SUNDAY, Dec. 14, 2008 - Trip Payne ("Stormy" seabird / Viracocha worshiper / Hairstylist Jose / Shoulder frill / Humorist George)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Name That Phrase" - Initials of the phrases in the theme answers spell out the first name of the famous people mentioned in their clues


Well, this was puzzling (for a couple minutes) and then very easy. Once you grasp the theme, the puzzle really offers no resistance. No wait, I retract that: LOVE-IN-A-MIST resisted me plenty. What in the world ...? Some kind of flower, I gather. The other theme answers were ultra-common phrases, except perhaps "THE EVIL DEAD," which is a movie I'm guessing many solvers have not seen. I haven't seen it either, but am very familiar with it. I have friends who are in to campy horror classics (of which this is one). It took me several passes at theme answers before I figured out what the hell was going on. My first answer was ROLLING IN THE AISLES, and it was so literal, so plausible as a straight answer, that I didn't know what to make of it. "Rita Rudner is funny ... so people laugh ... and then ...?" Then came the Otis Redding answer - "OF THEE I SING"; I'd never heard of it, but it related to singing, and Otis Redding was a singer, so I still hadn't realized the answers had no necessary correlation to the people in question. Then I hit the Vic Damone clue, which made me stop dead. Who cares what Vic Damone likes for dessert? What's going on? What's missing from all these clues? First names. OK, so the answers ... AHA (84D: "The light has dawned!"). VANILLA ICE CREAM - V, I, C = VIC. No problems thereafter.

Theme answers:

  • 25A: Like Rudner's audience after a good joke? (Rolling In The Aisles)
  • 33A: Treat for Damone? (Vanilla Ice Cream)
  • 52A: Where Paul stays when performing in New York? (Lower East Side)
  • 69A: Comes in dramatically, like West? (Makes An Entrance)
  • 95A: McAn's favorite novel? ("The House Of Mirth")
  • 106A: Odds of Alda winning an Oscar? (As Likely As Not)
  • 129A: Putting in a row, like Sampras's rackets? (Placing End To End)
  • 139A: Court case where Ripken is one of many plaintiffs? (Class Action Lawsuit)
  • 3D: Horror film enjoyed by Turner? ("The Evil Dead")
  • 12D: Musical that inspired Redding? ("Of Thee I Sing")
  • 87D: Flower typically given to Neeson? (Love-In-A-Mist)
  • 92D: How Goldin and her rivals finish in photography competitions? (Neck And Neck)
Notice the big board - 23 x 23 today instead of the more typical 21 x 21. Also, notice the high theme density. That's a ton of theme answers. Very impressive, especially considering the generally uncompromised quality of the grid.

The toughest part for me was in a section that has since been reclued to make it much easier. The change? Originally, URE was clued [Scottish singer Midge]. URE (136A: Suffix with fail) running into IN ESSE (126D: Really existing) running into IDA (126A: Gilbert and Sullivan princess) gave me very minor fits. Otherwise, nothing tough. For some reason, when I solved this one, I made a point of noting the first and last squares I filled in. First square: The "B" in BALSAS (7D: Trees with soft wood). Last square: the "T" in ESTEE (94D: Cosmetics magnate Lauder).

"THE EVIL DEAD" was one of several potentially troublesome pop culture answers today. I could not recall neither the name of the "Heroes" actress in question (62A: "Heroes" actress Larter => ALI), nor the author of "The Neverending Story" (91A: "The Neverending Story" author => ENDE). Never heard of "MARCO Millions" (83A: "_____ Millions" (Eugene O'Neill play)). Though I've seen his name before, still not sure who George ADE is (38D: Humorist George). Turn-of-the-century writer, best known, it seems, for "Fables in Slang" (1899). Does anyone under 35 know / remember José EBER?? (35D: Hairstylist Jose). He was, as far as I'm concerned, the first celebrity stylist (I think there are dozens now). Apparently he's still around and appearing on TV and whatnot. Here is a dated infomercial of some sort featuring Faye Dunaway:



Before we go to the wrap-up, some important crossword names. Well, four of them standards, one of them brand new (as clued). Every constant solver should have ESTEE, EERO (71D: Tulip chair designer Saarinen) and ADA (100D: Mathematician Lovelace). TERI is omnipresent too (138D: Actress Polo). But the great name of the day has to be TODD (109D: Sarah Palin's husband). I love that he and his snow "machine" and elk hunting and Alaskan Independence Party are famous enough for the puzzle. TODD! I wonder how long he'll be viable. I'm going to bet on "forever." Another good name that I can't see often enough: KOOL (107D: The Gang's leader).

Wrap-Up:

  • 28A: "Stormy" seabird (petrel) - had No idea what the "Stormy" part was all about. I figured maybe the bird was mentioned in the lyrics to the following song, and I just couldn't remember where:



Weird side note - I get "Stormy" slightly confused with "Spooky," and I just found out that it's likely because they are both by the same long-forgotten band: Classics IV (!?):



  • 40A: Volkswagen coupe convertible (Eos) - goddess of the dawn! Weird.
  • 20A: Eponym of a North Carolina "-ville" (Ashe) - how much do you have to hate Arthur ASHE to write a clue like this?
  • 80A: Largest U.S. movie theater chain (Regal) - oddly, or aptly, I had ROYAL to start.
  • 101A: Tyrrhenian Sea port (Salerno) - Lots of common letters. Surprised I don't see it more often. It's spicy.
  • 102A: Dict. tag on "tzar" (var.) - love this clue / answer. It's just fun to say. "DICT TAG ON TZAR!" Sounds like some crazy space language.
  • 115A: Patron saint of goldsmiths (Eloi) - how much do you have to hate the ELOI of "The Time Machine" to write a clue like this?
  • 1D: Boxer's approval (wag) - ugh, wanted ARF.
  • 6D: Fish with toxic blood (eel) - all of them? That can't be right.
  • 8D: _____ curiae (friends of the court) (amici) - i.e. Latin for "friends"; I thought it could also be [Actor Don], but no, he's AMECHE.
  • 17D: Home of the world's largest aquarium (Atlanta) - who knew? It's not even on an ocean.
  • 26D: Viracocha worshiper (Inca) - never heard of the god in question, but got answer easily from a cross or two.
  • 36D: P.D.A. part: Abbr. (asst.) - I am in the market. If you want to sell me on one in particular, make your pitch.
  • 57D: Shoulder frill (epaulet) - clue makes it sound so ... cheap. "Frill" is not a word that inspires admiration. Unless you are a drag queen. I would admire "frill" on a drag queen. I would admire EPAULETS on a drag queen. Maybe this clue is about a drag queen.
  • 78D: Standard partner (Poor) - as in the financial research publishing company.
  • 131D: Physicist Schrodinger (Erwin) - news to me, as most physicists are
  • 132D: Trotter fodder (oats) - [Trotter fodder] sounds like the first line of soldiers you send out, knowing they will be mercilessly trampled by horses.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

66 comments:

Noam D. Elkies 10:53 PM  

More about the 23x23 puzzle later, but let me also offer 3 cheers to the 17x17 Diagramless!

NDE

jae 11:28 PM  

23 x 23 AHA, that why it seemed so long. Had exactly the same experience as Rex, slow going until I caught the theme with V..I..C. Then pretty smooth with the exception of the LOVEINAMIST area. Didn't know the physicist so tried ERNST, had SCOLDED for a long time and a re-right on ECHOES. I like a puzzle where getting the theme really helps with solving and this one did that in spades.

Greene 12:37 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle greatly, even while not understanding the theme at all. I just kept putting answers in and wondering how any of this was related. I also serached for the first names of the clued people in the answers, but of course did so in the wrong way. I searched forward and backward...no go. Finally hit me on the Mae West Clue and things fell in place pretty quickly thereafter.

"Of Thee I Sing" is a political satire by George S. Kauffman and Morrie Ryskand with a first rate score by the Gershwins which played Broadway in 1932. I had long forgotten out it, so pulled out my torn up Samuel French edition and read it from start to finnish tonight.

You know, nothing dates (or closes) faster than political satire, but this piece, which sharply lampooned the idealisic polices of the Roosevelt administration, remains remarkabley funny, and contain a startling and strange collection of eerie jokes and scenes which seem so carefully aimed at the follies of our current political processes and foibles. Those authors knew that history repeats itself and her we are back in 1932, right where we started. Of course we;ve got "Love Is Sweeping the Country" and Of Thee I Sing, Baby" to keep us warm.

This was the first musical play to win a Pulizter Prize for Drama and it was richly deserved. Unfortunately George Gershwin was excluded from the award, since the Drama Prize was only for writers of the "word." Ira Gershwin got an award for his lyrics, but George no. Fortunately, times change, since other musical plays winning Pulitzers have routinely included the musical composers (from Richard Rodgers straight through to Jonathon Larsen).

SCOTUS Addict 2:12 AM  

Greene,

I had the same experience as you, with the exception of your getting the theme. I didn't have too much trouble, this being only the second Sunday of the month, until I hit Liam Neeson's eponymous (sort of) flower. I hadn't memorized MHO if I had seen in before, so guessed the "M." Although I did like the idea of a flower named, "Love in a Fist."

I do remember putting "units of (usually electricity-related) measurement" on my "list of things about which the sum total of my knowledge is derived from crosswords."

HudsonHawk 9:04 AM  

I cruised fairly easily through this one, but also felt it was taking a bit longer. Doh! I didn't even think to see that it was 23x23. Pretty cool.

And I also learned something new from a crossword. I always assumed that the manservant was a VALET. Alas, I looked up VARLET in my dictionary and it said, among other things, "more at VALET".

As a Midge URE fan, I would have loved to see him make the puzzle. Oh well.

Great to see MHO agains so soon.

Karen 9:21 AM  

Happily I got the theme after the West clue, because I kept thinking of Adam West.

I visited the Georgia Aquarium last year. They have four of the largest fish in the world, the whale sharks, so it has to be big. (Ew, according to wikipedia, they are also called tofu sharks.)

Michael ENDE should be crosswordease at this point. You would probably like 'The Neverending Story' if you like the more modern 'Inkheart', also by a German author Cornelia Funke, about conflating the real and the imaginary. As expected, the book version of NES is better than the movie.

PlantieBea 9:34 AM  

I am not a huge fan of this puzzle--pretty neutral about the whole solving experience actually. While it wasn't especially difficult to fill and the theme with the first name letters became apparent pretty quickly, I was searching for some other tie between the clues and answers that just wasn't there. Did I miss something? Also, perhaps because I completed this after working on Saturday's long answer puzzle, this one was choppy for me. I should probably just leave Sunday's puzzle to Sunday instead of Saturday PM.

I love this blog, Rex. Thanks for the Stormy link; I had forgotten about the song. I have never heard of the movie The Evil Dead nor the flower Love in the Mist--kind a pretty little blue flower.

Leon 10:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
archaeoprof 10:42 AM  

Reliable sources here in SC tell me that when he graduated from high school, today's constructor was voted "most likely to succeed."

Leon 10:42 AM  

Interesting puzzle Mr. Payne.

R.I.P. Dennis Yost.

John Legend's Save Room samples the music from Stormy.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Correction, first: 78D answer is POORS. I thought Standard's partner was Poor, too. Who knew?

I found the puzzle easy perhaps because I decided to start with the middle across clues. I quickly came upon the Mae West clue, figured out the theme, and cruised home from there. I was disappointed only that there weren't more clues that were doubly related to their answers; Rita and Mae were by far the best.

Trip Payne is a great puzzle writer and solver, and he's also one of the best Scrabble players alive. And he's very nice.

David

bill from fl 11:05 AM  

"Drama that uses masks" reminded me of a New Yorker cartoon. Two people are sitting in a theater watching Japanese sword fighters, and one says to the other "What part of NOH don't you understand?"

Alex Greenberg 11:05 AM  

I call foul on Thom McAn. There is no person named Thom McAn. It is a brand of shoe named after the golfer Thomas McCann.

Gypsy 11:11 AM  

63A: It's said for stress

...

SERENITY NOW!

JoefromMtVernon 11:19 AM  

Sorry to have missed you all yesterday.

Third Straight day the Northwest (well today 5 to 10A) stummped me. Had Roaring in the aisle, and eon for the car, so I didn't get eel and balsas.

First long answer I got was Class Action Lawsuit; and I stared at it for 10 minutes until I got the gimmick.

Still don't get prename (114 D: Georgia or Virginia).

Never heard of Nan Goldin, but will be watching Ali Lartner and the Heros Finale tomorrow...

Joe

Travis 11:31 AM  

I have seen The Evil Dead(though the The seemed out of place to me), but I really remember it for Army of Darkness[The Evil Dead III]. How can anyone not have seen this movie?

norm 11:33 AM  

Another request for explanation of PRENAME. A variant of first name? If that's it, then clunk. Must be something better.

ArtLvr 11:34 AM  

A-OK, except I stumbled on THEHOUSEOFMIRTH... With MI__H at the end, I toyed with Micah, Mitch, Milch, even Milne as in the House at Pooh Corner. I was thinking lift and then toss for Levitate (RISE), but should have focused on the director STONE.

Ah well, it was fun anyway. Time for some java.

∑;)

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

@JoefromMtVernon:

Prename = first name

Surname = last name

--Trefoil

chefbea 11:54 AM  

I got all the pre names of the people in the clues - just didn't realize they were the beginning of each word til I got here. A fun fairly easy puzzle though I did have to goggle

Why is 50A attack vigorously...wade in? Thought you wade in slowly...did we have this question arise a while ago?

Have never used or owned T-Fal cook ware. I like all-clad and Le cruset

foodie 12:01 PM  

As I solved this, I wondered: Is "The House of Mirth" a phrase? I always find the definition of "phrase" a bit confusing (in French it means a full sentence). I know it does not denote a complete sentence in English, but is any string of words that hang together a phrase? The expression: "to coin a phrase" makes me think that there are well established phrases (such as Rolling in the Aisles, Makes an Entrance).

I like this puzzle mostly because it was not silly and the theme was not the standard letter replacement approach. Also, the cluing was fresh and unusual.

And "The House of Mirth" is by one of my favorite authors. Beyond its depiction of the specific manners of the time, Wharton's work captures something universal in the way people build social structures and the price they make others pay for them.

foodie 12:04 PM  

Re "RENAME": This is a guess based on French, where NOM (NAME) means your last name, and PRENOM (PRENAME?) means your first name or "forename"

treedweller 12:06 PM  

Thx for the explanation of PRE--I was stumped there, too. Finally guessed it, but it was a mystery.

I sorta got the theme, in that I noticed I could pick out the letters of the first names in order, but missed the initialism of it all.

Too bad, because maybe that would have allowed me to figure out LOVEINAMIST (I agree with SCOTUSaddict that love-in-a-fist would be a great, if vaguely icky, alternative). As it was, even though I just learned it in another puzzle, I couldn't remember MHO. I considered ELOI, but don't know my saints and wondered why it wouldn't be clued via The Time Machine. So, a lifetime of potted plants, a semester of botany, and one-and-a-half decades as an arborist were not enough to get this answer, nor even to recognize it after the fact. So Many Plants!

Meanwhile, in the NW I struggled with letting go of wale on (or wail on, and, yes, now I remember it should be whale on) for WADEIN, which gave me -ose for -ISH and prevented the reveal of THEEVILDEAD, which I don't care for but certainly have seen once or twice and heard about tons. I feel most foolish about that one, actually, because I pretty well knew the EVIL was in there. Throw in the I've-never-heard-of-it PETREL (kestrel, yes, but it's too long) and the missing "Var." in the clue for GAEA (now I think of it, I googled that one too before I even got the incorrect Gaia) and I was stumped.

So, a longone and mostly fun, but another demoralizing loss in the end. That's two Sundays in a row--usually I can finish them eventually. Maybe next week I'll have better luck.

janie 12:08 PM  

yesterday, on wbgo's "rhythm review," host felix hernandez featured a mini-tribute to "stormy" and "spooky"...

lotto synchronicity goin' 'round!

here's a little nan goldin backgrounder (since greene did such a fine job w/ OTIS).

cheers --

j.

VaBeach puzzler 12:09 PM  

Puzzle theme name should have been PRENAME THAT PHRASE. Or THIS REALLY IS PUZZLING (for Trip). Although, once you get the theme, you can wade right in!

Jane Doh 12:45 PM  

Fun theme -- lots o' theme material with *interlocking* theme entries! -- and once IDed a cinch to fill in those answers. I adore Edith Wharton and especially "The House of Mirth" -- alas poor Lily Bart -- so v. pleased to see it today. The only theme answer I didn't know was "The Evil Dead." Factoid learned.

Clue quibble: LED = Played a heart, say = stretchy. Is there a card game where a heart is always the first card played? Also, isn't Madras the former name of the city now known as Chennai?

--JD

fikink 1:05 PM  

.Rex, I had the same response to "Dict. tag on tzar" clue. I think it sounded like space language (to me, too) because we are being bombarded with ads for the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still and "Klaatu barada nikto," immediately comes to mind. Doubt they will be able to top the Michael Rennie classic!

jeff in chicago 1:09 PM  

Found this a very clever theme. I'd like to know how Trip came upon it. Took me a little longer than usual to finish, but I was watching the Sunday morning news shows as I worked it. (Had to know what everyone would say about my governor!)

Agree that the WADEIN clue seems wrong, but I'm guessing someone will explain before the day is over.

At first glance of the grid I saw a lot of 3-letter fills (42), and was worried that we'd be overwhelmed with abbreviations. But in the end I was not annoyed. How many of us had OHM before remembering our recent lesson!

How much do you have to hate the ALLMAN Brothers to clue....

Ulrich 1:23 PM  

I don't know what NDE is going to say in connection with the size of the puzzle, but since I had thought in this regard, too, let me go first: It seems to me that at this size, the standard symmetry starts to become so week that it is no longer noticeable--e.g. the NW corner is so far removed from the SE one that their symmetry relations no longer seem to matter--you know it's true, but you don't feel it (like in a 15x15 grid), especially if the black squares appear as scattershot as in the current puzzle (as opposed to one where the graphical pattern would be used to make the symmetry more visible, which would require a greater imbalance between white and black areas--yesterday's puzzle was a good example).

Why am I saying this? It's b/c we may consider giving up on symmetry for puzzles this large, thus opening entirely new possibilities. I guess that this would not make the constructor's job easier--I know enough about art and artists to think that they in general love constraints--some decisions they no longer have to make.

As to the puzzle's content: Definitely solid. I would have liked to see a stronger connection between all phrases and the theme answers--e.g. "placing end to end" also contains Placido, as in Domingo--i.e. the connection is really loose, too loose for my taste

Doug 1:30 PM  

Kids yelling at me to power down so we can go ski at Whistler. I'm looking out the window at the new Peak 2 Peak gondola that whisks you between the two mountains at high speed, and at 450M above ground. It was an awesome trip yesterday!

Nice puzzle, hard for me!

Shecky 1:32 PM  

Shout out to Erwin Schrodinger, early giant of quantum mechanics, contemporary / rival of Werner Heisenberg. Schrodinger developed the particle wave equation that bears his name.

janie 1:42 PM  

"how trip came upon [this theme]" is something he discusses in jim horne's "wordplay" blog.

you may wanna check it out!

;-)

j.

Shamik 1:44 PM  

Didn't get the theme until CLASSACTIONLAWSUIT. Kept looking for a twist on each person's first name. And I did get a letter wrong. There are all kinds of oddly-named saints, so maybe there was a St. ILOI and an UNLIT lamp is available to be used. It could happen.

However, truly enjoyed the construction of the puzzle and the other theme answers that hadn't yet been filled in, became filled in after getting the theme. The final theme answer was THEEVILDEAD.

Mis-starts:
MIDDLE for DEBATE
EBONY for SOOTY
CRASHES for CRATERS
RHO for MHO
OCEANIA for CHINASEA
INE for ULE
DOUG or DUDE for TODD (i'd like to forget the Palins)
CAPRI for CAMRY

I never like APTER.

jeff in chicago 1:58 PM  

Thanks, Janie!

Joaneee 2:00 PM  

Rex - re PDAs, I'm in favor of smartphones, which combine the functions of a PDA and cell phone, so you don't have to carry around two devices. Blackberry, iPhone, for example. I have a Blackjack II (Samsung) - synchs with Outlook calendar, does e-mail etc etc.

dk 2:00 PM  

I liked all the legal and science fill. Never got the theme until I got here.

Favorite word: VARLET, as in unhand me you...

Laughed at Trotter fodder as I thought of Charlie Trotters where they have a great raw food offering in addition to fish,fowl and flesh.

The Classics IV lead singer Dennis Yost recently passed, many call them the founders of soft rock. Soft rock drove me from radio for most of the late 70's to the mid 80's.

@evil doug, that evil dead "poster" might make an interesting avatar.

dk 2:27 PM  

One final comment for today. A number of you have been mentioning beets in your posts. Sometimes with a reverence for past days of beets and others use the little tubers as an example of irrelevance in the posts. Methinks you all miss the beets and the carping about beets. Ergo beets bring you joy and over this holiday season I think you should share beets with everyone (except @joho who, as I recall, is firmly on the no beet side).

There is a potato of the month club. Alas there is no beet of the month club but Penn State has named January beet month at least once.

http://panen.psu.edu/snap/material/beets/index.htm

At the end of the above link you will find a beet crossword puzzle.

Regarding the little trash cans: Can we just see our own or do I need to adjust my medication?

Greene 2:37 PM  

Apologies for last night's post, filled as it was with typos and misspellings. Hey, I was tired and hit enter instead of preview. So SUE ME.

I guess I was also too tired to mention that THE EVIL DEAD (Ugh, I hate that THE), the blood-spattered, campy, slasher series of films from the 1980s has been...yes...musicalized! And why shouldn't it? EVIL DEAD has the perfect plot for a musical: boy and friends take a weekend getaway at abandoned cabin, boy expects to get lucky, boy unleashes ancient evil spirit, friends turn into Candarian Demons, boy fights until dawn to survive.

What, I ask you, could be more wholesome and appealing? And with songs like "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons," "Look Who's Evil Now" and "Do the Necronomicon" you'll want to bring Grandma and the kids along too. Oh wait, did I mention the "splatter zone" in the front rows of the theatre where patrons are advised to "prepare for a bloody good time (and dress accordingly)?"

I know you think I'm making this all up, but the show did play off Broadway in October 2006 -- very briefly. Yeah, I saw it and yeah, it was terrible. I did enjoy the "Candarian Demons" number though. There's talk of a film. You never know...they filmed "Sweeney Todd" in all its blood-spurting madness, although the blood-letting in "Sweeney" would amount to a lady-like urp in comparison to the gallons of red syrup that fly in EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL.

mac 2:39 PM  

This was a medium for me, and another one where the theme, once discovered, was very helpful to do the rest and correct some mistakes.
The hardest part was the NW, where I had never heard of The Evil Deal, and wanted Tina instead of Ted. The theme sentences seemed pretty haphazzard, until I figured it out. Great work!

I think we discussed this before, but wading in doesn't sound at all vigorous to me, and a sill is not necessarily sunlit. I too had Royal for a while, Palermo instead of Salerno, Poore for Poor's and Capri for Camry.

In Dutch, and I think in German as well, prename is used (voornaam, Vorname).

SethG 2:58 PM  

There was a theme here? Who knew?

The fact that I didn't didn't seem to slow me down much; my problems generally had to do with small (or crosswordy) stuff elsewhere. ENISLES/ULE was slow to come, same with UNLET/ELOI. GAIA is (or was?) a clothing company I know, so I always default to the I. Thought the princess was ADA, but I was sure of the mathematician so I waited for the crosses to see which letter was off.

Yes, we have had WADE(ED) IN a couple of times in the last year or so, and MHO in the last week or so. Would the anti-Thom McAns prefer a Kinkade clue? Rex, thanks for not posting a link to Dream On.

Todd Palin might stick around--we apparently skipped right over the most famous Todd of all, Bridges, who's maybe never been clued. What am I talking about?

sillygoose 3:01 PM  

PRENAME crossing at Varlet and Greet took me almost as long to fill in as the whole rest of the puzzle. Varlet sounds a little familiar, but I may be thinking of something else like Bartlett pears or something. I wasn't totally sure it was a word.

NW was tough for me, I had to google Petrel, and I groaned at Wag. For a while I thought The Evil Dead needed an extra N in it, and I stayed confused for a while until As Likely As Not, but even after that and a few others I was skeptical for a while.

I had Vanilla Ice Cream right away but I have never heard of Vic Damone (am I the only one?), nor Nan what's her name so I didn't catch on as quickly as I might have.

I really enjoyed this one.

JoefromMtVernon 3:06 PM  

@anonymous/trefoil - Thanks for the explanation!

@foodie - knowing my lack of anything French, it would figure it has a french derivative...c'est le vie

Ulrich 3:28 PM  

German trivia (skip if bored):

@mac: yes, Vorname is "prename", and Nachname is "postname", i.e. surname.

Re. Cologne trio: It's really peculiar that the constructor hit on THAT German city to clue the humble drei: If one thinks of trios in connection with my hometown, two completely different trios come to mind:

(i) the MAGI of xword puzzle fame, whose bones are (supposed to be) kept in a shrine in the famous cathedral.

(ii) The trio of Prinz, Bauer und Jungfrau (prince, peasant and virgin), selected annually, who receive the keys to the city during mardi gras and rule it instead of the mayor during that period. Tradition has it that the virgin must be a married man, preferrable of portly stature.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Tinnitus may cause dins, in which case tinnitus causes______; however dins don't cause tinnitus. An easy puzzle in which I could not get the theme till here.

Jet City Gambler 3:47 PM  

The Evil Dead movies, from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell of Xena fame, were kind of remade as Army of Darkness.


Check out Bruce Campbell's hilarious Old Spice commercial
and see how many Evil Dead references you can spot ...

chefbea 4:49 PM  

@dk and a merry beet to you and yours

green mantis 4:52 PM  

@anonymous: You've never had ringing in the ears after a loud concert or something?

Noam D. Elkies 5:37 PM  

Thanks to Trip for an enjoyable trip -- this was more fun than the last two Sundays combined. Working from the bottom up, I expected something like "Cal's action suit", but when the crosses and the length of the entry forced the familiar phrase 139A:CLASSACTIONLAWSUIT I soon figured out what was up, and then got most of the other theme entries (except the unfamiliar ones already noted and a few others whose "name" I didn't recognize from the clue).

@Ulrich: note that PETE is the initials of 129A:PLACINGENDTOEND, not merely a random subsequence such as PLACIDO (which would have to be circled in the grid to be fair to the solver).

Two weeks back I ranted about gossip columnists appearing in the grid, asking if we'd next have to tolerate celebrity astrologers. I later realized that something like the 15-letter "COSA NOSTRADAMUS" might actually be part of a fun midweek theme. So let me revise the rant to "celebrity hairstylists", as in 35D:EBER. Particularly unnecessary because there's a fine Biblical Eber, the traditional eponym of the Hebrew language (since he's credited with preserving Hebrew by shunning the Tower of Babel and its language-scrambling aftermath). Variety in clues is OK (one doesn't need to hate Arthur Ashe or HGWells to welcome the occasional alternative clue for 20A:ASHE or 115A:ELOI -- see also the recent corporate clue for cousin ITT), but stick to the Bible if the alternative is celebrity hairstylists...

@Ulrich again: I noted in the same rant that I'm fine with mild asymmetry even in 21x21 grids. I thought you might have something to say about the irony of 91A:ENDE being the author of a "Neverending" story -- which is even more striking in German than in English if I remember correctly that the German for "end" is Ende.

The eNDE.

KingRoper 6:11 PM  

EVIL DEAD is a great movie - and there is NO 'THE' in the title.

A small annoyance, but it bothers me.

Ulrich 6:17 PM  

@NDE: Oh God, I missed this completely, starting with Rex's write-up. I simply looked at the breakless sequences of letters in the grid--I take everything back I said about the theme. Thx

Chip Hilton 6:19 PM  

So I was just commenting to my wife that the puzzle was really tough when I broke through with THEHOUSEOFMIRTH, of all places. Growing up in the Age of Thom McAn helped, I guess. Anyone else remember those weird men's shoes that were like a loafer but had a mechanical tongue coming up the front that you clamped down after you stepped in? I'm thinking 1960's.

Anyway, once the breakthrough, pretty breezy. @SethG: the crossing of ENISLES and ULE cost me a perfect puzzle. Just didn't see the island clue. Able was I....

joho 7:25 PM  

I couldn't figure out the theme until I was totally done. It finally hit me at 139A. I was saying to myself, how does Cal figure in here and then boom! Figuring out the theme made me appreciate this puzzle more, but, and I know I'm in the minority, this puzzle left me feeling a little flat.

@dk: you are correct!

dk 8:33 PM  

@chip hilton, They were called mouse traps and as I had a high instep I could not wear them... but I am over that now.... grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Ulrich 9:34 PM  

@NDE (again): I forgot to add that you are right about Ende, and that I get a chuckle out of it.

SCOTUS Addict 9:46 PM  

@anonymous and tip 'o the hat to green mantis,

Exposure to extremely loud noise does cause tinnitus, unfortunately. Many combat veterans suffer from it as a result of exposure to explosions, artillery, etc. The VA recognizes tinnitus as service-connected for that reason. Sad.

Michael 10:28 PM  

Trip Payne is a terrific solver, but I can't say that I enjoyed this puzzle much. A zillion three and four letter words and there seemed to be a lot of clues (now I know it was 23 by 23). It took me too long to get the theme and when I did it was "oh, that's it" rather than "really clever, why didn't I figure it out."

But I see that lots of others enjoyed the puzzle...

Mike the Wino 10:47 PM  

@jane doh,

We have played the card game of "Hearts" for years. Sorta like "Spades" only different. Uses nothing but hearts, so one must always be LED.

On another note, what's the deal with NOH? Not familiar to me at all.

jeff in chicago 11:28 PM  

From ata.org (The American Tinnitus Association):

"Not only can noise cause hearing loss, but it can cause tinnitus too. The two often go hand in hand."

Jane 4:06 AM  

I realized the first names were buried in the phrases, but never recognized till I came here that they were the initial letters of the phrase's words. But I'm not sure that knowing would have made this any less of a dull slog. I kept looking for some incredibly clever theme that never appeared--thought I had it when I solved "class action lawsuit" because Cal Ripken is known as a "class act", but of course that turned out to be just a fluke. "Enisles" could stand some banishment itself--it seems like such a desperate choice. Bleah. Glad this is in my past.

Bianca 5:12 AM  

Rex
Schrodinger's Cat is a famous thought experiment in quantum mechanics. Something like "Pet Cemetery"; the cat is both dead and alive!

Joe in Montreal 11:18 PM  

Cologne trio was deceptive: MAGI seemed the most obvious, especially at this time of year, and gave me a final I which fooled me. Is the cardinal '3' the same as 'TRIO'?

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Love in a mist came instantly. I've grown the flower, whose lovely, usually blue petals peek through a "mist" of lacy foliage.

Has anyone ever used "apter" in a sentence?

Aviatrix 11:39 AM  

Your having never heard of Erwin Schrodinger somehow causes me to forgive you for thinking decades-old American baseball players are fair fill. It's a big big knowledge space and I guess there's room for different people to consider different parts of it basic knowledge.

I'm boggled that you've never heard of Schrodinger's cat, though. Do you meet native English speaking physicists who have never heard of major English-language writers?

Amelie 1:27 PM  

The misstep I could not let go of: DUCT tape for DEMO tape.

The stormy petrel was a gimme for me.

John in Colorado 10:18 PM  

Since Todd Palin was in the puzzle, I'll consider it okay to post this link to a Christmas card that is making the rounds of legislators in Alaska. FYI, Sarah Palin supports airborne wolf culling.
http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/v-gallery/story/630149.html?/news/alaska/v-enlarge/story/630149-a630148-t3.html

NovaScotian 2:53 PM  

We get these puzzles (in Halifax, NS) 13 days after they appear in the NYT (no Sunday paper). This theme went right over my head even after I had completed the puzzle. Glad to see it here.

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