THURSDAY, Oct. 16, 2008 - Ian Tullis (Beverage brand whose logo is two lizards / Western end of i-190 near i-294)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: EXPANSION TEAMS (48A: 20-, 25- and 42-Across, so to speak) - baseball team names "expanded" by the addition of one letter.

I got home from prison about 7 hours ago, and in fifteen minutes I have to go BACK to get fingerprinted (I teach English there). I do everything on the prison's schedule, within their absurd windows of time. I am so tired that that is all I can say. No write-up today until probably noon, unless PuzzleGirl decides to jump in and make something happen. She's likely sleeping at the moment. My short take on this puzzle: not a fan. Which is a shame, as I tend to love baseball. The theme doesn't cohere at all. Why those teams? They aren't actually EXPANSION TEAMS. The added letters aren't the same, or in the same place. They aren't even all in the same division. I don't know. Add one letter to get three loosely related puns - that's a theme?

Clearly I am cranky from the low sleep, so I'll stop now and let you all have at it.

RP



Hi, everybody. PuzzleGirl here, stepping in for our fearless leader. The comments have already started coming in so I'm going to try to get this up ASAP.

Rex already explained the theme. Not very tight or consistent. Probably more so for people who know which MLB teams are actual expansion teams because they have an added layer of WTF? Me, I'm kind of getting used to the idea that new teams pop up every so often when I'm not paying attention. What really gets under my skin is all the corporate naming of the stadiums. When I was a kid I used to think that buildings were named for people as a tribute to some sort of greatness. I had no idea it was about money. I think these corporations would get good press if they would name the stadium after someone great/influential/somehow-related-to-the-sport-involved. Instead they act like Oprah, who, every month, puts herself on the cover of her magazine. Wow. I bet Rex had no idea I was going to go off on a rant like that. Why don't we just go ahead and talk about the puzzle now?

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Some Cubans in Texas? (Houston Castros)
  • 25A: Where hot jazz developed? (Chicago clubs)
  • 42A: Broadway deli offerings? (New York meats)
Let's talk about the fill instead:
  • 6A: Historic mansion in Newport, R.I., with "the" (Elms) - I would love to know why every time I see a reference to an "historic mansion" somewhere in the northeast my mind immediately goes to "The Amityville Horror."
  • 18A: Holey things (tori) - I was thinking sieve, strainer, etc. Something full of holes. This is the plural of torah, right? And a torah has a hole in it? Because it's a scroll? Whatever. [Thanks to everyone who explained that tori is the plural of torus. Mmmm, donuts.]
  • 24A: Western end of I-190 near I-294 (O'Hare) - Anybody outside of Chicago get this one easily?
  • 37A: "Go, and catch a falling star" poet (Donne) - I'm sure Rex would have something appropriately brilliant to add about Donne here. Unfortunately, I lost my college brain many years ago.
  • 40A: International Olympics chief Jacques (Rogge) - Who?
  • 56A: Floated downstream, in a way (tubed) - Reminds me of the time back in high school when my friend Suzy and I and our two boyfriends went on a camping trip up to a river in Wisconsin somewhere. Suzy and I both told our parents that we were sleeping over at each other's house. Every time I remember one of these events, PuzzleDaughter's future teenage years get a liiiitle bit less fun.
  • 61A: "Day Is Dying in the West," for one (hymn) - From the title, I thought this hymn might be scary, but my cursory glance through the lyrics indicates that it's just about taking time to worship while the sun is setting. Oh, and if by some chance you have the karaoke file for this hymn, the Digital Hymnal website would love for you to share it with them. I don't think I have it, but I'm going to look through my karaoke files to make sure.
  • 1D: Part of a price: Abbr. (cts.) / 2D: Cunning (arch) / 3D: Ancient dynasty of northern China (Liao) - Wow. Tough corner.
  • 29D: Silver topper? (Lone Ranger) - Rex would probably say this answer needs to have a "the" in front of it, and I would agree. Also, I think that a "?" clue is intended to direct you away from the answer it's actually looking for. And, generally, it directs you to something specific (see 6D: Buggy field? (entomology), which made you think of, like, a cornfield with a lot of bugs flying around, right?). "Silver topper" didn't do anything for me though. Is a topper a hat? A topping? And what kind of silver would it be on top of?
  • 46D: Kind of whale (sperm) - Eewwwww.
Stuff I loved:
  • 14A: Done to death (trite) - Awesome clue.
  • 5D: Affairs, slangily (beeswax) - Great clue/answer combo. Makes me think of Gilda Radner's "Lisa Lubner" character.
  • 35D: They may be even, ironically (odds)
  • 45D: "Uh-uh" (ixnay)
The parade is awfully short today, so kudos to Ian Tullis for that.
  • 58A: Wrapper weight (tare)
  • 59A: Start a hand, maybe (ante) - Raise your hand if you initially entered deal.
  • 11D: Piece among the crown jewels (tiara)
  • 33D: Measurement with square units (area)
  • 51D: "I'm _____ you!" (onto)
  • 52D: Wharton degrees (MBAs)
  • 57D: Banned pesticide (DDT)
I'm sure if I missed any, you'll let me know in the comments. So let's hear it....

Signed, PuzzleGirl, on behalf of H.R.H. Rex Parker

P.S. This is for Orange:



P.P.S. in the interest of blogging every clue that uses the word "slangily," I am tacking on reference to this great answer: THE SAUCE (38D: Alcohol, slangily). THE SAUCE is for SOTS, TOSSPOTS, elbow-benders, those who say "HIC," and those everywhere looking to avoid the D.T.s.

86 comments:

imsdave1 7:40 AM  

This puzzle was not easy for me. I was shocked to see that rating from Rex. I spent more time on this one than I did on last Saturdays. It might have been easier for me if I hadn't abandoned the NW before seeing the ETRUSCAN clue, but no - didn't get 1, 2, or 3 down and left to start hopping wildly around the grid. Finally got the theme with NEWYORKMEATS and this really helped me to slog through the rest. Enough of the E (insert anything you'd like here) answers - they're getting pretty old. E-CARD? Why not E-PAPER, E-BILL, E-MEMO, E-APPLICATION. E-NOUGH!

@Rex - enjoy your prison time. When I was a student at Potsdam (back in the early disco years), we ran a theatre program at Dannemora. We weren't allowed into the facility until we were finger printed. I was amazed at the intelligence, wit, and determination of our 'students'. I hope your experience will be as satisfying as mine was.

steve l 7:42 AM  

Let me be the first to say, I agree with Rex. The Mets and the Astros (as the Colt 45's) were once expansion teams, but after 45 years, they are hardly expansion teams anymore. The last expansion was over 10 years ago, so can we really say that there are really any expansion teams at this point? The Cubs were never an expansion team; they've been around over 100 years (as I am sure any fan would know), so they don't belong in this puzzle at all. Plus, the added letter was not consistent.

Orange 8:35 AM  

The theme is fairly Wednesdayish, in my opinion. I care far less about baseball than Rex and many others, so I wasn't troubled by the lack of actual expansion teams in the puzzle—it was enough for me that the team name was "expanded" by one letter.

Outside of the theme, there's some terrific fill—BEESWAX and ENTOMOLOGY, slangy THE SAUCE, the LONE RANGER, IXNAY. Some of the other fill and clues are tougher and less familiar, but Thursdays are about stretching towards Friday difficulty.

Plus, the constructor (making his crossword constructing debut here) is named Ian Tullis, which puts me in mind of Jethro Tull and front man Ian Anderson. Can somebody pick out a classic Jethro Tull video on YouTube? This chilly morning needs some prog-rock flute.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Suggestion for 3rd expansion team to replace Cubs:


Investgative journalism, up north? Montreal Expose`s

If only they had stayed put...

RT

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

That should be just -

Expose'


RT

Joon 9:18 AM  

why would anybody want them to be actual expansion teams? the theme is that the team name is "expanded" to form some off-beat phrase. this doesn't seem like that difficult a concept.

that NW corner was a bear. still don't really understand 1D. carats? counts? ... computed tomography scans?

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

@joon

CTS as abbrev for cents, I'm sure.

I can see both sides that 'expansion' could be seen as strictly relating to the adding of a letter, and therefore a valid theme, but the word has additional meaning in a baseball context, so a little extra effort on the construction would have made the word relevant both ways.

RT

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

@joon: cts=cents

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

@PG

Tori is plural of torus, that pesky geometric donut shape.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

tori is plural for torus, one definition of which is a geometrical shape similar to a doughnut.

ArtLvr 9:43 AM  

I agree with orange and joon, and it wasn't an easy Wednesday for me somehow. I got it, working from bottom to top, but slowly! Trickiest was the NW, with ARCH clued as [cunning], and the LIAO dynasty (probably should memorize that?) The theme seemed okay without those deeper meanings expected by sports fans... DOW going down at 37D was all too apt! Only CTS = cents left on the dollar!

@v pg -- 18A TORI is the plural of torus, the donut shape, thus "holey"...

∑;)

ArtLvr 9:51 AM  

Oops, everybody wrote about the TORI and CTS at the same time! I did enjoy seeing ENTOMOLOGY, having taken a premed course in "med. ent." long ago. Aedes mosquitos and so on, truly a SCARE.. but good for crosswordy fill.

∑;)

Norm 9:53 AM  

Well, actually, the Mets and the Astros were expansion teams, so 2/3of the theme should have satisfied even Rex ...

Lurene 10:02 AM  

Sobe?

Crosscan 10:13 AM  

As I have a multi-year contract with Rex requiring me to comment every time the Montreal Expos are mentioned, including naming three players...

Montreal Expose reminds me of the time I was in high school and…oops. I can’t tell that story.

I liked the puzzle and have no problem with the theme. The first answer has a new first letter, the second answer a new second letter and the third answer a new third letter. I smiled at each theme answer. What’s not to like?

BEE’S WAX is my second favourite word of the week.

Number of days without BOOMSHAKALAKA appearing: 1
The vigil begins.

PuzzleGirl, you will get me in big trouble as I will now laugh in Shul every time the ark is opened and the tori are revealed.

Boots Day, John Boccabella and Coco Laboy.

Wade 10:16 AM  

Yeah, kind of a lame theme. I like "Houston Castros." It's amusing just in itself. The other two aren't. Hasn't there been some sort of pun on Mets/meats in the puzzle before? Also, I don't know why the clue for Chicago clubs refers to "hot" jazz. The phrase "hot jazz" connotes for me the stuff that was going on in Paris in the twenties and thirties--Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli (the "Hot Club" guys), Josephine Baker, all that lot. When somebody says Chicago I think blues before jazz. Not to deny Chicago its place in jazz history, but the phrase "Chicago blues" is more recognizable than the phrase "Chicago jazz."

fikink 10:20 AM  

This was fairly easy for a Thursday for me, probably because I started at the bottom and got the theme before any of the teams. Liked IXNAY, BEESWAX, ETRUSCAN, and SLOTHS.
@orange, speaking of DOW, when are we going to see LIBOR on our puzzle? Has it been in other puzzles you watch? The London Times?
It would be timely, since it seems to be the first thing that confronts many of us these mornings.
Here is some more Jethro Tull for you, Orange:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_4r1uAlV8

p.s. I get TORI every time I extrude and bevel ;-)

SethG 10:22 AM  

PG, I believe the plural of Torah is Torata. The cop in Stan Mikita's donut shop in _Wayne's World_ was Officer Koharski.

Also, I think the Silver they're talking about is Lone Ranger's horse, and "topper" means he sat on top of him. I erased deal to fill in open.

Saw Dreamland Faces at the Bedlam last night, and Andy sang about The Tickler in the park. While playing a saw and an accordion, instead of a flute, but I was already thinking about Aqualung.

I hate Chinese dynasty clues.

humorlesstwit 10:33 AM  

Aren't any Cubans in Houston actually Anti-Castros? Or are they referring to the 3 people in Houston actually named Castro who are of Cuban extraction?

And, I've got to agree with Wade about Hot Jazz and it's non-Chicago roots. Hot jazz didn't come from Chicago, Chicago Blues did. As evidenced by PG's inclusion of Buddy Guy. Chicago Blues.

Doug 10:33 AM  

I quite liked this one as it was often in my sweet spot (Chinese history, Italian history and I fly in/out of OHARE all the time. Dare I mention all the guys who had NATICK as a gimmee.)

I stared at an awfully big sea of white after the first pass and just barely got through 100%, although I had NEWYORKME-L-Ts for the deli clue -- Hey, it could work! Too bad about the wrong vertical answer.


Lots of clever cluing and nothing too outrageous. And the theme is far better than some of the clunkers from last week. I reached the end of my rope on this, so my tail is already between my legs in anticipation of Fri/Sat!

imsdave1 10:34 AM  

@PG - totally with you on 46D - IXNAY on the ERMSPAY.

@wade - Reinhart and Grappelli are two of my absolute favorites. Don't really know much about Josephine Baker except for her name and namesake restaurant 'Chez Josephine' in NY's theatre district. Haven't eaten there in a couple of years, but it was (and I hope still is) a great place to eat and be entertained.

I'm with joon and crosscan on the theme. Expansion doesn't need to apply to the answers beyond the additional letter. Then again, to the few of you who know me, I'm no expert on themes :)

fikink 10:36 AM  

Please excuse my last citation to Orange. (I didn't even know that was on my computer.) Orange, I will email my gift.

joho 10:37 AM  

I love BEESWAX and IXNAY. I even like the theme as all the technicalities involving baseball go right over my head or are just plain not in it. Plus it doesn't bother me that the changed letter in each theme phrase isn't the same. All in all, I say a good Thursday puzzle. I sure don't think it was easy. Good job Ian!

hereinfranklin 10:39 AM  

A fairly easy go for me...thought there might be some sort of card suit theme at first with CLUBS...baseball is pretty far down my list. Loved BEESWAX. Had LEAVES instead of SLOTHS for too long....

Karmasartre 10:49 AM  

@wade: At least Chicago Jazz makes a lot more sense than Utah Jazz.

miriam b 10:52 AM  

Watery stuff today: TUBED, OARS, CREW,CONGO,and STEP (I guess in the sense of stepping stone?). And there's SERE to counteract all that moisture.

I suppose SOBE has water in it, but I have to PPG to find out what it is.

Ulrich 10:57 AM  

I am with those that understand "expansion" as a joke in the context of the puzzle--to me, there would be no joke if the teams were really expansion teams. So, I liked the puzzle, really--had no real problems with it (except for IXNAY--can someone please explain?), and found it a worthy successor of the three above-average puzzles we have had this week so far--I hope the trend will continue.

easylob 11:17 AM  

easy??? Well, maybe the bottom half, but the top was a killer. I don't get the clue for beeswax--the only context I know is "None of your beeswax"

steve l 11:19 AM  

@norm--The fact that two teams were expansion teams and one wasn't is exactly what makes it sloppy.

@imsdave1--You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but it's still sloppy. No consistency in what kind of insertion is made, phrases like NEW YORK MEATS that sound ridiculous, and two out of three teams that actually were expansion teams.

@ulrich--Zero out of three expansion teams would be better than two out of three.

Another question: If these answers (except the first) turned out so clunky, why limit your options to baseball? All four major team sports have expansion teams.

Other stupid clues:
Cafeteria accessory in St. Pete: TAMPA BAY TRAYS
Some Italian men in Anaheim:
LOS ANGELES ANGELOS

See how dopey this is?

@puzzlegirl Re TORI--The plural of Torah is TOROT. But if you're going from TORAH to TORI and thinking of food, shouldn't you segue into bagels, rather than doughnuts?

Wade 11:23 AM  

How many Torot are there? Is Tori a Miss Spelling?

Rex Parker 11:24 AM  

I liked that the tubes involved in floating downstream are, roughly, TORI.

ROGGE! Sorry, had a piece of donut stuck in my throat there.

I am the kind of tired that makes you super-punchy. My fingers and thumbs are all a dull gray from the ink. I hope the FBI thinks my prints are pretty.

Many, Many thanks to PG for handling today's write-up. You all would not have enjoyed whatever I could have scrambled up in the next hour or so.

rp

fikink 11:32 AM  

@ulrich, IXNAY refers to someone saying "No" in piglatin.

Joon 11:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z.J. Mugildny 11:38 AM  

Eh... so-so. That is how I would rate this puzzle. I am actually surprised to see it. As one whose puzzles are frequently rejected by the NYT (and occasionally accepted) I have been told that Will sees a lot of the add-a-letter theme puzzles and only takes the ones he really likes. Apparently the theme answers in this puzzle do more for him than for me. HOUSTONCASTROS is pretty cool, and if the other two were as good as it, I'd tip my cap and say "nice puzzle", but they are on the weaker side. NEWYORKMEATS is especially boring.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

I am beginning to feel like I am at a McCain rally with the 'fringe' element he won't denounce. Can someone erase the over the three limit nonsense among the last fifteen posts?

I loved the puzzle and the smiles it brought. ARCH in the cunning sense was new to me. So, what does that make McDonald's Golden Arches?

/miguel

Rex Parker 11:40 AM  

@joon,

Nobody said anything about the theme's being "difficult." I already told you why "anybody" would want the theme answers to be expansion teams (or at least something beyond random baseball teams) - because then the theme would have some serious coherence, some level of 'wow.' I mean, you could have done something with REDS, or RAYS, and CASTROS was pretty damned weak - a name as a plural = meh.

Next time you want to register disagreement, try it without the smug condescension.

rp

PuzzleGirl 11:42 AM  

I'm still laughing at myself for thinking TORI was the plural of TORAH. And then missing the alley-oop to bagels instead of donuts. D'oh!

@easylob: Yes, it's the same BEESWAX that you're thinking of, but works substitution-wise if you say it this way: "Mind your own BEESWAX."

(Oh, and I'm deleting the spam as fast as I can!)

Rex Parker 11:47 AM  

I should add that yes, the puzzle was probably "easy" for me largely because ETRUSCAN was a virtual gimme for me, having recently finished teaching the "Aeneid," which features Etruscans prominently. Didn't know LIAO or CALEB, but I'd at least heard of the latter. So the NW didn't kill me, but I can see it killing other accomplished solvers.

rp

Shamik 11:56 AM  

Gotta go with the Easy on this one. Aside from the theme, I really liked IXNAY, ENTOMOLOGY, and especially BEESWAX. Some clever cluing with STEP and others.

Thanks, PG, for the Tull video!

steve l 12:17 PM  

@wade--Of course there is only one Torah, but each congregation, unless it is new or poverty-stricken, has several of them in their ark. Aside from the pride of owning more than one, there are two practical considerations for having multiple Torahs: 1) To keep each open to a different section if consecutive services require it; and 2) because some of the Torot might have been rescued from Eastern Europe. And that's a mitzvah! What's a mitzvah, you ask? That's another post, and I think I'm at three now!

joho 12:25 PM  

@puzzlegirl: I loved how you came up with TORI as the plural of TORAH. You made my morning.

Ulrich 12:31 PM  

@steve I: What I should have said is that IMHO, the joke works only if it's a subversion of the meaning of "expansion team" as it holds outside the puzzle. It doesn't matter if the teams in question really are expansion teams or not b/c it's their name that's being expanded in the puzzle. Mixing this up with real-life team expansions would have muddled the case, not improved it--again, it's IMHO, and I may in a minority, at least among baseball fans.

Karen 12:56 PM  

My last fill was the G intersecting ROGGE and CONGO. I'd never heard of those particular falls before, and knowing the IOC guy is French helps only a bit with the spelling.

I thought the theme was clever, and the puzzle medium to challenging for a Wednesday.

Orange 1:02 PM  

What? Chicago had jazz and still has it now.

I think I need some jazz to clear the Jethro Tull out of my ears. I think that video loosened up some beeswax or earwax or something.

Joon 1:12 PM  

ulrich, i'm with you, but only in a smug and condescending sort of way. so maybe you need more/better backup.

rex, you did seem to be having trouble grasping the theme. you wrote:

I don't know. Add one letter to get three loosely related puns - that's a theme?

my answer: no, that's not a theme. the fact that the base phrases are all names of baseball teams is what makes it a theme. again, this is perhaps the smug condescension talking, but i was genuinely surprised that the nature of the theme seemed confusing to you (perhaps related to lack of sleep), or to a couple of other commenters.

there's no real answer to the question, "why those teams?" you could ask a similar question about practically any theme. yesterday, for example, we had a theme involving words that can follow BABY: BOOM, SIT, GRAND, TALK, STEPS, BLUE. why those six, and not CARRIAGE, GIRL, BOY, FACE, LOTION, DOLL, WIPES, BACK RIBS, etc.? with just about any theme, the constructor is free to make choices about which entries work the best. (the exception would be if the theme is drawn from a very small set of things, like the three stooges, the four cardinal directions, or the five vowels. a two stooges theme would definitely feel incomplete and arbitrary.)

JoefromMtVernon 1:14 PM  

Hi all:

It's another cranky day.

Using the Cubs makes the theme erroneous. Should themes be like clues (some literal, some not)? I say NOT.

If you solved the NW corner without Google, kudos to you!

Continuing the Grand Poobah theme from yesterday, here's a link to Weird Al's Bedrock Anthem, a parody of some Red Hot Chili Peppers songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDhOGZtVi_A

Joe

mac 1:36 PM  

@Karen: the IOC guy is Belgian.

I enjoyed this puzzle, thought it was properly Thursday semi-tough, but my last words to fill in were sloths and O'Hare. I liked a lot of the clues/answers already mentioned above, and I guess I'm lucky I don't know so much about baseball that I would get upset about the way the theme was worked. Had a little trouble with the (C)Astros, but I got the other two easily.

@PG: didn't Dylan's son sing in the Wallflowers?

mac 1:44 PM  

P.S. @Wade: torus will forever remind me of Michelle Richmond.

rafaelthatmf 1:57 PM  

I would not have guessed an easy rating. This sum in a beach kicked my fargin’ icehole! I don’t track time really but well over an hour and half. As has been my modus operandi of late I take no position on the expansion theme. I hate the wishy washy but do see both sides. I want to not like it but lack the vigor. I was up late last night at a David Byrne show at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee. It will go down as one the best shows I have ever seen. Every aspect excelled. His voice has not deteriorated one iota. The sound quality exceeded expectations and choreography stunned. A few pearls from the Talking Heads but not enough to overshadow the new him. Proper! The crowd agreed and showed it. The band noticed and gifted with three encores. The third definitely not scheduled. Go see this show if it gets near your neighborhood.
rex get some sleep old boy. Maybe lay off the red meat for a day or two and dial it back to some decaf. Dissent is not unpatriotic right?

chefbea1 2:40 PM  

I agree the northwest was awful. Had trouble in the southeast also.

@fiknik in piglatin ixnay=nix and onay=no

@miriamb Sobe is a drink that was started here in connecticut a few years ago. I remember tasting a sample at a grocery store and not liking it. I don't like snapple either.

andrea carla michaels 2:51 PM  

@imsdave
Love your E-NOUGH! Tho I do have to say of all of them, ECARD has become an actual thing...esp for cheap bastards! I will not be accepting any on Saturday! ;)

I don't know from expansion teams, tho that phrase helped me get the whole puzzle...

@crosscan
I like that you dug deeply and thought there WAS a consistency of adding a first letter, a second, a third...like each base.
Now I wonder if that WAS the idea, rather than the randomness, slight messiness.



@puzzlegirl

I also love that you continue to be the least Jewish person alive.
I would have helped you blog had I been able to tear myself away from my Kabbala studies...

The Deli clue left me cold, except MEATS and TEAMS are anagrams, which I'm sure has some mystical meaning :)

Overall, I learned a lot.
It was one where I filled the answers in without previously KNOWING the specific references to:
Caleb, the Elms, Donne, Rogge, Liao, Congo, Sobe.


re: SPERM/BEESWAX
On the "Minds over Matter" trivia show this week (Those with too much time on your hands can hear me on the podcast at kalw.org)
a caller informed us that Beeswax was used as a natural birth control in the 1800's that you could order from some catalog!
(Worked as a cervical cap, apparently, I had incorrectly guessed you held it between your knees!)
Talk about minding your own beeswax!!!

andrea carla michaels 2:53 PM  

ps
LOVED the clue for 35D:
"They may be even, ironically"

I'm gonna guess (no offense to Ian) that that deserves a shout out to Will!

Free Lunch 3:01 PM  

To me the NW wasn't that bad. Somehow ETRUSCAN came to me (memories of art history class?), and once I got BEESWAX the rest fell into place.

The center was where I got stuck. The W of DOW sat by itself, taunting me, and the crossing of a river name (albeit one of the world's best known, as it turns out) through two obscure proper nouns took about 10 minutes to plod through. There's probably a strategy for solving these situations, but it doesn't come to me naturally.

I do appreciate that the theme was baseball despite any weakness - timely for the playoffs. I'm hoping that Boston wins tonight, just to extend the season. However, after the last two games, they may want to consider pitching from behind a screen.

PhillySolver 3:08 PM  

@karen
Learning geography at any point in the past will eventually catch you out e.g. Siam, The Senegal, Stanley Falls. The latter now being the Boyomo Falls and originally named after Dr. Livingstone's seeker. Kisangani is now the name of the city near the falls replacing Stanleyville.

Wade 3:11 PM  

Orange, Tulsa also has jazz--Pete (piano) and Laura (vocals) perform every Friday 6-8 at the Applebee's next to the Best Western out by the airport. (Kids under twelve eat free!) But if you're ranking Chicago's musical contributions, the first thing you think of is the blues, no? Chicago has equal claim on the blues with New Orleans and Memphis, I'd say, though Clarksdale takes second to nobody. But I wouldn't say Chicago has any special claim on the development of jazz. New Orleans gets top billing, and everybody else is competing for second (or, in the case of Tulsa, 347th.)

Chefbea, you continue to amaze me. I'd have figured you for somebody who buys Snapple by the pallet.

fikink 3:21 PM  

@efbea1shay, ouyay areyay ightray. I uzway ryingtay oootay onveykay eaningmay, ichway isyay eyeway I edsay "efers-ray oootay"
ahay, ahay!

treedweller 3:26 PM  

Add me to the "NW was hard" list. I had to get the X in RELAX before I saw BEESWAX (I smiled at that one, after struggling for some more modern slang that I assumed I wouldn't be familiar with), which got me thinking about CALEB, which gave me ARCH. ETRUSCAN fit so I filled it in, but I was guessing. I never came close to understanding CTS, so that and LIAO were mysteries until I saw TRITE.

Other sticky places came from "loco" for LOON; deal, then lead, for ANTE; OARS for CREW; plod for TROD; and Jacques Who?

This whole disagreement over the theme seems like an example of the specialists wanting too much specificity. If you never noticed that two of the teams in questions were actual expansion teams, you were happy. Well, I was, anyway.

I liked this one because I was sure I'd end up googling, but then it all came together in the end.

@wade and humorlesstwit
Wiki disagrees with you on the origins of "hot jazz," for whatever that's worth.

poc 3:29 PM  

I got most of the puzzle fairly quickly but stared at the NW corner for ages. The only thing that worked for 5D was BEESWAX, but I don't get it. Even Google shows no correlation between "beeswax" and "affair". Could some kind soul enlighten me? Is this some slang term I've never seen in my entire life?

Crosscan 3:38 PM  

Edie Adams has died. Hopefully, clues for EDIE will not now reference an electronic random number generator(E-DIE).

PuzzleGirl 3:38 PM  

@poc: "Mind your own beeswax" = "Mind your own affairs."

fikink 3:41 PM  

@poc, think of "getting your affairs in order" or the statement, "Who I am going to vote for is none of your affair."
affairs~business

dk 3:46 PM  

@fikink, stop hanging out with Sarah Palin you are speaking in tongues.

Jethro Tull, saw them at Newport and had Stand-Up (first and best album) as an 8-track, now if I can just find those fringed moccasin boots that I only wore once after saving up my drug.... err lunch money to get them, only to find them as annoying as parts of this puzzle.

NEWYORKMEATS is just wrong, all wrong

I got the theme before I got the themettes.

Day dreaming about a SCARE of SLOTHS out on a limb.

Must be a cranky day all over.

Ian T. if you read this blog fine puzzle BEESWAX is great, the whale thing was not helpful as I was eating grits for breakfast this morning.

Ulrich 3:51 PM  

@wade: This is what I've read about the pivotal role of Chicago in the history of Jazz: When the (red-light) Storyville District closed in New Orleans, the jazz musicians lost their main venue of making a living and started to migrate up the Mississippi River, turning first Kansa City and then Chicago into Jazz frontiers. The pivotal moment in Chacago came when the young Louis Armstrong walked into the joint where the King Oliver band was playing to play second cornet, on Oliver's invitation. It was here that he met the most important people who would form with him the Hot Five later (Lil Hardin, Johnny Dodds), arguably the most influential combo in jazz history when it comes to the birth of the Jazz solo

Wade 4:04 PM  

Okay then, I'm busted. I know almost nothing about jazz, and the little I do know is wrong.

Let's change the subject! Anybody know Conway Twitty's real name? Harold Lloyd Jenkins. Ask me something else about country music.

poc 4:06 PM  

@puzzlegirl and @fikink: OK, as I suspected "mind your own beeswax" is a slang term I've never seen in my entire life, and I thought myself well-read. Somehow I find that deeply troubling. Thanks for the feedback.

imsdave1 4:29 PM  

re: ulrich on Louis Armstrong.

As a retired big band trumpet player, just wanted all to know that second trumpet (or cornet) was always the featured player for improvisation. The first trumpet plays the melody when appropriate in the arrangement. For what it's worth.

Three and out.

Dave

Two Ponies 4:35 PM  

Re: beeswax - I think it was invented as a slangy distortion of the word business as others have noted in "Mind your own business."
@ dk - If you find those suede mocs you might find my matching jacket hiding there somewhere as well.
I hope everyone gets plenty of rest tonight so we can head into Friday with clear heads.(I'd hate to have to break up a fight.)

chefbea1 4:37 PM  

@dk where's that old puzzle you found?

dk 4:53 PM  

@chefbea1, I will post it tomorrow. I forgot to bring it in today, messed up some of the fill so I will look like a fool when I do post it and given how cranky I/we are I suggest you do not ask again :):)

@two ponies, we can go to the be-in together, unless it has been turned into a cube my old VW window van (complete with aforementioned 8 track player) is somewhere near Ithaca NY, otherwise we will hitch.

@wade, let us listen to some Junior Brown

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQWPeCDTiUA

Noam D. Elkies 5:10 PM  

Yes, Torah --> Tori is a great false cognate. (No Pearl Harbor connection either.) Yes, the grammatical Hebrew plural is TOROT but I think one would normally say "Torah scrolls" (or SIFREI TORAH in Hebrew). As it happens "scroll" also has a mathematical sense, but I don't expect to ever see it in a NYTimes puzzle.

I guess 29D gets a "?" because "silver topper" suggests "gold". Or so Jacques 40A:ROGGE would think.

No, I didn't try DEAL for 59A. I did, however, hastily fill in ERIE for 36A:ERIN, and the resulting ETRUSCAE for 4D:ETRUSCAN seemed too credible to trigger a cross-check... Apropos anagrams, this puzzle features not just MEATS and TEAMS at the ends of theme entries 42A and 48A but also 36A:ERIN and 40:REIN.

NDE

dk 5:12 PM  

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZD6D5vH8WE&feature=related

old school Jethro Tull

3 and out

Free Lunch 5:37 PM  

My mother used the expression "Mind your own beeswax" often, as did her mom. They're from St. Louis, MO, if that helps.

Wade 6:07 PM  

dk, Junior Brown is hilarious. I used to see him on Thursday nights at the Continental Club in Austin. You always got the sense that, no matter how heroic the guitar-playing was on Thursday night, Friday morning he was back to work in the appliances department at Sears.

George 6:31 PM  

I'm surprised nobody has talked about the sandwich combination in the theme: you've got a clue with "Cuban," "clubs," and "deli"/"meats".

For EXPANSION TEAMS, I really, really wanted BASEWICH TEAMS or something like that.

chefbea1 6:47 PM  

@free lunch I'm from St louis. I know the term mind your own beeswax but never heard my mother say it

Two Ponies 7:11 PM  

@ dk and wade - Thanks so much for the Junior Brown! I love him and that far out guitar. Can't wait to share him with my other half (the one responsible for my growing appreciation of C&W).

John 7:30 PM  

Did anybody else put "NEW YORK MELTS" and was unable to find their error for a while?

fergus 8:20 PM  

Thanks to a little boy who lives around the corner, who changed his name last year from some wimpy, hippie thing like Cloud or Fencepost to CALEB. Something tough and manly.

mac 8:26 PM  

@wade: what can you tell us about Hank Williams Jr.?

Doug 9:14 PM  

@john, sure did, see my earlier post. After slogging through just didn't pick up the mistake and was just pleased to be through!

Noam D. Elkies 9:16 PM  

@fergus 8:20 -- CALEB, "tough and manly"? It is to laugh. The name means "dog" in Hebrew, or -- as the Wikipage for Caleb notes -- possibly "as the heart" (as in "after my own heart"), which makes for a better name than "dog" but far from a conventionally virile one...

NDE

Wade 10:44 PM  

Hank Williams, Jr. is a disgrace and a joke. It's a shame, because he has an amazingly expressive voice. For a brief period in the mid-seventies he was promising--he wrote some really good songs--"Footlights," "Old Habits," even the self-celebratory "Family Tradition" (Hey, did you know his dad was Hank Williams?)-- and "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" is unsurpassed honky-tonk. But he's just awful. I have a long, depressing story about seeing him under protest at the York County Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania, the summer of 1997. I was there for the wedding of a strung-out girl I knew in high school who was marrying a semi-pro Las Vegas drummer who was supposedly good friends with Hank Williams, Jr.'s saxophone player. (Didn't know he Hank Williams, Jr. had a saxophone player? Me neither.) We were promised "backstage passes." "Backstage" at the York County Fairbrounds is the visiting team's locker room or the equivalent of same. We got back there--I think anybody could have wandered in--but Hank Jr. and the band had never set foot in the locker room--they were on the bus--and the only refreshments on hand were a few bottles of--I'm not kidding--Snapple whose labels were peeling away in a washtub of lukewarm water.

mac 10:49 PM  

@wade: I am sure you know why I asked about him, but you mentioned his father, the real Hank Williams. My late father was a huge fan of his, and I grew up listening to his songs. Pretty unusual in the Netherlands. Just a few years ago, not long before he died, he found some wonderful documentaries on dutch TV about the history of Country and Western music in the US, and he insisted we all watched it and learned.....

foodie 11:26 PM  

There is something about days when there is a guest blogger... the natives are a little wilder. Just an observation.

andrea carla michaels 3:18 AM  

to be fair, the odds/even clue I loved was indeed Ian's, not Will's

@ Foodie: funny and true.
Back in the day when I would substitute teach, I tried to channel SIdney Poiter from "To Sir With the Love" the best I could!

@nde
interesting about Caleb=dog
Why do so many hEBrew/old testament names all have "eb" and not so often now?
(Rebecca, Ebenezer, Jebediah, Caleb, Deborah, Zeneb, Zebulon)?
IS there a scholarly/linguistic reason?

Waxy in Montreal 5:08 PM  

From the syndicate -

Wow, folks were woefully uptight 5 weeks back. I found this a delightful Thursday puzzle, challenging with a fun theme. Yeah, the Melts would have better than the Meats but that's a quibble. My mom's maiden name was Heath (as was Sarah Palin's!) so was neat to find it clued today (62A). Also learned a new word/meaning: TARE (58A) and about an unknown (to me) soft drink Sobe (22D), apparently for South Beach.

What more could I ask for on a cold, cloudy Thursday as my portfolio reset itself? Maybe just to get loose and relax with a single malt version of "the sauce". Nah, ixnay that...

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