answer of SAINTANNE. I just don't think she really was a good christian girl. She also nailed IGOTYOUBABE which makes me think... this EMU don't fly.

Note to bill d. I am working on controlling Rex's dreams so he will praise (not bury) our side conversations.

To all: Junior Browns version of Secret Agent Man is a must hear. It can be found in Surf Medley on the Album Semi Crazy.

Rex Parker 10:47 AM  

Sorry, folks, but UWE is manifestly wrong. Phillysolver's assertion that it's "in the cruciverb database" is horrendously misleading, as it's there only twice, and both times in reference to a hockey player, not a U-turn. Get UWE out of your head. It's UEY or UIE and (I think) that's it.

I'm sure Michael Langford's next four puzzles will indeed suck. Luckily for today's puzzle author, his name is Michael Langwald.

I can't share Ulrich's outrage at the ESSEN clue. I call up a map of Germany, look NW from Frankfurt, and there's ESSEN. They're both in Germany, which is a unit w/i which it's simply not absurd (from a US point of view ... the US being where the NYT is published) to talk about cities in directional relationship to each other.


Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Lovely rants on UIE, which is a staple traffic maneuver around here. Now I can worry about how to spell it.

Cross [ASABEAR] rang some bell from another generation, I must have heard it, as I certainly did IGOTYOUBABE --could hear S & C singing with the last half of the title filled in and waited for IGOT.

WOUNDEDKNEE seemed odd content-wise to use for a (pop) 70s theme, the more recent "battle"/ stand-off/shootout at Wounded Knee notwithstanding, but what happened there in 1890 wasn't a battle. Massacre, more like.

Happy to get AMATEUR, CARTONS, KNESSET and WATTS almost as soon as the paper was open on the table, but that was the end of anything "easy-moderate" for me. Also wanted MARTHA for BERTHA, and silly me, SUPER for ALOHA (I knew that was too easy). Laughed when ETUI showed up. Kind of like ERN, ORT or now NABES burning a hole in my pocket.

Laramie, WYO.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

uwe and down for me! how does DOIN work for 28d?

PhillySolver 11:02 AM  

Guess you would say I made a louie or a ralphie instead of a uie on the uwe post. No misdirection intended...

The now traveling PhillySolver

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Re equating "sol" with "g." There are two ways of singing the scale, with a fixed do and a movable do. If you use the fixed do system, g is always sol, no matter what key you are in. In that case, c is always do whether or not it's the first note of the scale. If it's a movable do, the fifth note of the scale is sol and, as many people accurately reported, it's only sol in c major or c minor.

That probably didn't really clear up any of the confusion.

miriam b 11:19 AM  

UIE? ETUI? Pfui.

LOTSA foreign language drill today:

ALOHA, KNESSET, UNE, MINSK, ANO (with tilde for decency), ALTA, VON, NYET.

Ulrich, great rant. I won't mention ESSEN. Not until lunchtime, anyway.

Bertha, according to legend, was rumored to have webbed feet. She's mentioned in a story by Avram Davidson, The Mother-in-Law of Pearl, which is part of a wonderful collection called The Enquiries of Dr. Eszterhazy (later expanded and reissued as The Adventures of..) The polymath Dr. E. investigates hitherto unexplained phenomena in the mythical triune monarchy of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania. If you like science fantasy, please read this book.

jae 11:27 AM  

I found this pretty easy. Had RID/RUNAWAY right out of the printer. Only got slowed down by trying to make UEY work and with ELUSIVE for EVASIVE. Glad to see 5d down passed on the fraud Geller. Thought the theme/pun was very clever and it definitely helped with solving.

UWE/DOWN was starting to make sense to me as a real alternative until Rex's last post. Anon 10:57 DO IN is sort of slang for kill as is OFF.

I heard the phrase cross as ABEAR while growing up, not so much recently. Must be a 50s/60s thing.

Peter Gunn did have a great theme song as did M Squad. I think both made the pop music charts at one time.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Also a victim of UWE and DOWN. Yesterday my computer crashed (it was both OFF and DOWN, and a couple evenings this week I've been watching hockey playoffs, so Uwe Krupp was in my brain. (He pronounces it OO-vah, but most North American sports commentators manage to pronounce it YOU-ee.) Anyhow, you can see how I got trapped.

And despite playing music semi-professionally for 30 years I could not get to G=SOL. As pointed out earlier, SOL is only G if you're in the key of C. C'est la vie.

@anonymous 10:57. To get 28D, insert a space between the second and third letter, and then go watch Goodfellas.


Bill D 11:33 AM  

@Ramsey - I enter diacritally-marked letters the old-fashioned way - with ASCII codes. ñ and Ñ, eg, can be entered by holding down your ALT key and typing 164 and 165 repectively on your NUMERIC KEYPAD (not the numbers above QWERTY). A non-Luddite may have a more modern way of doing this, but my favorite computer is my internet-free 486 running DOS 6.22, so take my advice from whence it comes.

@Ullrich - I never pay attention to those directions in puzzle clues - I probably have seen Harrisburg clued as a "city W of NY". Constructors seem to use those directions in the vaguest sense, a lot like WNW for "Berlin to Bremen direction", eg. At least we got to mention UWE Krupp, who I assume is the hockey player Rex uncovered. Maybe someday we'll see STURM clued as "Hockey player Marco" rather than "__ und drang"!

28D "Off" = DO IN are both sort of pop-mafia slang for killing someone. Sounds better in slang...

Didn't Johnny Mathis sing the theme song "Secret Agent Man"? Or is that a different show?

Carisa 11:37 AM  

I'm with you, Rex, on bringing back "cross." I'll start my own grass-roots campaign.

On a similar note, I try to use "vex" in all its forms as often as I can! It also has that retro feel.

kate 11:44 AM  

YET means "in addition"? Hm. I'm not sure about that. I also got caught by UWE/DOWN but agree that UWE is ridiculous and am glad I was wrong.

Overall I liked the puzzle, loved the theme and got it fast.

Best TV themes are Hawaii Five-O, Rockford Files and "Eye on the Sparrow" from Baretta.

jae 11:52 AM  

Oh, and Patrick McGoohan was the Secret Agent man and later The Prisoner.

Starsky 12:07 PM  

"Hello, you've reached Jim Rockford. Please leave a message at the . . . ."

Dah!-na, na-na-na! (na-na-na-na na-na na nah)

Dah!-na, na-na-na! (na-na-na-na na nah)

Doung, doung, doung, doung

Dougn, dougn, doung, dougn
Doung-doung, dougna-dougn dougn . . .

I haven't got the smokin' guitar lead worked out yet.

Ben Hassenger 12:20 PM  

Night Court!

wobbith 12:30 PM  

OT so I'll keep it short:

"Secret Agent Man" was the theme song for the 60's British TV program "Danger Man", starring Patrick McGoohan as John Drake and which aired as "Secret Agent" in the U.S..
The song was sung by Johnny Rivers. It's OK.

"Peter Gunn" was an earlier US TV program about a "cool" detective, starring Craig Stevens. The "Peter Gunn Theme" is an unforgettable jazz instrumental by Henry Mancini and may very well contend for the best TV theme ever.

You've all heard it. Maybe Starsky can render it for us.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Peter Gunn Theme

ds 1:00 PM  

No one else seemed to be bothered by CARTONS as "smokes in bulk." I originally thought it would be CARTON (which is also "smokes in bulk") until I got the ONS from the crosses.

I didn't know about the "fixed do system" so had to get SOL from the crosses as well.

For those of you who are really experienced, how common is it to have a Thursday puzzle in which you get the theme answers first (at least, before much of the other, more "minor" clues)?

jubjub 1:08 PM  

The Java applet wouldn't accept my puzzle answer last night, as I had ONIONS instead of ONIONY. I don't know why SET should mean "In addition", but at least it is a word :).

I assumed that my mistake was somewhere in the SOL = G clue (ps googling "sol g" does not produce meaningful results). I didn't realize that sol was part of the do re mi scale. I thought it went do re mi fa so la ti, but I can see that my parsing of the words was faulty.

Hmm, just reading the Wikipedia article on solfege:
"The seven syllables normally used for this practice in English-speaking countries are: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti"
"Note Name Solfege Name
G so (sometimes 'sol')"
I feel that a "var" might have been in order.

I don't know the theme to Sanford and Son (never seen it), but I cast my (uninformed) vote for the Perfect Strangers theme. I love the poignant "duh na na na duh na na na na laa" at the very end. It touches my heart :).

"Which pool?" -- that's funny.

Joon 1:11 PM  

peter gunn theme = "spy hunter" for me. that's all i can say. that should make it easy for somebody to guess my age within, say, 3 years.

i did this puzzle last night and it took me a long time ... just everywhere. actually figured out the theme very early (off of MARKETSHARE) and it helped me, but it was still thorny. RANAWAY, DISRUPT, TOSCALE (i had PRORATA for a while), APPLYTO, ABEAR... these all took me longer than they should have. at the end i couldn't find my mistake (which was misremembering AASE instead of AARE and thus having ivan SEITMAN, which seemed like a reasonable name) for a good 2-3 minutes. i might have been thinking of peer gynt when i channeled AASE.

early on i wanted 4A to be SPITZER (perhaps having done byron walden's AV club puzzle this week unduly influenced me here). since it's thursday, i was on the lookout for a possible rebus theme. but no, it was just CUOMO. and actually, i guess i did get my rebus theme, sort of. just not in the way i expected.

stuff i liked: CHUTNEY, CARTONS, KNESSET, VETTE crossing ETTE, bond girl URSULA andress, DOIN, SAY, BATCH (though it took me a while, too), ACTS, even ONIONY. and KABOB... yummy.

stuff i wasn't quite as high on: UIE (though there are pretty clearly people here who feel more strongly about it than i), OKD (really want an E in there), RST (blah, but forgivable because the long downs in the SE are actually really nice).

jubjub 1:15 PM  

Oh, let me change my vote to "Walker Texas Ranger". Sung by Chuck Norris himself, I believe.

karmasartre 1:18 PM  

re. Favorite TV Themes -- I am partial to the music CNN used during the OJ trial. That such an event merited its own theme music was delightfully inappropriate.

Orange 1:19 PM  

If every TV show had a theme that was as good as those of Sanford and Son, The Rockford Files, and Barney Miller, I would be glued to the TV every night. So it's just as well that nearly all TV themes suck these days.

Rex, I hope the next time a puzzle makes you cross (which should be...[checking watch] the next four or five days), you will say just that: "This puzzle made me cross." (The "bear" part is optional, of course.)

Sorry, Wade and Rex, but PuzzleGirl and I will be running off like Thelma and Louise, only nonsuicidally.

Mary 1:31 PM  


PuzzleGirl 1:34 PM  

I was laughing too hard this morning to post any more, but after spending several hours listening to television theme songs on YouTube (who knew??), I think I've recovered.

wade (Gazpacho), as much as it pains me, I cannot accept your proposal (which, upon review, could, I think, be characterized more accurately as a command -- but I'm sure that was just the Maker's Mark talking). Too many people would be hurt. Your wife. My husband. Rex. And, oh my goodness, apparently Orange! I won't go on. Let's just say that we are clearly Soul Mates on some level. Ya know, because of the Sanford & Son thing. And because our relationship consists solely of comment thread posts, I guess that would make us Friends With Absolutely No Benefits Whatsoever None. (Let's say FWANBeWhaNo, since we probably need a word for it.)

Just to bring this back around to the puzzle, I will add that my first answer for the Mayo clue was BLT.

Michael Langwald 1:38 PM  

Thank you all for the kind words.

It occurs to me that some of you are miffed by some of the clues and entries.

Keep in mind that when it comes to the clues, what I submit often gets changed to reflect the difficulty of the day of the week. So far, I'd say that 50% of my clues in my two published NYT puzzles have been radically modified.

Since I know Will will make such changes I try to clue them as straightforward as possible. Still, if you see a clue that rubs you the wrong way, don't be so quick to assume that itis what the constructor originially submitted.

With regards to entries, in order to make a theme like this work you have to have at least a few words that are borderline but still acceptable in order for words to cross all over.

Try coming up with 5 theme entries
(51 letters total) that are symmetrical and still create an acceptable fill....No easy task I can assure you! So I have to try and create the most entertaining fill which comes at a sacrifice of having a "uie" and an "essen" in some places.

Plus, the crossings of other entries should help you with any entries that you find questionable.

OK enough ranting....I hope you enjoyed the puzzle, and it provided you with some entertainment for your day

Anyways, keep on solving and blogging! I gotta make a "uie" and take off.


wade 1:38 PM  

I still think the classiest theme songs have no lyrics, which is why I'd put Sanford & Son, The Rockford Files and Barney Miller (and many others, including the otherwise forgettable Simon and Simon and of course the sublime whistle and guitar theme to "Andy Griffith," which I didn't learn until a few years ago actually has lyrics [the song is called "Gone Fishin'") ahead of some good songs like the theme to the Jeffersons (and the themes to "Good Times" and "Maude" also rock.) I give a special dispensation to the theme of "All in the Family," which is just perfect and of course iconic. I can't think of any TV shows since the seventies that really step up to the plate, though that me be because my TV watching tailed off pretty drastically around 1985 (the era of "The Fall Guy" ["Now I'm not one to kiss and tell, but I've been seen with Farrah!"].) It works best when a great song is paired with a similarly brilliant opening sequence. Andy Griffith leaning over to pick up that rock to skip across the pond always chokes me up, and the shaky car-window footage of Queens dissolving into Edith and Archie at the piano is incredibly evocative (and I've never been within 500 miles of New York.)

I'll stop now. I'm running out of parentheses.

wade 1:49 PM  

Puzzlegirl, okay.

Orange, have I mentioned how hot you are?

SethG 1:59 PM  

M*A*S*H has lyrics too, they just didn't sing them in the TV intro.

If you want to waste gads more time with theme songs you can see most intros (organized by show for easy browsing) at Retro Junk, or hear even more and take a trivia quiz at

Yay for Fame, boo for anything by Alan Thicke or Sherwood Schwartz.

Yay also for Sonny and Cher, though boo for "Electrically they keep the baseball score", the worst line I've ever heard in a song.

I used to have a S(imply)P(latonic)A(partment)M(ate), and it's probably too late to offer to fill the Brad Pitt role...

PuzzleGirl 2:03 PM  

Uh-oh. As soon as I read about wade getting choked up from the Mayberry RFD theme, I thought about M.A.S.H. Maybe sethg is my true soul mate! (And the Brad Pitt role in Thelma & Louise? Is it getting hot in here??)

I'm done for today!!!

archaeoprof 2:13 PM  

Thanks, Michael, for your post about this puzzle. The theme made me smile. But here in SC "uie" is spelled "yoo-ee," as in "soo-ee" or "phoo-ee" or "hoo-ee."

Chip Ahoy 2:29 PM  

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha X ∞


OMG, that's funny

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha X ∞ + 1 million.


Michael Langwald, you are funny! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha X ∞ I can't stand it. Woo to the puz. I saw SUNKNEE ANNE SHARE, just wrote in IGOTYOUBABE and stopped! Why bother with the whole bottom half when I'm laughing so hard already? Yay! *does cartwheels*

foodie 2:32 PM  

It's always wonderful to hear from the constructors! Mr. Langwald, I wanted to thank you for "Do in". That clue took me back to one of my favorite scenes in a movie where I learned the meaning of that expression. I can still see Audrey Hepburn's beautiful eyes all wide and serious as she is trying to sound sophisticated in her first fancy outing:

" Eliza Doolittle: Somebody pinched it. And what I say is: them 'as pinched it, done her in.
Lord Boxington: Done her in? Done her in did you say?
Lady Boxington: Whatever does it mean?
Mrs. Higgins: Its the new slang meaning someone has killed her..."

As to "uie"... given you're stuck with it-- and I would have hated for you to alter "do in"-- how about a simple clue like 3 of 5 (vowels)? It may not be inspired, but it is at least less controversial?

Many thanks for a cool puzzle. Now I've got both Cher and Audrey Hepburn images running through my mind... May be they're running away together, like Thelma and Louise, or Puzzle Girl and Orange, with Wade chasing after them...

PhillySolver 2:35 PM  

Perhaps late in the day, but I had postulated elsewhere that maybe G and Sol were tied by a star classification. I just got back to my desk and Wikipedia says....

"G stars are probably the best known, if only for the reason that our Sun is of this class."

sun = sol?

korova 2:35 PM  

Was anyone else bothered by 29A "Try to get in" (APPLY TO)? I resisted the "TO" for the longest time (AT? OF?) for two reasons: (1) "TO" is in the clue. I may be willing to overlook that since it's used in a different sense, but it still seems odd. (2) Can "APPLY TO" be used in the same way as "Try to get in"? E.g., "I applied to Harvard / I tried to get in Harvard." No, I tried to get inTO Harvard.

Chrees 2:36 PM  

Field for Fields, I had the C-O and immediately thought 'cookies'. The plural didn't fit so I was sure that wasn't correct, but it does show the stomach-mind connection rules for me.

And like Elizabeth, Thomas the Tank Engine has added many words and expressions to our household, including 'cross.'

humorlesstwit 2:47 PM  

After a completely wasted day at work reviewing all the entries, it's officially the Theme from Peter Gunn.

You all now owe me for 6 hours of wasted billable time.

dk 3:05 PM  

I am thinking that a four letter word for fickle may be WADE.

And, Mr Langwald I think you meant "take a UWE." That said thank you for the insight into puzzle construction and the impact of editors.

Me, I am going to drink wine with Lunch more often, said Tom sottedly... or in Wades case besottedly.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Hey everyone - I'm finally back. Been catching up on all the puzzles and your posts. Looks like I missed a great week.

@Phillysolver - good luck with your trivia contests. Add Traveler to your list of famous equines - he was ridden by Robert E. Lee.

Always enjoy this blog - especially when the constructors post. It's fascinating to reexamine the puzzle through their eyes. Jannieb

Anymore, the fun I get out of a puzzle in the threads that get woven on this blog. TV themes - never saw that coming.

A fun fill today - only hang up was in the NE - last fill for me.

Bill from NJ 3:13 PM  

I don't want to get into a neologism war here but isn't UIE(or UEY) simply an abbreviation for "Uturn" and, as a result,
has no set spelling? Isn't it just an adverb formed using the single letter U, used as a slang reference? Maybe it is too new to have a set spelling, I don't know.

This was a clever little puzzle that presented very few problems for me. I tend to measure these things by how many clued answers I never saw YET UNE EOS RST SOL YET LEM ANO. I got all these through crosses.

Looking forward to tomorrow

Bill D 3:22 PM  

A sitcom theme without lyrics is just wrong...

Best. Parody. Ever:

Homer & Marge reprising "Those Were the Days", the theme from "All in the Family":

"Disco Duck and Fleetwood Mac,
Comin' out of our eight-track,
Michael Jackson still was black,
Those were the Daaays!"

As for worst line ever in a song, don't get me started, but "... there ain't no one for to give you no pain..." (that's sure what it sounds like) in America's "Horse With No Name" might be a place to start. [I'll quit before I get censured again, but note how this fits in with our horse-naming theme from the other day (he said desperately.)]

miriam b 3:37 PM  

I thought at first that Mayo had to do either with Ireland or with the clinic.

"I'm on the wagon," said Tom dispiritedly.

David 3:54 PM  

I think the APPLYTO clue was a genuine error on Mr. Shortz' part. My understanding is that one is not allowed to have the same word in the clue and answer, and that is regardless of the meaning. Isn't that the 'rule' you experts?

The SOL <> G pairing is also incorrect. The note G is no more likely to be associated with SOL than it is to be with DO, RE, MI etc. since solfege does not assign a specific starting note to DO. So G is only SOL if you just happen to be in the key of C. Kind of like having a clue "March 15th" and the answer "Tuesday" - sure it is sometimes true!

These plus the UWE / DOWN trap that I also fell into made this seem like a very sloppy puzzle by NYT standards to me.

chefbea1 4:20 PM  

lots of food related clues and answers today. I have never made chutney with a mortar and pestle. I just use my trusty knife. But I did make a batch of cookies yesterday - oatmeal, raisin, choc. chip. Yummy. Think we'll have kabobs for dinner. Good night to fire up the grill. Its in the 80's

chefbea1 4:33 PM  

why is everyone saying 28 down is doin. in the new york times paper its 26 down

SethG 5:30 PM  

Bill D, "there were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things" is second on my list!

And I originally went even more seriously off topic, but decided to spare Rex and put it on my own site instead. I'll just note that I started this tangent to a tangent in good faith with a Sonny and Cher reference....

My first car was an '89 Dodge Shadow named Big Bertha. It is not 80 degrees here.

Barb in Chicago 6:20 PM  

Just a note to say I thoroughly appreciated Ulrich's rant and fully expect to see essen clued as meal for Ulrich in the future.

I briefly misnamed Charlemagne's mother as Martha, but Saint Anne saved me.

NE was the last to fall when chutney & batch called out my name.

Rex Parker 6:23 PM  

I was going to say that Martha was *St. Augustine's* mother's name, but then it dawned on me (just now) that her name was Monica, so never mind.


Leon 6:24 PM  

LOL at all the comments.

I wanted BIALYS for ONIONY.

UIE / UEY - me gotta go now

Howard B 6:27 PM  

Speaking of past theme songs, how could you leave out the theme to "It's Garry Shandling's Show?". Now there's some lyrics ;). Granted, it wasn't network TV, but still.

I'm sure someone has it on YouTube, but if I start searching for old TV shows there, I'm going to kill at least an hour of my night.

Lastly, I really miss Night Court.

Kimbopolo 7:23 PM  


I'm with you on the Huntley-Brinkley theme AKA Beethoven's Ninth. I remember the well-publicized protests when the show adopted a more "newsworthy" synthesized score in the 70's.

Anonymous 8:03 PM  


Get a life!!!

PuzzleGirl 8:04 PM  

@joon: Re your AV puzzle comment. Joon! Dood! You're spoiling other puzzles -- it's mildly annoying. :-)

jae 8:17 PM  

Hill Street Blues had a pretty good theme too.

wade 8:32 PM  


Lives are overrated.

Get a name.

Orange 9:08 PM  

Names are overrated.

Get a clue.

Get a haircut.

And get a real job.

mac 9:23 PM  

The only letter missing from my puzzle this afternoon was the 6D/
15A k but an audio technician from Boston helpen me out with Orkin!

That U-turn is becoming a bit of a bore.

I still don't get (I did get it through crosses) Watts and setting, please help out.

@Bill D: I totally agree with you on the added enjoyment of the puzzle because of this blog and the comments. I just passed on Rex's blog to the said audio technician who comes from a family of cruciverbalists and will tell all of them about it!

I've made a lot of chutney over the years, depending on the trees and plants I found in my several gardens, but I've never used a mortar and pestle. Typically you have to cook the stuff so long that it falls apart by itself. So long that I have actually seriously hurt a brand new cooktop while living in Boise, Idaho (those were the prune and sour cherry chutneys; unfortunately the peach tree had borers).

@Ulrich: a funny little anecdote about the word (E)or (e)ssen:
When we lived in Hamburg my husband took our young son to Karstadt on the Moenckebergstrasse and asked for the musical instrument department, inadvertently using his little bit of Latin: "Wo essen die Gitarren?".

mac 9:26 PM  

P.S. I was shocked to learn from Mr. Langwald that so much of the constructor's work gets changed by the editor!

Cea 9:34 PM  

I love chutney, I am very proud of my chutneys, and I have never, never used a pestle and mortar to make them, regardless of wikipedia may say on the subject.

And to continue on those lines, I too decided that UWE was a perfectly good way of spelling a u-turn, and DOWN was pretty Thursday-clever for off (the switch is off when it's DOWN after all).

But I liked the juxtaposition of ENLIST and APPLY TO. And I did the crossword in glorious sunshine on a shortened lunchbreak, and life was good.

Orange 9:35 PM  

Mac, sometimes far more than half of the clues get changed, along with a section of the fill.

SethG 9:44 PM  

Mac, Watts is the area in Los Angeles where the television show Sanford and Son took place.

jannieb 9:47 PM  

Funny, I kept trying to get some variation of junk yard into that fill - never thought of Watts, although I got it from the crosses.

@Phillysolver - two more horses for you - Buttermilk (Dale Evans) and Champion (Gene Autry).

mike 9:49 PM  

Do some of the more difficult puzzles like THE WRATH OF KLAHN have 50% clue changes?

PhillySolver 9:54 PM  

Thanks to all of you for your good wishes and contributions to my store of information.

Let's go see what the next puzzle offers.

Ulrich 10:01 PM  

@mac: LOL--reminds me of some of the things my wife said practicing her German during the 2 1/2 years we lived in what was then West Berlin.

@orange: This can have tragic results (and now I'm--almost--not kidding). When I learned a while ago from a constructor (I forget who it was) that his clue for "lateral"--"move to Montana"--was cut, I asked myself, how much of the really, really good stuff we'll never see? I mean, this clue IMHO would be worthy of an award (even if in a real puzzle, I probably would have never gotten it)

Michael 10:07 PM  

well, I was going to write about uwe/down. At least it is reassuring that I am not alone.

if uie and uey are ok, why not uwe?

Joon 10:51 PM  

puzzlegirl, you smileyed, so you probably weren't serious... but i did think about that. in the end, i thought it was okay because i was talking about yesterday's AV club, not a puzzle from today. though, there is a clue in some other puzzle from today that also asks for a former NY governor. (i don't remember which puzzle, or which governor, so ... that can't be a spoiler, can it?)

did we ever get an "official" ruling from the boss on this issue? if not, either way is okay. maybe i'm the only one who reads this blog after solving the NYT but before other puzzles of the day, so it should just be open season? i don't want to crimp anyone's style. i can just pop by later in the day instead. i've gotten pretty good at reading orange's blog without looking at the commentary on puzzles i haven't done yet.

mac 11:07 PM  

Thank you Seth and Orange for responding. This was a good puzzle day.

PuzzleGirl 11:12 PM  

joon: I smileyed because I was quoting you from a few days ago. :-) But that comment was about the same day's puzzle, so I see how you might look at that differently. I often read this blog before I've done (at least some of) the other puzzles. I have a personal policy of not spoiling any other puzzles here (even older ones), but I'm not going to pretend to be the boss of all of you. Too much pressure.

mike 11:44 PM  

is there a boss?

foodie 12:02 AM  

Reading the blog today is like being in one of those weird dreams-- the scene changes, the picture shifts, the mood alters.. there's music from old shows, mention of Sonny and Cher, names of horses, something about Minsk and Essen, someone getting cross, talk by some about running off together, by others about making uies, bantering about getting a life or a name, and a lot of laughing out loud... In this dream, I headed to the bar of Spotty Erudition and wound up at a wild and crazy cocktail party!

Orange 12:10 AM  

Mike, it's been my impression that some constructors' cluing styles are so smooth that Will might change only 10% of the clues—Bob Klahn, Manny Nosowsky, Byron Walden, probably some more that I don't know about. And no, they don't get paid extra for cutting down on the editor's workload.

mike 12:29 AM  


thanks I assume that includes BEQ


Doc John 12:33 AM  

This whole puzzle was a moveable d'oh for me!

Took me forever to do, even though I got the theme easily enough (well, sort of- as I got MARKET SHARE first, I initially thought that all the long crosses would have homophones of Sonny or Cher in them, not be a rebus for the whole thing).

I vote for M*A*S*H as best theme song followed by Hill Street Blues. Of course, the M*A*S*H theme was never done as well as it was done when sung in the movie.

And speaking of famous UWEs, the Dolphins had an all-pro (I think) kicker named Uwe Von Schaumann.

OK, it's late and probably nobody's reading this anyway so I'll stop. Gotta try to get to the puzzle earlier in the day!

Anonymous 5:04 AM  

Looks like if I want to participate in conversations I'd have to start doing the xword less than a day behind, and then arrive here less than a week behind.

To follow up on Rex's comment, above, as noted by ArtLvr,

Spanish words "without the tilde" are "a problem" (ArtLvr) and would be "scatological" (Rex) in this case without.

That's because in Spanish, there are not 26 letters in the alphabet, but rather 30. The additions are Ch, between C and D; Ll, which is between L and M; Rr, between R and S; and the letter at issue here, falling between N and O. Omitting the tilde makes it a different letter.

In this case, "mayo[nnaise] can be found in it" with the answer "anus" (as is the only permissible translation of "ano" into English) is hilariously inappropriate. When will Shortz and others stop insisting that the perpendicular clues must be "Chut[gn]ey" (skipping pasting in the Enye character)? Yesterday my local paper had "Vicuna" be the answer, which is also wrong; should be "with the tilde" or at the very least Vicugna.

That said, the puzzle aside from this glaring (to speakers of Spanish) error was fun and worthwhile, as described by Rex and others.

Retired_Chemist 1:11 PM  

Count me among the ones who lost out on BOTH UWE/DOWN and ONIONS/SET. :-( Didn't check them because the SW gave me all sorts of problems - I was up A TREE. 41D EELLIKE (slippery) and 43D IN IRONS (tied up) created mental blocks, which only dissipated when VETTE (67A) wandered, dilatorily, into view. I was so filled with GLEE that I was RID of my SW hangups that I was sloppy on the recheck. Clearly an AMATEUR mistake.

Nice one, Mr. (Dr.? Prof.?) Langwald!

ps is a UWE how a female sheep turns 180 degrees? :-)

Yancy 3:09 PM  

Nobody mentioned Hawaii Five-O yet.

Big Dave 4:23 PM  

I first thought cookie for fields as well....but when I started putting it together I immediately thought Sally Fields. The Flying Nun. She was funny. Kim Fields was not funny and how in the world did you ever remember who that was?

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

Fixed "do" is the most commonly used and accepted style of solfege (because of the need for a system applicable to atonal music, where there is no "key").

In that light I think "G" is a perfectly acceptable clue for SOL.

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

Fixed "do" is the most commonly used and accepted style of solfege (because of the need for a system applicable to atonal music, where there is no "key").

In that light I think "G" is a perfectly acceptable clue for SOL.

Aviatrix 11:41 PM  

Didn't receive a paper with this crossword in, but your commentary caught my eye. I assure you that bears get cross and you don't want to cross paths with them when they do. And I like your campaign to resurrect cross. Some crass words have become so prevalent that it's a struggle to find a usable substitute. I pledge to say cross instead of pissed.

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