TUESDAY, Jan. 6, 2009 - John Greenman (Dodgem units / Hall's partner in pop / Unbreakable stones of legend)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009



Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Tall," "Dark," and "Handsome" - three theme answers begin with those words, respectively; whole theme is tied together by 60A: Figure described by the first words of 17-, 28- and 45-Across (Matinee Idol)

Word of the Day: "DODGEM" - Esp. in pl., a fairground amusement consisting of a number of small electrically-powered cars steered about in an enclosure. (OED online)

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We interrupt this message...

Hi, from the future. My blog has been slapped with an "Objectionable Content" warning because of a famous album cover I posted yesterday. I have been "unlisted" by Blogger, which means no one can find me via search engines. Here is the opening paragraph of my write-up for today, Feb. 10, 2009. Any suggestions for remedying this problem would be greatly appreciated:

First things first - I humbly beg whoever flagged this blog as "objectionable" to unflag it. And please, in the future, if you are genuinely offended by anything I post, let me know (email is right there, on the right), as I have no desire to offend people. This is a crossword blog that is currently being treated like a porn blog, and while my traffic might go through the roof because, you know, people like porn, I just want to make the blog as easily accessible to crossword solvers as possible. There are some solvers who are not going to understand this warning (trust me) and are not going to want to click through. Hell, I don't know that I'd click through such a warning - who knows what's waiting for you on the other side? I just want the "Objectionable Content" warning gone as soon as possible, and anything anyone can do to help me achieve this will result in my undying gratitude. If I can't get the Flag removed in the very near future, you can expect a change of address. [I've been "unlisted" by Blogger, which means I've virtually disappeared from Google search results and even if you search [rex parker], though my site is listed first, it's titled "Objectionable Content Warning" ... I'm considering offering a reward to whoever can fix this ...]
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Now, back to your regular write-up...

Started very smoothly, getting each of the first 3 Across answers no problem. Then I switched to Downs and the smoothness wheels came quickly off. There was much thrashing and flailing and a generally choppy feel to the whole solving experience. I managed to straggle in somewhere in the mid-4's, feeling beleaguered and buffeted and slightly confused. Then I noticed that I had an answer I didn't understand - what the hell is "Top TIES?" (48A: Top-_____ (best)), I wondered. Is that a British expression? Then it occurred to me that "Top TIER" was a much better fit, so KRONOR (29D: Swedish currency) must be a ... plural? Yes, it turns out. Too bad - I was so looking forward to going around calling everything "Top TIES" today in a horribly exaggerated British accent today. Or maybe Australian: "That's top TIES, mate!" Guess I'll have to find something else to do with my day.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: They're hard to believe (TALL stories) - first point of struggle; phrase TALL TALES comes right to mind, where TALL STORIES ... doesn't.
  • 28A: 1939 Bette Davis drama ("DARK Victory") - not on my radar, though I'm sure I've heard of it. This answer thus slowed me down as well. No complaints, though. It's Bette Davis! I Love Her.


["Are you afraid to burn, Michael? Are you afraid to die?"]

  • 45A: Big pile of cash (HANDSOME sum) - I am not kidding you when I say that, upon learning the theme, I immediately wrote in HANDSOME DAN, thinking, well, it was a phrase I'd heard before, and must be some kind of pre-war slang.

I don't know what the intrinsic connection is between the phrase "TALL, DARK, and HANDOME" and a MATINEE IDOL. I can see how the one might describe the other, but the phrase seems a general description for a kind of attractive man, not particularly a movie star descriptor.



Here's one to put on your "REMEMBER THIS WORD" list: ENNA (57D: Sicilian city) - I tanked this at first, writing in ETNA instead (just one letter off, and equally Sicilian). It's not a terribly common entry, but it definitely has crossword legs (with those letter, how could it not?). Kind of cool that it sits next to its Italian counterpart, the FIAT (56D: Autostrada auto).

NEON LAMP was unpleasant (23D: Source of orange-red light). Couldn't a NEON LAMP give off any color you wanted it to? Well, yes and no, it seems. NEON has a specific orange-red spectrum, but the term NEON LAMP is sometimes used to describe a lamp filled with other noble gases, which will produce different colors of light. Bah. Was all set to love the other long Down, ADAMANTS (25D: Unbreakable stones of legend), but I could only come up with the adjective, ADAMANTINE (consequence of spending one's 20s buried in old poetry), and so I wrote in the first few letters, but balked, and then I realized ADAMANT is a perfectly good adjective, so I must be wrong ... Bah! I'm telling you, I solved this puzzle the way you might shave your face, quickly, with a machete. I got the job done, but it wasn't pretty.

Oh, and I had two more terrible miscues: GABS for YAKS (32D: Chews the fat) and SUN AIR (!?!?!) for SEA AIR (24A: Beach atmosphere).

Assorted:

  • 14A: "Be-Bop-_____" (Gene Vincent hit) ("A-Lula") - so bad that I love it
  • 39A: Clayey soil (loam) - "Clayey" looks ridiculous, and sounds not much better. Sounds either like an extended version of "Clay," or like some town crier saying "Clay Ye, Clay Ye!"
  • 41A: Word before Charles or George (Lake) - nice misdirection here.
  • 43A: Years, in the Yucatan (anos) - :(
  • 58A: Bearded pres. (Abe) - Didn't some others have beards? Grant? No one I can think of since 1900, though. Obama should grow a beard. And wear a sea captain's hat. Mix it up a little.
  • 1D: Hall's partner in pop (Oates) - they sang a duet on "The Daily Show" late last year that made me laugh a lot - a remake of "She's Gone" called "He's Gone," in honor of Alan Colmes's leaving the FOX News show "Hannity and Colmes." Here's the original - lo tech!



  • 7D: Dodgem units (cars) - absolutely no idea what the heck this means. Turns out, it's something like bumper cars, if not exactly like bumper cars.
  • 30D: Black mamba's secretion (venom) - "secretion" is up there with the grossest of words
  • 55D: Its symbol looks like an equal sign through a C (euro) - in a further sign that our economy is spiraling downward, today's puzzle has been taken over by foreign currencies.

Lastly, a little heads-up for all of you solvers in the Bay Area - the 3rd Annual Silicon Valley Puzzle Day Crossword Tournament is coming up in early February. It will feature as-yet-unpublished NYT puzzles, and looks like it will be a lot of fun. You should go.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

96 comments:

evil doug 8:49 AM  

Geez. Hall and Oates are becoming the new Asta and Moe. Adolf is less disturbing to me than these guys.

Evil

nan 8:50 AM  

I love reading your puzzle comments, Rex. I always make exactly the same mistakes that you make. I agree, this is a great little puzzle. I was a little confused about loam, I thought it was rich dark soil, but according to dictionary.com the last definition is:
4. Obsolete. clay or clayey earth.

The NYT puzzle writers love obsolete words!

Parshutr 8:54 AM  

I guess this was MEDIUM for you youngsters, but EASY for the elders. There was a movie called TALL STORY; Tall, Dark and Handsome was THE in phrase to describe Matinee Idols, when that phrase was in vogue, and I've actually seen DARK VICTORY. I'll admit HANDSOME SUM is more than a bit forced, and oddly for me, I had to get TEE from crosses, but otherwise a breeze of SEA AIR (think McGuire sisters singing Old Cape Cod)...or don't.

JannieB 9:04 AM  

@Parshutr - I must be of your age because I had many of the same thoughts, although I'm with Rex on Tall Stories - it's just off to me. I saw Dark Victory on TCM recently - Bette was suffering the same type of cancer as is Ted Kennedy (and also a friend of mine).

I kept trying to make this harder than it was - "I'll Bite" took forever to come into focus. But otherwise, a good solid Tuesday workout.

joho 9:07 AM  

@rex ... your comments today are too funny. Also loved your clips, especially Popeye's "And, to you, the boird."

Loved A-LULA!

KRONOR??? Is that the plural of Krona? Seems like it should be the other way around.

Nice Tuesday, John Greenman!

Greene 9:08 AM  

I believe the phrase MATINEE IDOL originated in the theatre around the turn of the last century. It denoted a male actor whose drawing power with female (or sometimes male) audiences could be attributed to form and figure as opposed to acting ability. It was generally a derogatory term. Over time, the phrase has come to refer to any actor who is a looker and can draw an audience, regardless of acting capability.

Puzzle felt choppy and uneven. Not difficult, just not as much fun as yesterday.

bookmark 9:19 AM  

Did anyone else notice that 13 answers contained double letters (assort, fullest, annan, e.g.). These repeated letters are LEARNS. Kind of reminds me of explicating a poem (meter, rhyme scheme,etc.). Interesting but not terribly exciting.

Steve in CA 9:29 AM  

Nan: thanks for the secondary LOAM definition. As a reluctant gardener, I am aware of the word as it is used today: Ideal soil. Where I live, I constantly fight clayey soil...and no gardener would ever consider that loam.

I knew DODGEMS instantly because my son plays Roller Coaster Tycoon, which uses a lot of British terms. Yep, dodgems are what we call bumper cars.

Why do Tuesday puzzles often seem so...odd?

hazel 9:35 AM  

@Greene - I agree w/ a bit choppy and uneven.

The theme phrases seemed a bit forced to me - and the payoff is matinee idol? That's just flat out 40s and 50s to me - there are no matinee idols today, at least noone is described as such? Its an antiquated expression, and in my view the theme answers should also evoke that era or somehow all be tied to movies or something. To me, the only one that fits is Dark Victory - but I'm not sure it even has a matinee idol (age and ignorance showing).

On the plus side, there are dodgem cars and be bop alula too...Regardless, this puzzle seemed like a bit of a hodgepodge to me.

I hope this comment doesn't make me a pettifogger.

ArtLvr 9:41 AM  

Rex -- very funny commentary, especially "like shaving with a machete". I wonder how old the jingle is: "Plop PLOP, fizz fizz"? I wanted the Fizz at first. I liked the garlic PRESS too, though I mostly eschew garlic.

Your misstep of Handsome Dan was probably from "Dapper Dan"? (though I don't know if that ever was a real person)... Also, I agreed with the objection to obsolete "clayey" for LOAM, since these days it's a soil that's specifically not clayey.

Would have preferred the YAKS in a zoo-clue, along with the VENOM.

∑;)

PuzzleGirl 9:47 AM  

This was a real clunker for me. And PuzzleHusband's take on it is ... not suitable for family viewing. When he got to the point where he wanted help from me, I asked if he had figured out the theme yet. All he had at that point was TALL STORIES and he guessed that the theme was "phrases that ... aren't quite right?" Exactly.

Rex Parker 9:47 AM  

Well, HANDSOME DAN is the name of Yale's bulldog mascot, but I'm pretty sure I was thinking of the lyrics from a Springsteen song, "Tougher Than the Rest"

"Some girls they want a handsome Dan / Or some good-looking Joe..."

I first heard the song in a lovely cover version by Everything But the Girl.

rp

treedweller 9:55 AM  

'Clayey' reminds me of the episode of '30 Rock' where everyone is trying to figure out the name of the blonde's movie, "The Rural Juror." It comes out so mush-mouthed, it has to be seen onscreen before anyone can get it. I wish I could remember the equally unintelligible sequel (hint, hint, fellow commenters).

And that pretty much sums up my feelings about this puzzle.

ArtLvr 9:56 AM  

Does the above beg the question of who was the original Dapper Dan?

PurpleGuy 10:04 AM  

@Hazel- DarkVictory had a young Ronald Reagan and Humphrey Bogart.

I also had Ties/Kronos. Never paidmuch attention tothe clue for 48accross.

@Rex- thanks for explaining ADAMANTS.
That was my big??? in the puzzle.

I guess I'm showing my age since I thought this was a fairly easy puzzle.
@Parshutr- Usoldtimers finally had a puzzle with references we knew !

I am not able to get a picture formy avatar.
My computer seems to refuse my attempts.
Anyone have some ideas to help?

Crosscan 10:11 AM  

Today’s puzzler is a yawner, so let’s take a trip to the near future, to the ACPT Bloggers’ panel.

The first question is asked. Amy is quick to respond in less than two minutes. Jim notes how the structure of the question reminds him of a similar question asked six months ago, and tells us which words in the question are the most popular. Ryan and Brian are busy trying to figure out how to turn their mikes on. Amy announces she has finished answering all the other questions and has helpful tips in how to answer.

Rex gives a hilarious answer, interrupted a couple of times with clips of 1980s lost hits. He does gripe about the many “ER” words in the question. As soon as he is done, the audience divides in two camps, those who think Rex is out to lunch and those who think Rex should replace Will as the tournament director. This oddly leads to a discussion of German words, followed by beet recipes. It all ends with Andrea telling a long funny story of how the question reminds her of an encounter with Woody Allen.

Orange 10:11 AM  

@ArtLvr: Oh, ArtLvr, why must you provoke my second-hand pedantry? Weren't you reading the other day when I chided Rex for using "begs the question" where "raises the question" is actually meant? This is second-hand pedantry because I have a sketchy grasp on what "begs the question" means in rhetorical/legal circles—something about trying to make your assumption double as proof? I dunno. All I know is that Vic Fleming—crossword constructor, courtroom judge, and writer—understands what the term means and he got me to quit misusing it. The full explanation is out there on the wild internet for those who are interested.

Orange 10:12 AM  

Sheesh, Crosscan, way to ruin the surprise for everyone! Now nobody even needs to go to the panel.

(You cracked me up, though.)

Frances 10:15 AM  

@ bookmark

Are you counting 24A in your compendium of double letters? Two A's, side by side in a series of four consecutive vowels, is pretty unusual!

Seemed like an awful lot of incompletes today, some of which could easily have had been clued without the dreaded fill-in-the-blank.

PuzzleGirl 10:19 AM  

@Crosscan: Unfortunately, Rex will be out of the country and I will be subbing for him at the blogger panel. So it will probably be not quite so hilarious and the clips will be country music. Oh, and I'll find a way to talk about college wrestling. Go Hawks!

steve l 10:25 AM  

And I was just going to say, Crosscan left out "Angela stands by just in case anyone can't make it."

Jwerth 10:29 AM  

Also not a huge fan of today's puzzle. I felt the same way PuzzleGirl and her PuzzleHusband did--it was just off. Maybe I'm just too young to appreciate it.

@Rex--probably not what you're thinking of, but Handsome Dan was also one of the earliest Spiderman villains. He was a short guy who knew karate and was a member of the Enforcers--that gang of thugs Spiderman seemed to always get into fights with back in the 1960's.

Now, if we'd had Handsome Dan crossed with ADAMANTS (which I got easily because of Wolverine's unbreakable adamantium claws), that would have been enough to make any of us comic book dorks happy.

Retired_Chemist 10:34 AM  

I agree this was easy rather than medium for an old-timer. Remembered the song as Be-bop-a-lulu, which made it the Cuspian sea @5D momentarily. Other than having to change gabs to yaks @ 32D and Kronas or Krones (?) @ 29D, like several of us, there wasn't much redoing needed. Kronor sounds like a villain in a superhero comic....

treedweller 10:35 AM  

You too slow, Joe. I had to look it up. The sequel to "The Rural Juror" is "Urban Fervor."

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

@ Orange, I think you fell for ArtLvr's trap and took the bait. As soon as I read "begs the question" I thought of you.
@ Crosscan, Great wrap-up of the panel discussion. Loved it!
As for the puzzle... Tuesday once again is the most awkward fit. But perhaps coming on the heels of yesterday's lovely effort was going to be tough no matter what.

JannieB 10:45 AM  

@Crosscan - even though I can't make the yet-to-be-named event, your precap was probably dead-on. Too funny - thanks!

mac 10:45 AM  

@Rex: on Feb. 7 there is a xwp tournament in Westport, CT, led by Will Shortz. I think it's actually the 10th time this is happening. It's mentioned in the link on your sidebar.
I've signed up, but I'm going over in a few minutes to get more info, before having a birthday lunch (hers) with a SWEDISH friend. I'll ask about the Kronor.

I guess I was waiting for a matinee idol on New Year's, just like most of Scotland and Great Britain.

I also had a problem with tall stories vs. tall tales, and my very old, Irish gardener friend always talks about loam as if it's the best, like top soil. Isn't sea air cute with the two a's?

@Rex: agree with you on secretion. How about discharge! Sorry, very nice write-up today.

Artlv: I thought the same thing as Orange after your comment, but for the life of me I could not explain....

santafefran 10:46 AM  

For me, this puzzle lacks the charm of yesterday's. It was an easy (must be the age thing) but rather boring fill. Tried PUREE for PLANE but quickly corrected.

I am changing my avatar to honor my beloved Moxie cat who graced my life for 22 1/2 years and passed into another realm yesterday.

SethG 10:48 AM  

I am not tall and I am not dark, so if I'm at the ACPT you'll have to recognize me from my tuxedo dickey.

Kludg-EY.

I couldn't understand why NEON CAMP would necessarily indicate red-orange light, but that seemed no more awkward than lots of other stuff here. I had that because I can never figure out whether they're looking for YAKS or YAPS (or yips or nips or...). And I had YAPS, and of course there're CAPEs George and Charles.

And Dapper Dan is a roundball classic, and ADAM ANT is releasing a new album this year.

_sg
the understudy

foodie 10:50 AM  

Don't shoot me, but I liked it, and found it easy and relatively smoother than a typical tuesday. I meandered down pretty quickly and bumped into the "matinee idol" clue and since I already had TALL, everything fell into place very quickly. Lots of interesting answers: KRONOR, ADAMANTS,ENNA and even the NEON LAMP which slowed me down but I figured it must be a wave length thing (so learned something).

PhillySolver 11:16 AM  

Retiredchemist...same cuspian sea for awhile. BTW, Welcome to a fellow OT.
SethG ...same experience on the Capes
crosscan...loved the precap. Did you mention Orange will also pre-answer questions from LA, Wall St. and Cyberspace at the same time? I have my beet recipe ready.
I liked the puzzle despite its retro feel. Funny how a Tuesday puzzle always end up with a Monday or a Wednesday time for me. It doesn't have its own time band like the rest of the days in my solving records.

joho 11:27 AM  

@Crosscan: thank you so much! Now I don't feel bad about missing the real panel discussion because it can't possibly be better than yours.

SethG: tuxedo dickie? Now that's dapper!

santafefran: so sorry to hear about Moxie ... beautiful cat.

ArtLvr 11:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 11:40 AM  

@ Orange -- my "begs the question" query was a joke, tongue in cheek, as of course I saw your comment the other day...

∑;)

p.s. @santafefran -- very sorry to hear of the passing of your cat yesterday, so sad...

jeff in chicago 11:49 AM  

To me, this was just a so-so puzzle. Concur that some fill seems a little off. Nothing to add to what's already been said.

Only word to make me smile was ADAMANTS, but only because it made me think of those crazy '80s not-really-all-that-talented-but-funny-looking bands.

@hazel: while no one is called a MATINEEIDOL these days, we sure have our share of them. Using Greene's definition (any actor who is a looker and can draw an audience) I would list Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Owen Wilson, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston...

kenyonkid 11:50 AM  

You may have recently been watching Wayne's World 2, a movie in which Handsome Dan is a radio DJ played by Harry Shearer.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/ v296/breathe_happy/harryshearer.jpg

kenyonkid 11:50 AM  

You may have recently been watching Wayne's World 2, a movie in which Handsome Dan is a radio DJ played by Harry Shearer.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/ v296/breathe_happy/harryshearer.jpg

jubjub 12:14 PM  

The real Hall & Oates political commentary on the Daily Show does not compare to the fake Hall & Oates political commentary on SNL: http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/update-thursday-part-3/742101/
I even think the fake Hall & Oates are better singers than the real ones.

garycee 12:17 PM  

bumper cars are bumper cars are bumper cars....dodgem may be what they're called in the british isles...and, i've been to plenty of playgrounds and have never seen these things...oh well, live and learn

dk 12:23 PM  

Well this is another fine mess I have gotten myself into. Spelled VENOM as venum, giving me anus instead of ANOS and adding 4 freaking minutes to what would have been a speedly solve.

I did not find the puzzle choppy, etc. Just a typical Tuesday.

imsdave 12:29 PM  

I guess I'm age appropriate as I breezed through this one. Only stumbling block the Natick-like cross of ADAMAN-S/-IES. I had written in KRON-S (this is like YAP/YAK to me) as I can never remember which Scandinavian lands currency ends in A or E. Reviewed that and saw that I had KRONOS which had to be wrong and finally got to TIER.

The good news is KRONOS reminded me of the 1970's band, Chase and their album 'Ennea' which i dusted off and played. Those guys could wail.

I'm looking forward to meeting Mac at the Westport Library tournament in February, and hope I get a chance to connect with a lot of you there.

bookmark 12:39 PM  

@Frances: Yes, I did count SEAAIR in my 13 double letter words.

Don't know why I spent time counting these "oDDities." Could be I've learned to pay more attention to other aspects of doing crosswords after recently finding this site. Or could be I have more time since retiring. Either way, I'm enjoying crosswords now more than ever.

Thanks to all of you.

NewGrandma 12:45 PM  

My favorite Dapper Dan reference is the hair pomade favored by George Clooney's character in "O Brother Where Art Thou." Call me an OT as well - pretty easy puzzle for me - potbelly stove included.

edith b 12:46 PM  

The term of an age resonates with this puzzle. It has an old-timey feel to it slathered with topical, today issues.

Greene was correct about the origin of the term "matinee idol" and the movies co-opted it to describe Rudolph Valentino (I can hear folks of a certain age saying "who?"). There was a movie called Tall Dark and Handsome that was released in the late 30s, I believe, starring Ceasar Romero (again, "who?") that played off the image of Matinee Idol.

I see this group divided into two groups - those under 50 who have no frame of reference to either the theme entries or the clue to it and those of an age who absolutely do.

jeff in chicago 12:50 PM  

@imsdave: Chase! Wow. Haven't thought about them in a long time. I pretty much wore out that first album (yes, vinyl). "Open Up Wide" and "Get It On" were the favorites for me and my band-geek friends. I may have to go find a new copy of that.

Jane Doh 12:50 PM  

Hugh Jackman = tall, dark and handsome

Johnny Depp = short, dark and handsome

I liked this one. It felt like a chewier Monday wannabe theme with content that was a little too far to the right on the difficulty scale.

--JD

jeff in chicago 12:52 PM  

(I know "Ennea" was the second Chase album. The first was "Chase."

That's three and I'm out.

Karen 1:07 PM  

Since no one else has said it yet, I think you are top TIES, Rex.

I liked this puzzle too, foodie. It was harder than recent Tuesdays. I made many of Rex's mistakes, including KRONES and GABS. I tried to fit ADAMANTIUM in too short a space. And happily I never got to the point of writing down XENON GAS (which turns out to be the blue 'neons'). A good mix of easy and hard.

Greene 1:08 PM  

@Jane Doh: Funny you should mention Hugh Jackman. He is the closest thing I can think of in terms of a theatrical matinee idol (in the modern sense, I'm not denying the man is talented). A few years ago he appeared on Broadway in a dreadful musical biography of the late Peter Allen called The Boy From Oz. This show stank to high heaven, but Mr. Jackman was an enormous box-office draw. Women (and probably some men) went back to see him in the piece over and over again -- sort of a theatrical guilty pleasure. The audience, when I attended, was mostly composed of middle aged women who went absolutely berserk for this guy.

It is extremely difficult for any single star to keep a hideous musical show running to sold out houses for over a year and I really cannot think of another living male theatre star who has this kind of drawing power. Of course, the second his contract expired, the entire enterprise closed up shop and vanished without a trace. No attempt was made to find a replacement simply because nobody went to see The Boy From Oz, they went to see Mr. Jackman. A true MATINEE IDOL.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:24 PM  

Must agree with parshutr et al, for us old folks this was an Easy puzzle, came very quickly.

Must note 11D/40A, ONUS/BONUS!

@dk - You've been doing too many BEQ puzzles.

My deepest sympathy to santafefran. When my next-to-last cat died three weeks ago, I couldn't even tell my friends in person; I had to use email so I wouldn't break up. (She was given her name, Mamma Mia, by my late mother.)

Doc John 1:28 PM  

A solid Tuesday puzzle with the few missteps that Rex described. Seems my solving experience was very similar to his today (except my time was more than double his).

About the bearded pres- since the clue seemed to call for an abbreviation, I initially had USG. That got fixed quickly enough, though.

If I were Geraldine Fitzgerald, I'm not sure how I'd feel about being called "fascinating". (In the Dark Victory trailer.)

Retired_Chemist 1:39 PM  

@Phillysolver - thanks for the welcome. Nice to be out of Syn City, thanks to a Christmas present of a year's subscription from my daughter. TTYL

mexgirl 1:44 PM  

Coming back from a long vacation skiing in Colorado, all I could think of after finishing today's puzzle is:
Tall dark and handsome... that would be the boy from Ipanema, of course!

And I also signed up for Feb. 7 in Westport. My goal this year, to finish with no mistakes... (thank god my friend Lori bring whiteout)

Lauren 2:14 PM  

the blogger panel post was funny but not quite accurate. Yes, Amy will answer immediately. Jim won't answer until the next day's puzzle comes out but he will interview the questioner. Ryan and Brian (the funniest guys in crosswords) will argue with each other and then ask if they can edit that part out. Rex will hate, hate, hate the question because one of the words is unknown to him and another just seems wrong, wrong, wrong, and then he'll answer the question in great detail anyway.

Of course Rex shouldn't run the tournament. Someone with his insensitivity would kill it. But we all come here because sometimes Rex goes postal and like a car crashs at the indianapolis D, we can't not watch.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Old term, not used anymore?
In the NYTimes search box for MATINEE IDOL:
Past 12 Months: 10,000+ Results
!!

joho 2:18 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: that's so sad about your darling Momma Mia, my condolences.

I totally understand not being able to talk about it. When working at an ad agency in NYC years back, we lost our family pet and I'd burst into tears at different points throughout the day. I told everybody my uncle had died. I didn't think they'd understand my grieving so for an animal.

Doug 2:25 PM  

@greene: I recall Hugh Jackman hosting the Tonys (I "recall" and I could be wrong) and making a joke about being asked to do a dance number. His comment was "Wolverine does not high step."

He's just filmed Wolverine the movie in Oz, and a friend is scouting some locations here in Vancouver for some fill-in work on it, as he worked on the first 2 X-Men films that were shot here. He's been sworn to secrecy over a celeb who's playing a mutant, ala Kelsey Grammer in the last one. Could it be Rex Parker or Will Shortz as the new "X-Man?" Wouldn't that be so appropriate? RP as "The Professor" and Shortz as "The Enigma."

jae 2:28 PM  

Mostly easy for me too with the exception of having to sort out the ADAMANTS/TIER/KRONOR area (made the same mistakes as everyone else and was iffy on the ANNAN spelling O?). Also, had to change KING (41a) and eventually YAPS, oh, and of course, ETNA.

Colbert had Colmes on last night as his "new" co-host for the Report. As expected it didn't last long but was pretty funny. You should be able to catch re-runs through out the day today.

chefbea 2:31 PM  

Guess I am one of the old folks. Found the puzzle very easy. There use to be a famous amusement park in St. Louis - the Forest Park Highlands. I remember the Dogem cars - what fun!!

@crosscan LOL

@imsdave I'll see you and all the others in Westport. You'll recognize me by what I will be wearing. Can't wait to meet everyone.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Anyone who does not understand the grief of losing a cherished companion has no heart. Any time I hear someone say "I don't like dogs" or "I don't like cats" I look at them with great distrust.

rafaelthatmf 2:51 PM  

Have no real negatives for this puzzle. Maybe not as sparkly as some and perhaps a bit flat but overall an enjoyment. Would have liked to see some cohesion on the theme clues/answers (i.e. more movie or idol related) and that would have made the puzzle stellar. Now just okay.
It always strikes me as unusual how certain names get certain nicknames: Dapper Dan and Iron Mike come to mind. Why not Iron Pete or Dapper Dave? Sorry for the tangent.

rafaelthatmf 2:59 PM  

@Anonymous 2:38 - I have a dog that loves every human being - even the odd technician that drops by the house for this or that. Every once in a while the dog just freaks out on some random person (no biting but a real sort of fearful barking and backing away). It always makes me wonder about that person - does the dog have an insight we don't: further I wonder if the person in question sees that the dog has seen through the facade.

mac 3:04 PM  

Just returned from the Westport Library and found out that:

The tournament on Feb. 7 can take 100 contestants, and there are already 70 registrations, so hurry up!

There will be 3 unpublished NYT crossword puzzles, of Monday, Tuesday and Thursday levels, and for each you get 20 minutes.

The finalists do a 4th one, which the other contestants are welcome to do as well. It all sounds like the Bay Area one some of our friends went to some months ago.

@Bob Kerfuffle and Santafefran: my condolances, I know how you feel. It's still tough sometimes, even after more than a year.

@Mexgirl: great to meet you there, too!

@Lauren: harsh. Have you met Rex in person?

Lauren 3:12 PM  

@mac, no I've never met the king of crossworld. do you think i'm harsher than he is?

steve l 3:21 PM  

Apparently, Dodgem is a brand of bumper car. The British, who are fond of hoovering their floors, naturally just took a brand name and made it the generic term.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumper_car

Two Ponies 3:22 PM  

@Raphaelthatmf - I know what you mean. I have a dog like that too. I trust his instincts even better than mine. If he says "Watch out for that guy" I believe him. I also think those people know the facade doesn't work on dogs.

dk 3:30 PM  

@Bob K, you may be on to something.

RE Pets: I was once one of those people who called dogs and cats the other white meat. Then I got a cat and finally a dog. Both died after a long and fun filled life and I would have maintained them on life support if I could. Thus when people say they do not like pets... look at them with pity.

chefwen 3:30 PM  

I found the puzzle to be easy but it still had a little bite to it. Got hung up in all the places Rex did.
Santafefran, my deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved kitty. I too had to inform friends and family via email of the loss of my Jolie for fear of going into the "ugly cry".

archaeoprof 3:37 PM  

For 28D I so wanted "lavalamp."

Anne 3:50 PM  

I found this very easy with the exception of adamant which was news to me. I've noticed this same theme in the comments on other days - that older people find it easy. Maybe Rex can comment on that sometime, for instance, are some constructors known for this, like here, I guess, John Greenman.

santafefran 3:58 PM  

Thanks to each of you who expressed sympathy for the loss of my sweet Moxie. Bob: she was my "next to last cat" also -- out of 4. My previous avatar was a painting of dearly departed Gonzo and a few years ago we lost her sister Soxie.
I have spent the last several hours going through old photos in order to make a commemorative album which I can email to friends. It is great to see her in her prime.
So very sorry about Mamma Mia and Jolie. Because our pets give us such unconditional love I think grieving for them is at least as wrenching as it is for people we have lost.

@chefbea
I remember those Dodgem cars at the Highlands--and the terrifying roller coaster!

Blanche 4:18 PM  

Good Tuesday puzzle, and super-easy. Maybe we oldsters have just been solving crossword puzzles longer than you young-uns.

Doc John 4:20 PM  

re: Dodgems: Cedar Point, the best amusement park on the planet (even if their parent company bought a venerable old Ohio park, Geauga Lake, and then proceeded to kill it) has Dodgems. Can't get any more American than that! Here's the link: Click here

As for modern matinee idols, let's not forget Brad Pitt. Also, Hugh Jackman will be hosting the Oscars this year. Should be an interesting show!

P.S. My condolences about your pets. I remember when my wonderful bulldog, Austin, died I cried for an hour and a half straight.

hazel 4:25 PM  

@anonymous 2:14 - what does that have to do with the price of beans? search for EGAD in google and you come up with 100s of thousands of results, and noone I know uses that expression?

My point wasn't that the term MATINEEIDOL was unheard of, but that in my opinion it seemed a bit antiquated generally, and somehow out of sync with its theme answers.

I've learned from Wikipedia that matinee idols were apparently tall, dark, and handsome actors who weren't very good at acting - and drew people to the matinees because of their dashing good looks. They couldn't carry feature films from a talent perspective, and therefore a certain group of actors were classified simply as matinee idols.

So, while there are no separate matinees anymore, there are plenty of good looking actors who can't act! And they're just called, the sexiest man alive - or whatever!!

For the record, I'm 47 yrs old and thought the puzzle was easy, but also a hodgepodge. It just didn't sing for me, as someone here once said....

Two Ponies 4:45 PM  

A side note from a few days ago. Alice Munro came up in conversation here. Today the mailman brought me a copy of her "Selected Stories." Leafing through I think I will love it. Thanks to all for the recommendation. One of many reasons I come here.
@Dr. John Yes, Cedar Point is the BEST.
Three and out.

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

I had 41A (Word before Charles or George) as "Cape", making 32D Yaps instead of Yaks.

Making 23D (Source of red-orange light) "Neon Camo", and 49A (first of a series) "Alohas".

This more or less works all around (though camo, short for camouflage, I guess doesnt really emit light).

FWIW, Cape Charles is in VA and Cape George is in Nova Scotia.

Karen 6:35 PM  

I've registered for Westport too.

My nominee for Tall Dark and Handsome (and can't act) would be Keanu Reeves. Whoa!

I loved Crosscan's blog panel too.

foodie 7:40 PM  

@ Lauren, you said: "we all come here because sometimes Rex goes postal and like a car crashs at the indianapolis D, we can't not watch".

There are a lot of reasons I come here, but this is not one. I come here because I really like the commentary and Rex's perspective on the puzzle, which is often quite different from mine-- it teaches me a lot while being highly amusing. I also come here because I like the people who post. I feel like I've gotten to know the ones who post regularly, even though I've never met a single one. But whether we are discussing the puzzle, food or a beloved pet who passed away, I feel we are a real community, and Rex is the one who made it happen. I'm very grateful for that. My least favorite part is actually when it gets too edgy and people are hard on each other.

I always hesitate about writing anything when the discussion gets personal, because I don't want to contribute to a negative atmosphere nor do I want to sound moralizing. One of the great things I value most in this country is freedom of speech and so I respect the fact that you have your own perspective. But by the same token, silence can be interpreted as agreement. So, I wanted to make it clear that what I value about this blog is really rather different.

Mary 7:45 PM  

Thanks for the Adam Ant pic - it got the mental image I have of Daryl Hall's mullet in "Maneater" out of my head. H&O have been puzzles a lot lately, and that mullet image always gets in my head.

santafefran 7:53 PM  

Ditto what you said, foodie!

Even if the puzzle may sometimes be boring, this blog never is. It's like free association which starts with the puzzle and Rex's comments and branches out in every direction with each post and then looping in again to touch us personally.

I'm glad to be allowed to join in.

mac 7:53 PM  

@foodie: as usual you are the voice of reason, and I think you speak for many of us. Thank you so much for that.

Greene 8:16 PM  

@foodie: I love the daily strawberry!

Three and out.

jae 8:31 PM  

@foodie -- Yep!

fikink 9:03 PM  

@foodie, your words are like pearls in a bowl, versatile without ever wounding. Some wonderful connections have been made on this blog beyond engaging the puzzle. And today we have the melding of our memories of animals, while I am watching a 14-year-old canine companion die and my FIL losing his way. This blog, oddly maybe, provides me great solace.

OBI the way, I enjoyed today's puzzle.

joho 9:04 PM  

@foodie: beautifully stated!

Orange 9:31 PM  

@Anne, PhillySolver told me today's constructor published some NYT puzzles in the pre-Shortz era, which suggests that he is older than most of the constructors these days.

Whoever said "matinee idol" shows up 10,000+ times in the NYT search, didja notice that only two of the first 10 hits are newish, with the other eight predating 1923?

I haven't trusted cats since one ate a chunk of my sister's leg when I was little.

Kathy D. 9:44 PM  

Thought this was a good, fun puzzle and easy.

But the blog is what is the most fun although a prerequisite is to have done the puzzle. That said, even when the puzzle is not fun or challenging, this blog is always something to look forward to.

Am very sorry about the loss of family pets. That is always hard
and it is losing members of the family so grieving is inevitable.

Enjoyed the Hall and Oates clip. Very funny.

And was alarmed that when I wrote in the answer on "be-bop-a-lula," that I remembered the words to that song more clearly than I remember what I read in the NYT yesterday. That is a reality check.

Kathy D.

Bill from NJ 10:22 PM  

I thought the relationaship between the theme MATINEE IDOL and the description of the theme TALL DARK HANDSOME was crystal clear- if you were a movie fan or theater fan of a certain age.

Perhaps the ideas expressed werea trifle antiquated but the line of matinee idols that were tall dark and handsome ran from Rudolph Valentino through Cary Grant and Rock Hudson. If you want to include TV in the discussion, throw in Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott.

But Matinee Idol is perfectly expressed by Tall Dark and Handsome.

Nebraska Doug 11:47 PM  

"ADAMANTS" had no place in a Tuesday puzzle.

sillygoose 12:11 AM  

Dad and I have noticed that some puzzles seem to skew older, and others seem to favor the younger crowd. Usually, this involves cultural clues, we are both equally up to date on our loams and neon gasses. When we solve a puzzle together we are almost always faster than when we try to go it alone.

BTW, I come here because the comments and commentary are funny and sharp. I LOL every day just reading Rex and all of you super-smart people. There was a joke about a "dehiscer" a while back that had me crying tears. My husband keeps asking me "what's so funny?" but I haven't ever been able to explain it to him yet.

andrea carla michaels 2:42 AM  

I can tell when I like a puzzle when I wish I had thought of it!
TALL, DARK and HANDSOME are great...

As my friend Michael Blake always says, four is the new three...
For me, I would have stopped at TALL, DARK HANDSOME so it's neat that there is now always a fourth "punchline"...
it might have been fun if the fourth WAS HUGHJACKMAN
which has the same amount of letters as the dubious TALLSTORIES.

@Crosscan
Woody Allen is neither Tall, Dark, nor Handsome...but a matinee idol, of sorts. BUT he's only 10 letters so f*%k him!

I say we bag the whole blogging panel and just have YOU do a 40 minute set!!!

By the way, thanks for including me in your hysterical PRE-cap
(I'm coining a variation of RECAP)
as I have not actually been asked to be a part of the panel...
but ya never know! ;)
(Maybe Rex will get snowed in...and PuzzleGirl will be emceeing some wrestling match in Fargo...)

@santafefran
My condolences :(
One of the biggest heartbreaks in life is that our pets don't outlive us.
The well-named MOXIE looks beautiful. 20+ years is a long long long time to be with somebody.

re: puzzle
I wanted HANDSOMECAB but of course it's HANSOM.

When I wrote in SELES I checked for a minute what 1D was, lest it turn out this puzzle could be read the same upside down as right side up PLUS backwards...I'm serious!

What with those young turks continually outdoing each other in construction!

It's almost midnight and I'm still laughing over Rex's line about Obama growing a beard, wearing a sea captain's hat..."Mix it up a little"!!!!!

Southern ma'am 3:39 AM  

I have a negatve and positive spin on
the puzzle: I was born a 50's child (positive)
and I don't watch t.v. (negative) Wait a sec, did I reverse
my poles? Everything I know about The
Simpsons I learned from The Puzzle & Rex.
This was a Typical Tuesday+ puzzle.
Made the same Rex missteps, am proud to
admit. Rex taught me to be fearless. Take
that a d a m a n t !

Anne 9:49 AM  

@Orange, thanks for the answer about puzzles that go easy on older solvers. I thought it was probably something like that.

PlantieBea 9:44 PM  

Ah, finally did the real Tuesday puzzle and found it to be very...Tuesday. I didn't know Be-Bop-Alula, and I fell into the ETNA trap, but once I realized that the theme had to be matinee idol, I switched it to ENNA. I thought that perhaps there was an error?! Thanks to this wonderful blog, I know about ENNA :-)
BTW, Agree with Foodie...and
@SantafeFran, sorry to hear about dear kitty. We've had several old timers that we were sorry to lose.

Charly 7:32 PM  

Had "Dark Visions" and "Neon sign," which slowed me down, but plugged through. Harder than a usual Tuesday, and the theme leaves me less than inspired.

Deborah Boschert 9:51 PM  

I thought DODGEMS might have something to do with "gems" and the unit of measure for gems would be carats, which would be abbreviated "cars." Of course, this is wrong on so many levels, and yet, the answer was correct.

No one else has a problem with assorts. Sorts, sure... but assorts? Ahem.

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