"Extra Play" - SUNDAY, Aug. 31, 2008 - Alan Arbesfeld (World capital said to have been founded by Midas / Stopping place in a Carlo Levi title)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Extra Play" - "OT" (short for "overtime") is added to familiar phrase to get wacky phrases, which are clued ... wackily

My first thought on solving this puzzle was "Oh boy ... add two letters to a phrase ... this'll be fun" - my thought was being sarcastic. This is one of the oldest puzzle "themes" in the book. We saw it recently when yet another sports-related letter string was involved - "LT" or "RT," I forget which. Anyway, the thing about such a theme is that, for it to pay off, the resulting wacky answers really have to zing. They have to be stunning (in the main) for the solver (i.e. me) to feel like the theme really merits the name of "theme." Today, I thought the answers were simply adequate, with two Major exceptions: the great LOOT AND BEHOLD and the super great SCHOOL MARMOT. I wish my school had had a marmot. They're adorable.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Plea made to a chimney sweep? ("Say it ain't soot!")
  • 38A: Distribute equal amounts? (allot the same) - see, this clue/answer just Dies
  • 56A: Vote involved in a 15th wedding anniversary? (crystal ballot)
  • 76A: Narrow-minded affairs? (bigot business)
  • 95A: Teacher's pet? (school marmot) - the banality of the clue is the best part, because you can't see the brilliance of SCHOOL MARMOT coming
  • 112A: Stop to admire one's pillaging? (loot and behold)
  • 17D: Sexiest bell ringer? (Bardot of Avon) - that's kind of great too, though for no good reason not having the "The" before "Bard of Avon" just feels off to me
  • 62D: Part of a Beckett play? (an act of Godot)

How about the LA BREA TAROT PITS!? - I guess that's longer than any of the others, but I like it.

Here is the part of the puzzle that made me squawk the loudest: the JESSEL / INHUME corner (93D: Toastmaster of old comedy / 94D: Bury). O man, that bugged me no end. I'm told by oldsters that JESSEL is a generational thing. I take that to mean that JESSEL was INHUMEd many years ago. INHUME! Words can't explain how terrible this word is, how much it insults all wordkind by its very existence. Is it from gardening? The only way I got it was from inference - i.e. I know what EXHUME means. I even know what the root "HUM" means. And yet, if you're going to go all pretentious in your choice of synonyms for "Bury," wouldn't you go for INTER, the word people actually use? I am willing to let INHUME slide if it turns out to be a technical gardening word. Otherwise, not.

I had two scores as a test-solver for this puzzle. First, I got the clue for 65A, UNSAVED, changed. It was originally [Lost on a laptop], but I suggested that not all UNSAVED material is "Lost." I like the new [Subject to loss on a laptop] a Lot better. But I'm much prouder of having worked Lamar ODOM into the puzzle! Woo hoo! The original clue for ODOM was [Blue Moon of baseball], and though I'd seen that clue before, or one like it, I suggested that Lamar might be a nice alternative. Tough enough for many solvers (I mean, I know many of you all suck at sports ... am I right? Yes, I am), but very very contemporary. ODOM is the second-best player on the L.A. Lakers after Kobe Bryant, who is arguably the best player in the N.B.A. The Lakers were just in the N.B.A. Finals (this summer) against the Boston Celtics, in a rematch of the two great powerhouses of the 1980s. Anyway ... I was psyched to see that Will went with [N.B.A. star Lamar _____]. Bold ... risky ... daring ... but, because it was suggested by me, Brilliant. This video will show you Lamar ODOM at work, and perhaps introduce you to the word "posterize":

OK, so I forced ODOM into my wheelhouse. What else was there? Well, there was TEY (41A: "The Daughter of Time" novelist, 1951), not because I've read it (I haven't), but because, via my adventures in vintage paperback collecting, I've seen her name a lot a lot a lot. There's also the brilliant AMY Sedaris (47A: Humorist Sedaris), whose show "Strangers With Candy" was one of the best satirical shows I've ever seen (and it starred a youthfulish Stephen Colbert). I was also highly familiar with ATARI (60A: Missile Command maker), NANU (82A: When doubled, an old sitcom sign-off), BYRON (102A: Poet who wrote "She walks in beauty like the night"), UNO (14D: Game with Wild Draw Four cards - we have "Barbie" "Red Sox" "Simpsons" and "Harry Potter" versions of this game), and AESIR (105A: Race of Norse deities). And what else?

What else:

  • 22A: Single advancement (one base) - I would have gone with [What a walk gets you?] or something, but this is technically correct.
  • 27A: Pancho's pal (Cisco) - reminds me only of "The Frisco Kid," starring Gene Wilder, which I'm sure I've said before, but here it is again. Gene Wilder was a comic staple of my childhood.
  • 37A: Jobs for some underwriters, for short (IPOs) - surely accurate, but "underwriters" is not one of the first dozen words I think of when I think IPOs (which, admittedly, is nearly never)
  • 44A: "_____ Mucho" (1944 #1 hit) ("Besame") - Looked at finished grid and thought "BE SAME ... that's a Terrible answer. What was the clue?"
  • 59A: Recipient of a lettera amorosa (caro) - just did a Google Image search of this and Whoa! Wall of Nudity!
  • 72A: Three times a day, on an Rx (TID) - BID, TID, QID - handy letter combos. TID is Latin, "Ter in die," or THRICE (43D: Again and again?) daily.
  • 93A: Peter Pan rival (Jif) - Choosy mothers think Peter Pan is a freak.
  • 99A: Commercial prefix with jet (aero-) - AERO-Jet just sounds like an olde-fashionede name for the airplane. As autogyro is to helicopter, so ...
  • 118A: World capital said to have been founded by King Midas (Ankara) - wow, cool trivia. I had no idea.
  • 3D: Movie with the repeated line "To infinity, and beyond!" ("Toy Story") - biggest gimme in the whole damned puzzle. If you have been anywhere near a child (esp. a boy) between the ages of 4 and 8 in the past decade or so, you should have heard this phrase shouted (probably immediately prior to some child's leaping from some piece of furniture) a billion times by now.
  • 5D: Site of many kisses (altar) - what are you doing up there, making out!? Kiss her once and then head down the aisle.
  • 6D: Sound from a dungeon (moan) - a bit too gruesome for my Sunday morning, frankly.
  • 8D: Around 1,000, e.g.: Abbr. (est.) - this is either brilliant or clunky, I can't decide
  • 9D: Word repeated in Emily Dickinson's "_____ so much joy! _____ so much joy!" ("'Tis") - not sure I've ever seen the double-blank clue. Interesting.
  • 13D: State in the Sierra Madre (Sonora) - I'm going to Costa Rica next year, which has nothing to do with this clue, really, but since I just found out yesterday, I thought this clue was about the closest thing to a prompt I was going to get today.
  • 16D: Stopping place in a Carlo Levi title (Eboli) - "Carl who?" and "Sounds like a disease" and "ugh, crosswordese."
  • 18D: Ancient Jewish ascetic (Essene) - few six-letter words are more custom-built for crosswords. This words appears multiple times per year.
  • 121A: Theater annoyance (beeper) - people still carry these? So 80s.
  • 24D: Home of the world's northernmost capital: Abbr. (Icel.) - wow that's an ugly abbr. Almost as bad as yesterday's INCR.
  • 28D: "I Never Played the Game" writer (Cosell) - He was The Man when I was a kid. It's his voice I hear whenever I see the name "Muhammed Ali."
  • 30D: Sanyo competitor (Aiwa) - AIWA always looks horribly made-up to me, like Panaphonic or Sorny.
  • 40D: Oscar winner Jannings and others (Remys ... I mean EMILS)
  • 50D: Bygone muscle cars (GTOs) - see also [Bygone non-muscle car => NEON] (actual clue: 86D: Bygone Dodge)
  • 72D: "Pagliacci" clown (Tonio) - learned from xwords
  • 90D: What turned-out pockets may signify ("I'm broke") - or "I'm sloppy" or "Look at my lint" or etc.
  • 92D: Slicker accessory (rain hat) - again, do people still wear these? Most rain coats have hoods. The only RAIN HAT I ever see on a regular basis belongs to that Morton's salt girl, I think.
  • 97D: Hungarian playwright known for "Liliom" (Molnar) - sounds like the Emperor of the planet XoTron.
  • 103D: Partner in a French firm, maybe (frère) - as in "Sanford and Frère" [uh, no, 'frère' means 'brother,' not 'son' - I don't remember if Fred Sanford had a brother. Let's see ... no, but according to multiple web sources, Redd Foxx modeled Fred Sanford on his own brother, who was named ... Fred Sanford; if only this clue had Anything to do with "Sanford and Son"]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. whoops, forgot to mention that I had NO idea who [Colonial John] was (answer = ALDEN). Insert toilet joke here.


HudsonHawk 9:16 AM  

I got the theme (and liked it) right away with 23A, but have to say the rest of the puzzle didn't do much for me. I did sort of enjoy seeing both AMY and AMIE (Pure Prairie League flashback) making the puzzle.

He's well before my time, but I have heard of Georgie JESSEL.

Yes, in NYC the RAIN HAT still makes frequent appearances.

Greene 9:39 AM  

Can't say this puzzle did much for me. I've only been doing the NYT puzzles consistently for about 3 months, so I always look forward to Sunday; you know, the "big puzzle." Unfortunately, nothing really popped on this puzzle and the theme clues seemed rather labored. No AHAs for me here at all. I was able to finally get through a weekend puzzle without any Googles, so that made the puzzle a little special.

I loved that Amy Sedaris got worked into the puzzle. She's a hoot. Her satarist brother David has an essay involving the Saturday NYT puzzle in his latest collection (When You Are Engulfed In Flames) called "Solution to Saturday's Puzzle" which is pretty funny. Maybe Will should have a special late-night edition of the puzzle and work in Sedaris answers such as "I am not an a**hole" and "whore." My personal favorite is "I give money to p-" and "ublic radio" broken into two separate answers.

Rex, nobody (and I mean nobody) does Molnar's Liliom anymore. It's probably only remembered as the play adapted by Rodgers and Hammerstein into Caurosel. Come to think of it, that's not done too much anymore either.

Anyway, an ok Sunday, but I'm hoping for better things next week.

ArtLvr 9:56 AM  

I think this is my favorite puzzle of the year, with theme answers both clever and funny... I resisted INHUME too, but it turns out to have been used before. Also, there were a few gimmes for solvers more into food than sports -- like JIF and OSTER.

Josephine TEY didn't write as many mysteries as Agatha Christie, but hers are gems -- especially "Brat Farrar" which deals with a reluctant and very appealing imposter, plus questions of identity on deeper levels. A wonderful read, and it was made into a film which does justice to the original work.


Gil Fitzhugh 10:08 AM  

I've never heard of an aerojet, either. But autogiro isn't just an old word for helicopter. It's a totally distinct (but admittedly, except for a few dedicated homebuilders, an obsolete) type of aircraft. Its rotor is unpowered, and just spins in the airstream to create lift. So, while it can fly quite slowly, it can't hover, or go straight up, or fly backward, or do any of those other neat helicopter tricks. A helicopter's rotor is engine-driven and, by virtue of some (phenomenally-complicated) machinery, lets it fly in any direction, including vertically. Even to this day, the FAA distinguishes between the two types of rotary-winged aircraft. The endorsements it puts on pilots' licenses to permit flying one are different, depending on which kind you have proved yourself competent to fly.

Gil Fitzhugh

imsdave1 10:10 AM  

I liked the puzzle too, but that could have been because it was so much easier than the Boston Globe this a.m. - more ridiculous words in that one then I've seen in years. INHUME - yuck. UNSAY - ditto - I take things back, not UNSAY them. Having played Estragon many years ago in my callow youth, ANACTOFGODOT was my favorite.

When chefbea gets here, I need a good recipe for corn fritters. Made them this a.m. for houseguests who were tolerant, but they were awful.

Have a great day friends.

Crosscan 10:15 AM  

Wouldn't that be Sanford ET frere?
And Rex likley knows, but to others not as french-savvy frere is brother, fils is son.

I found this very easy with 2 exceptions.


One problem was ODOM; Blue Moon would have been a gimme. Thank you very much Mister "I got Will to change it to my clue" Parker. Aren't you special.

The NW caused me fits but looking at the solution I'm not sure why. I had ONE STEP and didn't want to give that up.

UNSAY and UNSAVED seem too close to me, although I know its kosher.

Wanted AMANA before OSTER.


The MARMOT is endangered here on Vancouver Island. Lots of "Save the Marmot" campaigns. We are short of MARMS as well.

Didn't know BESA ME is two words until you told me. My pen kept wanting to write SESAME as if it was some oldie about a bagel.

Alan 10:16 AM  

I have really got faster doing x-words by reading this blog. At my age thats quite a surprise. Thanks Rex.

Rex Parker 10:22 AM  


HA ha, I had 7 years of French and still managed to turn "frère" into "son." Man ... that's some kind of error. I'm tempted not to fix it, and yet ... I think it needs fixing.


chefbea1 10:31 AM  

a fun easy Sunday puzzle with just one google and a few dictionary look-ups.

Loved oster,jiff toastmaster (another appliance name) and I must say I remember George Jessel. and slab. We had great slabs of ribs at my daughter's yesterday.

@imsdave1 - dont really have a good recipe for corn fritters. I dont do deep frying any more.

can someone explain 98d oned

Gil Fitzhugh 10:33 AM  

"Besame" is one word. It means "kiss me". The second person (informal, i.e. "tu" form) imperative of "besar", "to kiss", is "besa". When you add a pronoun to an affirmative Spanish imperative, you just glue it to the verb - no space as in English, no hyphen as in French.

SethG 10:35 AM  

imsdave1, you should set up your profile to display your email address; otherwise, chefbea will have no way to send you the recipe for corn fritters you're looking for.

I have no idea how I felt about this puzzle. I got home at 2am, had a snack, and then for some reason decided to do the puzzle before going to sleep. And now I don't remember much.

I do remember having trouble right off the bat coming up with the 3D movie, the biggest gimme in the whole damned puzzle--it took about a minute to finally remember what I was trying to think of: Galaxy Quest! Yeah, that's not right. What else? Uh, YENTL's in it, that sucks. But AESIR and ANKARA and HAHAHA and THRICE were probably fun, and YODEL's a fun word to say.

I'm gonna take that nap now.

greene 10:38 AM  

I believe 98 down is an abbreviation for one dimensional (as in 1-d) That could potntially be confusing depending how you parse it

Anonymous 10:44 AM  


oneD = one dimensional = line

threeD = three dimentional = solid


Jesel was dubbed the "Toastmaster General" for the number of roasts he hosted, back similar to Berle being *Mr TV* --- same era.


Orange 11:07 AM  

AMY Sedaris fans who don't watch Nickelodeon may not know she's got a TV movie coming up on 9/12: "Gym Teacher: The Movie." I think she's the principal, maybe, with a crush on the gym teacher? Hilarity may ensue.

Noam D. Elkies 11:11 AM  

Yeah, the theme is pretty ordinary, though the grid feels impressively open -- and I count only 62 black squares which is just under 1/7 of the 21x21 area. The official theme is "extra play", not "extra! extra!". FWIW my favorite theme answer was 23A:SAYITAINTSOOT. 62D:ANACTOFGODOT is cute but the clue doesn't quite work unless we count Godot's failure to appear as an "act"...

Took a while to find 95A:SCHOOLMARMOT, because the ...OOL plus the theme first suggested SCHOOLPARROT -- I knew of no "school parr", but it matched the cute clue, and is off by only two of 12 letters. Never got the 93D:JESSEL/94D:INHUME corner. I first guessed ENTOMB, which worked with the N and M, and changed it to ENHUME when 120A:LETSSEE forced me to change the last letter to E. JESSEL means about as much to me as CHARLIEHUSTLE, and I didn't remember that Peter Pan was a peanut butter brand name as well as a bus line :-(

[Oh, and there's a difference between "suck at sports" and "suck at sports trivia". 28D:COSELL presumably sucked at sports. The athletes whose plays he commented on might well suck at sports trivia, at least outside of their own game, because like most of us they have more interesting things to commit to memory than hundreds of names and nicknames of major-league players.]

Nice to have 20A:APOLLO exactly symmetrical with 119:URANIA (not THALIA as I first guessed, matching 3 of 6 letters). On a Friday or Saturday, URANIA might also be clued as "radioactive oxide" or "UO2" (same construction as "[milk of] magnesia" = oxide of magnesium); alas this wouldn't do on a Sunday, so we lose the chemical mini-theme with 86D:NEON and 72A:RNA.

Short notes:

7A:LETSAT -- first had SETSAT and took a while to see that the resulting "sineal" is really 7D:LINEAL. Which brings me to 98D:ONED -- much better than ONER, which now looks like the odd job of somebody who ONED, whatever that means. 44A:BESAME is a single Spanish word bésame; parodied as "sesamé mucho" in PDQ Bach's The Seasonings. [The missing accent here, or for that matter in 103D:FRERE, is not as troubling as the missing tilde in the familiar ANO.] Nice clue for 51A:HILT, matching both the literal and figurative meaning of "to the hilt". 71A:ATANEND -- the 3-word phrase was a surprise since I started with the D. "Blasts from the past" is a clever clue for 83A:NTESTS, if rather flippant for the subject. 89A:LIAISE is a useful word for constructors but an odd back-construction from "liaison". Yes, a nice bit of trivia for 118A:ANKARA.

15D:REWATERS is hardly a word but constructors must sometimes resort to such things. 31D:SPAM blocker -- I wanted BETA. Maybe some spam blockers also block beta tests. Nice clues for 34D:STEEL (which I guessed sans crossings), 43D:THRICE, 52D:TOUCAN, 55D:YODEL. Re 77D:GALORE -- nice that both this and the clue "aplenty" are among the rare English adjectives that are only used postpositively. 81D:ROSARIES -- in Spanish the idiom translates to "count with", which would also work here. 101D:RESTS -- first had HALTS but a 2-of-5 match isn't much when it includes the near-obligatory S. 103D:FRERE -- I don't recall seeing this clue before.

Yes, enough already -- I've probably exceeded the equivalent of Rex's three-post limit...


Ulrich 11:13 AM  

I got off to a great start with two crossing gimmies (TOBIAS and BESAME), but then ran into trouble in all the corners b/c of a lack of background for the entertainment answers. Finally had to make the existential Sunday decision: Spend the rest of the day trying to do this unassisted or speed things up by googling--as usual, googling won (needed 3 in all--not bad, given how stymied I was at some point).

Some tidbits about Jannings: He was the male lead in The Blue Angel, the film that propelled Marlene Dietrich to international stardom. The film was based on the novel Professor Unrat by Heinrich Mann, Thomas's younger brother.

foodie 11:14 AM  

Rex, I burst out laughing when I read your "choosy mothers think Peter Pan is a freak". It was rather insensitive of me, with my husband nearby worriedly tracking Gustav, as his parents live near NOLA. I appreciated its cleverness even more when I tried to explain what was so funny.

And you're definitely right about some of us re sports... my ignorance is so deep, it can neutralize the expertise of at least 5 of your sport-savvy readers.

Puzzle did not do much for me. I liked learning the factoid about ANKARA and liked the way STEEL was clued. And I hate the word LIAISE, probably because I despise people who see themselves as LIAISING. Shoot me.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

1. To deposit, as a dead body, in the earth; to bury; to inter. "Weeping they bear the mangled heaps of slain, Inhume the natives in their native plain." (Pope)
2. To bury or place in warm earth for chemical or medicinal purposes.
Origin: Cf. F. Inhumer. See Inhumate.
Source: Websters Dictionary
(01 Mar 1998)

Joon 11:19 AM  

i can't remember a puzzle where i agreed more with rex's writeup. let me count the ways:

1. ODOM! great clue. it's about time. nice work, rex.
2. the SW corner... eww. INHUME and JESSEL were bad enough, but we also had the stack of ENGRAVER, SHOER, SUDSIER, and EMOTERS. holy crap, that is a pile bad fill on top of bad fill. three "odd jobs" (one pluralized just for good measure) and a really weak comparative adjective. i mention this only because it stood out in such an otherwise-excellent puzzle. and perhaps it's forgivable because ANACTOFGODOT was a really good theme entry... but there must have been a less objectionable way to fill that corner.
3. ICEL. eww again. but at least it's an isolated eww.

overall the puzzle was pretty easy. and for the first time that i can distinctly recall, being a constructor helped me out with a specific answer. i've definitely never seen EBOLI in a grid, but it comes up Over and Over when i try to fill in a grid. the first two or three times, i saw and and thought, "what the hell is that?" now i know: christ stopped at EBOLI. anyway, i've never used it in a puzzle, but today i plugged it in. it's sort of the arithmetic mean of the common biology answers ECOLI and EBOLA.

bill from fl 11:33 AM  

I liked this one better than most who have posted so far. It took me a while to finish the NE, because I repeatedly misread "Runs the hose over again" as "Runs over the hose again," which kinda changes what you're looking for. Yeah, it was easy, but I still learned a few things (like INHUME) and got to enjoy some really weird puns.

chnest 11:59 AM  

Odom clue was definitely an improvement.

Regarding the "beeper" clue, which is horribly outdated, there's a great episode of 30 Rock dealing with Liz's boyfriend the Beeper King, where Jack buys one of the beepers to upset Liz and says "I'm expecting a call from 1983." The reference definitely should have been updated.

I also feel that way about any clues dealing with AMC. The clue is usually "Movie buff channel" or something similar. AMC has sucked as a movie channel for about 10 years, but no one has told the crossword cluers.

Bill from NJ 12:09 PM  

I dug Georgie Jessel up from my Storehouse of Useless Hollywood Information. I remember him, not as Toastmaster General, but his commenting on being Toastmaster General on late-night talk shows, sort of a second-generation memory and, like Rex, I inferred INHUME from its root. I don't care how many citations are trotted out in support of that word, it still sucks. {I mean no disrespect to you, Anonymous 11:15}

I uncovered the theme at 56A and proceeded in a southeasterly direction from SAYITAINTSOOT through LOOTANDBEHOLD.

Even though the theme itself was not fresh, I enjoyed this puzzle, particularly BARDOTOFAVON.

Could someone explain how CARO relates to lettera amorosa? I'm drawing a blank.

ArtLvr 12:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 12:13 PM  

@ joon -- EBOLI has appeared 14 times since Will took over the editing of the NYT puzzle! Your take from a constructor's viewpoint is always fun and illuminating, though...

@ anon at 11:15 -- Thanks for the Pope line and more on INHUME. I hadn't looked it up yet, and just hope no constructors are ever tempted by "inhumate".

@ gil and noam -- I'm glad you noted BESAME as one combined word, and I enjoyed being reminded of the parody!

@ ulrich -- That's a neat tidbit regarding Heinrich Mann's "Professor Unrat"... Does Unrat mean anything in German?

@ bill from nj -- CARO means "dearest" in Italian, thus is a likely adressee for a love letter.

Now to get outdoors, lovely day here, and @ foodie -- let's hope Gustav peters out somewhat, contrary to forecasts.


Ulrich 12:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 12:43 PM  

@artlvr: Yes, Unrat means "garbage". The real name of the professor (at a grammar school, not a university!) is Rat. High school students in Germany (and elsewhere, I suppose) have the habit of giving their teachers mocking nicknames, so they call Prof. Rat, who is a nasty piece of work in the novel, Prof. Unrat. Jannings plays him in the film

BTW I should've thanked you yesterday for the news on Pete Seeger--he should be remembered for more than the notorious Newport Festival.

As to "caro", let's wait for ACM to explain this--she knows from personal experience.

jae 12:44 PM  

Not much to say about this one. About a medium for me. No real missteps but stuff seemed to take longer to come up with (e.g. APOLLO, ONEBASE, IPOS, GALORE) than it should have.

becky740 1:15 PM  

I had NO crossword mojo today; maybe it's because I'm on vacation. I rather liked the theme answers though, esp. AN ACT OF GODOT, probably b/c Godot is the only thing I know that goes with Beckett.

The NE corner gave me fits, esp. the stupid Colonial John. At one point I got so desperate I put ELTON, thinking knighthood made him colonial or some such other crazy make-it-work crossword rationalization. In a similar vein,I could not get over thinking the answer was SCHOOL MASCOT, even though SCHOOL MASC makes no sense! Also, I had JESTER instead of JESSEL, and thought that was a clever clue, if the answer indeed had been JESTER. We could add it to all the ubiquitous toastmaster, roast, and emcee clues.

The corn fritter question from dave reminds me of the contraption on "Arrested Development" that was so dangerous that it was banned in the US and was sold widely in Mexico - it was called The Cornballer.

I'm obsessed with all things Sedaris. I'd look at Amy's Geri Blank and worry that her face would freeze like that! I think my all-time favorite David story is "Get Your YaYas Out." The latest book is good but I think Naked is still my very favorite overall.

Ladel 1:17 PM  

It's really too nice here in the Big Apple to be doing this but I just can't resist one blog since it's been a while. I'm old enough to remember Jessel, a personality larger than himself, and I suppose it was an honor of a sorts to have him eulogize you, though he must have done hundreds. So, to whom did he entrust to eulogize himself, no one, he actually recorded his own eulogy, and it was dutifully played at his funeral. Time for the great outdoors.

joho 1:33 PM  

@artlvr: CARO is a male dear, isn't it? I remember my Ex-Father-in-Law wanted to name a girl CARA.

@rex: what is the clue for LA BREA TAROT PITS? Where seers hide and sink?

@bill from nj: I got the clue at the same place you did, 56A ... and it went fast after that. While I liked this puzzle, I didn't love it.

fikink 3:12 PM  

shouldn't the clue "mountain air" have a ?
@nde - I hung onto beta too as Mr. Fikink is a pharmacist and I was AWASH in loyalty (this also fed into liking your use of "assay" the other day, foodie)
appreciated your spam-beta theory, too, nde.
@ulrich - like your time management. Still in the first blush of this site, I am refreshing the page like some Pavlovian pigeon...I SHALL BE RELEASED!
Had SCHOOLMASCOT for the longest time after I found the theme thinking MASC was slipped in as it relates to soccer
@becky - I like the way you think about Elton John (and thanks for the Knight Industries Two Thousand the other evening)

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I initially put "diplomas" for 35A (graduation deliveries) but erased it when crosses wouldn't work.

Mary in NE

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Please explain why "bardot of avon" is a sexist bell ringer.


fikink 3:52 PM  

@anon 3:48
the clue is "sexiest"

chefbea1 4:24 PM  

@anon 3:48

and avon women whether sexy or not use to ring doorbells

Wade 4:43 PM  

One of the first movies I saw in the theater (the first was "Mackintosh and T.J.," which may have been Roy Rogers's last movie) was "Silver Streak," which had Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. I don't remember much about it except that Gene Wilder kept getting thrown off the train (literally, as I recall) and each time he'd stand on the side of the tracks and watch the train going away and then would stamp his foot and yell "Son of a bitch!" I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I was eleven or twelve.

You know how Fred Sanford would mimic having a heart attack by putting his right hand over his heart and extending his left arm straight out? That's still the image that stands for "heart attack" to me. When I was a kid, anytime I overheard that an uncle or grandparent had had a heart attack, I assumed that's what it looked like. "I'm comin', Elizabeth!" If I ever have a heart attack (and I'm deep-frying fish tonight, so stay tuned), that's what I'm going to do.

mac 4:46 PM  

The best word I learned today was "wordkind" in Rex's write-up!Good for you to go to Costa Rica; I just read Michelle Richmond's "The Year of Fog", and a part of it is set there. Hope you like surfing.
You are right, I don't know a lot about football and several other sports, but when my husband wants to orate I listen politely, and apparently some of it sticks and comes out at the right moment, usually to his amazement.

I thought this one needed the plodding without great rewards technique. Two paragraphs in Noam's comments tell the story of my journey. My biggest problem was 1A: I had Yes I Am! What have I been hearing lately? I had spam, sets at, , I don't know Jessel and I don't like hahaha, but I like 34D steel, B and B, no worse and the fact that three pieces of clothing (84D, 85D and 92D) are touching (I should probably say abutting).

"The Daughter of Time" is my favorite Josephine Tey book, I wish I hadn't read it yet!

I also think school marmot is hilarious, and "say it ain't soot".

@bill from fl: I LOLed at your "hose" mixup!

miriam b 5:00 PM  

Carousel was the musical based on MOLNAR's Liliom. He was primarily a playwright, though he also wrote novels, criticism and essays. I read a great deal of his work when I was in high school. I loved its romantic mitteleuropean esthetic, but was sadly let down by his (I believe)last novel, Farewell My Heart, which, according to the publication date, I must have read when I was about 15, probably during my de Maupassant phase.

Bill from NJ 5:23 PM  

It's funny how our minds work - I had all kinds of trouble sussing out CARO at 59A and no trouble at all on Colonial John in the NE

foodie 5:43 PM  

@wade, I trust your fried fish is not trout, given your previous identity. Catfish maybe?

I do remember that Sanford and Son routine-- very funny! I used to watch a lot of situation comedy to learn about various facets of American life. Luckily, there were some good ones for a while, e.g. All in the Family. So, NANU was a gimme. But now I have lost track-- does the genre even exist or has it been taken over by reality shows?

@Fiknik, I too had BETA for blocker and hung onto it for a looong time. It seemed so perfect...

Michael 6:48 PM  

At first I thought this would be an extremely easy puzzle with many gimme name clues. (I am not ashamed of knowing a zillion sports names.) And I got the theme fairly early. But for some reason I didn't get the theme answers all that quickly. My favorits are "say it ain't soot" and "school marmot" (I kept wanting to put in "school parrot" but it didn't work.)

I also had "beta" blocker for a while.

ArtLvr 7:14 PM  

@ joho -- yes, CARO is is the masculine singular for the adjective meaning "dear" and alone it would be "dear one" referring to a man. It brings to mind the great aria "Caro Nome" (Dear Name) sung by the sheltered daughter of of Verdi's Rigoletto, one of the most famous love songs in opera. She's just met the young man in question, since he sneaked into her secluded garden the same evening of the day their glances locked in church -- and he managed to tell her his name before sneaking away again, unlike the similar scene in Romeo and Juliet. She is rhapsodizing about his name while preparing for bed...

The puzzle's clue would indeed have been more accurate if the gender had been indicated, since "Cara" would apply in a love letter written to a female! (Maybe the clue was overly revised before publication?)


Ulrich 7:57 PM  

@fikink: My time management is good only when I'm doing work on the ex-Parker-House-Hostess's website or when I'm following the German soccer games on "live ticker". It deteriorates rapidly when I'm taking apart the roof over our garage.

I also found this clip of the Blue Angel in case anyone is interested enough to see Emil Jannings and the great Dietrich in her signature song from the movie: "From head to foot, I'm primed for love--that is my world, and nothing else".

joho 8:07 PM  

@artlvr: thank you ... I shall now have to listen to "Caro Nome." I'm a huge lover of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet being a such a beautiful tragedy ... not much of an opera fan, but certainly appreciate beauty wherever I find it.

jae 8:10 PM  

@mac -- that's the phrase I was looking for "plodding without great rewards."

@foodie -- try the "The Office" for a current sitcom.

alanrichard 8:18 PM  

I took the puzzle and a very hard & super hard sudoku to the beach at Point Lookout. I was almost finished with the puzzle before I realized the theme. I got ballot and crystal fit in front and then it was- oh yeah!!!
My two brief misdirections were onestep for one base and opt for tap.
I thought the clues were very creative and i enjoyed the puzzle. Never even noticed inhume because I had it from all the crosses.
I remember George jessel from Atlantic City. My parents used to go there for vacation in pre gambling days. I believe George Jessel was staying at the Traymor or the President Hotel when we were there.
The Traymor was the premier hotel in Atlantic City and I remember when it was imploded just prior to gambling became a fixture inn AC.

alanrichard 8:23 PM  

As long as we're on the subject of Marlene Dietrich---who knows the last word in the movie Touch Of Evil that was said by her???
Remember, she was the gypsy fortune teller. Heston & Welles were the main players and Joseph Cotton had a bit, and uncredited role.

alanrichard 8:28 PM  

Bridgette Bardot - sex-I-est bell ringer. Is literaacy a requiirement for doing this puzzle???

Ulrich 8:32 PM  

@alanrichard: I think she said (about the--dead by now--Orson Welles character), "he was a man". Only someone with the self-mocking presence of Dietrich could have pulled off a corny line like this.

dk 8:38 PM  

Not much to say about the puzzle. Here at Stouts Island in Wisconsin, young girl reading Sadaris told her the story about Amy wearing the make-up (she looked abused) in the grocery store and telling the clerk she thought it was love this time (or words to that effect). The girls dad looked at me like I was from NY or sumthin and wisked her away.

Yesterdays was, as the step children say, a beeeatttch.

alanrichard 8:42 PM  

Adios (as she walked away)

jeff in chicago 9:15 PM  

So-so puzzle for me. I'l ditto other comments on UNSAVED and INHUME.

BIGOTBUSINESS took me the longest. I had no clue what key the symphony was in nor who TONIO was. The actor in me loved BARDOTOFAVON and ANACTOFGODOT.

MOLNAR was responsible for my first lead in a play. He wrote a very clever comedy called "The Play At The Castle," which P.G. Wodehouse adapted as "The Play's The Thing." (I did the latter.) My character, a playwright, opens the play talking about how difficult it is to write the opening of a play. Hilarity ensues.

fikink 10:09 PM  

Ulrich, My memory of Blue Angel is of playing pinochle in the condo in St. Louis with the gays downstairs. They had a wall-sized poster of Marlena Dietrich on one side of their dining room and Bette's Divine Miss M on the other. A better couple, Mr. Fikink and I never met, fun, witty and killer critics! By the end of the night, Jack and I were bffs!
@joho, you would like Delibe's ballet, Coppelia.
@alanrichard, I loved Touch of Evil!

Bill from NJ 10:27 PM  


Thank you - I figured "lettera amorosa" meant love letter but the only Italian I know is by way of high school French

mac 11:08 PM  

Correction to my earlier post, I didn't have spam, I had beta!

Daryl 11:34 PM  

A fairly straightforward puzzle - got OSTER, JESSEL and URANIA from the crosses.

I had John SMITH of Pocahontas fame instead of ALDEN, and like many, I wanted BETA even though I knew AMY.

INHUME is an ugly word. But despite the fact that I'm generally a Celtics fan, ODOM is a great clue, and lots of fun to watch. Blue Moon ODOM works for me too.

acme 2:39 AM  

@caro ulrich
Missed the puzzle today, too busy blogging for tomorrow, but didn't want you to think I was ignoring you!
"The Blue Angel" is one of the saddest films I've ever seen. In that really good, real way.
You ARE the man,
(and I'd wish you belated anniversary congrats if I weren't so consumed by "rasend"!)

acme 2:39 AM  

@caro ulrich
Missed the puzzle today, too busy blogging for tomorrow, but didn't want you to think I was ignoring you!
"The Blue Angel" is one of the saddest films I've ever seen. In that really good, real way.
You ARE the man,
(and I'd wish you belated anniversary congrats if I weren't so consumed by "rasend"!)

acme 2:42 AM  

ooops, how do you delete a double comment? I've often been intrigued when it says a posting has been dleted by its author...
how does one do that?

chefbea1 7:47 AM  

@acme you probably wont see this as its monday morning but if you click on the trashcan at the bottom of your comment..its can be deleted

BeccaD 6:12 PM  

(longer time lurker, rare poster.)Surprised nobody mentioned this before....for all the hating of INHUME, any lovers of Pratchett's Discworld series would recognize the word from the work of the assassins guild.

Back to lurking...

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

I'm old enough to have given myself a whack on the head for taking so long to get Jessel. He was legendary as the ubiquitous emcee.

I also thought immediately of this blog when I filled in the answer, as in "Rex Parker's going to hate this because he won't know who Georgie (as he was called) Jessel was." I see you were miffed enough to display George Peppard's picture next to your Jessel commentary, instead of Jessel's. ;)

Citizen Mundane 1:38 AM  

Dude, I can't believe you talked him out of "Blue Moon" Odom, but at least you mentioned him... that is an all-time great baseball name, an all-time great name PERIOD, and even pasty-faced word geeks should be familiar with it... Lamar Odom??? I have stuff on my dirty socks that is more interesting than that... speaking of Kobe, how about a clue or answer with "Kobe's beef?" could be Shaq, or the Celtics, the Colorado Police Department... I did like "liaise" as a verb, but I can honestly say I have never heard an actual human utter that word... take back, unsay? how about you unwrite that answer? peeyewww... glad to learn that the 15 year anniversary is crystal, and i hope I remember that in 14 years when mine comes up... that is, as long as my wife doesn't unsay our wedding vows...
75A, C Mire, A muck ... how about don't show losing cards, a la Texas Hold 'em?

This puzzle was okay for me, I thought the theme was a little too easy... took me about 5 seconds to get it, and that made the rest of the puzzle a little too UNchallenging... i did like the Bardot of Avon...

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