WEDNESDAY, 08/05/09— Booth Tarkington title tween / Longtime CBS boss William / Affleck/Lopez as tabloid twosome / Y.A. known for well thrown pigskins

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Constructor: Donna S. Levin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Exclamation of PERRY WHITE (57A: Character known for exclaiming the first words of 20-, 28- and 46-Across); those first words are "GREAT / CAESAR'S / GHOST!"

Word of the Day: PERRY WHITEPerry White is a fictional character who appears in the Superman comics. White is the Editor-in-Chief of the Metropolis newspaper the Daily Planet.
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I had no idea PERRY WHITE and this exclamation were famous enough in this century to carry a puzzle. As catch phrases go, GREAT CAESAR'S GHOST's general recognizability (especially as a specifically PERRY WHITE expression) faded a long time ago, and as tertiary characters in comics go ... well, among *tertiary* characters, PERRY WHITE has a pretty solid standing. I just don't think I've seen a puzzle built around a tertiary character before, is all. I read comics, and my first answer for PERRY WHITE was MERRY WIDOW. The phrase just didn't register for me. My time on the puzzle overall was still average for a Wednesday. I suspect there will be a generation gap in today's solving experience. We'll see.

The grid is amazing, in that those NE and SW corners are huge, wide-open spaces more characteristic of Friday and Saturday grids than Wednesdays. I can't remember seeing blocks of 8s like that in a Wednesday. If I have, it's been a while. Felt like the main body of the puzzle ran diagonally from NW to SE, and then oh, by the way, here are these bonus mini-puzzles in the NE and SW. Very cool. The long Downs were relatively easy, so they didn't add a lot of difficulty to the puzzle, but I liked them nonetheless.



Theme answers:

  • 20A: America's so-called Third Coast (GREAT Lakes)
  • 28A: One who must be above suspicion, in a saying (CAESAR'S wife) — never heard the saying. I think CAESAR expressions in general were just Way bigger half a century ago.
  • 46A: Many an autobiographer's need (GHOST writer) — something about the phrasing threw me. I think of an "autobiographer" as a writer (the "graph" part), so I didn't think the writer would need a writer. But I'm not sure how I would have rephrased it.

Two answers I flat-out didn't know today. First was SHOJI (30D: Japanese sliding screen), which started as SCRIM, and then eventually went to SHOJO, even though I know perfectly well that SHOJO describes a variety of Japanese manga (aimed at girls) and was therefore unlikely also to mean "sliding screen." The wrong final "O" made me try "[something] NOTES" at first for the autobiographer theme answer at 46A. As a transition answer from the top to the bottom half of the grid, SHOJI caused a lot of trouble. Final Across was also a mystery to me. Never heard of William PALEY (68A: Longtime CBS boss William). His heyday appears to be right in this puzzle's temporal sweet spot: smack dab in the middle of the 20th century. Wonder if PALEY was a fan of Y.A. TITTLE (also big in 1950 — 49D: Y.A. known for well-thrown pigskins). TITTLE intersecting PERRY WHITE and PALEY says everything about what year this puzzle is living in — R. KELLY (47D: Singer with the 1994 #1 hit "Bump N' Grind") and BENNIFER (12D: Affleck/Lopez as a tabloid twosome) notwithstanding.

Bullets:

  • 6A: _____-Ball (game on an incline) — would not have thought this needed the parenthetical explanation.
  • 18A: Mrs. Dithers in the comics (Cora) — from "Blondie"; I'm telling you, this puzzle is some kind of time warp (yes, "Blondie" still runs in papers, but ... come on, that strip still has its feet still firmly planted in the '50s). Like PERRY WHITE, CORA Dithers is a tertiary comics character.
  • 54D: Mattel's Princess of Power (She-Ra) — there is a song about SHE-RA on an album by a group called "Two Nice Girls." I listened to their album "Chloe Liked Olivia" a Lot in college.
  • 32A: Ex-governor Palin (Sarah) — ouch. That was fast.
  • 51A: Original Luddite _____ Ludd (Ned) — I forgot about this NED. Needed all the crosses.
  • 2D: Booth Tarkington title tween (Penrod) — learned it from xwords ... and then apparently forgot it. Needed many crosses to get it back. Common reading in English classes ... when Y.A. TITTLE was a boy.
  • 13D: Important plant in alternative medicine (aloe vera) — got it easily, but I think of it more as a common plant used in lotions. Had no idea it was so important in so-called "alternative medicine."
  • 42D: Out of order, in a way (swapped) — pretty devilish a clue for a Wednesday. Not understanding this one led me to try SWAMPED, which led to my initial MERRY WIDOW-for-PERRY WHITE mistake.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

87 comments:

joho 8:24 AM  

I never thought I'd see BENNIFER in the puzzle or HOTTIE, or have we had HOTTIE before?

I liked PARAnormal along with GHOSTWRITER.

PALEY was a given as there was a PALEY building at 52nd Street when I lived in NYC. I just Googled to learn it's been renamed the Paley Center for Media.

I've never heard the expression CAESARS WIFE before, either, but it was easy to get through downs.

I enjoyed this puzzle ... a pretty straightforward solve for me ... thanks, Donna S. Levin!

JannieB 8:24 AM  

Yep - it's a generational thing. This puzzle was Monday-easy for me. Even figured out the theme when I dropped in Casesar's Wife. It was well done with good fill (although nothing as vibrant as yesterday) but it was over too fast to really savor the assets that Rex noted.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Seriously, Caesar & Pompeia have been dead for the last 2,060+ years. Does the difference between 2,040 and 2,060 really matter that much?

treedweller 8:33 AM  

My grandmother taught me about breaking off a piece of ALOEVERA to use on burns or cuts at least three decades ago. I'm not sure if she would have been amused or offended by the notion that she was using "alternative" healing. Anyway, it was nice to see VERA in there with ALOE for a change.

My first pass at 28A was CAspARSWIFE. I have no idea why that seemed good at the time.

I thought the Third Coast was along the Gulf of Mexico, so that one took many crosses.

Does RKELLY pass the breakfast test?

Robert 8:38 AM  

ouch. I'm only fifty-two and you made me feel like a geezer! I guess I'm old enough that it all came pretty easily to me.

Perry White may be a minor character in the comics, but Great Caesar's Ghost was a big catch phrase on tv, way back when.

PIX 8:51 AM  

Agree with Robert...the puzzle really refers to the very popular (at that time) TV show "Superman"...that's where most of us (of a certain age) learned about Perry White and "Great Caesar's Ghost". The TV audience had to have been orders of magnitude larger than the comic book audience.

@67A: Gray no more: Dyed...am i the only one that put in Bald?...maybe I should get some dye before it's too late.

Kurt 9:05 AM  

You got it Rex. It's generational. CORA, CAESARS WIFE, TITTLE & PALEY were gimmes. PERRY WHITE made his appearance as soon as I convinced myself that Betty White wasn't possible. I thought that the only hard answers were SHOJI (never heard of it) and RKELLY (never heard of him/her).

Great puzzle, Donna. Great commentary, Rex.

dk 9:08 AM  

Look! Up in the sky! Its a bird? A Plane? No its a doorway to Bizzaro World where "Us do opposite of all Earthly things."

This one was easy for me as the fill was like Fibber Magee's closet: SEAS of trivia.

Interesting to see the mini them of non-entities URALS (mountains easy to miss according to some early week posts) and SARAH (politico we would most like to miss) and GHOSTWRITERS (people who are paid to be missed)... I suppose I should also include LECAR as they quickly rusted away, even in LA.

Lived in Vermont when Lake Champlain was under consideration to be one of the GREATLAKES, in the end we were content to refer to it as a pretty good lake.

Loved the fill, thanks Donna... should we make Crosschix action figures? I mean would not an Acme-Ra be cool.

DanaJ 9:08 AM  

Nice puzzle! I especially liked the steamy NW area. After first considering BARRYWHITE, I came to PERRYWHITE without too much difficulty. My problem is that I went for SHERI for SHERA, ending up with PILEY, which seemed equally plausible as PALEY, at least to me.

PIX 9:13 AM  

Also...in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar "Caesar's ghost appears to Brutus with a warning of defeat ("thou shalt see me at Philippi", IV.iii,283)." (Wikipedia)...The tradition of Caesar's ghost appearing after his death seems to go back all the way to Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, which Shakespeare frequently used as a source.

nanpilla 9:35 AM  

Definitely in the generation that found this one to be very easy. Your cartoon made me laugh, because one of the first things I thought of was that "don't call me chief" has 15 letters!

jae in ipswich 9:55 AM  

Easy for me also having grownup in the 50s. SHOJI was the last thing to fall and I needed to check google to parse SHERA as SHE-RA. A good Wed. workout!

XMAN 9:55 AM  

About the same time as yesterday and I admit to enjoying the brief swallow even though I was looking forward to a bit of a chew.

I don't think I've ever seen SEAS as a synonym for "Huge quantities" (66a) before. My gut feeling is that Ms. Levin really meant the answer to be 'MTNS'. Of course, that would have caused chaos. So, better something not quite than an agent of destruction.

Mike 9:57 AM  

Also Had BARRYWHITE until I got the GREAT. And that took longer than it should have, since I mistyped SPCA so that I had GR__T__SKES. Whoops!

I'd rate this an Easy-Medium. Finished well below average Wed time. But then I did come home from school and watch Superman every day. Unless my sister beat me to the TV; she always watched The Monkees instead.

Ruth 9:59 AM  

Going off-topic: She-ra reminded me of a new first name encountered by a teacher acquaintance (one of those names that has you scratching your head on the first day of class as you desperately try to figure out how to pronounce it): it's spelled SH-A
Guess how to pronounce it?

Ready?

Give up?


It's She DASH a!!
Opens up new realms of non-mainstream spelling. (-L Hammett?)

And now, back to the show.

chefbea 10:02 AM  

Tough puzzle for me . I knew Perry White and Great Caesars ghost.

Never heard of Shera, RKelly or shoji. Natick was the crossing of caesars wife with Bennifer which I had never heard of either....Just got the bennifer part!!

PlantieBea 10:05 AM  

Although I finished without any errors, I didn't know anything about the theme of this puzzle. I had to ask my husband if he had ever heard of Perry White (would have preferred BARRY!) and his saying. Of course, he had. I did not know PALEY, SHE-RA, or TITTLE, SKEE ball, NED Ludd, KAEL, but was able to infer from the surrounding letters. Not knowing the theme and some of the fill dampened my enthusiasm for this one.

I did like GREAT LAKES--I GRew UP on a bay of Lake Michigan--and ABBA, BASILICA, and PARAnormal.

Aaron Riccio 10:08 AM  

Generational gap, perhaps, but easier in which direction? I'm 25, and this is the fastest I've ever finished a Wednesday (just under 7 minutes). I solved the puzzle mainly through the downs; I knew the expression but didn't notice it until the end. (Was thinking PERRY MASON at first.)

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Just an aside. Bill Kennedy of Michigan, from 40-50 years ago, had movies weekdays from 1-3:30 He did the voice, "up in the sky, is it a bird? etc. No its Superman" Loved the movies he had and also Superman! Flowerlady9

Denise 10:17 AM  

Was Perry White a character in the (relatively) recent Superman movies? That would give another generation an entree.

I liked the puzzle and found it easy.

CAESAR'S WIFE was a model of all the poor wives of pols, standing next to their sleazebag spouses, above reproach themselves.

p.s. I'm pretty old.

Frances 10:18 AM  

Since RKELLY and PERRY WHITE were completely unknown to me, I went for REILLY and, using BILE for "anger", ended up with a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time PIBBY WHITE. Oh well, when it comes to Popular Culture, I hope to be gracious in surrender.

JannieB 10:26 AM  

@Denise - the Perry White character has been in all the films, most recently portrayed by Frank Langella in The Return of Superman.

Crosscan 10:28 AM  

There can not be a bad Superman puzzle. Perry White is still around in movies, portrayed by Frank Langella in Superman Returns.

Thre must be a name for this: I put Betty White first; it turns out her husband Allan Ludden(of Password fame) played Perry White in a TV version of the musical It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman!

Anne 10:29 AM  

Strange, but like Rex, I went from Merry Widow to swamped. Then I asked my husband - Does Merry White ring a bell - to which he replied - no, but Perry White does. Oh, I hate that.

And the "no spin zone?" Yeah, right.

@Andrea - from yesterday, thanks.

retired_chemist 10:30 AM  

I didn't realize it was my geezerhood that made this an easy Wednesday for me until I came to this blog. But it is so. Got CAESAR'S WIFE and GHOSTWRITER directly, then knew 20A started with GREAT, and dredged up PERRY WHITE once it had a few crosses.

Gimmes: KAEL, SHOJI, SERTA, sorta (prepared to change to SEALY if needed, but no....), SPIRAL, TITTLE, PENROD, and several more. Forgot CORA - thought EMMA, but crosses fixed it easily.

LE CAR needed four crosses. Had PALIN on the brain from 32A so put it in for 69A - again easily fixed. Thought it was cute to have SARAH PALIN in the puzzle with the PALIN from another person's name. It would have been, but it was, sadly, wrong. Y. A. TITTLI, whoever he is, is disappointed at missing his shout-out.

Incidentally, the Y. A. stands for Yelberton Abraham. I think I would have gone with Y.A. too.

Solid Wednesday for me. Good fun.

Thanks, Ms. Levin.

fikink 10:32 AM  

@JannieB, we are tracking each other again... the era of the RATTAIL combs ;)

I am so surprised that the reference to Caesar's wife presented a problem. I thought it was widely known.

Wanted CANNABIS for ALOEVERA.

Nice Wednesday puzzle.

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

I knew Great Caesar's Ghost from the TV show. Once that small moment of fun was over I just did the rest of the puzzle because it was there.
In the SE were too many proper names. How am I supposed to know some studid doll, some old TV guy, and an old football player?
The film critic in the NE was also unknown to me but gettable from the crosses.
Too bad a nice word like Basilica has to be next to the abomination Bennifer.
I guess I'm crabby today.
My only smile was LeCar (still being made?). When I was a 911 operator a man on the other end was trying to give us a description of a vehicle. Took a few minutes to understand what he meant by a "Lee Car."

edith b 10:37 AM  

As a 60 year old New Yorker with an interest in Popular Culture, this one was a snap. From school to after school, from GREATCEASARSGHOST to CEASARSWIFE, from William S PALEY to TITTLE and CORA Dithers, all mainstays of Pop Culture from my childhood.

I would guess that people who dislike Pop Culture will hate this puzzle and invoke "Great Maleska's Ghost" and wonder where Charles "ELIA" Lamb went.

PurpleGuy 10:38 AM  

I grew up in the 50's also, but couldn't associate the phrase with Perry White. The only character I could here in my head saying that phrase was Christopher LLoyd's "Doc" in the "Back To The Future" movies. Took a while of going through the alphabet to get PERRY WHITE. Thought of Jerry Lewis for a short while ! Also thought of Perry Mason.

Otherwise, an easy solve for a Wednesday.
Great writeup Rex, as usual.

@dk- I like the crosschix doll idea. I second the vote for ACME-RA !

Sandy 10:40 AM  

"Betty White" also fit, for a while.

Glitch 10:41 AM  

May be a generational thing, (I was exiting college about the time Rex was entering the world).

Superman and Blondie were two of my early "must watch tv" programs. (Wish there were still some.)

My years in broadcasting recall the "iron fist" approach of Paley (CBS) and General Sarnoff (NBC)resulting in the "Golden Years" that turned to the "Vast Wasteland".

"Caesar's wife" was, for some reason a neon.

And many more an autobiographer should have used a Ghost Writer IMHO.

The rest all went in easily.

.../Glitch

Elaine2 10:50 AM  

As so many have said -- for us 50-somethings this was a snap. I thought of Perry White as soon as I filled in CAESARSWIFE with GREATLAKES just above. In fact, I might not have gotten "GHOSTWRITER" as easily if I hadn't already heard "Great Caesar's Ghost!" in my head.

And, since I have owned SHOJI screens, that was a gimme also.

Fun Wednesday.

Jane 10:54 AM  

Yes, it could be generational. I had a fairly easy time of it until I hit my personal Achilles heel, a sports reference, in the SE. (TITTLE? Never heard of him.) And I was convinced (why? don't know) that Sutcliffe's first name was Brian, which blocked "STU" from welling up from the memory cells.

Had an error in the NW for a long time because I had YDS instead of TDS for 27 across. Argh, sports!

archaeoprof 11:19 AM  

The clue for CAESARSWIFE is obscure, for sure. The saying comes from an incident in Rome around the year 62BC, when a religious ceremony for women only was infiltrated by a cross-dressing man. Julius Caesar's wife was there, and rumors spread that she was having an affair with the man. Caesar divorced her over it.

Another vote here for ACME-RA.

bookmark 11:29 AM  

I got PERRY WHITE, CORA DITHERS, and PALEY right off (shows my age). Loved watching Superman after school in the '50s. fAlso knew CAESAR'S WIFE (referring to Julius's spouse, but I'm not THAT old).

Some contemporary items, too, like HOTTIE and BENNIFER made for a good mix.

A nice Wednesday puzzle.

Robert 11:31 AM  

@ Jane: You must have been mixing up Stu Sutclliffe and Brian Epstein.

carmen 11:38 AM  

22 years old and agree it's generational. Completely didn't know SHE-RA, PENROD, TITTLE, PERRY WHITE, CORA... had to get them from crosses so it took almost 12 minutes to finish. Tragic, I know.

Enjoyed BENNIFER, HOTTIE, R. KELLY and SARAH enough to make this puzzle worth the extra time. Impressed ADHESIVE was worked into the puzzle.

Parshutr 11:50 AM  

@anonymous...Bill Kennedy had one 15-second role in the film "Joan of Arc"; he was there at Joan's execution by burning, calling for "More Faggots"!
Knew it was geared to us geezers when I saw the "Medium-Challenging" rating from young Rex, but there was some balance -- young Liv and old Kael, Bennifer and Cora...and NO SIMPSONS!

Karen 11:58 AM  

I got Perry White with just the Ghost and the P... then Caesar's and Great from that. Not generational, because I'm not old enough. Niche-cultural, perhaps?

Glitch 12:36 PM  

@archaeoprof

Although the "source" of Caesar's wife may be a bit obscure to some, the full "Ceasar's wife must be above suspicion" has been used widely (often in political commentary) over the years.

That's where I know it from.

Google has some interesting citations including India (cricket officials), England (political parties), Canada (political canidates), and China (couldn't translate).

.../Glitch

Aviatrix 12:42 PM  

I like the way the same puzzle is a different puzzle for different solvers. By the time I got to it, there were enough letters in PERRYWHITE that I just filled it in, even though I didn't know who he was. I erased it a couple of times, because I didn't really know where I was getting it, and I had to google the Fox zone thing to finish off the corner.

It's interesting seeing my technique change as I have moved from the paper to the electronic version. I used to fill everything in in ink, with the amount of pressure on the pen dictating my certainty of the word. That meant I could have simultaneous conflicting crosses, and didn't have to look back at a clue to bulldoze through a faintly penned word. The app I use skips filled in entries, so I have to learn to leave one letter out of my wild guesses in order to revisit them every pass.

I think I still prefer paper.

fikink 12:44 PM  

@archeaoprof, I agree that the SOURCE of the expression "like Caesar's wife" is obscure, but the expression, itself, is not. In fact, I think it rises to the level of a cliche in some circles.

Like "twixt Scylla and Charybdis" or " You don't look a gift-horse in the mouth," we often use these expressions in everyday speech without knowing specifically whence they came.

Karen from the Cape 12:56 PM  

I'm not getting the generational thing. SheRa from the 80s, R Kelly from the 90s, Bennifer and Palin from the 00s. Also skee ball in Dogma in the 90s, and Ghostwriter on PBS in the 90s. I knew the Perry White quote from Superman comics. I've heard of the Caesar's wife reference although I would never use it. I didn't know shoji before.

Karen 11:58, we're going to have to differentiate from each other. I like the niche-cultural thing though.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

I needed Wikipedia, of course. I also wondered about the source for Caesar's wife being above suspicion.

In 63 BC Caesar was elected to the position of Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest of the Roman state religion, which came with an official residence on the Via Sacra. In 62 BC Pompeia hosted the festival of the Bona Dea ("good goddess"), which no man was permitted to attend, in this house. However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that "my wife ought not even to be under suspicion." This gave rise to a proverb, sometimes expressed: "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."

still_learnin 1:01 PM  

Easy for me, too. The only two answers I didn't know were SHOJI and SHERA. Got the theme with only CAESARSWIFE. IMHO that phrase is still in widespread use. As for the generational thing... well, my WII Fit age is sometimes in the low 20s. :-)

joho 1:03 PM  

@fikink ... like "twixt Scylla and Charybdis???" This is a common phrase???

I'm more a "between a rock and hard place" kinda gal, I guess.

Crosscan 1:05 PM  

You consider me the young apprentice
Caught between the scylla and charybidis
Hypnotized by you if I should linger
Staring at the ring around your finger

Wrapped Around Your Finger - The Police

bookmark 1:27 PM  

There's an article in today's NYT's Health section entitled "Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed [Hormone] Therapy."

fikink 1:36 PM  

@joho, what a riot!! In addition to "twixt Scylla and Charybdis," a seemingly cultivated reference, you will also hear "picking the fly-shit out of the pepper," around here. It is meant to indicate that someone is being overly fastidious. Guess it is all about what of our environment we incorporate into our everyday theatrics.

@Crosscan, thanks for the Police lyrics. Now if only Sting would further enlighten us as to his theories surrounding tantric sex.

TS 1:59 PM  

The puzzle I received for this date, 8/05/2009 bears no resemblance to the one you solved in the present post. I could not get a single entry in the one I received, hence my referral to you...no joy

TS 2:31 PM  

Up date. Sorry. Somehow my request for today's puzzle gave me the one for Puns and Anagrams. I just retrieved the correct puzzle and solved it forthwith. There is a lot of space between the Today's Puzzle selection and the Puns and Anagrams selection...I certainly did not select it myself. LOL
TS

Ulrich 2:33 PM  

I want to testify that this puzzle was gettable even for someone like me who didn't know a single one of the cultural allusions--from Caesar to Superman--this puzzle depends on. Took me longer, of course, and I still don't understand 1A.

I find the story about Caesar's wife intriguing. Since pulcher means "beautiful", Publius Clodius Pulcher must have been an eyeful. Reminds me of the young Achilles, who was so pretty that he could hide, in drag, between young women, when he didn't want to be recruited for participation in the Trojan War.

@dk: great post all around!

Meg 2:38 PM  

Sometimes it really pays to be old! Everything was gettable (eventually)for me except the K in RKELLY. Why clue OAK with such an obscure reference on a Wednesday?

Loved the clue for SWAPPED. Overall a fun, fairly easy puzzle.

Stan 2:40 PM  

Delightful puzzle. Loved the symmetry and balance (male and female hotties, TIDY and EVEN together, football clues together, etc.)

Rex: I had Two Nice Girls' "Like a Version" EP (all covers). Great record. Oh, @anonymous: 'record' was once the term for 'music download'

chefwen 2:41 PM  

Whipped through this puzzle in no time at all. Ended up with one mistake with sheri and piley as danaj did also. Had the c and r in place for the renault car so put in pacer which messed me up for a while. Didn't know SHOJI, but that fell into place with crosses. Loved the puzzle, looking forward to Thursday.

Anna Southward 2:43 PM  

Definitely generational. Thought this was an easy puzzle. I watched Superman on TV faithfully back in the '50s.

Does that make me a sheezer?

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

58 yrs. and a Geezer? Wow. I thought 50 was the new 30. But, I found the puzzle to be Monday -easy or even easier. Lecar, shoji,rkelly didn't know at all. But Perry White was obvious and gave me cesar beginningl having gotten Great and Ghost. Fun.

Aviatrix 2:47 PM  

I still don't understand 1A.

Ulrich, some people train their dogs to bark on the command "Speak!"

Stan 2:47 PM  

oops. I didn't mean @anonymous -- I meant @That kid that only listens to MP3s

Meg 2:48 PM  

After reading Treedweller's post, I tried to find the definition of "breakfast test" as it pertains to crosswords. 5th hit gave me: “breakfast test” – no words pertaining to bodily functions are allowed.

Or is it no words you would not use at the breakfast table? Or no words that might make me lose my breakfast?

Aviatrix 2:48 PM  
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fvigeland 2:56 PM  

Like @Ulrich, I want to point out this puzzle was absolutely fine for me, and a fun solve. I'm 16 (going on 17… Friday), and the only Superman-related bit of media I've ever seen is the recent one with Brandon Routh. But Perry White is familiar to me. Maybe that's just because I'm interested in journalism? I dunno, he seems like he has to be more than a tertiary character to have that type of presence in the back of my mind.

I did, like others, briefly consider Jerry Lewis and then Perry Mason, but ruled them out upon getting GROWSUP (45D). The saying with CAESARSWIFE was not familiar (thanks for the story), nor was SHOJI, but upon getting CAE_ARSWIFE, there's not too much else that could go there.

The crossing of PENROD/LECAR was actually the toughest part for me, the last letter I put in and a total guess.

CORA was one of the first things I put in… I do read the comics every day (re a recent question Rex posed to us young'uns).

Anybody else find this puzzle overly steamy with EROTICA, HOTTIE and ADONIS?

Aviatrix 2:58 PM  

Sorry Rex, hotel internet disconnected and I didn't realize that it would multiple post when it came back online.

sanfranman59 3:21 PM  

Wednesday midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 10:38, 12:31, 0.85, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:26, 6:08, 0.89, 20%, Easy

Bob Kerfuffle 3:28 PM  

Generation gap, Amen! (fvigeland notwithstanding - good to know someone is keeping the average age of this group under three digits!) ;) I completed my pen on paper puzzle very quickly and came here thinking all was correct - but it wasn't.

Having no idea about Japanese screens, I thought SHONI looked good enough, since it gave me NUDGE for One who tries. I was reading that as a variant of NOODGE or however one would spell the Yiddish word for one who tries your patience! Oy vey!

Glitch 3:47 PM  

@Meg

Some topics, much as drinking beer, are best are best left for later in the day (perhaps over a beer).

Unless, of course, you favor beer on your corn flakes.

.../Glitch

Lurker0 4:00 PM  

No one has noted the neat pileup of the homophones 32D SINS and 56D SYNS.

Ulrich 4:37 PM  

@Aviatrix: Thx--now I remember--we had something like this before: I asked the same question and got the same answer. It seems dog tricks don't impress me nohow.

fergus 5:26 PM  

Usually I read Rex properly, then scan, and then read more thoroughly the posts, and maybe post a comment before all that, because I'm on the west coast and tend to do the puzzle midday.

Today's seemed clunky if only because I only peripherally know who PERRY WHITE is. But there was a ton of artistry going on. So I latterly concluded that this was really a very fine puzzle. Well done Ms. Levin.

And I'll be singing Clementine, shoe size was number nine, Oh my darling ...

The song goes to great lengths, as we discussed quite some time ago.

Noam D. Elkies 5:51 PM  

Y.A. 49D:TITTLE again!? I did know this one, but only because it was one of the more random clues in the Sunday puzzle a few months ago that was tied into a Simpsons episode (sorry, Parshutr) — they needed an arguably famous football player whose name begins with Y for the acrostic to work. Does that alone make the name fair game for a Wednesday puzzle? "Tittle" is a fine English word, with a reasonably familiar New Testament quote (every jot and tittle, etc.), so it can go in the grid without this kind of Hail Mary clue.

I did know about 28A:CAESARSWIFE, though it took me a while to piece it together. I then figured that the quote, which did ring a bell, was by some character from Julius Cæsar. Not :-(

2D:PENROD looks like a misspelling of "Pernod"...

Took me a while to believe that the K of 4D:KARAT could be the next-to-last letter of the past-tense word indicated by the 1A clue.

Nice clue for 20A:GREATLAKES — now that (unlike Perry White, Pernod, and other Per plexities) is worth remembering.

NDE

Clark 6:11 PM  

Playboy, Playgirl, hunks and hotties, erotica with a couple of wack jobs -- we, once again doing the puzzle on the balcony overlooking the Jungfrau, agree with you, @fvigeland, that there was some steaminess going on here.

Victor in Rochester 6:14 PM  

I like to think I'm middle-aged, although my wife insists that we're old. Grew up in the 40's-50's, so this was Monday-easy for me. I guess geezerhood has formally arrived.

Those of us in the Rochester area, on the 20A GREAT LAKES, refer to it as the North Coast, not the Third Coast which is a phrase I've never heard, at least on these shores of Lake Ontario. Wikipedia, on the other hand, says, "The term is most often used to refer to the Great Lakes region" although it also says, "The term is also used to refer to the Gulf Coast of the United States."

One of our local radio stations identifies itself as "North Coast Radio."

Great puzzle, Donna Levin. How old are you????

fergus 6:31 PM  

Also stoked that someone 16, going on 17, participates in this folderal.

Cue Clementine again, since the Sound of Music is too harsh to take. Or maybe just Rolf and Grita(?) in the gazebo was too witless?

Fikink's point was Joycean, I think. And her cannabis first thought was more 21st century.

--

As many have said, the theme didn't amount to much. But I don't care much about themes, though Andrea does, and I see her point most times. Whatever one's persuasion about thematic connection, this was a great puzzle, and well-calibrated for Wednesday, I might add.

Charles Bogle 9:47 PM  

I'm w @Aviatrix...do not at all get SPOKE for dog trick...alas, I ended up w part of the NW quad undone....otherwise a wonderful and challenging Wednesday w a little bit of everything and absolutely LOVED the theme!Just a pity I couldn't get to it until after dinner-

sanfranman59 9:54 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation.

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:26, 7:02, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:44, 8:29, 0.91, 29%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:47, 12:32, 0.86, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:44, 1.04, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:06, 4:22, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:16, 6:07, 0.86, 16%, Easy

Tigger 10:39 PM  

Fun and enjoyable puzzle.

Didn't know She Ra and Paley, so guessed wrong at the crossing; otherwise a quick solve for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 11:02 PM  

Actually, I'm just 20 and this was by far the easiest time I've had with a Wednesday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

easy for me. Watched a ton of Superman TV as a kid and the character and phrase are very familiar in my mind. Minor screw up in the Southwest as I confidently penned in ADHERENT instead of ADHESIVE. Once you do that, it clogs the gears for a bit. Very enjoyable puzzle. Ironically, I was talking about Stu Sutcliffe today with my son last night. Thanks Donna Levin for a nice puzzle.

ArtLvr 11:09 PM  

Not just a LOL or three, today's comments caused me to erupt with smothered cackles -- from Rex's "Merry Widow" and @parchuter's hysterical cap to Jeanne d'Arc's pyre perpetration (more faggots), to @fikink's unforgettable family phrase for the overly fastidious, picking over a peck of fly-speckled pepper? Major snorting!

That said, I was sure the Y. A. guy was Tuttle for some reason, not the titillating TITTLE. This led to a NOT PUN zone for the Fox News person because in theory the Mattel doll might have been a Thera, though I recall a SHE-RA in a puzzle once before. Maybe next time I'll get that one right. Please do not bring back the names meant by Y. A....

If not for that little TITTLE/Tuttle in the SE, I'd have said easy-peasie.

∑;)

fergus 11:57 PM  

"Where is the summer, the unimaginable summer
Zero summer?"



(A quote from TS Eliot, in Little Gidding of the 4 Quartets)

andrea spoke michaels 2:10 AM  

@dk
Nominated for an action figure?
Makes me want to cry :)

Loved that Bennifer was in this puzzle...it's weird bec it was from Ben Affleck + Jennifer Lopez, but now he's married to Jennifer Garner yet no one uses it for them.

I want to be part of a merged couple... ACDK? Andrich?

Fascinating that this was generational but you had to be over 50 or under 25!

@fvigland
Neat! You even got Fergus to use the word "stoked"!
Wait! what young'un actually uses the phrase "Young'un" even if it was meant with post-Letterman-esque irony? I think you're secretly going on 71 not 17!
Regardless, happy birthday! And I am now inspired to start lying about MY age!
(esp now that @Victor in Rochester has blatantly asked Donna S. Levin her age!)

Go Donna! I think this kind of theme will inspire all sorts of
fresh themes! Loved it!
(I too was in the SWAMPED/MERRYWIDOW group. I still don't get the SWAPPED clue)

Today's semi-bleedover:
Frank Langella!

@aviatrix
Till you apologized for the multiple posting, I thought all those "Comments deleted" were some major knife fight I missed by getting here too late!!!
I was trying to imagine who had gotten into what!

BARRY, PERRY, BETTY,VANNA and JACK: the WHITE Jackson 5.

@fikink
how about "I'm caught between Scylla and a rock with shit on it"?
(how on earth do you pronounce "Charybdis" without sounding like a pretentious lab rat?)

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Hobbyist 3:38 PM  

We make enough mistakes in our use of language without having them thrown up to us. My spanish teacher is always telling us how that language is ill-used on the news channels. She gives examples but I don't want to hear all of the malapropisms and the like as it's hard enough to garner the correct terms and usage. TMI re incorrect spelling and use in ANY lengua in my book.

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