THURSDAY, Apr. 2, 2009 - BE Quigley (Vaudeville brother born Milton / Palate-raising response / Snake's bioweapon)

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: G to X - seven (!) theme answers all begin with "G" and end with "X"

Word of the Day: WIGGY - adj. Slang., -gi·er, -gi·est.

Excited, eccentric, or crazy, especially in reaction to something: “Movies invariably get wiggy when they deal with adultery” (Ty Burr). (answers.com)

Sorry to give this puzzle short shrift, but I have to do this whole write-up in like 15 minutes. Really busy morning. And something is clearly wrong with one of my dogs and I'm going to have to go to the vet. Frequent hacking and minor barfing ... even though she has normal appetite, energy, everything. Didn't sleep much. It's not a pleasant sound. Sorry, I know that doesn't pass the "breakfast test."

This puzzle is another crazy Scrabbly "what's the theme?" creation from BEQ. The last one we saw from him in the NYT was, I think, the "INGQ" puzzle where people had a hard time deciding if there was a theme or just repeated letter strings or what. The grid was so wonderful that the bizarre "theme" hardly mattered. Here, all theme answers go from G to X. It's got me wondering if I'm missing something frightfully clever. Maybe you don't need any more than shared first and last letters when your grid is this original. There are so many high-end letters and so many colloquial and fresh terms that I didn't miss having a conventional theme. I can even put up with nutso made-up words like ALE KEG (23D: Pub container) and HAYING (5D: Harvesting for fodder) and END MEN (49D: Minstrel show figures) and the only slightly less made-up XYLENE when the payoff is this strong throughout. Best answer of the day, and appropriate one given my dog's condition: GAG REFLEX (47A: Palate-raising response). I was trying to find my palate and raise it - I guess that *is* what happens when you gag. Can't say I ever thought of it before. [Palate-raising response] sounds almost culinary. The answer ... does not.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons (Gary Gygax)
  • 30A: French auto race (Grand Prix)
  • 39A: Trademarked brand of waterproof fabric (Goretex)
  • 47A: Palate-raising response (gag reflex)
  • 61A: Vaudeville brother born Milton (Gummo Marx)
  • 11D: Levy at a BP or 69-Across station (gasoline tax)
  • 24D: Thirtysomethings (Generation X)

Toughest one of these, for me, was GUMMO MARX, both because of "brother" but no last name and because I know the MARX Brothers from movies, not Vaudeville. No matter. I got it from crosses OK. Worst time was, ironically, the tiny little NW corner, where nothing was making sense - where, in fact, GARY GYGAX came as a relief after trying to make that 3x3 section work. Thought 1A: Yeshiva student (Jew) would be specific, some word I didn't know, so I left it and went for CUP and then MUG at 1D: Water holder. This gave me ME- for the Yeshiva clue, and the Down, 3D: Drug _____, did not clearly say WAR to me, though that's the only thing that made any kind of sense. Briefly thought the puzzle was a rebus and that the answer was [TS]AR or [CZ]AR or something. Left the Yeshiva answer as MEW until the very end. The "J" for JUG / JEW was the last thing to fall. The second-to-last: that "T" in GAT (61D: Bit of "hardware") and TENSE (70A: Ex-lax?). Had to do a little alphabet run-through.

Bullets:

  • 19A: N.B.A. star point guard Kidd (Jason) - gimme. Even though BEQ puzzles often torture me, in some ways I am very much on his level. We seem to have major overlap in basic cultural knowledge. This helped with CBGB (4D: Old N.Y.C. club said to be the birthplace of punk) and WIGGY (9A: Crazy excited) and AKEEM (67A: Eddie Murphy's role in "Coming to America") and maybe some other answers I'm not seeing right now. Oh, DRE, for sure (31D: "Forgot About _____" (2000 Grammy-winning rap song)). Reprise (profanity and adult content alert):



  • 53A: Snake's bioweapon (fang) - hot clue
  • 37D: Michelangelo sculpture on a biblical subject (Moses) - really, not HOSEA. Damn.
  • 50D: Annual event that includes motocross (X Games) - this answer appears with odd frequency. Initial "X" answers are hard to come by, I guess.
  • 62D: HI-strung instrument? (uke) - saved my rear end in the SE. God bless the "K".

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


112 comments:

retired_chemist 7:04 AM  

Wow. This is the most difficult Thursday puzzle I can recall seeing. Ever.

I am sure (1) that GARY GYGAX (WHO???) was born in Natick and (2) CBGB is not in NYC but instead in Natick. “OLD” NYC club? Founded 1973? Roughly half my age?

As if having my nose rubbed in my geezerhood in the NW weren’t chastisement enough, it hurt even worse being shown up in Dixie for the wet-behind-the ears youngster I really am. GUMMO MARX? Even the official Marx Brothers site says of Gummo: “He is the Marx Brother that is almost forgotten by the fans.” Gummo stopped performing before the Marx brothers were stars. ENDMEN? Who among us ever saw a minstrel show? Wikipedia says they “survived as professional entertainment until about 1910; amateur performances continued until the 1960s…” and then XGAMES (50D) showed I was a geezer after all.

70A “Ex-lax” was cute but hardly on point. TENSE and lax are defined as opposites in phonetics, I now know, but neither is ex the other as far as I can see. Is something small ex-large?

Bottom line: Nice job, BEQ; you got me fair and square. Worse that I have been got in many months. I had to Google for both the G at the first cross and then GUMMO in the SE. Just don’t call it a Thursday.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

I was able to "cheat" on this puzzle -- it was a featured category on last night's Jeopardy. 5 of the G to X answers were "questions" with the answers given by Will Shortz, himself.

Eli Barrieau 7:22 AM  

When I get my fields hayed twice a summer I use HAYING. As do all my neighbors. Not even close to a made-up word.

steve l 7:28 AM  

@retired_chemist: "Old" in the CBGB clue means no longer in existence; it closed recently among much publicity after attempts to find a new owner failed. And in the context of punk music, 1973 IS ancient. BTW, CBGB stood for country, bluegrass and blues. I agree that Ex-lax is too cutesy and not exactly accurate, but overall, there wasn't much in this puzzle that would make me consider it dreadfully hard. I did it at 11:00, fairly tired, and finished it in a normal 12-minute or so range.
But BEQ puzzles are a little bit twisted, so you just have to be on the lookout.

joho 7:54 AM  

I really liked this puzzle even though I left one square blank at GARY YGAX/CB B. I didn't have a clue, not even enough to guess. I got all the rest of the puzzle right and loved all the X's and fresh words and phrases and clues like "It may need a big jacket."

While I ended up in defeat at what certainly has to be declared a Natick, I didn't really care because of my admiration for this puzzle and for BEQ.

Oh, and, Rex, I also enjoyed your puzzle yesterday at BEQ's place, very egocentric!

Nebraska Doug 7:56 AM  

I found this to be a pretty easy Thursday puzzle, but I've done a lot of BEQ puzzles, thanks to his three (free) puzzles a week on his website. (Thank You!) It helps if you a music geek, it made CBGB a huge gimme. Usually some good indie rock references in a BEQ puzzle. Only things that slowed me down were "END MEN" - never heard of the term, had to goggle it after I finished to verify it was real. GARY GYGAX is rough, I think I've seen it used once before. I only got those two answers because of the crosses.

joho 8:03 AM  

@rex: I forgot to offer my wishes that your dog gets better quick!

JeanSp 8:14 AM  

Absolutely a Natick at the crossing of CBGB and Gary Gygax. And since I didn't see the pattern, I conflated Zippo and Gummo and had Zummo for the longest time, which gave me great trouble in Louisiana. I had to google this one.

Crosscan 8:26 AM  

With the puzzle appearing at 7:00pm and Jeopardy on at 7:30 it was a nice one-two punch for West Coasters.

Based on recent experience, I can confirm that GARY GYGAX/CBGB can be found in downtown Natick. No accident that one was left out of the Jeopardy clues. Good puzzle otherwise.

dk 8:48 AM  

Natick, scmatick.

CBGB is a gimmie for anyone who every heard a Ramones tune. Here are the kids at CBGB. And for my Acme moment I shot PIX at this show.

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

GARYGYGAX is a mainstay (note cute tie into ABEAM) for trivia.

GUMMOMARX and ENDMEN: who knew?

Knowing BEQ puzzles I assumed raw material was porn... sigh. At the outset I thought this was going to be easy for a WASP from NY (e.g, Watkins Glen has/had the US GP) but the aforementioned south central screw-ups will require I return my MENSA card.

In short this was a puzzle. Thank you BEQ

edith b 8:58 AM  

I enjoy the twisted world of BEQ and his puzzles alway have a show-biz component that mirror my interests. In this case, as a fan of Groucho Marx thru his TV work, I read his son Arthur's books on life with a famous father and learned about the early days of the Marx Brothers and knew about Gummo.

I spent an inordinate amount of time in the 60s watching Television and I find it interesting that 2 days in a row, there is a reference to "F Troop", a silly western I enjoyed watching after I did my homework in my early teen years.

As a reader about and an active participant in Pop Culture, I got a big kick out of this puzzle.

I missed "Jeopardy" the other night that featured this puzzle.

Megan P 9:07 AM  

Pathetically, ridiculously (while not insultingly) easy!

Thanks for Gummo Marx and all those funny-looking letters.

ArtLvr 9:07 AM  

Total agreement here on the yukky CBGB/GYGAX.

I'd also note two other little nits: while TIRO is clued correctly as a variant of Tyro, CAGY is not clued as a variant for the usual Cagey! (I'm not getting WIGGY over it.)

As to EXXON, the name is now Exxon Mobile Corp., and has been for some years -- the trading symbol was even changed from XON to XOM, so the clue should indicate a colloquial form...

Never mind, it was a clever puzzle and I enjoyed seeing Will on Jeopardy! And I hope Rex's dog will be okay. I have a squirrel out back who's addicted to the fermented fruit left over from last year's ornamental quince -- he breakfasts every morning on a baseball-sized orange item uncovered in the final snow-melt, amd I'm afraid the yard will soon be sprouting volunteers from his careful burial of the daily remains...

∑;(

fikink 9:09 AM  

What I absolutely love abbout BEQ's puzzles is that I "hear" them all the while I am doing them. They are so in the language:

"I GIVE!"
"Take your GORETEX jacket." (Whatever did we do before Goretex?)
"She is such a YOYO."
"It is the BANE of my existence."
"That really GETS TO me."
"Holy MOSES!"
"Okay, now, put it IN GEAR."

or my favorite old AT&T jingle, "Reach out, reach out and 'cuff' someone."

Maybe because of all the Xes and the Dada clue, this puzzle also whispered Andrei Cordrescu's name to me,

Rex, HAYING is not, I repeat NOT, a nutso made-up word. It is a gerund.
BEQ puzzles are a CHIRP!

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

I often find BEQ puzzles hard; he is much younger than I am and loves to fill his puzzles with things that interest him. That's cool. No matter, they are always inventive and fresh fills. For me, GARY GYGAX was entirely new and I had never heard of EVA MENDES. I've looked her up and found a nice YouTube of her farting. I vaguely got to CBGB, remembering it as some rhyming consonant cluster. I knew GUMMO MARX with no crossings and ENDMEN for me was a gimme: It's rarely used, as it's uncomfortable territory, referring to black-facing and Tambo and Bones. BTW, Spike Lee made a fabulous movie about it, called "Bamboozled."

JoefromMtVernon 9:22 AM  

DK and Steve are correct, CBGB has been in crosswords and in the news (its closing). It was the club, in the '70's, that was the polar opposite to Studio 54. I thought the Y cross (haying/gygax) was more difficult.

Thought the theme was "end in X", so I had Chico, then Harpo, before Gummo. Get him confused with Zeppo. Oh well.

Don't like wiggy...you know BEQ wanted Jiggy, so Rex could favor us with a Will Smith tune.

Orange 9:24 AM  

@ArtLvr, the signs at the gas stations are for Exxon or Mobil and not for the Exxon Mobil Corp.—and the clue related to gas stations. Works for me.

@Eli Barrieau: Omigod, you're a hayseed, aren't you? Why isn't your commenting ID "Farmer Eli"?

I learned GARY GYGAX's name from crosswords. Maybe the Sun, maybe Ben Tausig's Ink Well, maybe the Onion, maybe Jonesin'. Probably not from the NYT.

On Jeopardy! Will described the theme as going from G to X, as in movie ratings. So it's not just a "starts with one random letter, ends with another theme," even if that's exactly what it looked like to me before I watched the show.

Rex Parker 9:25 AM  

I love that people are so fierce and serious and passionate about their HAYING. HA ha. HAYING is to me what GARY GYGAX and CBGB apparently were to many of you - only at least I'd heard of HAYING (if only from puzzles). CBGB is phenomenally famous. And GYGAX is way more famous to me than the much more common (crosswordwise) TSR (the company that produced D&D).

rp

chefbea 9:41 AM  

I did watch jeopardy last night and saw Will giving the clues. Still had trouble with the Natick area. Thought it was great that two jeopardy clues were in the puzzle: I lost on jeopardy and "I"ll take the newyork times crossword puzzle for $200 Alex"

All in all a fun thursday puzzle

@rex hope the dog is ok

hazel 9:55 AM  

I'm with @Megan P. This was absurdly easy for a Thursday. I thought all the xes were cool, but I didn't really "get" the theme. Thought the whole g/x combo was just constructor cleverness. The fact that its really "going from g to x, as in movie ratings" doesn't make me get it any more. Still seems like thematic artifice....

All that to say, I loved this puzzle. It was fun to do and the cluing was stellar. Since we're just moments away from opening day, would like to have seen BANDO clued differently.

retired_chemist 10:03 AM  

@ Rex - please do post how your dog is once you know. I also hope she is OK soon.

treedweller 10:06 AM  

I must sheepishly confess I know GARYGYGAX from playing the game, not from solving crosswords.

This is another rare BEQ for me, in that I blazed through it and never found the obscure-crossing-obscure (to me) fill that he usually includes. I finished faster than yesterday, and agree with Megan P that it was quite easy. I'm sure my payback is coming.

Norm 10:08 AM  

Bleh

retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

OK, OK - I guess this one just hit me in several Achilles' heels. I shall persevere.

Three and out.

foodie 10:13 AM  

I was surprised to see that the Jeopardy questions from last night were actually in today's puzzle. The overlap between people who watch Jeopardy and do the NYTimes must be very high. So, having been given many of the themed answers, and the theme itself, it was hard to judge how difficult this puzzle actually was for me.

Never heard of GARY GYGAX, but I have to salute his parents. When you have such a distinctive last name, embrace it, punch it up, echo 3 of its letters in the first name and send your kid on his way to fearlessness.

There is a definite touch of genius in this puzzle.

Crosscan 10:35 AM  

Let's check the scoreboard:

Heard of GARY GYGAX and/or CBGB:

Rex, steve l, Nebraska Doug, dk, JoefromMtVernon, Orange, hazel, treedweller

Natickland:

retired_chemist, joho, JeanSp, Crosscan, ArtLvr,chefbea, Norm, foodie

Unclear/not an issue:

edith b, Megan P, fikink, hazel

We're all tied up. The polls are still open. Anons are not eligible.

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

Had I not seen Jeopardy last night I'm sure I would have struggled with this one. I admire BEQ's work but rarely feel like I'm on his wavelength.
I wonder why XXX is called a turkey. Any bowlers out there?

Anne 10:36 AM  

I've been doing Quigley's for a few weeks now and I think they're fresh and funny. For heavens sake, this one had yoyo dingbat wiggy and inaner, in addition to the fact that he had the nerve to start one of our puzzles with one of the words that causes much discussion (dissension). Quigley is a wild and crazy kind of guy and I love him. Well, not him. His puzzles. I would continue but I'm getting ready to go away for a week sans computer and I will miss the blog and the puzzles.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

@ crosscan
Yes to CBGB
No to Gygax (What a name!)

edith b 10:40 AM  

@hazel-

Jim Horne interviewed BEQ over at "Wordplay" and you were on the mark with constructor artifice as far as the theme goes. Will Shortz imposed the G to X movie ratings idea on top of BEQ's seed entry of GARYGYGAX which is as far as BEQ's memory goes insofar as the theme is concerned.

I like Quigley for the same reason I like Joe Krozol - they both push the envelope of crossword theory.

Shamik 10:43 AM  

As I was doing this one, I was thinking how I love a BEQ puzzle and thinking that they challenge, they're quirky and they always give a feeling of accomplishment when finished correctly. Thought this one was ultimately do-able 'til I saw my wrong letter with a RIFF/TANG cross. Then I laughed even more at my own vanity.

Challenging one for me even if I'd solved it correctly. And tremendously enjoyable.

@Anne: The great thing about several sites, including BEQ's, is that you can go back and read his blog and get the puzzles.

Shamik 10:44 AM  

@crosscan:
No on GARYGYGAX
Yes on CBGB

humorlesstwit 10:46 AM  

Yes to CBGB, HAYING, WTF to GARYGYGAX.

@Orange - I'm guessing Eli is Gentleman Farmer Eli, notice he didn't say that he was out HAYING his field.

HAYING is brutal work if you're the grunt stacking hay in the wagon, not the one driving the tractor. You've got to make hay when the sun shines, so you're out there for 10 hours a day, stacking 50lb bales, ducking them when the kicker throws them back. On a hot summer day.

fikink 10:57 AM  

@humorlesstwit, damn straight!

Sandy 11:02 AM  

Unlike my husband, I'm not on BEQ's level. I thought the puzzle was great, but there were lots of cultural things I didn't know. Did you know, for example, that there is an English version of Monopoly, with completely different street and utility names? It was a revelation to me when I learned, as an adult, that there was an American version.

yes cbgb
no gygax
F troop is a big cultural "WTF" for me.

Add in five or so sports clues and I'm sweating a little.

I'm not complaining, just saying.

Eeyore 11:11 AM  

@Two Ponies: X is the bowling notation for a strike. Thus a Turkey is three strikes - XXX. Much better in bowling than in baseball. I don't know WHY it is called a turkey though.

@Crosscan Yes to CBGB, actually went there many times, unfortunately not in its heyday. No to Gary Gygax

mccoll 11:12 AM  

I thought this one was great, even though I had to google twice for Gygaz and Gummo, the only Marz bro I don't know. I didn't pick up on the G to X until Rex mentioned it. Pretty clever over-all and 30 minutes for Thursday is a bit long for me.

@ Eli and Humorless. Haying and baling(which I had initially) and tromping silage don't seem made-up to me. They all "made up" harvest activities where I used to live. I liked ex-lax and tried INAIR because of L.A. airport but XGAMES and TOME fixed that right away.Thanks BEQ!

DHB 11:20 AM  

NW started out as a snap for me, and then I slowed down. Had to google some of them like CBGB
Could someone please define for a neophyte what a Natick is?

Crosscan 11:23 AM  

@DHB - read "The NATICK Principle" listed under important posts on the right hand column.

Clay 11:27 AM  

My ignorance is showing, but could someone let me know what "ter" means? Thanks.

Crosscan 11:33 AM  

P.S. - It was a BEQ puzzle that included NATICK.

jae 11:35 AM  

Easy for me too but I can definitely see how it could be hard if there are four of five things that are WTFs for you. Caught the theme (if that's what you want to call it) early so filled in GUMMO with out reading the clue. AGARN was also a gimme being of a certain age.

@crosscan -- yes on CBGB and GYGAX, although I needed some crosses to have GARY come to surface in memory.

I love the BEQs and this was no exception. I did think his Mon. puzzle this week was harder.

Vega 11:37 AM  

I do love BEQ puzzles.

I'm in the "heard of CBGB/Gary Gygax" camp.

-Vega

Grammarian 11:37 AM  

Yes of course to CBGB. And Gary Gygax was all over the news when he died a year ago this month. He invented the whole genre of fantasy roleplay games! I bet his wonderful name helped nudge him in that direction too.

I didn't realize the Jeopardy cross in the SW was a self-referential stunt. Makes this BEQ EVEN gooder than I thought!

jimmy d 11:39 AM  

I played D&D when I was a kid, and my bible was the Dungeon Master's Guide, by Gary Gygax. Yes, I was a nerd.

Also, I am from the NYC area, and actually went to CBGB's a long time ago...but I have also heard/seen it enough times in national media (VH1, Rolling Stone, etc) to vote a big NO on the natick issue.

And finally, from Wiktionary: to hay (third-person singular simple present hays, present participle haying, simple past and past participle hayed) 1. To cut grasses or herb plants for use as animal fodder...

Great puzzle, BEQ! I jsut saw F-Troop in a puzzle yesterday (I think it was Rex's!), and was trying to remember Larry Storch's character's name...kept thinking Acorn

Kelly 11:41 AM  

@ crosscan
Yes to CBGB
No to Gygax

P.S. Count the # of X's in the puzzle! That BEQ just thinks of everything...

John 11:51 AM  

Yes: CBGB FTROOP GUMMO

No: GYGAX ENDMEN

Although, I did see a Minstrel Show(a revival of sorts) in the early seventies.
I thought vaguely that Gummo was a joke of some sort.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

@Clay TER is an abbreviation on prescriptions for thrice daily

archaeoprof 12:27 PM  

No to Gary Gygax.
No to CBGB.

Like Retired Chemist, I thought this puzzle was one of the hardest Thursdays in some time. But I loved every minute of it.

Wish 15A had been clued, "Former A's infielder Sal." Now you know why I'd never heard of Gary Gygax.

william e emba 12:29 PM  

Of course HAYING is a real word, in the language, a gerund just like poling, reefing, sexing, toying, wigging and earing. Anyway, an acquaintance of me is a farmer, specializing in hay. I've heard him saying HAYING frequently enough. (OK, earing is a genuine word, but not, so far as I know, a gerund.)

Naturally, I've never heard of CBGB, but I've certainly heard of GARY GYGAX, and in fact knew that I knew his name, and it came back to me in pieces, slowed down because I had JAR instead of JUG.

The precise word for "Yeshiva student" is bochur, pronounced BAWKH-er, plural bochurim. (Other transliterations possible.) I seriously do not expect to see it in the NYT crosswords. I certainly started the puzzle with a jolt.

I had no trouble remembering GUMMO MARX. The fourth brother was Zeppo, not Zippo.

I noticed the X's in the theme, which helped, but somehow did not notice the G's, which oversight meant I took about twice as long as usual for this puzzle just to get GAG REFLEX. I originally had TID for the Rx specification, so I was looking for an ALEKI-. Well, heck, maybe a firkin used for ale is called an alekin? What do I know? Eventually I got it, including changing TID to TER, which is not an abbreviation. And right afterwords, I come here and learn I should have known it was a G almost instantly.

AGARN? "F Troop"?! I refused to watch that show way back when.

evil doug 12:30 PM  

Just saw another reason to like BEQ:

At his crossword site, the link to Google is labeled: "Cheat".

Evil

william e emba 12:37 PM  

TER means "three". Ter In Die is usually abbreviated t.i.d., and means thrice daily. I've seen t.i.d. on my prescriptions, but never TER.

There is also q.d. (once daily), b.i.d. (twice) and q.i.d. (four times). Note that q.d. and q.i.d. can look alike.

In my humble opinion, these are abbreviations everyone should memorize. And not just for crosswords.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

14A, The Cavaliers of the N.C.A.A, hired a new basketball coach Monday. Fresh fill?
GO WAHOOS!

Karen 12:46 PM  

I thought the theme was more reminiscent of Will Shorts' Sunday radio puzzles than a Thursday NYT. But it's all good.

I remember CBGB from an anecdote Patty Larkin told about having to share her dressing room with a punk rock singer, that lead in to her song Wolf at the Door.

Here is my favorite Gary Gygax obituary. I would also love to see xkcd in the puzzle some day.

At first I thought Rex was crazy for calling this easy-medium, then I realized it's hard for a Wednesday but not bad for a Thursday.

Geographically speaking, the Natick area of the puzzle would be the E or the N of YENS.

If you missed the episode of Jeopardy, you can see it on youtube.

Karen 12:47 PM  

Stupid tags not showing up.

Gary Gygax: http://xkcd.com/393/

Jeopardy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS1vVa0uuSs

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

1A = JEW made me laugh aloud. GARYGYGAX = turd answer,I don't care - crossing CBGB qualifies as Natick or its geek equivalent. GUMMO was a crip answer, ENDMEN doable, AKEEM good obscure answer, FANG is not a "bio" weapon! VENOM would however be. GRANDPRIX is a French race name, but only one a season is a French race.

Sorry, finished it, so not sour grapes, but to me a lot of very weak, tangential cluing. Harder and annoying, not harder and fun.

SethG 12:53 PM  

I have never lived in New York, but CBGB was absolutely a gimme. It's been mentioned forty-five times in the NYT in the last calendar year, so while people may not know it I think it's a pretty fair entry for their crossword.

And I've never played D&D, but Gary Gygax was a gimme I learned from a puzzle. (Or maybe just from the last time Rex mentioned him, in February?)

Now AGARN, that's just ugly. That took me 5 crosses, and ENDMEN took 6. Kelly, there are sawbuck X's.

Crosscan 1:00 PM  

ok, ok, poll over. No NATICK. The winners are invited to a party with GARY GYGAX at CBGB. Except he's dead and it's closed.

Just drop by BEQ's house anytime.

archaeoprof 1:08 PM  

@SethG: AGARN ugly? I knew it at a glance.

allan 1:24 PM  

I think we must be stuck in the April 1 twilight zone. This was a very easy puzzle for the most part. As Rex has often said, if you can get the long crosses, the rest fills in pretty easily. Gen X and Gas Tax were absolute gimmes (although at first, due to 1a, I wanted levy to be a surname).

I was shocked to see that BEQ was the author of this mess. I expect much better from him. That being said, and the g to x connection being explained (movie ratings) I will reduce the "mess" rating to gruesome hoax.

@wm e emba: I have never heard the word "bochur" pronounced like that. I have always heard it with that distinctly Jewish/German throat clearing sound.

@Crosscan: It amazes me that people took you seriously. I'm glad you called it off. Yes to CGBG and no to Gary Gygax.

@Rex: Hope the dog is OK. Please let us know.

HudsonHawk 1:27 PM  

Yes to CBGB and GYGAX. Been to CBGB a few times, but preferred it's sister club next door, 313 Gallery.

And the subtitle for CBGB was OMFUG, which of course is Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers. Now that would be interesting to see in the grid.

F Troop featured the Hekawi Indian tribe. The Hekawi supposedly derived their name from an incident in which the tribe became lost, exclaiming "Where the heck are we?", which then became "We're the Hekawi".

Bob Kerfuffle 1:29 PM  

I found this to be reasonably fun, as usual for BEQ, though I never saw the "theme".

But how were we supposed to know Will Shortz would be on Jeopardy? I swear I never got the memo. Sorry, I was out at a movie theater watching La Sonnambula from the Met.) But thanks to Karen, I shall attempt to watch it on YouTube.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:36 PM  

Thank you, Karen.

You should have mentioned, for the sake of anyone else who missed Jeopardy, that the whole clip is less than three minutes - they ran the whole category before the first commercial break!

UltraViolet 1:41 PM  

This is probably me listening to too much NPR and reading into this puzzle, but when I see "G To X" I think G-20, the global summit happening now (as in Two X's = 20 in Roman numerals). If the theme fits....

steve l 1:44 PM  

@HudsonHawk--But did you know that the Hekawi were really a cleaned-up version of an older incarnation of that same "Indian tribe." In the older, and bluer, version, the tribe is called the Fukawi.

PlantieBea 1:45 PM  

Back in the day, my husband ran a D & D tournament for Gary Gygax. My teens and their friends have a group now. We own all of the manuals and sets of funky dice, I think.

I helped with HAYING one summer on a horse farm. Very hard work!

Great puzzle with fun letter combinations, although a medium for me. I was burned on the bit of hardware--had GIG leaving me with IKEEM and GENSE. Wrong!

HudsonHawk 1:48 PM  

@steve l, yes I'd heard that one too, but wasn't sure which came first. I recall a Sopranos episode where Tony told that joke.

PIX 1:59 PM  

@43A: No one in this country writes "ter" on an Rx. TID is written frequently, meaning take the medication three times a day. I'll bet if i wrote a Rx saying "ter per day" the pharmacist would not fill it. Bad word.

Campesite 2:05 PM  

I too have been doing BEQ's thrice weekly puzzles--he seems to be in this Van Gogh phase where he's just cranking out one fantastic puzzle after another.
That said, this puzzle was for me one of the easiest Thursdays in a long time. I was actually able to do it on my iPhone, which I rarely do.

Clark 2:10 PM  

According to the FAQ on the website of the US Bowling Congress (!) the term 'turkey' for three consecutive strikes "dates back to before the turn of the 20th century. In those years, scoring was much more difficult and to get three strikes in a row was quite an achievement. During Thanksgiving or Christmas week, the proprietor would present a live turkey to the first person on each team who scored three consecutive strikes. The term has carried over ever since." Don't ask me why scoring has gotten easier.

@retired.chemist -- If I used to be relaxed but am not anymore then I am ex-lax. I'm not saying I got this until I got it. But when I got it, I got it. The ones that get me are the ones that I don't get even when I get, if you know what I mean.

Parshutr 2:17 PM  

Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, Gummo, and Chico (pronounced CHICK-oh, because of his success with the ladies) were the five Marx brothers.
Got JEW right off, only difficult spots were AKEEM (never saw the movie) and GARYGYGAX. Grand Prix are held worldwide, not just in La Belle France. All in all, 8 on the ten-point BLEH scale.
And I agree, GAGREFLEX was the best theme answer.

Parshutr 2:20 PM  

@clark...bowling was harder then because the game was candlepins, with the small ball and long, skinny pins. But one did have three rolls in each frame where you didn't strike or spare.

the redanman 2:20 PM  
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Glitch 3:07 PM  

TER is not a specification, but rather it's part of one, meaning "three".

From the Medterm Dictionary:

ter in die (on prescription): Seen on a prescription, tid means three times a day. It is an abbreviation for "ter in die" which in Latin means three times a day. The abbreviation "tid" is sometimes written without a period either in lower-case letters as "tid" or in capital letters as "TID" or with periods as "t.i.d." However it is written, it is one of a number of hallowed abbreviations of Latin terms that have been traditionally used in prescriptions to specify the frequency with which medicines should be taken.

.../Glitch

PIX 3:47 PM  

But the point is TER is not a word anyone ever ever uses on a prescription. I've had my MD even longer than Redanman and have never ever seen that word on script. not once. ever. As such, not a fair puzzle word.

Doc John 3:49 PM  

While I found this puzzle to be an enjoyable Thursday, I'll leave you with this line:

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around.
This ain't no mudd club, no CBGB, I ain't got time for that now."

Frankly, I'm surprised not to have seen a video posted and even more so that I'm the first one to mention this! So HERE'S a video.

P.S. Get well soon, Rex's dog.
P.P.S. I won't even go there with TER.

Noam D. Elkies 3:54 PM  

What great fill -- I'll forgive a 31D:XLYENE for a puzzle chock-full of 4D:CBGB, 19A:JASON Kidd, 34D:AGARN, 67A:AKEEM, <um, wait, it's not April Fool any more? Darn. Let me start again...>

Sorry, this puzzle has its moments, but overall it's Trying Way Too Hard. That Natique CBGB/GYGAX crossing is only the most egregious of several compromises forced by stuffing seven G...X entries and 52A:TEN 54A:EXES into the grid. I happened to have run across Gary Gygax's name recently enough that it was vaguely familiar, but CBGB=WTF. (@NebDoug 7:56: Hey, I am a music geek -- the kind that reads CBGB as four notes, not some random p*nk club handle.) For that matter, 15A:BANDO makes for another Natique crossing of the same Down entry -- how is a non-Monopoly player supposed to guess the first initial even after surmising the correct parsing of "?ANDO"? A 8D:POX on that corner.

Ah well. Better that this be today's NYTimes crossword than Round 4 in the Boston Crossword three days hence.

NDE

P.S. and how did 47A:GAGREFLEX and the clue 70A:Ex-lax pass the breakfast-table test?...

fikink 4:06 PM  

@DocJohn, Thank you! All this time I thought he had no time for the heebie-jeebies. :)

Doc John 4:13 PM  

@fikink- glad to be of service! I have to admit, I thought it was nightclub and not mudd club (whatever that is) until I checked the lyrics for accuracy before writing that post.

As for CBGB, I think that it's been mentioned enough in news and documentaries to be classified as much more familiar than random. (It's not my fault if you haven't seen those news reports or documentaries!)

(And yes, I've heard of Mr. Gygax, too.)

chefwen 4:18 PM  

Other than GARYGYGAX and CBGB, both unknown to me, I thought this puzzle was stupid easy. Didn;t realize it was a BEQ puzzle until I was done; usually don't care for his puzzles as his mind is on a different wavelength than mine, but I literally sailed through this one. Was a little disappointed when I finished so quickly, I like a little more meat on a Thursday.

Watched my taped version of Jeopardy after I had already finished the puzzle; husband was impressed with my quick responses (I fessed up later.

littlechloe 4:22 PM  

I also thought it was a take on the G-20 meeting.

Kristin 4:29 PM  

C'mon, Rex! "Haying" and "End Man" are legit words. Sorry you're having a bad day, but don't take it out on the vocabulary.

"End Man" - 2. The man in a minstrel show who sits at one end of the company and engages in banter with the interlocutor. (freedictionary.com) - Minstrel shows were intricate and had Commedia-like defined roles.

"Haying" - To mow and cure grass and herbage for hay. (ibid)

In fact, the latter gave me hope that this winter will end. Nothing says that it is summer like the smell & sight of the grass when it is being hayed. It is a wonderful sight & smell, but a job you DON'T ever want to do.

Clark 4:49 PM  

@parshutr -- Thanks for the bowling tip. We Hyde Parkers need all the help we can get.

CBGB, the Mudd Club, the original King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, the Pyramid Club . . . Those were the days, my friend.

JimBo 5:16 PM  

Grassing is a word too. So is graining. But unless you're a farmer, if I say grass or grain, you think noun. Meanwhile, straw is not a verb. (Though at least one source says it is.)

mac 5:23 PM  

I saw Jeopardy last night so had a little help with some of the theme answers, then found my personal Natick at cbgb and Gygax. New Yorker, formerly Chicagoan son walked in and gave me the BandO and the CBGB. For the happy sound at 4A I started out with Ching(k?), thinking of the cash register...

We have haying going on twice a summer, but no baling.

JannieB 5:48 PM  

Even after doing all the BEQ puzzles at his site, this one was still a bit tough for me. The Gygax/CGBG cross was an unknown for me.

As usual with BEQ, I almost never get his theme. I just think of his as very hip themeless puzzles and waste little time trying to do more than solve them. Lots of rock bands and sports figures I'd never learn under any other circumstances, and sure to be tomorrow's "xwordese".

Xavier 6:14 PM  

I am probably the only east-coaster who did the puzzle before seeing Jeopardy. I actually Tivo Jeopardy so I can bloop-bloop through the commercials. I usually start watching part way through the broadcast, but I got home late last night and watched it at 11 after having (almost) done the puzzle.

I really wish the order of the events had been reversed because I got tripped up at both GUMMO and GYGAX. Having said that, I still loooooved this puzzle! So lively. Not surprising from BEQ, but still a delight. My personal favorite was the clue/answer pair of Thirtysomething and GENERATION X. Simple. Obvious. Beautiful.

Xavs

Kelly 6:43 PM  

@SethG - Thank goodness somebody else counted. There are X of them!! I think I'm the only one excited by this. Haha...

michael 7:35 PM  

cbgb, haying, gummo yes

gary gygax, agarn no

unusual puzzle, but not particularly hard for me.

Badir 7:54 PM  

Gary Gygax, a gimme, since I'm of the right age to have played D&D as a teen-ager. In fact, my mother and father separately both gave me the beginner's set for Christmas one year!

Bt CBGB gives me the Natick heebeegeebees.

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

Rex,

I think you're getting elitist - especially around BEQ puzzles. You would've excoriated any number of junior puzzle constructors over some of the things you excuse in this one.

allan 8:32 PM  

Two things are absolutely mind boggling about the posts. One of them is a common event.

I find it so strange that we always complain about answers that are unknown to us. We have even given them the name natick. Quite frankly, if all the answers were familiar to me, I don't think I'd bother to do these puzzles.

The other thing about today's posts is that with all the complaining about haying, ter, cbgb and gygax, no one has complained about the answer at 10d. If inaner isn't one of the worst examples of stretching a word to make it fit in a crossword, I don't know what is. Is there really anyone out there who uses that word? I know you can add the suffix "er" to words, but let's be honest here. No one but the inanest person would use inaner in a sentence. So next time you have a problem with a constructor using "me too" or "so am I" in a puzzle, remember that you are being inaner that the constructor whom you are complaining about.

Greene 9:34 PM  

Where is Jeff in Chicago? I should think he would go ape over the mention of GUMMO MARX! He must be acting in that Harold Pinter festival in Chicago. Great work for him, but still...what a miss. Can't imagine we'll be hearing about GUMMO for some time to come.

I am both fascinated and repelled by the peculiarly American form of rascist entertainment known as minstrely, with its ENDMEN (Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones), interlocutor, blackface shenanigans, and coon songs (yes I hate the word too, but that's what they called it). Starting in 1843 with The Virginia Minstrels, a quartet of out of work entertainers, this form of musical entertainment thrived for well over 50 years, becoming the most popular form of theatre in the U.S. Minstrely was especially popular in New York where between 1840 and 1850 there were never less than five major minstrel troupes playing on Broadway, and during the 1850s, ten major minstrel houses did capacity business. Minstrel troupes were also regular visitors to the White House and played for the administrations of presidents Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, and Pierce.

The form had died out considerably by 1910, although blackface comedy remained rampant. Unfortunately, minstrelry became the format which refused to die after an enormous minstrel act closed Act I of the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919. This influential entertainment caused a mild revival in minstrely, mostly in film. And even as late as 1954 the film industry toyed with a watered down version of minstrely in White Christmas (mercifully nobody appeared in blackface) complete with the Irving Berlin standard "Mandy" which had been written for Ziegfeld's minstrel sequence back in 1919.

As has been already mentioned, Spike Lee had the last word on minstrelry with his excellent satiric film Bamboozled.

Pretend Farmer Eli 9:40 PM  

Way too late to reply, but oh well, my fields kept me out all day. Twit is 100% correct. I leave the haying and farming to the pros. In my case, I kid you not, Old Man Prouty. I bet he has a first name, but I don't want to know.

Orange, I am hayseed wannabe. But I'll change my moniker to Pretend Farmer Eli

mac 9:46 PM  

@Greene: we are so lucky to have you comment here! You never whine or complain, you just inform and teach us wonderful facts about the arts.

PGubanc 9:46 PM  

Rex, I hope your dog is doing better. Kiss her whiskers for me!

dk 10:00 PM  

@allen, I know everything and I still do the puzzles.

Rex or Sandy, now that I live in a zoo ( the albino corn snake just shed his skin woo woo) I am concerned about pets... so how is your dog.

jeff in chicago 10:01 PM  

My brother was quite pleased to see himself in the puzzle today!!----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

Hello Greene! I haven't been able to puzzle for a while. Only 3 weeks to rehearse this Pinter thing. We've lost actors and changed pieces. Ahhh, the joy of live theater! Should be a good show.

Good puzzle, too. VERY good, IMO. 7 G-to-X themes (and who comes up with G-X??? I mean...seriously!) and there's 3 more Xs thrown in for free. Fun fill. Love BANDO, which, to me, harkens back to high school and was my social status. One who's in band. A band-o.

miriam b 10:07 PM  

Rex, I join rveryone else in my concern for your dog. Do keep us updated.

My father, who lived in Boston from the time he got off the boat until about 1925, once mentioned the popularity of candlepins in that area during his youth. I wonder whether they're still extant, there or possibly in Natick?

GARYGYGAX? New to me. I couldn't help picturing Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Stan 10:32 PM  

re: CBGB -- that's where I misspent my youth (1977 or so on), so it was great to see it mentioned. A few memorable bands I saw there: Ramones, Wire, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, X-Ray Spex (who could have been in today's puzzle)...

Orange 11:04 PM  

@Noam, you don't need to know Monopoly intimately to get BANDO provided that you at least know that the Monopoly board has four railroads. The B&O Railroad, aka Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, is one of America's historic railroad lines. Of course, most Americans probably picked up their familiarity with rail lines from playing Monopoly...

fergus 11:12 PM  

Even though the Ex-lax? Clue was wry, I share the annoyance mentioned above with its TENSE opposition. OK, I see Ex-lax = Not tense in a strict construction, so cannot complain. But I sure liked my first entry of HARSH, then my second of BOSSY, better.

Stan 11:15 PM  

@miriam b

Yes, candlepins are still extant in Maine. It's really the only bowling around.

peninhandinga 12:10 AM  

@retired_chemist: when does one officially become a "geezer"? I'm watching the clock, but geezerhood has advantages: oleo, ELO, Road to Rio.
@Rex, healing thoughts and prayers for your dog. Let us know how it goes. My Schnauzer just got over a bout of pancreatitis. It was wicked bad (for both of us).

miriam b 12:24 AM  

@Stan: Come to think of it, I grew up with duck pins in CT and didn't encounter regulation pins until I lived in NYC. One of my sons-in-law comes from Portland, but he's more into hockey than bowling.

liquid el lay 12:56 PM  

Like all the Gs and Xs, and I don't care whether it's something you can call a theme.

GARYGYGAX which I did not know but was able to piece together is good for its heavy letters and near symmetry.

Like GROG x NOG

Like the double and triple Xs, the double Gs, the double YGs, MM over EE- (ME ME (?)!)

FANG is a bioweapon delivery system.

Like this puzzle, left a few, disparate white squares.. and I failed to get GASOLINE for some reason. Had WIGGY over SCORE and wouldn't move off of it.

william e emba 2:09 PM  

Noam:

I haven't played Monopoly in close to 40 years. But I got BANDO off of -AND- instantly.

Now, if you were complaining about Mille Bornes, you'd get some traction. But complaining about Monopoly?? That's almost as weak as Rex complaining about Dilbert!

Patrick 2:33 PM  
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Anonymous 2:39 PM  

I loved this crossword and was able to do it without too much difficulty. I really liked all the relatively unique answers. One thing that has not been commented on yet is the link between the first down (JUG) and the last down (XXX). You often see XXX written on the sides of jugs that contain "moonshine" in cartoons or comics.

edith b 5:49 PM  

Don DeLillo is one of my favorite writers and I follow 2 blogs where both people also like him and both are also commenters here. I'm not sure I've ever seen him turn up in a puzzle before but I'm glad to see it.

I worked up the East Coast and had both long downs into the NE and swarmed westward where FAUXHAWK dwelt and was a neon for me having seen it recently in a puzzle and it's form - 2 small words making up a compound one - makes it easy to remember and I had this one down to the DOOR SELA ATLAS line in about ten minutes.

Like Rex I had the JOSEF/FRITE cross and filled in the SW thru MONTESSORI and came to a screeching halt in the SE.

I could not for the life of me parse several clues with 44D: Wintry stretch being emblematic of my problems in that quadrent. I had ICE*** crossing a couple of short downs but no joy

Finally, NICHE broke the log jam as ENNOBLE and OFALL followed and STIR led to the end. I never saw so may clues I could not interpret in one place in my life.

In and of themselves, no problem but as a whole - big problem.

Old Al 1:46 PM  

Boy, this one really showed up the age differences (mine is 78). Gummo Marx and Endmen were absolute gimmees. Who or what Garry Gygax, Jason Kidd , and CBGB are, I have no idea.

Re: william e emba, "I had no trouble remembering GUMMO MARX. The fourth brother was Zeppo, not Zippo."

Whether you're talking about total number or birth order, Zeppo was the fifth brother, not the fourth. In order of age: Chico (pronounced "Chick-o" not "Cheek-o"), Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo.

Rivalsan 4:46 PM  

One small gripe: A snake's fangs are not bioweapons, they're natural weapons. The bioweapon would be the venom! I had to multi cross this one because I was trying to figure out a 4 letter word for poison that would fit, until I had ?ANG.. Then I bonked my head on my desk.

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