SATURDAY, Dec. 20, 2008 - Brad Wilber (Game played on an 81-square board / Papal capes / One of a notorious pair in Genesis / Aspirin pioneer Hoffman)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

I had an error. OMAN for ORAN (53D: Birthplace of Yves Saint Laurent). Forgot what the [Papal capes] were called, and OMALES seemed as good as ORALES to me. Strangely, what I was really worried about in that answer was the "L" - how the hell do I know what a 55D: Soviet sub class is? But ALFA sounded plausible, so I went with it. Good call. I just got blind-sided by ORAN. Never even blinked at OMAN. ORAN is in Algeria, and has way more to do with France than OMAN. But staring at O-AN, only one geographical place leapt to mind. And like I said, when it comes to [Papal capes] ... any consonant could have convinced me.

Otherwise, the puzzle is fine. It's a pangram (contains ever letter of the alphabet), if you care about that kind of stuff (I don't). It's got some snazzy long fill going down the middle of the grid in PALAZZO PANTS (7D: Woman's loose-fitting garment with flared legs) - not familiar to me - and NETFLIX QUEUE (21D: It has things you want to see) - very familiar to me ... though I took an embarrassingly long time uncovering it. I had the QUEUE and was still gawking at it in puzzlement. Ugh. I guess I was a bit off. It happens.

The new word of the day, for me, is SHOGI (8D: Game played on an 81-square board). Yogi Bear's Japanese cousin. At one point I actually thought to myself "It's not CHESS, right? ... 1, 2, 3 ... 8 ... it's 8x8 ... right?" Yes. If I've ever heard of "AGNES GREY" (20A: Bronte classic), I don't remember when. Needed nearly ever cross for that "classic" (it's NOT a "classic" just 'cause a Bronte wrote it).

Perhaps the most notable thing about the puzzle, along with all the high-value Scrabble letters, is the cacophony of names and places. Tons. A veritable slew. Slough? No, slew. That just looks wrong. Anyway, check it out -

Some People:

  • MOOSE (49D: Jock in "Archie" comics) - first answer in the grid. Sometimes it pays to have a daughter who reads 2-5 "Archie" comics a week.
  • SABU (38D: One-named star of the 1930s-'60s) - just saw his name in a series of movies as I was flipping through the TCM schedule trying to figure out what to record this week.
  • MOE (43D: Bart Simpson's prank call victim)
  • OMAR EPPS (1A: "The Mod Squad" co-star) - all of him! Usually it's just the EPPS. Or just the OMAR.
  • MR. T (49A: Onetime bodyguard of Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson)
  • DEANE (35A: Connecticut delegate to the Continental Congress) - zzzzzzzzzz. At least yesterday's ROTH had an IRA I could try to remember him by. This guy? No such luck.
  • NYE (22A: Frequent ad-libber on "The Steve Allen Show") - him again
  • FELIX (27D: Aspirin pioneer Hoffmann) - to me, FELIX is an Unger or FELIX is a cat
  • LIDA (39A: "_____ Rose" (song fom "The Music Man")) - Jack Lemmon has tickets to "The Music Man" at the beginning of "The Apartment" - Shirley MacLaine stands him up. I told you I watched TCM. In fact, just last night, I watched Shirley's brother in "Shampoo." Oh, and LIDA schmida.
  • AMADEUS (41D: Broadway play with the role of Emperor Joseph II) - in her review of "Shampoo," Pauline Kael uses the word "Mozartean." Seriously. There's no Mozart in the movie, though. Just Beatles. And some Beach Boys at the end.




Some Places:

  • ORAN
  • OGDEN (1D: City near the Wasatch Mountains)
  • ROME (4D: Capitoline Museums locale)
  • ASIA MINOR (42A: Neighbor of the Caucasus)
  • GOMORRAH (15A: One of a notorious pair in Genesis) - this took a cross or two, then was obvious
  • MOGADISHU (52A: World capital long beset by civil unrest) - terminal "U" helps

Finishing up:

  • 26A: 1960s dance showcased on "Laugh-In" (THE FRUG) - Hey, you know who else is in "Shampoo," besides Warren Beatty? Goldie Hawn (of "Laugh-In" fame).
  • 36A: Classic name in copiers (Mita) - had MICA at first. Unlike OMAN, MICA got fixed.
  • 40A: One of two in Canada? (schwa) - had SOFT A at first.
  • 58A: Science concerned with aging (oenology) - I admire this clue. All the clever folks will be thinking "it's GERONTOLOGY ... why won't it fit!?"
  • 2D: Reef predator (moray) - I like that clue.
  • 23D: Zoot-suited, say (hep) - hmmm. I'm not sure the suit makes you HEP, say.
  • 34D: Grp. formed in Bogota in 1948 (OAS) - my crossword reflexes were good here. Came to me right away.
  • 48D: Units of a chain with links? (IHOPS) - mmmm. Here's one of my readers at an IHOP (it's "chefbea"):
  • 51D: Subject of many a billet-doux (tryst) - man, the puzzle really loves to put "billet-doux" in its clues. There were many TRYSTs in "Shampoo," but nobody bothered with love letters.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

50 comments:

Crosscan 8:57 AM  

This was a tough, and ultimately unsatisfying slog, ending with three errors that were impossible to detect.

ORAN/ORALES was an impossible crossing. I also tried an M.

I knew a chessboard has 64 squares so despite having the H that one stayed blank. I tried ANNES GREY /SHONI. And ORSK/RITA made as much sense as anything else.

FIREPROOF stayed a long time for OVENPROOF, although the V was screaming to be seen.

Also had SOFT A. I hate SCHWA. Keep it out of Canada.

LIDA was my first answer. I love "The Music Man". DRUM SOLO was the best clue, but not enough to make this one fun like yesterday was.

JannieB 8:57 AM  

This was a great Saturday puzzle. Hard for sure, but ultimately doable. The NW corner and central California were the most difficult for me. I kept thinking of the tv series actors and not the Mod Squad movie so Omar took forever.

The two clued "classics" were unknown to me, but I promptly wrote in IHOP and Moe. (I think this blog is educating me in ways I never realized!) The clue for oenology was great, loved Netflix Queue, wanted to fill in headache instead of drum solo, and that "schwa" was the last entry I made.

A solid, satisfying Saturday!

campy 9:11 AM  

I've seen the word ORALES before, and recalled it from __LES. ("Ora" = to pray, which a Pope does often, I'd imagine.)

The NW was last to fall for me, after I looked on imdb for OMAREPPS. (I had M and a P to start.)

Pinky 9:39 AM  

Schwa????????

meaning what?

pinky 9:47 AM  

OK Shwa = An unstressed and toneless neutral vowel sound- that's news to me...

bill from fl 9:48 AM  

I also fell for OMAN. I tried just about everything before seeing SCHWA. Otherwise, it wasn't too bad. My wife is a 19th century literature prof., so I was aware of AGNES GREY. And the stale pop trivia was mostly from my g-g-generation.

Alex 10:26 AM  

Putting in LAYERED as a gimme answer to "Like some cakes and hair" really froze up the NE for a very long time. Really it was so obviously right that it took me a long to concede it could be the problem.

I knew there was no U.S. presidential first name with a Y in the second position. But this being a Saturday I figured any president in the world and in history is fair game.

My key moment of evidence that slowly I am getting better at this stuff is that I wrote in "ENISLE," that horrible word, as a gimme.

I remember Silas DEANE because of the ridiculousness of his scandal. At the start of the Revolutionary War he was sent to France to try and get help from that country. he successfully negotiated the discreet provisioning of guns and ammunition that were very important to the war effort.

But he got in trouble because the French wouldn't provide receipts for these transactions (because they weren't officially allying with us as of yet and didn't want evidence for the British) so he got called back to be raked over the coals for possible graft.

He was ruined and eventually died in England labeled as a traitor.

All because in a secret transaction nobody would give him receipts.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

My first fill was Louis NYE, 22A, confirmed by MORAY, 2 D. From there I thought it was just a tough, slow, but doable puzzle, until I came to an utter deadend in . . Northern California? . . . specifically 31 D. For the first time in awhile, I had to use an outside reference (funny how posting to this blog makes me more competitive, more determined to solve with no outside help.) My National Geographic map of the world didn't have the Trans-Siberian Railroad on it, but OMSK, 31 D, jumped out at me, and I was able to finish the rest of the puzzle correctly with that.

I had been slowed a bit by 10 D, Like some cakes and hair, which I wanted to be BRAIDED instead of the correct FROSTED. I know that there are braided breads around, but, foodies, are there any braided cakes??

Two write-overs: I had FIREPROOF instead of OVENPROOF for 31A, until OMSK set me straight. And knowing very little French, but having the "I" in third position, for 56 A, Time after le soleil sets, I had NUIT instead of the correct SOIR.

All in all, very good puzzle.

JC66 10:44 AM  

I didn't have a problem with ORALES but, for some reason, I was unsure whether MOGADISHU was spelled with an O or an I. Luckily, I guessed ORAN over Iran.

janie 10:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
janie 11:19 AM  

loved the scabbly fill in this pangram. but found it waaaay easier than yesterday's which -- tho it took what felt like forever -- was one of my all-time faves.

with nyc (and much of the upper half of country...) coated with snow, have a special appreciation today for the crossing of FROSTED and FRIGID. imagine there are some skibum solver types out there solving in an AFRAME...

where's BRR when ya need it?

;-)

janie

Greene 11:25 AM  

@alex: I too used LAYERED for 10D and then got into even deeper trouble because LYNDON Johnson seemed a very natural fit for 18A. It didn't help that 11D was RING which fit very nicely with LYNDON. I was in real trouble in the NE for a long time because of this gaffe. My wife gave me PALAZZO PANTS for 7D (not for Christmas), which meant 23A had to be HAZIEST. Then, and only then, did I finally give up on LAYERED and get FROSTED (which is such a better answer anyway). Is "get frosted" slang for something like going on a bender? If not, then it should be. Any thoughts ACME?

Loved the IXQU letter pileup in 21D, which is what I was staring at for a while before NETFLIX QUEUE leapt out. I got IHOPS immediately, but had no clue about OENOLOGY. I was one of those people Rex mentioned who thought Gerontology should go there.

It is a tribute to this blog that I got answers like ASIA MINOR and TRYST with hardly any thought. I even wrote in XBOX with only the O from MOE to go on, and then delighted in the two Xs and XB pairing. Yikes, I need to get out more.

@Crosscan: LIDA was my first fill as well, quickly followed by AMADEUS. "The Music Man" is a sentimental favorite, but don't get me started on that weird TV version that aired in 2003. WTF was that?

norm 11:35 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Unlike Crosscan, I thought it was a tough slog, but very satisfying in the end. Never heard of AGNES GREY and declined to ask my wife the English teacher, but ___ES GREY had to be James or Agnes and the latter seemed more likely. ORALES was a gimme, such a classic word. The NW was the hardest section to me; never saw the movie, but we were in ROME two years ago and guessing ERS over UMS and PRO over FOR made OMAR pop out.

treedweller 11:38 AM  

AGNESGREY is by the "other" Bronte, Anne. I read it in a British novels class as an illustration of why it was not the equal of her sisters' work. It was not hard to see the truth in that lesson. I guess it's a classic because it's old and has a Bronte byline.

I got the payback I feared after yesterday's remarkably fast finish. Did a lot of googling and still stared a long time at the CA-to-CO area. Never heard of PALAZZOPANTS. Guessed SHOGu/vaguest so I was lost there in the center. I had just let go of ama_ for VICI (by finding KINSMAN--my first guess was veni) when my wireless connection fritzed out on me, forcing a restart that reset the puzzle and so I gave up. Just as well--I don't think I was getting SCHWA, I dismissed ETHN because it was missing an 'O', and I don't know OMSK.

So it goes. I enjoyed the part I managed to finish. Definitely a begrudging "You got me" on OENOLOGY.

PhillySolver 11:40 AM  

It is nice to have chefbea back on the blog and now we get a picture. I am sorry is appears right above the discussion of tryst though.

I did the puzzle last night and read about the Oran/Oman confusion and just went to check, thinking I must have fallen for that also. Surprise! I had it right and no idea how. Maybe this is the first sign of a split personality. "I did that?" should not be a sentence you say very often. My commitment for too long to an error was entering 'drumroll' for DRUMSOLO and I still think my answer is more appropriate. I had the opposite NET FLIX problem. I couldn't figure out what the last word was as I thought it was QUE. I think QUEUE should be banned for wasting letters.
No snow yet in Philly so my daughter's plane should land soon for her Home for the Holidays visit.

Doug 11:57 AM  

No snow yet? You must be the only one in the northeast. I left Toronto on Wednesday in what the Canadian papers are calling "snow-mageddon."

Goldie Hawn was my fav FRUGger on Laugh-In. And if I recall from my teen years watching HBO in the late 70s, Warren Beatty's character was caught FRUGging Goldie's character in Shampoo. I'll have to put that in the QUEUE.

Raymond 12:10 PM  

Can someone explain to be how "Mac user's motivation" gives RAIN?

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

"Can someone explain to be how "Mac user's motivation" gives RAIN?"

Mac = Macintosh = Rain slicker

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Can someone tell me why one of the squares in Rex's finished puzzle is always blue? Is it a computer thing or is this the dumbest question ever?

Doug 12:22 PM  

I'm Canadian and have no idea what schwa is!!! We have two languages here but no schwas that I can see. We have an Oshawa and an Ottawa but no schwas there either. Thought today's puzzle was much easier than yesterday, despite the schwa.
I'm beginning to like it .. What the schwa!

evil doug 12:30 PM  

Back when the cost of Archie and Pep and the rest of that comics family was a dime---instead of becoming a habit nearly as expensive as smoking---I read 'em too.

I think Archie and Reggie loved Midge even more than Veronica or Betty, but Moose was insanely and violently jealous so they adored her in silence. I had a thing for Midge, too....

Just as in life: Girls go for the bad boy early in the social process, up until maybe junior year of college. Suddenly the realization that they crave a mate with ambition and earning potential leads the babes to---well, to people like me.

Last laugh!

I also share Jughead's love of hamburgers. If you're ever in Cincinnati, I recommend Terry's Turf Club.

Evil

So, Doug: Are you Canadian? Wasn't sure....

Alex 12:46 PM  

@greene

Good thing Lyndon Johnson somehow got skipped when I was running through presidential names. I don't think I'd have ever recovered. (I wouldn't be surprised with the way my brain works if I didn't mentally think "...Franklin, Harry, Dwight, JFK, LBJ, Richard, Gerald...")

thebubbreport 1:03 PM  

AEvil Doug, my favorite Cincy burger is at Zips in Mt. Lookout...

@Alex, thanks for the Silas Deane info - I knew the name but did not remember why I had heard of him.

@Anon, thank you for making me think beyond my laptop. That "R" was my last letter filled in and I still didn't get RAIN (and had never heard of THEFRUG either).

This was a satisfying puzzle - the ease of the NW corner gave me confidence to keep plugging through.

becky

jae 1:33 PM  

This was harder for me than yesterday's but was a combo of easy-medium-challenging. The east side of this was easy-medium where my only misstep was GERALD briefly. The NW was medium because of FOR and a focus on the TV show (where is Peggy Lipton when you need her). And, like treedweller said, the CA-CO area was a bear. I had SOFTA, ONESKIN, VAGUEST, MOVIE for QUEUE, FIRE, RIGA briefly for MITA, and VIDI before I got it all sorted out. Had a vague memory of ORALES from some previous puzzle so got lucky there. Last entry for me also was SCHWA. Did re-rights with GNAWS and OVEN. Asked my bride about several variations on PAL???PANTS and got no help. When I finally filled in PALAZZO she said "Oh yeah, they were stylish back in the 50's."

chefbea 1:34 PM  

A fun easier than usual saturday puzzle. Oenology was an ah ha moment. Loved oven proof. Had layered as most people did.

@Philly solver. Have I been missing??? I usually chime in once or twice a day when I'm not at a foto shoot at
I-Hop.

@bobkerfuffle - I think the King's cake made for Mardi Gras is braided.

Jet City Gambler 1:40 PM  

XBOX 360 has a new feature where you can view movies in your NETFLIX QUEUE on your console. Corporate creep in the NYT puzzle?

We have a King FELIX up here playing for the Mariners, probably the only good thing about the team except ICHIRO.

expobill 1:45 PM  

shwats is a schwa?

Vega 2:16 PM  

@Anonymous 12:14 pm: Rex answers your question in his FAQ, the first answer.

This was tough for me. I googled, I got a couple wrong, and I didn't finish. Had no idea about MITA and I hadn't yet etched ETHN into my brain. So I lost California. Ugh. I did love NETFLIXQUEUE, though. Fantastic combination of letters. And I always have a "hm, nice" moment when I discover a puzzle's a pangram.

I can't wait for Sunday so I can feel smart again.

-Vega

twangster 2:18 PM  

Anonymous--for the answer see the FAQ.

mac 2:50 PM  

Tough, but not as tough as yesterday's. P.S. I got "ondes" because I remembered it from a hair care product, a little head with wavy hair cascading down. No idea which brand.

The New Jersey area was the hardest for me, with no knowledge of Laugh-In dances, Continental Congress delegates (not even from CT) and blank Rose... I got the gear and the rain, but I just couldn't figure out "undo".

I thought there were some great clues, for antique, oenology, Gomorrah, drumsolo and ovenproof. I figured out de "schwa", but didn't quite know how to spell it (sdhwa?), and also, 2 out of 3 a's? In my funny accent all three a's in Canada sound the same. The palazzo pants make me think of Carol Brady, somehow, when she ever gets out of those little minidresses. Omar Epps, enisle, orales, agar and Rigel are pure puzzle-knowledge for me.

@chefbea: great picture! Glad Rex found the perfect opportunity to use it! I don't know the King's cake, but in general I think sweet "short" doughs as for cakes are too brittle to braid. I sometimes do a basket-weave pattern made of strips of dough for a Dutch apple pie, but it is a lot of work with lots of repairs and hiding of them with egg wash.

janie 2:56 PM  

expo -- a "schwa" is a vowel -- any vowel -- that gets pronounced like "uh." it's most likely to show up in an unstressed syllable.

here're some other examples:

amusing
locket
pupil
consistent
ruckus

hope this helps!

;-)

not rex 2:57 PM  

@Anonymous 12:14 The only significance is that it means Rex has never changed the default colors in the Across Lite program. Maybe he likes blue and gray, who knows?

SCOTUS Addict 4:32 PM  

This is the closest I've come to finishing a Saturday puzzle without assistance. Despite many errors I'm feeling pretty good. ET Maleska is fading from my memory. I'm involved in the crossword version of the process from "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Continuing with the movie free-association. My favorite Pauline Kael quote is from her review of "Dances with Wolves." I discovered we have a mutual disdain for that movie and its star. She wrote, "Kevin Costner has feathers in his hat and feathers in his head." Take that, birdbrain!

"Drum roll" for "drum solo" is a classic example of what my husband calls my "pathological certainty." Clearly wrong, but I was so enamored I refused to give it up.

"Mime" for classic name for copiers eventually gave way to "Mita."

My spelling impairment seriously slowed me down on Mogadishu and Gomorrah. I had Mogidishu and Gemorrah.

I lucky in putting in "frosted" as one of my first fills. That opened up the NE very quickly, with the exception of Agnes Grey. "Rigel" and "tryst" I got quickly. I've always had a thing for Orion. I got a great telescope on Freecycle a few months ago. Anyway, that opened up SE for me. I definitely had more trouble through the equator today.

"Netflixqueue" is a perfect 10 on the satisfaction scale for me. Coming full circle to the movie free-association, we received the restored version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis from our NFQ yesterday. What a feast for the eyes.

Michael 5:11 PM  

Tough puzzle. I had oman instead of oran, but my main problem was the NW. I eventually filled it in, but only after googling for omar epps. I never would have gotten this, even though I know who he is.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Got aframe right away, we had an aframe clue not too long ago, house that has walls for ceilings or something like that. Being from Wisconsin originally, know all about friged, am a cooker so got frosted and thought to self, this is going to be a fun Saturday. Then the wine took over my brain (started this last night)and it went dead, was still dead this morning and as much as I Googled still had to resort to cheating. Typical for me on any given Saturday.

Chefwen

Mike the Wino 5:34 PM  

I wanted OENOLOGY at 58A right away but didn't have enough crosses for quite awhile to believe it could truly be. Not sure why I thought of it so quickly, unless it had something to do with a Cabernet Sauvignon we drank last night which we made in 1986. It was....decadent....(and I don't mean "deteriorating")!

Noam D. Elkies 5:40 PM  

Neat Saturday puzzle; didn't quite fill every nook and cranny unassisted but had fun with most of it. (Though yes, rather too many names.) Nice that 7D:NETFLIXQUEUE (new to me but eventually surmisable) crosses 46A:XBOX, and that 10D:FROSTED crosses 16A:FRIGID (though I could do without either the frost or the frigidity brought by this weekend's snowstorm). Are the latter two etymologically related? 9A:AFRAME and 9A:AFRESH clearly aren't, similar though they look at first...

27D:FELIX could also have been Mendelssohn, not just Unger or Tabby. We already have 41D:AMADEUS in the puzzle; we'd only need FRANZ Schubert, or perhaps ERNST (a.k.a. ERNĊ) Dohnanyi, to complete a trinity of wunderkind composers. The aspirin pioneer was new to me, but that's what Saturdays are for. It was easy to guess once I got the -IX. This section of the puzzle also taught me that WTF stands for "What The Frug?".

Never heard 7D:PALAZZO PANTS before, so even after filling in Palazzo I could think 44A was KINSHIP. This gave "in-" for 45D, so I wrote INDIGO, not knowing that the color "maroon" is closer to red than blue -- I knew only that it was somewhere in the middle because of the old joke about a collision between red- and blue-paint tankers. Once I got 63A:ONBASE, "indigo" became "inisle" -- heck, it's Saturday, and for all I knew "inisle" is a valid variant. Not. Finally Emperor Joseph came to my rescue and that corner got finished.

NDE

P.S. Thanks to Rex for the recent (unidentified) link to "Jupiter" from The Planets.

SethG 6:09 PM  

My first answer was Omar Epps.

My last was the 'r' in ORAN, which I guessed even though I'd never heard of that place and did know of Oman--ORALES just sounded enough more likely than Omales to me to convince me to risk the guess at a place name.

I don't care if the puzzle includes every letter, but understanding that people strive for it helped me solve when the XQ prompted me to think of Z for the pants, and think about where the J would go when I still hadn't worked my way into the SW. So that was nice.

I guessed boy scouts instead of guns, so for a long time I tried to invent the science of ARBORISM from just the RB. I'm not sure how clever that makes me. Well, apparently not clever enough to do solve in NJ, where I didn't remember ever having heard of FELIX, THE FRUG, DEANE, or LIDA.

Katie 7:45 PM  

I wrote a long comment and it evaporated into the ether. So, long story short--

This was hard for me because of all the proper names, and I did not have the HAZIEST idea about most of them.

Palazzo pants still exist. Just google them and you can find many offers to purchase them!

RIGEL means foot in arabic.

easylob 8:50 PM  

@ SCOTUS addict My son-in-law's favorite expression is "often mistaken, never in doubt." (He's a surgeon).

@ Crosscan Lida was my first answer also; had Oman and never heard of schwa so couldn't see ethn.

Had Omar Epps and Gomorrah, which gave me the first 6 downs, but never heard of shogi. Asked my wife about 7D and she immediately came up with Palazzo pants.

Couldn't come up with Agnes Grey, had Jeez, fireproof, veni, so blew that section off.

How about Asia Minor two days in a row?

Went from nuit to noir to soir.

Liked oenology, but didn't get it until the very end, even tho I live in the Napa Valley.

On the left coast, frosted means "angry" (or used to 50 years ago).

On the whole, a pretty good Saturday.

SCOTUS Addict 9:40 PM  

@easylob,

I live over the hill from Calistoga toward Santa Rosa. Howdy neighbor.

(Apologies to Rex for spam)

Greene 9:45 PM  

Surprised more people don't know THE FRUG, a real dance craze in the 1960s. Bob Fosse used this dance to great effect in the musical "Sweet Charity" which contained a length sequence called "The Rich Man's Frug." To see an excerpt click here

Crosscan 10:17 PM  

So I'm doing a puzzle in one of those big books tonight and there right in the middle is "Papal cape". And I still needed crossings to get it.

ORALE is unreal.

Frandy 1:11 AM  

It's McIntosh (the coat), not Macintosh (the computer).

Schwa is the upside down "e" is dictionary pronunciation guide.

andrea carla michaels 1:33 AM  

@greene
that was FRUGging FABulous!!!!!!!
If I weren't a gay man after that whole Xanadu video, I am now.

Sorry I've been MIA for a few days, I think you gave me a shout out about something? Frosted hair?
Seems like there is some theme lurking there with the missteps of layered, braided, what about bleached? (as in flour?) or just the general
"Hey Waiter! There's a hair in my cake!"

Loved the pangram. Just realized I didn't get that whole section:
OVEN
MITA
SCHWA

ETHN: ICKTHN

william e emba 12:36 PM  

Fun slog.

I filled in JANEEYRE without thinking for the 9-letter Bronte classic. In ink. Rather remarkably, this gave me four correct --NE--RE- letters.

I learned SHOGI as a kid, from some random book in bad English, but was never able to find a set so I've never played it. But I remembered the 9x9 board and the name. Hah! So that gave me -GNE--RE-, and soon I had the GREY and then AGNES leapt out from some memory hole, no doubt helped by staring at -GNEE. I knew the NEE was wrong, but there it was, in unforgiving ink. Totally undeserved.

DEANE is supposed to be crosswordese. I know I've seen his name in the puzzle several times. I got the NYE off of -Y-, partly because we had NYES recently, neither one of them Bill. And I'm sure I've seen the YSL/ORAN connection in the puzzle before.

Every mathematician knows OMSK from Tom Lehrer and his Lobachevsky song: I have a friend in Minsk/Who has a friend in Pinsk/Whose friend in OMSK/Has friend in Tomsk/With friend in Akmolinsk. So that too was a gimme.

sfinnegan2005 12:41 PM  

I don't understand 5D, what does ers have to do with hedges?
Thank you,
Sharyn

ContortedEsq 3:15 PM  

It's January 23, 2009 and my local paper (Ventura County Star) just published this puzzle. At 42, I'm just too young to get any of the pop culture in this puzzle except for Netflix and Xbox. Without those pop culture answers, this puzzle was a sea of white. I agree that Agnes Grey is too obscure to be a classic. I don't normally use Google, IMDB or Wikipedia for puzzle help, but the numerous old pop culture hints justified it it this time for me. Thanks for the help. Love the community. I'll be back!

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

Hedging, as in about to make something up...therefore the "er"

Rettired_Chemist 6:56 PM  

Wow! A LOT of stuff that was less than obvious to me. Overall, a lot of fun. The Pacific NW and Dixie fell fairly easily, but then there was a long dry spell. 23A was "IFFIEST" for a long while, but when I put in HEP for 23D and figured out PALAZZO PANTS (7D), H_Z_EST became the obvious. LOVED XBOX 360 (46A) because it gave me NETFLIX (in 21D) and reminded me of FELIX (27D) Hoffman. Pah on AGNES GREY (20A) - is there such a thing as an obscure classic? Sounds oxymoronic.

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